National Atheist Party Cancels 2012 Convention

It’s hard to top the Reason Rally as far as getting atheists to come together and getting media attention, but the National Atheist Party wanted to replicate that feat by holding their own convention.

Yesterday, though, president Troy Boyle announced that it would be canceled due to lack of support and funding:

NAPCON 2012 was supposed to be our biggest and best public event; our chance to show the U.S. that we could fund and organize a large, noteworthy and impressive “Secular Summit” that would attract media buzz and even more interested members and donations. The reality is that we can’t. The donations simply aren’t there and if we went ahead with the event as planned, it would bankrupt us. As a member-driven organization, we want to be responsible with your money and spending every last penny on a single event cannot be considered responsible. As my Grandmother would have said, “Our eyes got bigger than our belly!”

I won’t bore you with the long litany of reasons that this convention hasn’t come together. Suffice it to say that too many critical players have backed out of the event, and too few donations and sponsors have committed to supporting it. Whether that is our failure to market the event properly or we simply didn’t have enough seed money to insure its success is moot. The plain fact of the matter is that we have to cancel the event and spend more time and careful planning to make our 2013 convention a solid and better organized success.

That’s not much of a confidence booster in a year when a political party created to bring together Secular Americans should’ve had a banner year. And since this is the public admission of what happened, it stands to reason that there was a lot more chaos happening behind the scenes.

But how do you build up an organization like this one when your biggest event is a no-go and the election will be over in a couple of months? Rebooting in a few years is not much consolation.

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.

  • dangeroustalk

    One bit of constructive criticism I would have is that they have to reassure people that they don’t want them to change their political affiliation at this time. Many people hear “Atheist National Party” and they thing that joining means giving up their present affiliation.

  • Bob Churchill

    I’m not intimately familiar with the US scene, but surely many people will just reject, prima facie, the idea of an atheist political party, on the basis that they sure as heck wouldn’t want an out-and-out Christian political party in charge, either?

    • Sagrav

      Well, the Republican party has pretty much become the (ultra conservative) “Christian” political party.  To have an actual “Christian” party would be redundant, and they would be unlikely to get much funding from donors.

      The Democrats have to tout their Christian fluffery too, but Democrats tend to be a bit more flexible on that front.

      • JoFro

        I thought the Democratic Party had now become the official “Atheist” political party….hasn’t it?

        • Maria

          Only if you hear the republicans tell it, that’s what they want everyone to believe! Ex. Rick Perry proclaiming that Obama has declared a “war on christmas”

        • Foster

          Seeing how President Obama, Joe Biden and most of the successful politicians of the Democratic Party all insist that they’re Christians, that would be a “no.”

          They may represent atheists better than the GOP, but they are definitely not atheistic, and they say “God bless America” just as often as W did.  

          • Xeon2000

            I imagine that’s just political maneuvering to weaken the character assault the Christian Right carries out against them.

        • Helanna

          That’s what I thought . . . at least, Fox News keeps referring to them as the ‘godless liberals’. And would Fox News lie to us? 

        • Gus Snarp

          Is that a joke? Mike Huckabee just stated that Barack Obama is the only evangelical Christian in this race, and it may be the only true thing a Republican has said lately.

          They’re not the party of atheism, they’re just a little more in favor of separation of Church and State. There’s a difference between a secular government and an atheist one. Hell, that’s my problem with the Atheist Party. I want government to be secular, not atheist.

        • Coyotenose

           The majority of Democrats are Christians. Nearly all their leadership claims to be religious, probably in excess of 99% of it.

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

        I think you paint all Republicans with too wide a brush.  I lean toward the right-wing, but I’m as godless as any of you liberal heathens.  Fundamentalist Christians are useful idiots for the GOP, but a lot of this “God and Country” crap is propaganda to win votes…you knew that, right?

        • Shadow of the Hedgehog

          I think it started out that way and then they couldn’t control the monster they created.

        • Gus Snarp

          It was, but it’s not anymore. The GOP today has changed. Bush’s GOP was just using the religious right, but in so doing, he allowed them to take over. The GOP, like all political parties, has evolved over time. It is now the party of racism and fundamental religious extremism. When Mitt Romney has to completely reverse himself on his position on abortion to win the party’s nomination, when candidates can’t say they support basic science on evolution and still have a chance at winning party support (and remember, Republicans were once the party of science, because corporations and the military need sound science education and funding as much, or more than, anyone), then you know that the religious right is now in control. The pro-corporate, pro-military, pro-war wing of the party is still in the party, because they have no where else to go. The libertarian wing of the party is hanging on by a thread. But the religious fundamentalist wing is in charge now. They’re the ones using the others now. And they have a sad overlap with the racist wing of the party, which is much stronger in this campaign than it has been in years.

        • Xeon2000

          You’re a financial conservative then, not a republican. You are on the fringe. The Christian Right with their social conservatism controls the core Republican party.

        • Coyotenose

           Any particular Republican may reject the supernatural, but no, the party itself does not. It is ruled by Fundies and People Who Pander To Fundies.

          Seriously, the Texas Republican Party officially opposes teaching critical thinking skills because it may make people spot the holes in Christianity.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        If the GOP is an ultra-conservative Christian party when pro-life doesn’t even make their top 10 list of priorities, then I’d hate to see what a real left wing party would be like.

  • Xeon2000

    I guess it’s obvious, but I’d assume there is a lot of resistance amongst atheist themselves to joining an Atheist political party. I don’t know if it’s entirely about marketing and “getting the word out” as much as its simply the fact that many atheist know about it but aren’t interested.

  • Prolificscribe

    After pulling their own publicity stunt and inviting the Westboro Baptists to the Reason Rally without even consulting the other organizers, I’m not surprised they’re lacking support. My experiences with them tell me that they want to be the sole, dominant voice of all atheists and if you don’t do it their way, they have no problem manipulating a situation and ramming their agenda down your throat. They’ll never see a dime from me. Moreover, I agree with the previous poster that the idea of an atheist party is as odious as the idea of a Christian one. If the NAP goes belly-up, good riddance.

    • Pickledance89

      Not likely, It continues to grow, and postponing the convention means they are that much more fiscally solvent as they retained the funds they budgeted for that event.  They just didn’t meet the threshold to commit the funds for that large event because they wanted to be responsible with the donations of its members.

      Nothing the NAP has ever done indicates they want to be anything other than what the votes of its members and will of its volunteers try to make it to be. 

      All I hear is vague hate and negativity.

  • cathouseumbrella

    Good. The Atheist Party was bad idea to begin with. And their logo looks like it should be for the post office.

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

      Politics is too complex for single-idea parties to hold much sway.  There are liberal atheists and conservative atheists, too, and I can’t see them agreeing very much on fiscal policy.

      • revaaron

        I agree. That said, as a fiscal conservative it’s hard enough to find a conservative who I agree with, including most self-identifying fiscal conservatives.

      • mex12

        It isn’t a single issue party.  Look at the platform chosen by members.

  • Mike

    The what party? I’m an active reader of atheist  blogs and news and I I don’t remember seeing many articles discussing the atheist party, its goals, and its funding problems in the time leading up to this announcement.

  • Octoberfurst

     The whole idea of a “National Atheist Party” seems stupid to me. Why even have something like this?

    • revaaron

      I’ve been wondering the same thing…

  • Pee Pee le Fritz

    I cannot prove it, but I suspect part of the reason there is a lack of support is because the atheist community has become fragmented (witness the stupid Atheist+ ‘movement’) and is being co-opted by every special interest group and organization with a cause du jour.

    I cannot align myself to anything that has splinter groups ready to assign names/negatives such as “misogynist” at the drop of a pin simply because someone dare speak up and say that this is not the place for it.

    Humanists may have cause to be co-opted based simply on the humanist definition, but the atheist community cannot and should not adopt these splinter groups agendas as its own.

    Until the atheist community remains above the fray of the petty in-squabbling and bickering, I want nothing to do with an organized group.

    • http://www.twitter.com/alexthethinker Teleprompter

      Half or more of the human race is a special interest/splinter group? That’s news to me. A+ wants equality, period. Not just for women but for all of us. Maybe you should find out why people are called misogynists, and stop refusing to be skeptical and accepting your dislike of the word without even knowing what it means? Be a real skeptic and do your homework, then you’ll realize that you’ve been in the dark.

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

    If I were going to join a 3rd party,  it’d be the Greens.  What I really want is for the Democrats to adopt much of the Green platform and make defending the secular nature of our constitution part of the platform.

  • Atheisticallyyours

    The other issue is the fact that us atheists are such god-damned independent people that getting us to come together to discuss “political” issues would require the existence of a “deity”! Politically, we are all over the place! 

  • witchgawd

    An atheist party was a dumb idea to begin with. Besides not believing in gawds, what does this party actually stand for? What’s their platform? Atheists are a diverse bunch. You’ve got to have something you stand for and can rally behind besides not believing in one particular idea. Rediculous. Time to disband what’s left of the party and rethink their strategy…and name.

  • Gus Snarp

    I think this was an interesting idea on some levels, but if it were to work, it would take some time to build. They may have tried to be too much, too quickly.

    I also think though that calling oneself the “Atheist Party” marks a group automatically as a fringe group. Either they don’t intend to be a real political party, in which case the name is inappropriate grandstanding and turns me off, or they really want to be a political party, in which case they’ve tied themselves to far too small a demographic to have a chance at being a successful party. A political party automatically faces the problem that many, if not most, people who share their views will not support the party because they realize that to win elections they have to support one of the two major parties. If you want to get numbers, you’ve got to have a large base than people willing to associate themselves with the atheist label. Plus, there are plenty of issues that atheists simply don’t agree on. I’m not going to support a libertarian just because they’re an atheist, because I disagree with them on too many important issues.

    But perhaps more importantly, while I am proudly atheist, I do not believe  there should be an Atheist Party any more than there should be a Christian Party, a Mormon Party, or a Muslim Party. Government should separate itself from religious identification in every way, and so should a political party. Identifying your party with a religious label, even if it’s atheism, is scary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    The issue is that there is no association between not believing in gods and other social issues.  Atheists agree on separation of church and state, but on no other issues.  People keep trying to drag atheists into their camp and it’s not working.  we’re not so easily exploited. 

  • TheodoreSeeber

    DIVERSITY?  Really?  I’ve never seen an atheist actually be for diversity yet.


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