|Kyrsten Sinema, sworn in on a US Constitution by Speaker John Boehner.|
"Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life's work or personal character," spokesman Justin Unga said in email. "She does not identify as any of the above."First, Justin, and Kyrsten, that sounds pretty lame-o.
It sounds lame-o precisely because of your quite visible swearing-in "statement," first of all.
It also sounds like you're avoiding the Big A because you're afraid of a stereotype or two about atheism. But, as Chris Stedman points out, by so doing, you're perpetuating the stereotype.
That may not be that big of a deal. But, Ms. Sinema, you took principled stands on LGBT issues — hell, you're bisexual yourself — and more as a state legislator in a state as wingnut as Arizona.
So why not now, on this? If voters elected you anyway, and had some idea before the election that you were some sort of nontheist, which you didn't dispute, then why the worry?
Hemant Mehta, the "Friendly Atheist," agrees:
My only complaint so far about Sinema is that she appeared to let on that she was “one of us” during her campaign only to assert her “unaffiliation” after she had won. That statement by Sinema’s campaign that Chris alluded to didn’t come out until just after the election, even though the rumors about her supposed atheism were online for months prior to that and many atheists had donated money to her campaign.Bingo.
Mehta then ties that, like me, to the sexuality issue:
The strange thing is that Sinema never backed away from the label of “bisexual.” It didn’t seem to hurt her at all, and that’s great news.Yep. That's why it looks like she has a "problem" with the label of "atheist" or anything close.
Related to that, people knew your background enough to ask what the book was in the swearing in, if it was NOT a bible. So, at least in the secularist world, whatever label each of us uses, you're "out." Intentional use of that word.
Stedman then anticipates those who would say "give her some space" with this:
“[Rep. Sinema] believes the term Muslim is not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.” Does that sound right? It shouldn’t.I agree.
Let's take the first open Muslim Congressman:
“Keith Ellison believes the term Muslim is not befitting of his life’s work or personal character.”And no, that does NOT sound right.
So, why not accept that this is America, people will hang some sort of religious/metaphysical label on you and already have, know that Pete Stark partially broke ground, and take it the next step.
Think of Stark as having a "civil union" with the term of "atheist" or "nontheist" as a Member of Congress. You can now "marry" it.
With that in mind, Gnu Atheist types shouldn't expect to get much PR traction from Sinema. Which is what Gnu Atheists want. So, Stedman's right to critique her statement; Gnus are wrong for wanting her image on a bus somewhere. And, that's what they want, in my opinion.
So, in light of that, you know ... maybe we should sic Rebecca Watson on you. Maybe you're not a true feminist, either? Hell, maybe you're not a true bisexual, either.
Watson would surely do her damndest to get to the bottom of both.
More serious sidebar: See my thoughts on Stedman's book, "Faitheist."
And, to update this, per a friend of mine, atheist and feminist, who lives in Arizona, adn I think in Sinema's Congressional district, Sinema says she is not an atheist, but not a person of faith, either.
Ergo, she's a "None."
Deal with it, Gnu Atheists; no bus or billboard ad with Rep. Sinema's face on it.
Also via Facebook, I've asked a Gnu Atheist who claims she held herself out differently on the campaign trail for some specific evidence. I'm guessing there probably will be none. And, it wouldn't be the first time that Gnus have read more into a situation than is there.
(Like claiming the surge in "Nones" means there's a surge in atheists.)
Anyway, that invite extends to other Gnus: If you've got some specific evidence that Sinema held herself out as an atheist, and not just a "None," on the campaign trail, I'm all ears. If not, stop claiming what you can't support.
That said, per a commenter below, maybe the LGBT community asked her to "focus herself" on that, and she and/or the community thought that also self-identifying as an atheist would be distracting?