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How Is The National Atheist Party Coming Along?

Back in July, I learned about the creation of the National Atheist Party. Upon some consideration and research, I wrote a critical article noting that the creation of a political party based on the atheist identity threatens to marginalize atheists politically and undermine the separation of church and state that the National Atheist Party claims to support. Many angry supporters of the National Atheist Party commented that I had misunderstood the organization, which they asserted would become successful by attracting not just atheists, but also many liberal religious Americans.

new logoMy response to these criticisms was that the reality of politics would provide a good test of whether an atheist political party could be work. If I was wrong in my conclusion that the National Atheist Party could not be an effective political entity, the party’s supporters could “focus on proving your detractors wrong, by being successful.”

It’s been a couple of months now since I made that suggestion, so this morning, I decided to check back in on the progress National Atheist Party. How well is the organization doing in the test of political organizing?

One sign of progress is that the National Atheist Party has its own web site now. The first meeting of the National Atheist Party is also set for just a few days from now, this Saturday in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Volunteer representatives for the National Atheist Party have come forward in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia. That’s an improvement from July, when only 29 states had representatives.

Still, the National Atheist Party has not achieved the legal status of a political party anywhere in the United States. The National Atheist Party also has no candidates for any public office anywhere in the United States – not even for Town Clerk or Highway Superintendent. Building a political party takes time, to be sure, but in the most important test of a political party, electoral success, the National Atheist Party hasn’t even been able to enter the arena.

A great deal of the effort of the National Atheist Party seems to have been spent defending itself – often from the criticisms of other atheists. The National Atheist Party claims to be open to people of all religious identities, but then denies the validity of non-atheist labels. The group tells interested people who insist that they are not atheists that “You are one whether you want to claim the label or not,” and insults non-theists who don’t call themselves atheists, lecturing them that “When 80% of the population calls you an atheist, you should own up to it and depower them, not scurry to find some other less castigated term, in the hopes of escaping the stigma.”

The National Atheist Party claims to speak for between 10 and 15 percent of the population, but so far, that level of support is not in evidence.

17 comments to How Is The National Atheist Party Coming Along?

  • Not sure where you are getting your info, but it seems to be out of date. The website is usanap.org, not .net. The .net redirects there, but it is a .org domain.

    Also, we have achieved our 527 status as an official party, after MUCH support and growing interest, supported 100% by member contributions and volunteer time.

    We have also formed a party staff filled with professionals from multiple fields, including graduate level scientists and other professionals. We have spent very little time in the past few moths “defending ourselves” as we have been focusing our attention on the exponential growth of membership and interest in the party, which has kept us very busy all by itself.

    Lastly, we have never claimed o support all atheists, only our members, which as you have already noted, includes theists, atheists and many others of different religious persuasions. There are atheists who do not agree with our platform and charter, and we do not claim to represent them, as they are not party members. I actually spoke with Dr. Vic Stenger about this very topic, and he had nothing but praise for our organization, and agrees that with issues like dominionism and the growing element of fundamentalist Christians within the Republican party, forming such an organization seems a natural response.

    We can sit on our thumbs and argue amongst ourselves, while the religious fanatics unite and exert political control, or we can set aside petty differences and unify to take action and do something about it. I, and the entire NAP feel the latter is our best response.

    PS – Thanks for the linkback and exposure. We appreciate any press, and look forward to a time when you might become an ally and maybe even a supporter of the NAP. If not, we do thank you for your time and attention to the issue.

    -Jim Rael
    Social Media Advisor & Webmaster
    National Atheist Party.

  • Political Atheist

    I find it interesting that you claim the party members who replied to your previous article were “angry.” I read your previous article, as well as the comments made. It seemed to me there were plenty of people correcting you, and providing evidence in support of their claims to your being misguided, but I didn’t see anything that I would call angry. It seems you are just assuming they were angry because they don’t agree with you. For a second, I almost thought you were some sort of christian railing against all those stereotypically angry atheists. Here is a little bit of logic you may find useful in the future, disagreement does not equal anger.

    I also find it interesting that you seem to expect so much out of the NAP in such a short period of time, especially considering the fact that you seem so convinced that the party is essentially a failure from the starting line. The party is literally only 6 months old from the time of its conception as an idea. Do you have any idea what goes into forming a political party with the right to field candidates on ballots? You have to get 527 status with the IRS, which we have achieved, meaning we are an official, national, tax-exempt political organization. You also have to work to earn the right to field candidates on ballots in each state individually. That means in each of the 50 states, signatures must be gathered, fees must be paid, etc. In the state of Oregon, for example, over 20,000 signatures from registered voters are required before a new party can field candidates on the state ballot. Do you really expect that all of this would have been accomplished when this party has only even been a concept for six months? Your expectations are unrealistic.

    Hey, check back in a week, if the party still hasn’t elected one of its members as president of the United States of America, you can officially deem the NAP a total failure!

    • Note: When you’re a political party, you ought to expect scrutiny, because you’re asking for power. If you’re effective, people will ask difficult questions and say things about your party that you don’t want to hear. If the National Atheist Party is serious, it’s going to have to get used to that.

      Can either of you tell me what was actually ACCOMPLISHED at last Saturday’s picnic meeting? Can you tell me how many people showed up?

      Hold on, I’ll look it up. You claim to have had 100 people show up. The photo shows about 40 or so. Do you have a photograph showing 100 people?

      Hey, I understand that these things take time… but I also understand that effective new political parties have been established in just a year or two in the past. The National Atheist Party simply isn’t matching that kind of pace.

      I’ll tell you what, though – why don’t you come back here in a year and tell me about the candidates you have running for national office in 2012… as a National atheist party and all.

      • We never said we didn’t expect or welcome scrutiny. We are merely addressing said scrutiny. We are “used to that”, no need to build up some strawman about how we don’t accept questions or scrutiny. AGAIN, we never said anything of the sort, we only addressed, and disagreed with your scrutinies. YOU will have to get used to THAT.

        Additionally, calling us liars with such sketchy evidence over such a minute detail like 40 people or 100 is downright childish. And for the record, it was around 100 IN AND OUT. It is possible that there were never more than 60 or so at a given moment. But with all who came and went all day, it was around 100 people total who attended. And to base an accusation of dishonesty on a false dichotomy like “either there were 100 people there all at once who took a picture or you are lying about those numbers” is frankly the kind of narrow minded, unscientific thought process I expect from Young Earth Creationists and Fundies, not from a so called “skeptic”.

        AGAIN, we have accomplished much in our short time as an organization, and the momentum keeps growing. Even if you disagree with the platform, why not at least admit we are putting our money (and effort) where our mouth is, and taking some action to better this country instead of just whining on youtube, or facebook, or a blog about it?

        The only point you seem to make is “it won’t go anywhere, you will fail”…and what if we DON’T? What if we become a useful group with some pull? Will you then admit your mistake and consider showing support? Or will you find another reason to disparage those who are actually taking some action?

        • No, Jim, as I explained in an earlier article, I wouldn’t support the National Atheist Party, regardless of how popular it became, because I don’t think it’s a positive thing for a political party to be build around religious identity. In my opinion, the NAP is a bad idea, badly done.

          Stand back for a minute, Jim. I know you’re upset, but I just asked a question. I didn’t call anyone a liar.

          You just put the phrase “either there were 100 people there all at once who took a picture or you are lying about those numbers” in quotes, as if I said those words, which I didn’t, Jim.

          Stop hyperventilating, and read through your comment again. You seem to be suggesting that skeptics would NOT ask questions like this – that they would not exhibit any skepticism about the claims of a political party.

          Are you sure you want to stand by that statement?

          The success of a political party is not counted in picnics, but in candidates running for office and seats won. Go ahead and prove me wrong. Win a seat in Congress.

  • Franck Legrain

    With alkl due respect, I must question your motive. On your last article, you were corrected as to the meaning of the name of the party and yet you still claim that the National Atheist Party is ” a political party based on the atheist identity”.
    While it id true that many of its members are atheists, the party is working for an atheistic government and for a true separation of church and state (at least you got that part right). One does not need to be an atheist to ask for an atheistic government since atheism is an absence of belief rather than a belief in an absence. Not all people who have democratic ideals are democrats either and not all democrats have truly democratic aspirations either.
    You also seem to believe that having candidates in place during elections can happen overnight and that can only denote a lack of understanding of the process in place to do so. Check again in a couple of years and let’sd see what happens. The NAP does not speak for all atheists but only for those who are members in the hope that other rational thinkers will join.

    • Franck, I wasn’t corrected. I was disagreed with, and I responded to those disagreements. It is, in my opinion, not credible to claim that a political party naming itself the “National Atheist Party” is equally welcoming to and representative of all Americans, regardless of religion. It’s an atheist political party, and National Atheist Party documents even go so far as to demean non-religious Americans who don’t call themselves “atheist”.

      You’re setting up a straw man argument, Franck, when you claim that my standard is to have candidates for political office “overnight”. I never gave any such overnight standard. The National Atheist Party has been in existence for months, however, and yet not one person has stepped forward to stand as a candidate for the party. It’s not impossible for a new party to have at least a few candidates within weeks or months of foundation – it’s happened in the past in American politics, and if the National Atheist Party was a viable contender, it could have had at least one candidate by now. It looks more as if the National Atheist Party is going the way of the Green Party, which has spent decades engaging in party building without ever getting a single party candidate elected to a seat in the national government,.

      Question my motives all you like, but really, what do you think my motives are? Do you suspect me of being a secret agent of the Southern Baptist Convention or something? Get specific with your accusations, please!

      Prove me wrong. Get a National Atheist Party candidate elected to a seat in Congress.

  • Political Atheist

    We are well aware that there will be scrutiny, we expect it. You are hardly the first person to say that we will fail, or that we can’t organize atheists. I just thought you might have something serious to scrutinize. Complaining that we have gotten any one elected yet when there has not even been a single election since we became an official 527 political organization is just childish. It really seems like you are projecting, like you can’t handle a little scrutiny and so are accusing us of the same. All we are doing is responding to your scrutiny. It isn’t our fault if your criticisms are silly and very, very poorly thought out.

    • P.A., if you could read accurately, I didn’t say you hadn’t gotten anyone elected. I said that the National Atheist Party has had ” no candidates for any public office”. A candidate is not the same thing as an elected official.

      It’s not true, by the way, to say that there haven’t been any elections since the formation of the National Atheist Party. There have been special congressional elections, and state and local elections as well.

      I’m confused by the psychological model you propose for me. You say that I’m writing in criticism of the National Atheist Party because I can’t stand complaints by members of the National Atheist Party – but I wrote an article critical of the National Atheist Party before I got any complaints about that article.

      Honestly, atheists are supposed to pride themselves on their rational thinking skills. Time to practice up! The cause can’t come after the effect!

  • Political atheist

    Either way your time line of expectations is extremely unrealistic. You must not have read the part of my answer when I explained what is involved in being able to put candidates on ballots, it is a long process, one we are working hard on. The fact that you would even expect us to have ran a candidate under the NAP is all the reason and evidence we need to prove that you know nothing and did zero research into the process of forming a political party. It is more than clear that you are simply searching for ways to deem us a failure before we even have a chance to get going, because like you said, you will never support us. In other words you are akin to a creationist. You haveade your conclusion well before you had any real information, and now you are on overdrive to force all the evidence and info into the box of your predetermined conclusion that the NAP is a waste of time. The fact still remains that you have not offered a single piece of criticism that actually has any value. And it is hilarious that accuse me of a lack of reason and reading skills. Never said you criticize the NAP because you don’t like our complaints. I said you are projecting onto us your own lack of ability to handle scrutiny and criticism. Grow up and learn some reading comprehension skills.

  • Political Atheist

    As to getting specific with my accusations, I have already done so. I am accusing you of complaining about something you know nothing about. From both of your articles it is very clear that you know very little about the NAP, and that you know even less about what is required of a new political party before they can field candidates in any election at any level of government. It is that simple, you are being accused of not doing your research before you tried to write articles pretending you know what you are talking about.

    And as far as what was accomplished at the picnic/convention, quite a bit. Holding that convention was one of the 527 requirements, and so that itself was accomplished. We networked with other atheists and party members from around the nation. We raised more money to help pay the costs of getting us to a place where we can field candidates. We acquired new administrative staff members as a result of the convention, including but not limited our new environmental policy advisor. We networked with Dr. J. Anderson Thomson, a big fan of the party, one of the leading evolutionary and forensic psychologists, and the American trustee for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. We had a great discussion session on civil rights, atheism, and what atheists can do to promote civil rights. Finally, if you would actually bothering counting, there about 60 people in the photo. Furthermore, there were 80 people who came, enjoyed the day, and signed in on the sign in sheet. Not everyone stayed until the end of the day when we took the photo. But at the very least, if you had bothered counting you would have known that your estimate of 40 in the photo was off by a whole 1/3, not an insignificant percentage of error. Maybe you expect that after 6 months an atheist party should already have a membership to rival the major parties? I don’t know. But your expectations are massively unrealistic. We will be more than happy to prove you wrong as to our lack of fielded or elected candidates, you simply need to have some patients and give us more than a few months before you start calling us a favor. Sure there have been a few special congressional elections, but how many congresspeople has any third party gotten successfully elected to congress? And you expect that we should have candidates running before we even have the legal ability to field candidates? So, things you need to learn, 1) reading comprehension 2) counting 3) patience.

    Have a great day.

    • P.A., what you’ve written here indicates your standards for the National Atheist Party – to follow the long, slow path of the chronically unsuccessful, perpetually whining third party, hoping that some day, maybe years from now, a single candidate might win public office. As for myself, I really don’t want to be part of such a political project.

      Look at history, other political parties have been successfully built, with rapidity. The National Atheist Party doesn’t appear on that track.

      Hey, but I could be wrong. Win a seat in Congress. Then, I’ll sit up and take notice, and admit that I was wrong. Then, I’ll reconsider that the National Atheist Party might have some political worth.

  • Agamemnon

    Wow J. Clifford. “Win a seat in Congress” “Win a seat in Congress” LOL. Do you have any idea what t twit you sound like. The NAP is obviously a voting bloc. A. VOTING. BLOC. They admit such by 527 registration. Perfectly valid. More power to them. Man, you’re a twit.

  • Daniel Landers

    J, I don’t believe you are a twit. In fact, while I emphatically support the overall platform of the NAP, I have no delusions of grandure as to the likelyhood of a NAP candidate attaining office. Because while I personally disdain theology, religion, and metaphysical mumbo jumbo as ignorant, anti-intellectual “woo”, I recognize the vast majority of voting constituents value them. Regardless, it’s a step towards logical empirisisim and enlightenment that ideologically I have to support.

    • Well, thanks for not believing I’m a twit.

      In terms of logic, though, let’s think about this: Is it logical to create a political party that doesn’t have the likelihood of ever putting a candidate in public office anywhere?

      Why not just support the Justice Party or the Green Party?

      • I am not a fan of belief based, nor non-belief based ones, but i think your criticisms here are not well founded. 100 members, or even 50, at a meeting this early is impressive. No lasting political party that was not the result of a split, got off to running candidates inside of a year. Unity08 with tons of funding and big name backing, organized for years, only to deffer pans to run candidates until 2012. The Justice Party has come into existence on a whim, and will fold into AE, the Green Party or a writing/broadcasting deal before a year passes.

        The Green Party, on the other hand, organized for a decade before running candidates in most places. But that was before blogs, twitter, and facebook, when very few had e-mail. Organizing was done by pen and paper, wired telephones, and in-person meetings. But, Greens still electing candidates each year, and running a presidential ticket for the 5th time.

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