A U.S. representative from Illinois is FFRF Action Fund’s “Theocrat of the Week” for her claim that elected officials need to be “God-fearing” to be effective while an Iowan is our “Secularist of the Week” for his continuous questioning of presidential candidates on important questions regarding religion and the separation of church and state.
Rep. Mary Miller, representing Illinois’ 15th district, was recently interviewed by Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council, a notoriously anti-LGBTQ-plus hate group. In this interview released on Dec. 25, Miller professed that “my goal is to be faithful to God each day” and then encouraged Christians to run for congressional seats, calling them the Americans best equipped to hold office.
When talking about the importance of local government positions in conservative movements, (presumably such as the inflow of Christian nationalists on school boards to dictate school curricula and impose book bans), Miller stated that she wants “to encourage people to run for office. … We need people that fear God, that believe they can’t hide from God and that ultimately think they’re going to give an account to God. Those are the best people to hold positions, whether it’s local or in the federal government.”
Miller is known for her dislike of the nonreligious and for her efforts to inject Christianity into the U.S government. In 2022, Miller tweeted, “The ‘far-left atheist quest for power’ has created a mental health crisis, a drug addiction crisis, a crime wave and a homelessness crisis,” absurdly attributing a multitude of social ills to the nonreligious.
Miller once also tweeted (with an image of the Ten Commandments as an attachment): “The basis of all good law is the Law of God. In Congress, we ought to reflect on the laws we pass and how those laws adhere to God’s perfect Law! The easiest way for us all to make our country freer, fairer, and more just, is to walk in the path of Jesus.”
Christian nationalism is the end goal for Miller and politicians who adhere to her religious dogma. It’s more important than ever to call out such candidates and public officials who try to remake law to promote their religious ideologies.
A stellar example of someone doing just that is Iowan atheist-activist Justin Scott. During past election cycles, Scott has made it a point to ask candidates from both major parties about their stances on religion and the separation of church and state. Scott is our “Secularist of the Week” for his questioning of GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy at an Iowa town hall forum in early January about how he plans to appeal to atheist and secular voters.
Ramaswamy’s response, in so many words, was that he did not plan to appeal to those voters. Additionally, Ramaswamy claimed that Christian nationalism was not a “major threat” compared to “wokeism” and “transgenderism.”
Scott is an exemplary activist who works to counter violations of the separation of church and state, most recently in the case of a nativity scene displayed outside of a fire department in Toledo, Iowa. On seeing the display, Scott reported the violation to FFRF, which sent the city a letter outlining the legal need to remove or modify the nativity scene. After FFRF’s intervention, the display was removed before ultimately returning to the city’s fire department with the “secular additions” of a Santa and reindeer.
Scott has asked during the past some years many presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa about atheism, including Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and, most recently, Ramaswamy. His questions have caught the attention of the media. In a 2016 interview, Scott described his motivation as being to “tear down the idea that you can’t be good without God.” His work has undoubtedly ensured that the importance of separation of church and state and the harmful effects of Christian nationalist rhetoric is included in news stories and publicized during presidential campaigns.
Scott also was the first atheist to give the opening invocation to the Iowa Statehouse, for which he received FFRF’s “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” Award, and is the founder of the Eastern Iowa Atheists.
FFRF Action Fund celebrates Justin Scott’s unique contributions calling attention to atheists and secularism during the presidential primary. With Christian nationalism a major political issue in 2024, Scott is performing an indispensable service by countering Christian nationalist myths, such as Miller’s bias against atheist citizens.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.