Daniel Moran is Running for Texas State Representative… As An Open Atheist

Back in August, Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) — the guy who believes fetuses can masturbate — set up a town hall meeting and a college student confronted him about the two times he voted to deny non-religious people like Jason Heap from joining the military chaplaincy.

That young man was Daniel Moran:

Daniel Moran with Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (via Facebook)

In their exchange, Burgess completely laughed off the idea of atheist chaplains, calling it a “dumb idea”:

Daniel Moran: Good evening, Rep. Burgess. My name is Daniel Moran. I’m a junior at the University of North Texas. I’m a political science major.

Rep. Michael Burgess: Good for you.

Daniel Moran: I hope one day to possibly be in politics…

Rep. Michael Burgess: You have my deepest sympathy.


Daniel Moran: Sorry?

Rep. Michael Burgess: I said you have my deepest sympathy. I hope you get help with that compulsion.


Daniel Moran: I love politics; that’s why I’m a major… but, anyway, I’m an atheist and I was wondering how you plan to represent your secular, atheist, Humanist, and non-religious constituents.

Rep. Michael Burgess: Well, you may have heard my comment a moment ago. I mean, I’m in Washington, D.C. fighting for you every day of the week, whether you vote for me or not, whether you believe as I do or not.

Daniel Moran: Well, I know I don’t believe as you, but I do know that you recently voted against — twice! — to include atheist and Humanist chaplains into the armed services.

Rep. Michael Burgess: Yeah, I thought that was a dumb idea. I’ll do it again.

[Cheers and applause]

Someone in crowd: There are no atheists in foxholes.

Daniel Moran (to crowd member): Actually, there are many [atheists] in foxholes. Some of them are my best friends. Some of them work, or not work, but go to school at the Air Force ROTC at the University of North Texas. So there are atheists in foxholes.

Rep. Michael Burgess: Well, good for them. I appreciate their willingness to serve the country. Look, I mean, if you’re going to have a chaplain, you gotta start somewhere. And that starts at the top with a belief in God.

[Cheers and applause]

Daniel Moran: Why does it require a belief in God?

Rep. Michael Burgess: That every chaplain I’ve ever had has started with that point.

Daniel Moran: I… simply fail to see why it requires a belief in God. It’s basically being a friend… to your…

Someone in crowd: Throw him out! Throw him out!

Rep. Michael Burgess: Let’s not… I will just say that, you know… I’m open to all… anyone who wants to come and talk with me about any issue at any time as you’re doing now is fine to do that, but when I go put [in] that voting card, if someone says to vote against your fundamental core beliefs, you got the wrong kid…


Of course, Burgess was wrong and Moran was right to challenge him on the issue.

Moran, inspired by that bit of activism, is taking it up to the next level now. He’s running for Texas State Representative:

I have always been passionate from an early age about the state of affairs in Texas and the United States as a whole, voicing my opinions and rallying others to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

I will never give up working and fighting for those in Texas who feel that they are not being represented or are being disenfranchised because of their race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, age, or socio-economic status, and that is one of the many reasons why I am running for House District 63.

I currently attend the University of North Texas in Denton, majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in Constitutional law, eventually planning to go onto law school to fight for the civil rights and liberties of all Texans.

Is it an uphill climb? Sure. The seat is currently held by Tan Parker, a fourth-term conservative Republican who won his 2012 election with 85% of the votes.

Still, I strongly believe the more atheists who put themselves out there, the better. If you like Moran’s politics, feel free to send some support his way.

(Oh! And hey, Freethought Equality Fund, you should look into this guy!)

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.

  • Helepolis

    Wish I could vote in Texas

  • Ashley Nasello

    Someone in the crowd: “Throw him out!” Really? I guess I shouldn’t expect better, but seriously? He disagrees with me and my candidate so we should remove him from the building? THAT is the IQ level at those types of events. Mob mentality is what keeps the Old Boys Club in power.

    Good for Daniel Moran. I hope he wins, I really do. It would do the state of Texas a lot of good to have a fresh perspective.

  • Croquet_Player

    Way to go Daniel Moran! Kid has guts!

  • Timothy R Alexander

    So oddly enough, the first question that popped into my mind was if an atheist wins an election in texas….will hell freeze?

  • Daniel Moran

    Well, if I believed in hell, I might say that it would.

  • Artor

    I’d repeat the Teabagger sign, “Get a brain Moran!” But it sounds like he’s already got one that works just fine. I hope Moran wins his seat.

  • Bob

    The problem here is, none of these comments reflect the actual person. Daniel is a extremely arrogant egotistical person who needs attention. His past times include: yelling at religious people on campus, forcing people into debates and finding new ways to get attention. The only reason he’s “running” is he knew outside secular groups with no insight would give him more exposure. He would be painted as the daring young atheist hero we all want. And when his campaign falters he’d get his face plastered on secular sites all over. The picture of him with Wendy has been plastered on his page so he could attempt to hustle the democrats here. You have only seen the David and Goliath image without context.

  • Daniel Moran

    Thank you.

  • Jeff

    Well, if you could vote in Texas, it means you live here. And if you lived here, you might find it such a lost causes of trying to convince the masses that you probably would leave as soon as you could.

  • Jeff

    Good luck, sir. I’m in Texas, but not your district. I will be passing your name to my North Texas friends though. It is time Texas go back to blue….ok, at LEAST purple.

  • Daniel Moran

    Thank you for your support.

  • Trickster Goddess

    Campaign slogan: “Get a brain: Moran.”

  • Dave The Sandman

    You are hoping to win over an electorate who elected with 85% majority Tan Parker….who from his website likes to pose at a “border fence” with armed and dubious looking militia types in motocross helmets and dust masks, and says the following about Rick Santorum: “Tonight it is my great privilege to introduce a man who has shown the
    world the power of conservative ideas, hard work and a never say die
    attitude. He is the quintessential underdog, a working class guy from
    Pennsylvania who won our hearts and respect by going the distance.”

    Unless a week or so before election day some local paper uncovers a story about Parker being a kiddy fiddler, a front for a coke smuggling cartel, or up to his ears in meth and rent boys Im guessing your electoral run is pretty much a non starter. Seems you are unfortunate to live in a district where the IQs are lower than the shoe sizes, and the electorate vote for anyone as long as they are a GOP goober with a blue rosette and piano keyboard smile.

    Still, I admire your pluck and wish you all the best. If nothing else it should draw the inevitable bigoted comments from your opponent and his pack of drone followers.

  • storm


  • storm

    Isn’t he thebarkingahtiest on youtube? Or am I thinking of someone else?

  • Amanda

    Houston elected an openly gay mayor twice. Anything is possible.

  • maddogdelta

    There are parts of Texas where sanity rules… Houston, for example, has Annise Parker as mayor…

  • maddogdelta

    3x now!

  • Garret Shane Brown

    His platform is too reasonable to work in texas. He’ll have to become more moderate to have a chance. It’s hard enough running as an atheist.

  • Itarion

    Looks like that’s him, yeah.

  • Itarion

    Hell’s just a town in Michigan. It freezes yearly.

  • Jim Jones

    I’ve been in Texas in winter.

    It could happen.

  • Jim Jones

    You’ll see none of that. The Christos never have any.

  • DougI

    Funny thing, if he’s elected he’ll be the third Moran in Congress.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    State Representative. So, no.

  • Joshua Lee Johansson Johnson

    You can’t expect most Texans to have an inkling of common sense, they’re Texans.

    I refer to it as the New Afghanistan, seems like a fair assessment of their mentality. Taliban-like, al-Qaeda aspects.

  • Joshua Lee Johansson Johnson

    I believe it’s referred to as the ‘separation of Christianity and evidence’.

    Don’t expect to find any evidence, you won’t.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    While it sounds pretty clear that he will not win, it is great that he is running….

    partly because having an open atheist on the ballot starts the process of softening how much of a taboo it is. Years from now, when he (or someone else) is running as an open atheist, it will be less of a novel story, less of a hindrance to being elected, etc.

    Whether he wins or not, I tip my hat to this guy.

  • Mark Bender

    You have my full support. I’ll be reaching out to others far and wide to help gather some more momentum for your campaign.

  • SeekerLancer

    This. Texas is a huge state and not all of it fits the stereotype. However in terms of the representative elections it is a lost cause in many districts. Here’s to hoping Wendy Davis will take the governor’s seat next year. I’ll certainly be voting for the first time as a Texas citizen in that election.

  • Mark Bender

    Well, Daniel is *doing* something. Whether or not you like his methods, he is beginning to succeed and gaining the right kind of attention.

  • Robster

    The crowd appears to have been made up of clerics or the fundamentally religious. The young atheist deserves to be elected, he’s got balls.

  • smrnda

    You talk like you know the guy. Do you?

  • Phillip Q

    Don’t generalise Texans, the forum that they were in was for Michael Burgess of the Tea Party (they are the New Afghanistan). Most Republicans in Texas are moderates that don’t adhere the Burgess’s beliefs, but the constituents of Burgess’s are radical believers. If you think Texans have no common sense you have probably never been to Austin.

  • Randay

    Unfortunately your name works against you. “Moran” is how hicks spell “moron”. You may remember the famous photo of the guy at a rally who held up a sign “Get a brain moran”.

  • maddogdelta

    I hope so. That means the Buffalo Bills will be winning the Super Bowl

  • Dentonite

    I’ve gotta say…I know Moran in real life, and Bob is right. I assume he also knows Moran. Denton is a small town (hence my anonymity here). I’m glad Moran is bringing atheism to the public sector, but he really is an attention whore. Oh well.

  • Dentonite

    And apparently Gravatar makes anonymity impossible. Oh well.

  • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb

    Yes, don’t mess with Texas, LOL. We have the largest weekly secular gathering in the nation, at Houston Oasis. We also have the largest city in the US with an openly LGBT mayor. American Atheists was first formed in Austin, if you’ll remember. You should be more careful how wide a brush to use when painting this great state with your interpretation.