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President's Corner

Election of Pedro Sanchez

Congratulations to the new President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez. He openly declares himself an atheist and was sworn into office without a bible or crucifix. The media covered the event with no apparent backlash for the lack of religion at the ceremony.

In another radical departure, he announced his cabinet would comprise 11 women and six men, giving women almost a two thirds majority—which is unprecedented in Spain’s history. After meeting King Felipe VI, Sánchez said his team was “a government for an equal society, open to the world but anchored in the European Union.”

Could the general population finally be accepting atheism? Approximately 10 years ago, I attended an atheist conference in the US.  At that time, atheists were seen in the same category as rapists and murderers. We were not considered to have any morals, and certainly not worthy of being voted into public office. A speaker at the conference said it was political suicide for anyone running for office to declare him or herself an atheist.

Atheism has made progress since then but, as I watched the Liberals in Canada in 2015 come to power with a new social agenda, I was disappointed that it did not include leaders willing to announce they were atheists, or even to talk about it.  It looked like there was still a long road ahead of us before society thought better of atheism.

But the election of Pedro Sánchez gives me hope.  The world needs more politicians like him who are not afraid to say they are atheists. This is a step towards normalizing atheism, improving our image, and making life easier for atheists everywhere.

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