1) The acronym isn’t all that exciting…
2) Atheists don’t believe in god. End of story. The National Atheist Party has a platform on issues that have nothing to do with that (at least on the surface):
The party’s platform was decided on by a vote — again via Facebook — and includes hot-button issues such as gay marriage (for it) gun control (tighten it), abortion (a woman’s decision), immigration (reform it), energy (green it), and the economy (legalize recreational drugs to create revenue and jobs).
Even if you support their stances on those positions — and I do — it’s crazy to imply all atheists feel the same way. Or that we should feel the same way. There’s even a strong argument to be made that supporting church/state separation goes beyond what you “need” to agree with to be a good atheist. I know they’ll just say this is the platform their party members voted for, but when you call yourself the “National Atheist Party,” the media will think you’re speaking for all of us.
I’m sure many of these people don’t belong to any national secular group, don’t attend local meetups, don’t talk about their atheism openly very much… and it should count for something that those people are getting excited about this group:
[Co-founder Troy] Boyle says the NAP has 7,500 members and a chapter in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest chapter is Florida, with 200 members, and the smallest is Alaska, with two.
Bridget Gaudette, a 33-year-old medical case manager, joined the Florida chapter after visiting NAP’s Facebook page. She now volunteers as NAP’s deputy vice president and focuses on outreach.
“I am a big advocate of civic participation in government and I’m an atheist, so I loved the idea of a political party that could be the voice of atheists,” she said.
Ten years ago, when the Brights formed, a lot of people felt the same way I’m sure some of you do right now — that it was unnecessary, that you didn’t need another label to describe us, that it actually hurt the movement rather than helped it — and a lot of people still say those things.
But the biggest lesson we can take away from them is that thousands of people found out they weren’t alone. They read the description of what a Bright was, realized it described them perfectly, and found a(n online) community of like-minded people for the first time in their lives.
That’s a big freaking deal.
So will the National Atheist Party amount to anything? Not this year. Maybe not even in the future.
But if they’re getting press about it (and they are), and people are signing up as members (and they are), and it can help us form some sort of voting bloc for the future (up in the air), then good for them.
You don’t have to support them. You’re welcome to criticize what they’re doing because it’s not technically fair to say “Atheists stand for X, Y, and Z” when those things aren’t dealing with god’s existence. (I pointed out these very things when I mentioned them a few months ago.)
But I wouldn’t discredit them completely. If they can get some of those “nones” and closeted atheists agreeing with them and supporting what they’re doing, they’re doing all of us a favor.
Or, you know, they could make a huge difference by loudly proclaiming their support for Rick Santorum, causing his recent poll numbers to plummet