By Carlos S. Moreno
This fall, for the first time in U.S. history, an openly atheist candidate is running for Congress. James Woods is fighting an uphill battle as a Democrat seeking to represent the very Republican 5th Congressional District in Arizona.
There are now no openly atheist members of Congress, even though nearly 20% of Americans report having no religious affiliation, according to the Pew Research Center, and between 5% and 10% of Americans do not believe in a supreme being.
So far, only one sitting congressman, Pete Stark of California, has ever admitted to being an atheist while in office. First elected in 1972, Stark came out of the atheist closet back in 2007, but he lost his re-election bid in 2012 after serving in the U.S. House for 40 years.
Apparently, it is easier to be a gay member of Congress than an atheist one, since Barney Frank announced he was gay in 1987 but didn’t announce he was an atheistuntil after leaving office in 2013. A handful of current members of Congress state that their religious affiliation is “unspecified,” but none has stated publicly that he or she doesn’t believe in God.
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