There are plenty of atheists in the United States, but they’re not particularly represented by the government in any meaningful way. Every single one of our Presidents has been Christian (supposedly). Even John Kerry and Mitt Romney dealt with religious discrimination in their Presidential races because they weren’t the right kind of Christian.
It’s a little more varied on the Supreme Court, with 5 Roman Catholics and 3 Jews. Sure, that’s not exactly a melting pot, but it’s an improvement over other areas in the federal government. That’s a good thing — the legal system especially should not be monolithically Christian in a country that, at least nominally, believes in the separation of church and state.
If we actually believed in the separation of church and state, the next Supreme Court Justice’s religious affiliation could prove it. President Obama should nominate an atheist.
According to theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and outspoken atheist Lawrence Krauss, Antonin Scalia believed that an Evangelical Christian, a group that makes up 25% of our nation’s population, should be the next one to sit on the bench. Unfortunately, Evangelical Christians are also incredibly unlikely to separate church and state in their verdict. An atheist absolutely could.
“In controversial cases about same-sex marriage, say, or access to abortion or birth control, he or she would be less likely to get mired in religion-based moral quandaries,” Krauss argues in a piece he wrote for The New Yorker.
In addition, the appointment of an atheist Justice would send a meaningful message: it would affirm that legal arguments are secular, and that they are based on a secular document, the Constitution, which was written during the founding of a secular democracy. Such an appointment would also help counter the perceived connection between atheism and lawlessness and immorality…
It’s a good point. America might not be ready for an atheist president, but I think we can absolutely handle an atheist Supreme Court justice. The issue is, of course, an obstructionist GOP in Congress, which has already threatened to veto anyone Obama nominates.