Former Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts made an admission on Friday during his appearance on a liberal HBO talk show that he was a “pot smoking atheist.”
Frank appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, during which Maher asked if he felt “liberated” now that he no longer serves in office.
“You were in a fairly safe district,” Maher opined. “You were not one of those Congresspeople who have to worry about every little thing. You could come on this show and sit next to a pot smoking atheist, and it wouldn’t bother you.”
“Which pot-smoking atheist were you talking about?” Frank responded, pointed back and forth between himself and Maher.
Maher then bent over laughing as the audience cheered and clapped.
“Boy, you are liberated,” Maher replied.
“I had asked my governor to appoint me to the open Senate seat and he decided not to, and I was looking forward to having my husband Jim hold the Constitution–not the Bible–and affirm–not swear–that I was gonna be a wonderful senator,” Frank then explained.
Up until Friday, the former Congressman had been listed in public records as being Jewish. However, many Jews identify as atheists, and it is not known as to how long Frank rejected the Jewish faith. As of press time, Frank’s Wikipedia page had been changed to note that he was an adherent to “Jewish atheism.”
This is not Frank’s first time “coming out,” however. In 1987, he became the first U.S. Congressman to admit that he was a practicing homosexual. Frank told reporters that he did so due to an “increased media interest in his private life.” He also outlined that he was prompted to make the announcement following the death of Republican Representative Stewart McKinney of Connecticut.
“[There was] an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?'” Frank told the Washington Post. “I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.”
While Frank’s coming out as an atheist may not surprise some, there have been reverse conversion stories through the years that have shocked the world as significantly groundbreaking. In 1980, William J. Murray, the son of the late renown atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, announced that he had repented and come to faith in Jesus Christ.
“When you get down to that point of destruction in your life, there is that One who is willing to lift you up out of your muck, and that One is Jesus Christ,” he told Arkansas governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee last year.
Murray now serves as the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C, and is the author of a number of books, including My Life Without God and Let Us Pray: A Plea for Prayer in Our Schools.