Letter to the Editor:

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post caught my attention. The article “It’s Time for Us to Have an Unapologetic Atheist in the Oval Office,” written by conservative Max Boot, lamented the reality that atheists are precluded from participation in the American political system. 

Atheism may be the final frontier of political exclusion.

This caught my attention because I am a proud and unapologetic atheist. 

In the current political season leading up to the 2020 presidential election, much has been written about the diversity among the many candidates for the Democratic Party nomination: women, minorities, a gay man, candidates young and old, and spanning the ideological spectrum from centrist to so-called socialists. 

This is to be commended and stands in stark contrast to the Republican alternative.

What is missing, at least from my perspective, is the absence of anyone having the honesty to acknowledge their own religious nonbelief, at least publicly. 

This is not surprising. 

Atheism is that last frontier, that third rail of American politics that seemingly cannot be touched. 

A candidate for whatever office who is gay, black, female, Muslim or Jewish stands a far greater chance at being elected than anyone who openly comes out of the atheist closet.

Atheism, because of its lack of religious faith, is routinely condemned as incapable of having a moral belief system. 

Atheists are compared to the likes of Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong, both world-class psychopaths who happened to be atheists; but a comparison that is logically flawed and confuses mere correlation with cause and effect. 

Media all too often resorts to cliches such as a person of faith to determine the moral worth of an individual; this is stark contrast to the use of a phrase like godless atheist. 

Truth be told, Osama bin Laden was every bit a “person of faith” as any evangelical Christian. And revered Americans like Mark Twain and Thomas Edison were godless atheists. So, too, was Ayn Rand, although her conservative supporters often fail to mention that inconvenient fact.

I have no particular animosity toward religion or religious people, in general. And religion, especially among Jews and many modern Christians, can be a force for good in this world. 

But my congratulations are tempered by the historical and current reality of religious violence over the centuries. 

Frankly, I am personally indifferent to the whole enterprise and choose to live my life free of the constraints of religious dogma.

Hopefully, there will come a time when an openly atheistic person will find the acceptance, as well as the personal courage, to successfully enter into the political life of this nation.

Jeff Laadt

Eagle River