In a press release Thursday, the National Atheist Party announced that for the second time in two years, it is changing its name.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of the party. It’s a political party, but it does not run candidates for office. It styles itself as a “Constitutional movement … dedicated to the preservation of the Founding Fathers’ vision of a secular nation.” It promotes progressive, secular political policies.
The group’s new name is the Secular Party of America.
Its name has been a contentious issue since the party’s inception two and a half years ago. Originally it was called the Freethought Party by its founders, Troy Boyle and Mark Smith, but members objected, saying the name did not accurately explain what the party stood for. According to the press release, the name Freethought Party “was not an honest or meaningful representation of what [its members] hoped to achieve.” On March 11, 2011, the name was changed to the National Atheist Party.
The name was challenged by its members again in March 2013, at its annual meeting. Jacob Kramer, one of the party’s original members and its Vice President of Outreach, supported the current name change, as did Aron Ra, but the name change did not garner sufficient support at the annual meeting. Apparently the party votes more than once a year, though, and the name change was proposed again by Bernard “Flash” Kellish, who is the party’s Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing, at a recent election.
The problem with the name was the use of the word “atheist.” Stigma attached to the word may have turned off potential members.
Kellish said that “not only is the new name far more inclusive of a greater number of Americans that share our vision of true separation of church and state, but that it will open the door to those that may not have joined us if for no other reason than because ‘Atheist’ was in the name.”
Despite the fact that the party was created by atheists, for atheists, and to give atheists a voice we have never before enjoyed, using the word is still too hot a button for many people.
The leaders of the new Secular Party of America intend to develop the organization into a full-fledged political party. In the meantime, the values of secular humanism and evidenced-based reasoning will guide its platform. The party seeks to politically represent not only atheists, but all who share the goal of a secular government by gathering the political strength of secularists nation and worldwide.
To learn more about the Party, visit www.usanap.org. (The website hasn’t yet caught up with the name change.)
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