While his atheism would preclude him from public office, Real Time host Bill Maher said in an interview Monday night, he suggested that could change for other future political prospects in the future.
“[Atheists are] out there, they’re thinking it, they’re just afraid to say it,” Maher told interviewer Sharon Waxman at a conference hosted by TheWrap. “But that’s changing. It’ll be the new gay marriage.”
When Waxman asked if he would consider running for office, Maher immediately shot the idea down, arguing that besides the content of his show, his lack of fealty to a religion would render him unelectable, considering that only 15 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists.
He also noted that there are currently no atheist lawmakers in Congress, which has been the case since Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) lost his bid for re-election in November 2012. Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) did not reveal his own atheism before an August 2013 appearance on Maher’s show after he left office.
“Crazier things have happened,” Waxman responded, before offering the nomination of Sarah Palin to be Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential running mate in 2008 as an example.
“She was chosen for that,” Maher countered. “Nobody elected her to the higher office. She was Number 2 on the ticket. And she’s not an atheist. She’s in line with the Jesus freaks who are the majority of this country.”
Maher’s remarks come less than a week after the formation of the first atheist political action committee, the Freethought Equality Fund, whose organizers were quoted by NPR as saying they knew “of more than two dozen closeted atheists serving in Congress today.”
Watch Maher’s take on atheism and public office, posted by TheWrap on Tuesday, below.