|Co-chairs||Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin|
|Founded||April 25, 2018|
|National affiliation||Formally: Nonpartisan|
In practice: Democratic Party
|Seats in the Senate Democratic Caucus|
0 / 48
|Seats in the Senate|
0 / 100
|Seats in House Democratic Caucus|
18 / 213
|Seats in the House|
18 / 435
|Congressional Freethought Caucus|
The Congressional Freethought Caucus is a membership organization in the United States House of Representatives established to promote policy solutions based on reason and science, and to defend the secular character of government. Representatives Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin have co-chaired the caucus since it formed in April 2018.
The Congressional Freethought Caucus was unveiled by Huffman during the Secular Coalition for America annual awards dinner in Washington, DC. The Secular Coalition for America released a statement applauding the founding members of the caucus: "The formation of a Congressional Freethought Caucus is a milestone moment for nonreligious Americans in our continued struggle for inclusion in the political process and recognition as a constituency. We are living in a time when one-quarter of Americans identify as nonreligious and yet, despite these demographic changes, our community is still disparaged, stigmatized, and underrepresented in elected offices at every level of government. By proudly and unapologetically standing up for the nonreligious, these Members of Congress have struck a powerful blow against the de facto religious test that keeps so many secular Americans from seeking public office."
According to a 2019 Gallup poll, only 60% of Americans would vote an atheist for president. This is lower than the number who would vote for an African American, Jewish, gay, or Muslim candidate.
|Election year||Overall seats||Democratic seats||±|
14 / 435
14 / 233
17 / 435
17 / 222
17 / 435
17 / 213
The caucus was established in reaction to the influence of religion, especially that of the Christian right, in public policymaking in ways that the caucus's founders deem inappropriate in a secular government. They see such influence as hampering effective and appropriate responses to issues ranging from climate change to gun violence. Huffman has identified as a humanist without a God belief, but has indicated that the caucus is open to religious members who support the use of science and reason and defend a secular government. The American Humanist Association and the Center for Freethought Equality were involved in "helping establish the caucus" by consultation.
Former House of Representatives historian Ray Smock and historian of science and religion Stephen Weldon have noted what they see as the caucus's unique and historic nature. Smock says it hearkens back to the Enlightenment ideas from the founding of the nation, and Weldon points out the political liability of being non-religious. Raskin called the caucus "historic", while Huffman stated it would "help spark an open dialogue about science and reason-based policy".
By September 2018, the caucus had added four more members and actively opposed Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. Membership expanded modestly, with two additional members joining CFC in February 2022.
List of chairs
|Term start||Term end||Chair(s)|
|2018||present||Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Jamie Raskin (MD-8)|
- Former members
- Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), term ended January 2023
- Jerry McNerney (CA-9), term ended January 2023
- To promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values
- To protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state
- To oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide
- To provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys
Coordinator of the Freethought Equality Fund Political Action Committee, Ron Millar, who participated in planning the caucus, stated specific aims the aforementioned PAC "wants to see", including "action against climate change"; "access to contraception and abortion"; and "maintaining" the Johnson Amendment (which establishes that tax-exempt nonprofits like religious organizations cannot endorse political candidates), among others.
- Secular Coalition for America, Congressman Jared Huffman Announces Congressional Freethought Caucus, retrieved 2019-01-09
- "Nontheists Applaud The Announcement of a Congressional Freethought Caucus". Secular Coalition for America. 2018-04-25. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
- Zuckerman, Phil. "Why is it so hard for atheists to get voted in to Congress?". The Conversation. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
- Manchester, Julia. "Dem lawmakers launch 'Freethought' congressional caucus". The Hill. News Communication. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- Diep, Francie. "Is It Just an 'Atheist Club'? Inside the House of Representatives' New Freethought Caucus". Pacific Standard. The Social Justice Foundation. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- "Representative Jared Huffman on the Congressional Freethought Caucus". C-Span. National Cable Satellite Corporation. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- Blankley, Bethany. "New Congressional Freethought Caucus Created to promote Atheistic policies". The Hayride. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
- Richardson, Bedford. "Atheists establish 'Freethought' congressional caucus". The Washington Times. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Congressional Freethought Caucus expands rapidly". Freedom from Religion Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
- "We have humanists to thank for the growth of the Congressional Freethought Caucus today". Center for Freethought Equality. 2022-02-17. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
- "CAUCUS MEMBERS". U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
- "FFRF welcomes Rep. Mullin to the Congressional Freethought Caucus". Freedom From Religion Foundation. 2023-02-14. Retrieved 2023-02-26.
- "Reps. Huffman, Raskin, McNerney, & Kildee Launch Congressional Freethought Caucus". Jared Huffman: US Congressman. United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- Diep, Francie. "Is It Just An 'Atheists' Club'? Inside The House Of Representatives' New Freethought Caucus". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 14 May 2018.