...."non-theist"...Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a member of Congress since 1973, acknowledged his nontheism in response to an inquiry by the Secular Coalition for America. Stark is the higest elected representative found by the Coalition's inquiry and, apparently, is the first member of congress in over 200 years to "out" themselves as not believing in a god!
To the average Brit this is an incredible story, our society isn't free from religious controversy and intolerance, but it has long been the norm that atheists, humanists and the non-religious in general have openly played their part at all levels in society. The UK parliament is full of non-believers and several atheists/humanists sit in our cabinet. In recent memory the Labour Party has been led by one self-proclaimed atheist (Michael Foot) and one agnostic (Neil Kinnock). This is also the case across western Europe. So in a way this is a bittersweet story, it's good to know Americans are fighting back against prejudice against the non-religious, but that this hasn't happened until the year 2007 is incredibly depressing - the next highest representatives in found in this research were elected members to school committees!
Fred Edwards in the American Humanist Association press release says: "Nontheistic Americans, including humanists, are the group most likely to be discriminated against for their convictions...Recent polls show that fewer than 50 percent of Americans would vote for an atheist presidential candidate, even if that candidate is well qualified. The fact that Pete Stark's public avowal of nontheism is controversial reinforces this point. Americans still feel it's acceptable to discriminate against atheists in ways considered beyond the pale for other groups."