A Petition for the White House to Take the Petitions Seriously

After the pathetic response atheists got to the White House petition to remove “Under God” from Pledge of Allegiance, you have to ask yourself, “Why even bother?”

If you feel the same way, I’ve got a new petition for you:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening

Although the ability to submit petitions directly to the White House is a noble and welcome new feature of the current administration, the first round of responses makes blatantly clear the White House intends to just support its current stances and explain them with responses everyone who has done any research already knows.

It needs another 10,000 or so votes by November 27th in order for the Obama administration to respond. (And I’m sure that response will be just as meaningful as the rest of them…)

At least it’s one way to let them know we’re unimpressed with their pseudo-outreach program.

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.

  • everettattebury
  • Kathy Orlinsky

    I’m actually not sure that having the White House take petitions seriously is such a good idea.  Does anyone doubt that for every one petition for equal rights and separation of church and state there won’t be a hundred more insisting that we all acknowledge that Jesus is our savior and that zygotes have feelings?

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      The idea is that they should be able to interpret the difference between a petition than *can* be taken seriously and one that cannot. So far, they take none of them seriously and it shows.

      • Nena

        The problem with what you say is that while we certainly think that our petitions for enforcement of separation of church and state, equal rights, and reproductive rights are the ones that should be taken seriously, the religious right feel just as strongly that their petitions for freedom of religion, protection of the sanctity of marriage, and right to life are the ones that should be taken seriously. And their numbers are greater than ours.

    • Crystalspin

      Right, and a lot of crazypants stuff like not one but TWO petitions that the government should “admit” that UFOs and extraterrestrials are real. Right.

  • d w

    First comment ever, and I think you’re great, and this is just hilarious.

    Signing up now to put my sig down!

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Welcome, d w. This is a good issue with which to start your participating. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    How many petitions are they getting?  You all saw the one about ‘fessing up to knowledge of contact with ETs, right?

    • Gus Snarp

      They put out some numbers a while back, and I can’t remember most. They’ve got a built in filter, originally you had to get 5,000 signatures to merit a response. There are around 70 petitions that should be getting a response under that rule. They’ve since changed the limit, now you have to reach 25,000 to merit a response, which should reduce the number of petitions they have to respond to. Somehow I think the UFO petition played some role in the change in the signature limit.

      My favorite petition is this one:https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/reform-coinage-system/Q0rspKM7 
      And I’m very curious to see their response to it. It’s completely non-partisan, saves the government money, and is entirely practical, so it will probably get a vapid response as well.

  • Gus Snarp
    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      LOL
      Hopefully in their vapid response, they remember to address the request for a cookie.

      • Gus Snarp

        Sadly, it can be interpreted as one cookie for all the signers, and since it must reach 25,000 to get action, that’s either going to be a big cookie or we’re not going to get much cookie, individually.

    • Anonymous

      That one is great. I had to sign it too. But I’m not holding my breath for the cookie.

  • Tylertc13

    /signed

  • Anonymous

    I tried to sign it. Here is the feedback message I sent them:

    I am trying to sign the petition: “Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening”

    But the sign the petition button does not work. I try the sign-in button and it says I am already signed in and offers to sign me out.

    • Anonymous

      It is working today so I signed. 

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I was about to sign the petition, and then I read this in the petition body:

    An online petition is not meant as a replacement for using a search box in a web browser.

    What the hell does that mean? I don’t understand that at all. Can someone please explain?

    • http://www.facebook.com/billyup Jesse Jones

      It means if we wanted to be given a generic answer to an important issue, we’d do a google search.

    • Gus Snarp

      I think they’re suggesting that you could just Google these issues and Obama and find a policy statement that already exists saying much the same thing. But it’s pretty poorly written. That’s why I like the “We Demand a Vapid Response” petition better. It’s short, pithy, and funny, while making much the same point, but without demanding that all petitions be taken seriously.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Jesse and Gus, thank you. I’ll go sign it now. 

    • Tom

      They’re referring to the fact that the standard canned response to any petition (it’s exactly the same for petitions to the government here in the UK) is invariably nothing more than a long, tedious restatement of the government’s current stance that the petition is asking them to change or at least reconsider, usually with no actual rebuttal to any specific point raised.

      The exchange, boiled down, goes like this, every single damn time:

      Petitioners: “We n concerned citizens want you to stop/change x, which you are currently doing based on justification y, which we consider inadequate for reasons z”
      Government: “We are currently doing x based on justification y.”
      Petitioners: “…?”

      The practical upshot is that the alleged petition system, as currently operated, actually functions as nothing but a search engine for returning restatements of the government’s current position regarding something.

      • Tom

        Oh yeah, they’ve also already tried a “take the petitions seriously” petition at least once in Britain.  Nothing happened.

      • Gus Snarp

        Also exactly like every form letter I get back from my Congressional Representatives when I write to them.

  • Hayden Rylan

    Petitions have thus far been a platform for distributing existing policy. 

    I’d have been much happier if the petition required a mechanism to report on (1) how policy changed as a result of the petition, divided by (2) total number of successful petitions. 

    Although I suspect that the ratio is vanishingly small, perhaps by demanding evidence of success, we’d be in a better position to judge whether the process is truly meaningful and worthy of participation.

    • Lawsy

      Demanding evidence?  What are you, some kind of atheist?

  • 59 Norris

    Does anyone really think that the “Under God” phrase will be removed through the political process?  Seems to me that only way it will be changed is through the courts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      They could sidestep the whole issue by coming up with a new motto.

      • 59 Norris

        If by “they” you mean politicians within the political process (i.e. Congress and the Prez) it’s just not gonna happen.

  • http://dreamsinducedbysnickers.blogspot.com/ Mark A Gerads

    They seem to have censored this petition. We should petition them to not censor petitions.

  • Vanessa

    Can I sign it even if I’m Canadian? Although I do have a SSN number in the States…

    • Anonymous

       Anyone can sign it – you just need to give an email address. And if you don’t want to give them your real address, use mailinator.com.

  • Kassie

    I have to claim ignorance here. What makes you all want to be considered a religious group? I thought religion was the very thing you do not believe in. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      We are not a religious group. Where in this article does Hemant say otherwise?

      • Kassie

        You know, I accidentally posted this comment under the wrong post. I know, I know, who does that? I was actually thinking of the post “Why Can’t This Army Captain be a Humanist Lay Leader?” In that article it states that the reason he cannot be a lay leader is because humanists are not recognized as a religious group. In the following sentence Hemant says something like, “Guess what, Atheists are not recognized.” So I was confuse because as you just seemed to reiterate above, I thought atheists did not want to be a recognized religious group.
         

  • Volunteer

    Tried to sign it but I received a 404 error when i tried to sign in

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It needs another 10,000 or so votes

    Who do you think you are, PZ Myers?

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    There’s something  Pythonesque (as in Monty) about all this…

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      I know, submitting a petition about petitions….

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Signed and shared.

  • Thilinab

    Wait, you’re petitioning them to take the petitions seriously. That seems highly redundant. If they take this petition seriously, that means they are already taking petitions seriously and this is not required. If they don’t take petitions seriously, why would they treat this any differently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535286477 Roxane Farrell Murray

    *shrugs.*  They know we aren’t going to vote for the Religious Right, so they’re going to take us for granted because they’d lose more votes by supporting us than they’d gain.  

  • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

    Signed. I expect nothing.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    Unfortunately Obama cannot do the last part of that petition – due to the checks and balances in the US Constitution – but he should at least take a moment to look at these seriously rather than give us the same old canned response.

  • Miko

    “At least it’s one way to let them know we’re unimpressed with their pseudo-outreach program.”

    A better way is to stop participating in their system: don’t file petitions, don’t vote, don’t put your money in their banks, don’t tell the truth on your tax forms or better yet don’t file them at all, don’t use or accept U.S. currency in your commerce transactions, drop out of the government-approved formal economy entirely, etc.  Obviously, these involve massive changes in your lifestyle and can’t be implemented all at once.  But by contrast signing the “I don’t like the way you deal with petitions” petition just tells them that you’ve surrendered unconditionally.


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