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:
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!)