This Texas House Candidate Isn’t Afraid to Say She’s an Atheist

Dec 8, 2015



The Texas Constitution says there’s no religious test for office holders – provided that “he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme being.”

So much for prohibitions on religious tests – not to mention female candidates.

The “supreme being” clause went unchallenged for years, until three decades ago. It was then Texas’ Attorney General agreed there’s no way to enforce any real or imagined constitutional ban on atheist office-holders.

Today, in Republican Collin County – home of such GOP stalwarts as Ken Paxton – a Democrat in the race has more than the usual uphill battle.

Cristin Padgett is running for a Texas House seat in District 33, representing Frisco and Rockwall – and she makes no attempt to conceal the fact that she doesn’t acknowledge the existence of a supreme being. She recently spoke with the Standard about her candidacy.

Why she’s declaring herself an atheist, even though she doesn’t want it to be part of her platform:

“I’m making an issue of it for starters, because the words ‘godless’ and ‘atheist’ have a very negative connotation and they make people want to run for the hills. When you look at religious freedom, I think that applies to everybody –and not just those that believe in your ethnocentric values and beliefs and that means, me too, so to speak.”

On why she’s decided to address atheism up front:

“I know that it’s going to be held against me – and I can imagine if I wasn’t as forthright as I am and headstrong as I am and determined as I am, it might have deterred me. And I can only imagine it’s going to deter other people.”

On the few atheists (only one thus far) who have run for office in Texas:

“Other than the person you’re speaking of, I am not actually aware of anybody else. And that’s due in large part because people don’t talk about their lack of religion. I mean, I grew up Catholic, I could have shown you a picture of my communion when I was eight years old … but that wouldn’t be who I am.”

On millennials not having a strong belief in any deity:

“The issue, though, is that those are not the people in power. That is not the establishment. The establishment is people like Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott, who go on national television and talk about their ethnocentric beliefs, as if that’s equal to Texas values, and then they push that on other people, as invalid as that is and that disenfranchises people.”

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40 comments on “This Texas House Candidate Isn’t Afraid to Say She’s an Atheist

  • Hopefully she will get support from the younger more rational sections of the community.

    They my even shoot down some of the ludicrous, “atheists worship the devil”, evangelical brigade in the process of campaigning.

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  • Correct, Bonnie. Whatever groundswell of support will come for other reasons. Something fairly obvious will be abreast. The conservative boobs in Texas will pay attention for all the wrong reasons. And that would be an utter shame. But who knows, this atheism controversy could still give her campaign some bounce.

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  •  Steven007 

    She needs support. And she looks about 17. Not exactly Lincolnesque.

    Seriously, who cares if she’s a damned atheist? What are her ideas? What kind of person is she?

    When a presidential candidate can say he or she doesn’t care that much about religion and gets elected we’ll know we’ve arrived.
    Short of that I sense that people (authors and perhaps some politicians) are going to be capitalizing on this atheism movement. That’s what we do.

    There’s the commodification of dissent and now the commodification of atheism. Can’t be stopped. The best, most noble impulses become tainted with that element.

    [Chat removed by moderator.]

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  • Seriously, who cares if she’s a damned atheist? What are her ideas?
    What kind of person is she?

    Agreed. It’s about ideas. And of course the preposterous notion that “he”, the male office holder must “…acknowledge the existence of a Supreme being.” Pffff.

    Regarding my somewhat lamentable foul ball with Bonnie, I am a middling contributor here, generally commenting on topics of personal interest and reading with interest the contributions from regulars who soar above my pay grade in subjects such as physics. I like to prop up comments I like (particularly in the absence of a “like” button) and have a base repartee with a few here, most recently you, who is already a far more active participant than I am (and a generally fearless one, which is a useful attribute in these blogs).

    That said, I greatly miss the uber politically incorrect katy cordeth whom you may not have ever had the pleasure of agreeing or disagreeing with (or being insulted by, etc) and the occasionally un PC Red Dog among others. Those two just come off the top of my head but I’m sure phil r (recently returned, bravo), David Allen and the autodidact known as A4D could come up with many more.

    katy used to riff here with reckless abandon, only occasionally derailed by the mods when her rhetorical vitriol got the best of her. She would have likely punned a far more offensive response to my own, grabbing the topic by the balls as it were and finding every euphemism under the sun to beat me over the head. Ah, the good old days.

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  • punned a far more offensive response

    Not a pun, just a sport phrase.

    Red Dog

    Mordacious1, CDMcAtheist, Corylus, to name a few, are sorely missed.

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  • Steven007
    Dec 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    The moderators quite rightly edited a question I had for you. I’ll have to save it for another thread that deals with your area of expertise.
    I haven’t encountered this Kathy character.
    There’s a lady advertising her book on this site. I “fearlessly” condemned her for trying to profit from this growing trend (atheism, secularism), a trend which I hope and pray (kidding) will continue to grow.
    There is no doubt in my mind that if more than half the population become atheists the politicians – left and right – will be calling themselves atheists – but for the wrong reason.
    I am for honesty, a skeptic, and very much a cynic. But I remain hopeful about the future (and just downed a strong cup of coffee, which doesn’t hurt).
    Red Dog? What’s that?
    I’d like to correct myself: if this young woman is among the first politician to openly declare herself an atheist and wins in conservative Texas, then that bodes well for the future. She has my good wishes (assuming she’s a good person; I know zilch about her).

    P.S. Alan’s an autodidact? I thought he worked for the space program or something. Maybe he does. Is there an equivalent of NASA in the U.K.?

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  • Hi Dan

    There’s a lady advertising her book on this site.

    There was someone a short while ago, but that has been dealt with. If you’re aware of anyone else advertising on the site, please let us know their user name and the thread they’ve posted on, and we’ll deal with that too.


    The mods

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  • Not a pun, just a sport phrase.

    @ bonnie –

    Hi Bonnie. I wasn’t implying that katy’s comment vis-à-vis yours (foul ball) would have been more of a pun since yours obviously wasn’t a pun. Just that any comment of hers would likely have consisted of a pun. I should have been more clear.

    And yes, those guys too.

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  • The moderators quite rightly edited a question I had for you. I’ll
    have to save it for another thread that deals with your area of

    I’ll look for it in another post.

    I haven’t encountered this Kathy character.

    It’s “katy” with lower case ala e.e. cummings. If you search her name you’ll come up with a piddly two posts as the transition from the (last) old site obviously did not consist of any kind of retroactive archive (alan or someone else might correct me here). But in one of the posts you’ll get a taste of her style.

    Red Dog? What’s that?

    I think David and phil gave you enough to go on. As phil said he is a Chomsky fan and as I remember, a rather big Trivers fan as well (his Trivers passion was similar to your Schopenhauer/Mailer passion). And as both said separately, if I saw his post I read it and I did some extra reading based on his passionately defended fandom (mostly Trivers as I was far more familiar with Chomsky).

    P.S. Alan’s an autodidact?

    I have no idea what Alan, or frankly any of the posters here do unless they happen to mention it and I happen to see the mention, somewhat unlikely given the length of time I hover here. But Alan is to my eyes the most vigorous poster here with an almost inexhaustible energy, especially when dealing with trolls or those who didn’t do their research. In the service of making my point I was perhaps making too much of a conjecture as it doesn’t seem his mastery of the myriad subjects he comments on were all the result of formal education, though perhaps I’m wrong.

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  • A Chomsky fan? Sounds like a nice chap. Never heard of Trivers.
    Steve, I’ll like to ask you my question, but it’ll have to be on a medicine related thread. There’s one recent one here buried somewhere on Pancreatic fat. I’ll try there later.
    Phil, sorry I said you didn’t appreciate American culture.
    I hope you see this, as I don’t want to be presumptuous or offensive.
    I hope more atheist politicians come out; that’ll be a great plus for this…er, effort, as JFK would say.

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  • Dan,

    If you ever get the chance to see Trivers speak don’t miss it. He spoke in Harvard Square when his latest book Folly of Fools was released and it was the best book talk I’ve ever been to. He has a force of personality and had the whole room riveted on his every word. Half the audience sat there slack jawed in astonishment. It’s more than just the book going on there.

    I hope he’s writing something now. He’s one of those authors that the minute I know the book has hit the shelves I drive straight to bookstore and buy it hardcover/full price. There’s nobody quite like Trivers.

    I really do wish Red Dog would come back too. I miss his discussion of Chomsky and Trivers too. I know he was aggravated with the strong statements here that he considered to be insulting towards theists. Plenty of those probably came from me, admittedly. sigh.

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  • Dan,

    Big long post to you full of reassurances and American literary chat cunningly disguised as a commentary on atheism in US politics and how it might have stood a better chance in the sixties and seventies, (more economically equal and sane times), with added quotes on Trivers and his humungus importance to people like one R.Dawkins, got eaten by WordPress and I now have the strength remaining for only this one sentence…er…sorry.

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  • Some sections from an article about our candidate:

    She lists as key issues improving education and economic stability and says her goals include promoting a living wage and protecting civil liberties.
    “I am no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and intend on actively protecting the liberties guaranteed to us by the constitution by giving all citizens back their voice,” she says.


    Her experience working, first part-time and then full-time, while pursuing her degree influenced her views on the importance of living wages.
    “During college I always thought to myself, what if my father wasn’t helping me as much as he is?” she notes online. “What if I had another mouth to feed? How can people survive off seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour without the financial support from others?”

    Hmmm. Interesting.


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  • Steven007
    Dec 10, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I was perhaps making too much of a conjecture as it doesn’t seem his mastery of the myriad subjects he comments on were all the result of formal education, though perhaps I’m wrong.

    You are right Steve.

    Everyone should branch out with research and self education beyond their formal specialisms as part of life-long learning!

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  • She “sounds” great, but H. Clinton says the same thing in her speeches (and I admire H.C very much). My point is that I am distrustful of politicians. They (the so-called progressives) all sound great. My assumption is that if someone really wants to effect (affect?) change, he or she would not be inclined to enter politics. Actually, that’s too black and white. I think there must be some truly committed politicians in Congress, who are truly progressive. Franken, for example. And Sanders.
    But MLK was not a politician.
    Change comes from mass action, from the bottom up. (CLR James)
    When Obama (who I also like) talks about change “from the bottom up” he is not being sincere. If he really believed that he wouldn’t be in politics, would he? He would be an activist.
    (To be honest, I am feeling extraordinarily cynical these days, but I do like Hilary Clinton a lot, in spite of her many faults. And her daughter’s adorable.)
    I hope you ordered the right book.
    This post was sloppy. Sorry.

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  • Dan,

    Change comes from mass action, from the bottom up.

    This reminds me of another book on my list that I want to read after I finish the one I’m about half way through – Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza.

    The book I referred to about mass action is:

    The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge Hardcover – October 27, 2015
    by Matt Ridley

    Amazon Description:
    The Evolution of Everything is about bottom-up order and its enemy, the top-down twitch—the endless fascination human beings have for design rather than evolution, for direction rather than emergence. Drawing on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy, Matt Ridley’s wide-ranging, highly opinionated opus demolishes conventional assumptions that major scientific and social imperatives are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia, or morality. On the contrary, our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. Patterns emerge, trends evolve. Just as skeins of geese form Vs in the sky without meaning to, and termites build mud cathedrals without architects, so brains take shape without brain-makers, learning can happen without teaching and morality changes without a plan.


    The thought that progressive change comes from the bottom up makes me happy and I do think that your Mom would agree with that. I think she has good memories of her political action in the sixties and seventies and the valuable changes that came of that. I was a kid in the sixties but I remember the seventies with great affection.

    I can’t help but wonder if our young women can relate to those times at all. I hope we hear some of our candidate’s views on these issues. If she’s openly atheist and a progressive democrat with (hopefully) prochoice views, can she be elected there?

    I am feeling extraordinarily cynical these days

    That is to be expected, sad to say. I’ve been dreading this next election cycle based on how depressing the last one was. Remind yourself that we will all be forced to attend the three ring circus whether or not we want to and that the process encourages and prompts the cruel and selfish amongst us to pipe up and spew their toxic words far and wide. Remember the days when there was no internet and no FUX TV? They had no way to broadcast their nasty fascism then, did they! Not saying I want to go back in time but there are some things I miss.

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  • Agree completely. My university education was a fine base, but in the years since I’ve done far more reading and study in many subjects of interest (thankfully my occupation supports this endeavor). And while this may not qualify me as an “expert”, it does make me feel well rounded and gives me confidence to engage in most conversations that interest me.

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  • LaurieB
    Dec 10, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge Hardcover – October 27, 2015 by Matt Ridley

    Matt Ridley has some good work published on his specialist subject of zoology, but bear in mind he is a global warming denier, his family has a commercial interests in coal mines, and he is a stooge writer for the gas fracking industry.

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  • Just one point. Social change comes from the bottom up, yes. But a lot of comes from the top, from above. Think about how much humankind has benefited from the relatively few geniuses that have appeared throughout history, like meteorites.
    (What I am saying has nothing to do with class. )
    That is why we need a social division of labor. Without “leisure” (the ability to do things other than menial work), the aristocrats of the mind (our scientists and artists) will not be able to contribute to the production of culture.
    I am an elitist and a socialist.
    I used to have arguments with my late father (a real socialist) about this; he felt strongly that the bricklayers are every bit as important as the architect, and that the workers employ more skill and exhibit more expertise than most people give them credit for.
    Matt Ridley sounds like a class A schmuck. But maybe he has some valuable things to say too. If you like him, Laurie, he can’t be all bad.
    Happy Holidays. —DR

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  • Me too! Bought it. Ta right back at ya!

    Now just waiting to see when he’ll come round Harvard square to peddle the book. Will get mine signed and laugh like hell when he gives his book talk and makes disparaging comments about Harvard. 😀

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  • Dan,
    This thread is ready to slip off into obscurity but if you’re still out there, I do see your point about those with leisure contributing to social progress in a special way. The history of feminism shows this clearly too. Women of the upper economic class who had leisure and security contributed in very important ways while women in the lower economic class were struggling with raising more children than they could handle and trying to make ends meet with minimal resources. Not saying they didn’t contribute but they contribute in different ways.

    If you want to see the Disney version of this, watch Mary Poppins. I certainly never noticed this as a kid but when I watched it as an adult I realized that Mrs. Banks was a suffragette who came from an economically privileged class. She had a live in babysitter and housekeepers at her command and therefore got to spend her ample free time out campaigning for progressive reform. I realize that this is fiction but it’s representative of some truth that was happening in Britain and here in the States too.

    Also, I finished your Mom’s book and I really loved it. I hope you will tell her so. I think she had some really tough breaks in life and I can relate to some of that and I think she was lucky to come of age in a time that I hold in my mind as weird and wonderful – the sixties and seventies in the US.

    I wonder if your Mom would say that working through her difficulties made her a resilient person. I think about this when I meet people who have come through great challenges in their lives. Does adversity build character like some say it does? But maybe too much adversity crushes people too. I wonder if she would delete any part of her past if she magically could do so. Would she be the same person and have the guts to get on that boat to Gaza like she did? When half way through the book I was very worried. There’s no way I could set the book down after that. I whipped through the rest of it the next day and when the last page turned in my Kindle I was left in an optimistic frame of mind. I know she acted on the strength of her convictions and is a braver person than I could hope to be. On a lesser level, I have a view to how difficult it can be to hold out and stay true to what we believe is the right way to act and think when everyone around us disagrees and doesn’t hesitate to say so.

    It was strange and funny to get a peek of you between the lines of her book. I think she did a good job with that. I felt the presence of you and your sister there and that you dealt with problems as siblings of a brother who suffered terribly from mental illness and addiction, but I feel like she respected your privacy too. So thanks for leading me toward the book. I’m really happy I read it.

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  • Dan,
    I will say that I like Ridley’s books on Evo Bio very much. I came across his book The Red Queen years ago and it changed the way I thought about male/female reproductive strategies. Problem was, I guess, I hadn’t thought about it at all. So that book set me off on a whole new (to me) line of thinking. What he’s like as a person I have no way to judge.

    If you want to see him in action, check out this Munk debate where he and Pinker as a team debate Gladwell and de Botton. It’s more than an hour long so save this for a boring night when there’s nothing on TV.

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  • Dan
    Dec 12, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Without “leisure” (the ability to do things other than menial work), the aristocrats of the mind (our scientists and artists) will not be able to contribute to the production of culture.
    I am an elitist and a socialist.

    Matt Ridley is also an aristocrat in another sense!

    .Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, DL, FRSL, FMedSci (born 7 February 1958),[1] known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British journalist who has written several popular science books.[1] He is also a businessman and a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

    In 2012 he became 5th Viscount Ridley on the death of his father.[1] In 2013 he was elected as hereditary peer in the House of Lords as a member of the Conservative Party.

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  • LaurieB
    Dec 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Hi, Laurie,
    Okay –Ridley: I was just responding to what Alan said about him being a climate change denier. I can be a little too harsh at times, but I have to say; anyone who denies climate change has to be a little bit of a “schmuck”, right?
    I am going upstate today. I will, if you don’t mind, read my mother your comments (which I very much appreciated) and get back to you (to the extent that I am able to, given the confines of this forum. Perhaps the good mods won’t mind if I send you a reply on this old thread.)
    I don’t think I could sit through Mary Poppins again. If I ever do see it again I will think about what you said. (I will think about it regardless of whether I see the movie again.)
    All the Best. —DR
    P.S. Does the kindle version have photos? There’s a nice photo at the very end, of my two adorable nieces.

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