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Of the many atheists running for higher office this year, most are seeking positions in state legislatures. There’s one (Jamie Raskin, who doesn’t even like the A-word) who has a chance at a seat in the U.S. House, but that’s about it.

In Oklahoma, however, there’s an independent candidate on the ballot to become U.S. Senator, and he’s openly atheist.

Incumbent James Lankford holds the seat that’s considered among the safest in the nation for Republicans, even with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

But Sean Braddy is challenging him, anyway.


While his lack of religious faith isn’t evident on his campaign website, he wasn’t hiding it in 2013 when The Oklahoman ran an article on local atheists:

Sean Braddy, 41, of Norman, said he grew up in church but decided when his son was born in 1982 that he was completely done with religion.

“I wanted him to be able to think for himself and not be controlled,” Braddy said.

Braddy, who is black, said he grew up in the 1970s and saw the Ku Klux Klan and other white opponents of desegregation do many un-Christian-like things — all in the name of religion. He said he considered himself a Christian at that time, but the disturbing behavior of people who also called themselves people of faith was confusing.

“When I was in college I would ask friends, ‘You can be as wicked as you want to — throw rocks at people, spit on them and you still go to heaven?’ My conclusion was they believed in God just as much as I do,” he said.

He said two years ago, he did a Google search of the words “atheists” and “Oklahoma” and found information about Oklahoma Atheists. He said he has been with the group ever since.

He’s obviously not an anti-theist. More of a guy who personally doesn’t buy into religion, but understands and respects why others might still believe. In other words, he’s the only kind of atheist who could ever have a chance at earning a substantial number of votes in Oklahoma.

But that won’t happen this year. The election is so not in doubt that there aren’t even polls to know where the non-Republican candidates stand. (Braddy is one of two independent candidates running against a Libertarian, a Democrat, and Lankford.)

That shouldn’t discourage him, though. He’s getting his feet wet. After this election is over, the question will be whether he takes that experience and runs for something a little more within reach.

That said, if you’d like to donate to Braddy’s Senate campaign, you can do so here.

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.