Cristin Padgett wants voters to open their minds and focus on critical issues, not her atheism.

Cristin Padgett of the Democratic Party wants the House District 33 seat. The position will be vacant now that Scott Turner, the incumbent State Representative and a Republican, announced he will not be entering the race for re-election in 2016.

Padgett has proudly declared that she is an atheist.

This outright declaration is risk taking for the Democrat. While it is true that no Democrat due for the electoral race will have an easy road ahead of them, there is a definite risk in announcing to voters that a candidate may be irreligious or may not believe in any higher being.

According to Padgett, she does not want her atheism to be a big issue in the election. However, she wants her electorate to open their minds and think in critical terms. In an interview to the media, she said that her motivation to declare her non-belief at the outset was to remove the question earlier in the campaign. She added that many people will have concerns about it and they will be afraid of what they are unable to understand.

Her way forward is a tough one. She is an electoral candidate in a place where Republican candidates have a definitive edge. The word “Democrat” is considered a dirty word–almost as equal to “godless.” This is born by numbers. The incumbent-and soon to be retired Republican Representative Scott Turner, trumped with about 85 percent of total votes in 2012 when he competed with a Libertarian candidate. He ran unopposed in 2014.

Other parts of Texas were not congenial for the Democrats either. Daniel Moran, who competed for Texas House, and is openly an atheist got barely 25 percent of total votes in 2014. Other candidates in the Texas race have used atheism either as a black mark or a punchline.

For atheists, however, there is only one way–and that is to compete. Elections can only be won if one competes. The stigma of anti-atheism only goes away if an increasing number of the atheist population speaks up.

For Padgett, she is running on the platform of defending civil liberties and improving education. She also wants the state to return to the era of economic stability. Most important of all, she is not interested in pushing her personal non-beliefs on the constituency. This could be the best method to attract voters who could be turned off by her non-belief in God. 

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