An Openly Atheist Candidate is Running for Congress in Arizona

In 2012, Republican Matt Salmon was comfortably elected to the House of Representatives from the 5th Congressional District in Arizona, representing the western suburbs of Phoenix. (He had previously served as the Representative from the 1st district from 1995-2001.)

Salmon opposes federal funding of abortions, gay marriage, and gay adoption (despite his own son being gay). He also voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

In short, he needs to go.

And James Woods wants to be the person replacing him.

Woods is a legally blind, very progressive, openly atheist candidate and, unlike some other Arizona politicians we won’t name, he’s not afraid of admitting it:

Woods, who is running for the US Congress in Arizona’s Congressional District 5, is an atheist himself and believes a healthy democracy needs to include all voices.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about people who don’t believe in God,” said Woods. “Because of the negative stigma, lawmakers aren’t seeking out atheist constituents and asking how we want to be represented. They’re afraid of the political fallout. But how can you make sure government is serving all Americans if you don’t allow marginalized groups of people to talk about what they need?”

This isn’t just lip service. Woods, who identifies as a Humanist, is an active member of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix and local chapters of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. And in 2011, he was even featured in an “Out of the Closet” billboard campaign:

His campaign is kicking off today (the website will go live Sunday night) and you can help out by donating to the efforts. He has an uphill battle in a very red district, but his very candidacy is one we should root for, not just because he doesn’t believe in God, but because he represents the values that so many of us cherish.

Politicians won’t take atheists seriously unless we can prove we’re a voting bloc that gets people elected — so if you find Woods worthy of support, even if you’re not from the district, let people know about it.

If you have questions for him, leave them below and I’ll pass them along to his staff! His team is calling today “Atheist Media Day,” making Woods easily available to atheist groups who may want to do interviews with him. (“Media days” for other groups will be coming soon.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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