National Atheist Party Gets Press

I’m having a hard time getting behind the recently formed National Atheist Party.

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.

But people are signing up on Facebook. And they’re checking out the website.

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 :)

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.

  • Pwowper

    I can see the “witty” cartoons now.  Some NAP person talking about an issue and everyone in the crowd asleep while they ramble on. 

    Oh well, at least they didn’t pick a word starting with F.

    • Michael Appleman

      Friendly Atheist Party? :)

  • Dennis Lavanway

    Interesting.

    “””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. “””

    A lot of people don’t agree 100% of what the GOP or Democrats platforms are, but still label themselves a Republican or Democrat.  

    If you agree with most of what a party stands for, is that not the best vote regardless of labels?

  • cdub

    I think what is unique about them is that they’re choosing their stances based on voting.  It is much more of a direct connection than how it normally works, where we support candidates who seem to have the same stances on issues and hope that they’ll do what we want them to.  Politics is obsessed with the middle man.  And for the record, while obviously not all atheists are going to agree on these issues, I think it will be a significant majority, and i don’t think it hurts for atheists to have a more unified political presence than we currently do.

    • Anonymous

      The various Pirate parties work that way too. Since the platform is technology focused and members are very young, a lot of it is organized via the internet

    • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb


       i don’t think it hurts for atheists to have a more unified political presence than we currently do.”

      I don’t think it necessarily helps, though.  Atheism is a philosophical view of reality, but our views on the role of government is quite divergent.  Not believing in gods doesn’t automatically make someone liberal, though it does make them rational.

  • 2bitsofcopper

    I like what someone stated on the comment section of one of the articles about the group. I worry this party will only put negative attention on Atheists. Atheism is a life (or rather lack of afterlife) view,  and we do not all see eye-to-eye on every issue. This could end up being more hurtful than helpful if  they get aggressive in a campaign (Something American Atheists billboards do at times, and I don’t approve of “bad press is still attention” tactics). 

    I would support a Secular party, or a Humanist party, but not an Atheist Party. Christians would feel very threatened by the name alone, and would label it as something radical and scary.

    • Dennis Lavanway

      No matter the name of the party, the Christians will squash any views that do not align with theirs.

      • The Captian

        Which is why atheist should own guns, eventually a pitchfork carrying, torch wielding mob may come to drag you out of your house. So as an atheist I already can’t support these idiots.

        Besides all their stances are just what the Green party has. So it seems pointless to split that movement even further based on the lack of belief in gods.

  • Yoav

    1) The acronym isn’t all that exciting…

    I don’t know about that, a nice nap sure sound good now.

  • Rich Wilson

    I usually use my vote to support 3rd parties anyway, so although I would prefer secular over atheist, I’m not sure I have any better options at the moment.  The Democratic Congress really pissed me off with H. Con. Res 13, and one of the few ways I have left to show that is with my vote.  (Yes, I’ve written to and talked to a number of political offices over the issue already, and have vocally withheld monetary support I would normally have given)

  • Evan Kelley

    I do like what they stand for, but I wouldn’t join. Had they called themselves a Secularist Party I’d sign up quickly. I guess I just feel like the word Atheist conjures up notions of religion (i.e. the lack thereof) which would be a hindrance in all arguments regarding Church/State Separation issues, no matter how rational the arguments are. 

  • Michael

    NAP: A change is as good as a rest?

  • Andrew Morgan

    Urg.  What does atheism have to say about politics?

  • Anonymous

    EsIvelyAmerican Secularist Party
    Secularist Coalition of America
    Rationalist American Party
    Coalition Of Skeptics

    There were plenty of options that could work without causing the issues the National Atheist Party does. I still don‘t really think we should segregate into a minority party in 2 party America (lobbying as a special interest seems much more effective) but that terrible branding effectively eliminates any interest I might have had.

    • Pastanation

      A.S.P wouldn’t work so well.  Cartoons would be all about the A.S.P group trying to talk conservatives into eating an apple.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        Ok, this may sound stupid, but I don’t get it. What’s the connection to an apple with A.S.P.?

        • Rich Wilson

          Asp as in serpent.

  • Tinker

    They definitely do not stand for me. They admit that jobs are created by innovations but they seem to think that all innovations that we’ve had has come from NASA and therefore we need to increase government spending to create jobs.  I was not aware that NASA held all of those patents. Why does our government need so much of my money if the government is inventing things?

    And what does job creation have to do with Atheism?

  • http://cafeofthecosmicdance.blogspot.com/ Paul Sunstone

    I think atheists are more in need of an effective political lobbying group than they are in need of a political party.   As it stands today, we are out-spent and out-manned by religious lobbying groups. 

  • Michael D

    NAP might need to rename. Honestly I wouldn’t mind a new label.  Tired of being associated with objectivists, raelians and the other atheists I disagree with. 

  • http://billybobsbibleblog.blogspot.com/ billybobbibb

    NAP looks like a duplicate of the liberal wing of the Democratic party.  As a libertarian atheist, I can’t get behind some of their issues, like gun control or “green” policies (read: authoritarian energy regulation).  And these issues are mostly fringe issues, like abortion (which, ahem, I believe is legal) or the repeal of drug prohibition.  Where do they stand on defense spending, Medicare reform, tax policy, foreign policy, education, etc,  in other words, issues that actually matter to people?  Legalizing drugs is NOT going to create all the jobs we need today.  These dweebs have their heads up their arses, imho.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      And this right here is exactly why I wish they had left “Atheist” out of the name. “Humanist” might have been better, although I’m not so sure I agree with their gun control stance. But the presence of atheists across the political spectrum means they’re trying to box us in in an inappropriate manner, one that I suspect will do more harm than good to images of atheists. And even if it generates a positive view of atheists (somehow), it’ll likely just create a *new* stereotype.

  • Prosey

    Not that I agree with all issues. Hell, uniting atheists on an issue is more difficult than trying to herd cats. But yeah, as with the Brights, I’m glad there are groups that people can -at the very least- identify with, and feel just a little less alone.

  • Nathan

    I don’t much like this at all. Making an atheist group then throwing out a bunch of issues that they like have little to nothing to do with atheism. I don’t agree with them on all the issues and plenty of other atheists don’t.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639378446 Bridget Gaudette

      The issues were voted on by the membership and were able to gain a 66% consensus. We Atheists do *tend* to agree politically.

      • Anonymous

        So you’re saying that this group doesn’t represent 1/3 of atheists?

        There are a good number of libertarian (and even anarchist) atheists out there. This NAP is completely against their political philosophy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ellenbeth EllenBeth Wachs

          “So you’re saying that this group doesn’t represent 1/3 of atheists?” No, that’s not what she said.

  • Anonymous

    Whether you agree with their stances or not, I’d point out that, if you’re just griping that they used ‘Atheist’ instead of ‘secular’, that’s little different from tone-trolling feminists for pointing out misogyny.  That’s the name, and people had better get used to the word, dammit!

    • Anonymous

      Could we have one article without the man-brigade jumping in?

      • Anonymous

        Hey, if you don’t like feminism, or particularly don’t like analogies drawn with feminism, that’s your problem.  Either that, or you misread me somewhere.  I’m not sure in which sense I’m the ‘man-brigade’.

        I’d simply prefer not to have the discussion at hand watered-down over disagreement with the name.

  • Maria

    I think most of these issues were voted upon because it’s the religious groups/parties that stand exactly opposite from them on the same issues, and for specifically religious reasons. So I get why those are the main issues, and I really have no problem with the name, except for the imaginary abrasiveness the sensitive religious people may feel…Secular really would be better.  But hey, why not just come right out the the closet and say that’s who we are and we want our political voice heard!  While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it does give like-minded people a chance to put force behind this one thing, under one name.  Plus, republicans and democrats don’t all exactly agree on all issues, this is no different!

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy

    I’m undecided about joining.  I agree with Hemant and most of the comments, it should not use the name ‘Atheist’, especially when ‘Humanist’ is much more descriptive.  Even ‘Secular’ would have been better.  On the other hand, the words ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ have no relationship to the policies of those parties.  So, I’m not sure the name is all that important.
    It does beat the name ‘Brights’ though which I thought was terrible.  I might as well call myself a ‘Smarty-pants’.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      Heh. “Smarty-pants.” Mom always called me a “smart-alec;” can I go with that?

  • http://twitter.com/billburcham Bill Burcham

    On a more superficial level: what is up with us atheists and bad design. That branding makes no sense. It is infected by the horrible script “A” from the Dawkins’ Out Campaign. OK I get it. But then they muddy the message with the crossbar-less As. See also: samharris.org, richarddawkins.net. Man, is there no money available or is there something about rationalism that repels graphic designers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Rhoades/100000175617377 Scott Rhoades

    There was a great interview from a higher up in NAP on the Cape Reason podcast. When I first heard about NAP I was underwhelmed. I wondered why they didn’t just form a lobby group or use the same resources to support the Secular Coalition for American. Atheists don’t believe in god but beyond that there are vast differences from socialist progressives to libertarians. After hearing the podcast I thought better of the party but still have a problem with the labeling beyond the poor acronym. I even agreed with many things said on the interview but I need one more thing before I’m on board.

    Change the name to the Secular Humanist Party. Most of the platforms already go along the line of progressive secular humanism anyway except in certain areas where you can tell the libertarians in the mix have skewed the results a bit. Unlike atheism, the label of Secular Humanism actually tells you a great deal about the beliefs and ideals of those within the party. Change the name and I’m in.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639378446 Bridget Gaudette

      Changing the name will not change the ideals, goals.. or anything else about the Party. The attempt was to not dance around what NAP seeks to be and that is the representative political voice of U.S. Atheists. It could call itself the Balloon Party, but eventually everyone would figure out that it’s the Atheist Party, so why not just be honest from the get-go?

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        The attempt was to not dance around what NAP seeks to be and that is the representative political voice of U.S. Atheists.

        Except . .  . you’re not. U.S. Atheists seem to have an awful lot of libertarians in the mix, and the platform positions presented don’t represent them. As others have said, “atheist” only tells you ONE thing about the person, nothing more. Having the party use the term “atheist” paints a very, very broad brush indeed, and will only cause more confusion among the theists. We have enough trouble with stereotypes and confusion, we don’t need a misrepresentative political party on top of that.Had you gone with something that included “secular,” “humanist,” or both, I’d be more inclined to support you. Secular humanism is a worldview that does include stances of a political nature.

  • Brian Macker

    “The acronym isn’t all that exciting…”

    It is to us old folks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

    Yeah, this party sounded like a great idea at first, but I only half agree with some of the positions. As an “atheist party”, it certainly doesn’t represent all atheistic views. We’re quite a diverse group of people, with the only common thread (relavent to politics), is that religion doesn’t determine our opinions on politics.

    I’d be much happier with a national scientific party, with positions that are based in scientific research, heavily detailed, and open to both critiquing and easy removal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649813048 Nicoline Smits

    It’s a good way of injecting *reason* to the political debate in this country, instead of the usual drivel about god and xtianity and all that. No political party will ever cover every possible stance on every possible issue. I do think their graphic design leaves something to be desired, but hey, that can change, right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639378446 Bridget Gaudette

    I’m just excited I got quoted!

  • Jess

    I’m with them on a number of issues but they better steer clear of my guns.

  • Dan W

    I agree with them on, as far as I can tell, every issue. However, I recognize that not all atheists have the same political views. Perhaps they should call themselves the Progressive party.

  • Anonymous

    After reviewing their stance on the issues, I can’t join them. I’m not naive enough to believe I could agree with them (or any other party) on all the issues. But I disagree with them on too many issues. For instance: gun control is a farce (just ask Calif or Illinois). I live in Las Vegas, if Hemant and I sat down and compared the crime stats of Vegas (gun friendly) & Chicago (gun restrictive) there would be a considerable difference. I’m not saying hand out guns like candy. But why should a law-abiding citizen, like myself, have to suffer because gov’t agencies won’t tackle the real problems? But even if I totally agreed with NAP on all the issues, I believe it’s futile. While I wish we could have a party that will give the Dem’s & Repub’s a run for their money, even if we could get every nonbeliever in the country to join and vote for the NAP candidate, we would fall way short of defeating either major party. Or at least, that’s my opinion. But even if by some fluke we won the White House, he/she would have to work with a mostly religious Congress. We’ve all seen how well that works between the Dem’s & Repub’s.

    I’ve been a Republican for the last 20 yrs. But I’ve been falling away from the party more and more since leaving that fakery known as christianity. I am very reluctant to put any support behind any of the fools running for GOP nomination. But I could never support Obama ( too many reasons to name here). And since those seem to be my only viable options, I’m in a pickle.

  • Ndonnan

    interesting,been following FA for a while and i thought it was expected that your pro gay, abortion ect based on the ammount of articals on these subjects so it does confuse me that you wouldnt be embraceing their lead.the other confusing thing is for an athiest group how come ive never seen anything about anyother religion than christianity???

    • Rich Wilson

       i thought it was expected that your pro gay, abortion ect

      From the article:

      Even if you support their stances on those positions — and I do

      how come ive never seen anything about anyother religion than christianity

      You mean aside from the fact that 80% of this countries identifies as ‘Christian’?  Maybe you’re not paying attention to things that aren’t all about you?

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist?s=islam 
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist?s=judaism
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist?s=football 

      And if you try it with other search terms, you’ll get content related to things like ‘pagan’ and ‘wiccan’, although usually comments as opposed to full blog posts.  You’ll also find lots of posts that are better categorized as ‘faith’ or ‘religion’ than a particular religion.

  • Anonymous

    What about SHIP (Secular Humanist Independent Party)? 
    * Much more “graphic work”
    * I’ll go down with the ship!

  • Anonymous

    I’m against them because they divide the vote. The Tea Party wasn’t dumb enough (despite my wishes) to form their own actual political party that would divide the conservative vote. Lets not have it happen to us.

    Secondly, I don’t want Santorum’s numbers to drop… yet. I want him or some other non-Romney candidate to win the Republican nomination so they can be clobbered by Obama in the fall. Obama can win against Romney, but it’s going to be close and that worries me. If things go wrong, we could be looking at the Republicans controlling all three branches of government again.

  • Kim1032

    NAP represents a demographic; it never said it represented all atheists.  If you don’t agre with the platform; don’t join.  If you agree with enough of the platform (atheist or not); join.  It’s easy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lee-Moore/629246358 Lee Moore

    Hello, 
    I cant tell you how many times I have heard something like “Atheists need a louder voice in the political arena”.  We are here to do something about that.  If you want to be a part of that voice feel free to join us.  

  • Anonymous

    The NAP should reorganize itself as a PAC that supports candidates that support the separation of church and state (possibly including non-atheist candidates that are strongly against religious involvement in government).

    Personally, I disagree with a lot of their platform, and I know there are plenty of other atheists that do too. Building an entire political platform around atheism just doesn’t make sense. It’s part of a political issue but not a political philosophy.

    Are any of the other atheist advocacy organizations formed as PACs that actually directly support candidates? If not, this NAP group could build its identity that way.

    Call it the Organization for Secular Governance PAC (or whatever) and support candidates. Candidates would be more likely to be happy with an endorsement and/or money from a PAC that doesn’t have “Atheist” in its name (that’s politics for ya).

  • Ryan McCue

    What is so wrong with putting the word “atheist” into the name? Part of the goal of the party is to bring together atheists and create a political voting bloc to address and influence policy in the areas related but not limited to our platform. Another reason for “atheist” in the name, is that we wish to desensitize the public to it. Perhaps rid the country of the negative connotation immediately attached by some, to the word.Everyone please note, the NAP is a democratic process party. The name, as well as the platform, were voted on by existing members of the party, and are subject to a vote again in March. If only the name is stopping you from joining, then join to help sway the vote to change it! Also, we are currently a non-profit 527 tax status political party meaning we only advocate for or against policy, not candidates at this point.The NAP readily welcomes anyone who finds they agree with the majority of our platform and charter.  We coordinate with other secular groups, including being a proud sponsor of the Reason Rally.  We, as atheists & secularists need to come together if we want to balance the religious rights attempts to coerce our governmental policies. The NAP’s motto is “From Diversity and Reason, Unity”. The goal is not to winge amongst ourselves over such minor issues, but to come together so our collective voices are heard. We, as atheists, tend to have similar perspectives on political issues, as a majority. The “majority” affects our direction through democratic voting. We can work together, or against one another… I prefer unity toward a common goal.  We will never reach a unanimous consensus on every subject… The NAP does not claim to speak for all atheists, nor is it’s membership limited to atheists, but at over 8,000 members in only 10 months(and growing rapidly), something is working. Perhaps folks could give it a chance and actually see what it is all about before discrediting us, and perhaps even be part of the solution…  If you don’t agree with a platform stance, help us to correct it as a team player, rather than an arm chair quarterback…PEACE

  • Nunyabiz

    They are not saying that ALL Atheist say X, Y , Z they are a GROUP of Atheist that sign up for that party of Atheist that Say they support X,Y,Z.
    If as an atheist you do not support those views then don’t sign up.
    I think it is high time to show the rest of the country that there are one hell of a lot more Atheist in this country by 100 fold than there are Teabaggers.

  • Troy

    The NAP is doomed, at least if their current leadership is any evidence of the way this party will be run. 

    http://goldentrianglefreethinkers.org/2011/09/14/national-atheist-party-where-questions-are-unwelcome/

    It is evident that dissent is unwelcome in any form.  In fact, I was banned from their facebook group for simply asking them to “clarify their fiscal and social policies and how the lack of a belief in god has any relevance”.

     


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