Q&A: James Woods, Blind, Atheist Congressional Candidate

Categories: Election 2014
james-woods-top.jpg
Evan Clark
Congressional Candidate James Woods.


It's not exactly common for a congressional candidate to openly embrace his lack of religious belief, but Democrat James Woods has done just that.

Sometimes Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is called the only atheist in Congress, and although she was sworn in on the Constitution instead of the Bible, she rejects being labeled as an atheist. Woods, who's looking to take on Republican Congressman Matt Salmon in CD-5, the district next to Sinema's, has no problem labeling his beliefs.

See also:
-Atheist State Lawmaker Quotes Carl Sagan Instead of Doing Prayer
-Lawmakers Vote to Remove "Disabled" and "Handicapped" From State Law


New Times had a Q&A session with Woods, a political newcomer who's currently the only Democrat who's filed to run in the Republican-heavy CD-5:

New Times: Tell us about yourself. (That's not even a question.)

Woods: My life started out a lot like everyone else's. I grew up in the East Valley. I was always curious and interested in computers, so I worked toward a career in the tech industry. I figured I'd have a pretty regular life.

Then, a month before my 27th birthday, I was working as a contractor for a company that didn't offer me any health benefits and I ended up getting really sick. I was hospitalized for MRSA--a life-threatening infection that's resistant to antibiotics. It almost killed me. While I was in the hospital, my vision started to get dim on a Monday. By Friday, I never saw anything again. The doctors had to cut out part of my collar bone and amputate most of my toes. I went into organ failure and ended up on dialysis. I survived, but I spent two years in and out of hospitals while I recovered. And my family and I needed help. Without Social Security Disability, Nutrition Assistance and Medicaid/Medicare, I wouldn't have made it. I would have died.

I've been fortunate in my life to have incredible support. I had a dedicated and talented medical team. I have a supportive family. I live in a country where our government invests in people like me--people who want to contribute, but who hit roadblocks. When I finally got my new kidney in January and was able to get off dialysis, I decided it was time to give back. So I'm running for Congress.

james-woods-billboard.jpg
The Freedom From Religion Foundation featured Woods on this billboard that was posted in Apache Junction in 2011.
New Times: Studies show an increasingly large chunk of the population identifies as nonreligious, but do you think nonreligious political candidates still have a harder time getting elected than religious, particularly Christian, candidates?

Woods: The polling on this is disappointing. Gallup reported in 2012 that 43% of voters in the United States would not vote for an atheist candidate. Regardless of qualifications, atheism is a dealbreaker. The only way to change this is to start introducing voters to atheists. Religion is really married to morality in the minds of the American public and people are unfamiliar with the many beautiful, powerful ethical systems practiced by atheists. Personally, I'm a Humanist, which means that I believe in the dignity and worth of human beings. I believe we should treat one another with respect. I believe we live in an extraordinarily big universe where life is rare and precious and should be protected. I believe in the creative power of the human mind to solve problems and improve the world around us. And I believe these values are the kind we all want to see more of in our elected officials.


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90 comments
Lisa Kaiser
Lisa Kaiser

The US Constitution provides that religion is not required to hold office. Time to get vote out the those who put their religious agenda ahead of the best interests of our nation.

Sara Davis
Sara Davis

Probably not. But you never know

Joaquin Howard
Joaquin Howard

it's amazing people will vote for someone who believes in a sky god like ZEUS but not for someone who is steeped in reality and shuns myths.

Cris Cross
Cris Cross

At least he wont use religion as an excuse to be a piece of shit.

Stephanie Nyman
Stephanie Nyman

When did Christianity become A qualification for politics? Maybe it's because most politicians are greedy, close minded, cheaters and liars... Maybe Christians should just think about that...are you really going to align yourself with these people because they believe in your God wow I think you should rethink the question!!!!

Alora Ytuarte-Evans
Alora Ytuarte-Evans

Not going to argue. That was my opinion. Feel free to argue with yourself.

Lucia Perry
Lucia Perry

Like Believers have been attacking us skeptics and pretending that we are preventing them from practicing their religion?

Lucia Perry
Lucia Perry

From Alice's Restaurant: "It was a typical case of Blind Justice"

Russell Claggett
Russell Claggett

Yes I would, less bullshit, what a better way to separate politics from religion

Alora Ytuarte-Evans
Alora Ytuarte-Evans

As long as he doesn't use his platform to attack the rights of people who are believers who cares.

Kae Diaz
Kae Diaz

Assuming that they had some good ideas, then shit yeah. In a heartbeat.

Lily Rollins
Lily Rollins

It either a philosophy or absence of religion.

Mark Baumgardner
Mark Baumgardner

Immediately. Unless they were a republican. But, of course, that's completely impossible.

Kelly Sue Magoon Cote
Kelly Sue Magoon Cote

Absolutely. Running or working for whatever government agency should have nothing to do with religion. Remember the separation of church and state?

Sarah Berl
Sarah Berl

The question is: would you let your religious bias stop you from voting for a qualified candidate? Seems like people are still living in a time when that was acceptable human behavior. Discrimination on any level is unacceptable. When will people stop judging and let each other live and work freely?

Mike Embry
Mike Embry

Yes, even the ones that do claim to be religious are hypocritical

Kramer Holleran
Kramer Holleran

Most definitely. I'd prefer if someone representing people all faiths had none of his own, and none of the bias that comes hand in hand with religion.

Brian Hawkins
Brian Hawkins

"We walk by faith and not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7

Brian Hawkins
Brian Hawkins

"Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." - John 20:20

mattechperf
mattechperf

Sure, if you agree that prayer is wishing on a star.


mattechperf
mattechperf

Faith is not a virtue, however, critical thinking skills are.
Faith is entirely indistinguishable from gullibility.

mattechperf
mattechperf

Extra special gold star for those who don't question what you're told.

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