New Hampshire Republican State Rep. Brandon Phinney is an atheist and he wants you to know it.
Phinney is the highest-ranking known openly atheist Republican politician in the country.
He recently wrote a letter to the editor in response to an article in Foster’s Daily Democrat detailing a rise in secularism. A priest quoted in the article cited a shift in a reliance upon God “to reliance on self.”
“I fail to see the problem with this cultural shift. In an age of information, scientific progress and exploration and the understanding of the workings of our world, it is difficult and to be frank, rather foolish, to hold onto archaic beliefs that deny reality,” Phinney wrote.
He is open about his atheism, and said his legislative colleagues are aware of his beliefs. Phinney, who was elected last year, doesn’t participate in religious invocations in the New Hampshire House.
“I have had many a discussion and debate with dozens of people on atheism and politics,” Phinney told Friendly Atheist. “Although fearful I am of this kind of thing affecting my political office, I will always stand firm in my beliefs (or unbelief).”
Phinney doesn’t see love, morality and justice as religious doctrines but says they come out of an innate human desire “to do good for ourselves and for others.”
New Hampshire ranked in the top 10 least religious states in the country, according to a recent Gallup poll. Mississippi was the most religious state.
New Hampshire has a Republican governor and both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans. Democratic State Rep. Tim Smith is also an atheist.
“Religion has no place in governance and should be kept separate as we are not a theocracy,” Phinney wrote. “Our federal and state Constitutions protect religious freedom but we should respect the freedom from religion as well. We are no more a Christian nation than we are a Muslim country or a Jewish country or an atheist country.”