FFRF Action Fund launched its Dynamic Scorecard earlier this month, which rates members of the House on their protection of the separation of church and state and the rights of nonbelievers. Representatives are currently scored on sponsorship of the Do No Harm Act, the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, and membership of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. At the Dynamic Scorecard’s launch, 10 representatives scored 100/100. Once a week, I will be exploring how each high-ranking representative earned their perfect score, starting with Rep. Jared Huffman from California’s 2nd congressional District.
Huffman shows staunch commitment to keeping religion out of the government and promoting crucial secular values. In 2018, he founded the Congressional Freethought Caucus with Reps. Jamie Raskin and Jerry McNerney, which works to “protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict constitutional principle of separation of church and state.” He currently co-chairs that caucus with Raskin.
Huffman is the only open nonbeliever in Congress, self-describing as a humanist, and has subsequently worked with the Freedom From Religion Foundation for many years. Huffman received the “Emperor Has No Clothes” Award, reserved for “public figures who ‘tell it like it is’ about religion,” during FFRF’s 2018 national convention. He has also been the guest on FFRF’s “Freethought Matters” TV show multiple times over the years, sharing his views on secularism’s role in government. Opening FFRF’s 2022 annual convention with a welcoming video, Huffman made his secularist views and role in Congress clear by remarking, “I feel like I have sort of become the surrogate representative for countless folks across the United States that identify as nonreligious. As many of you know, I am the token humanist in Congress.”
Progressive and secular values are paramount to Huffman’s sponsored legislation. One of Huffman’s most pivotal legislative actions is the Health Share Transparency Act, which would implement basic regulation for predatory health care sharing ministries masquerading as traditional insurance companies. To explain these entities: Health shares are commonly used forms of health coverage for Christians in which members contribute monthly payments to cover, or “share,” the medical expenses of other members. But health shares do not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections, and consequently do not guarantee payment for any medical claims, often leaving customers in charge of covering their medical expenses in full. These health shares are allowed to scam their customers because of their religious affiliations, and Huffman’s bill would inject some much-needed reform into the ways in which customers find health coverage.
Huffman’s commitment to secularism and nonreligious citizens stands out continuously, and his career has given us an ideal image of what a secular government leader should look like.