Celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins believes that two of America's presidents share his same religious perspective.
“Like many people, I’m sure that [President Barack] Obama is an atheist,” Dawkins told Bill Maher on Friday. “I’m sure Kennedy was an atheist. But I doubt Pope Frank is, no. He’s obviously a nice man, therefore a dangerous man. We don’t want nice men in the Vatican.”
Dawkins' comments come amid a new book revealing how Obama's Christian faith has aided him at times during his presidency. White House spiritual advisor Joshua DuBois' book, The President's Devotional: The Daily Readings That Inspired President Obama, showcased how at pivotal moments, Obama leans on prayer as a grounding mechanism.
"I've certainly seen the president's faith grow in his time in office," DuBois told the AP last week. "When you cultivate your faith, it grows."
As for atheism in politics, it is a rare sight. Back in September, HuffPost Politics looked at how the current 113th Congress has zero admitted atheists. A few months after he retired, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) admitted his nonbeliever status. Former Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) had been the only avowed atheist, but he left office in 2012.
UPDATE (10/29/13, 9:15 a.m.): In the "Overtime" portion of the segment, Maher asked Dawkins if the United States would elect an atheist president during the next couple of decades. Dawkins responded that he was "kind of joking" when he said that Obama and Kennedy were definitely atheists. He also stressed that statistically speaking, he did not think that every member of Congress could be religious.
Watch the question, beginning at the 5:20 mark (via HBO).