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The National Atheist Party Falls Asleep

Last spring, it came to my attention that a bunch of atheists were getting together to form a National Atheist Party. I had some interest, given that I am not a theist, but I soon became concerned about the concept of the new political party. The idea of the National Atheist Party was to organize people to vote according to their beliefs about religion. In this case, the political party was devoted to opposition to theist religions. That was a different religious angle than the Democratic and Republican parties, which promote Christian theism over other religions, but it’s still mixing religion into secular politics, against the spirit of the Constitution, which declares that there shall be no religious tests for public office.

national atheist party“I would no sooner vote for atheist candidates who asked me to vote for them because they are atheists than I would vote for Christian candidates who asked me to vote for them because they are Christians,” I wrote at the time. The activists over at the National Atheist Party were not pleased. Realizing the inherent contradiction of forming a political party on the basis of religious identity that claims to stand against religious discrimination, NAP enthusiasts began to insist that their political party would be for everybody, including theists, even though its name clearly indicated otherwise.

A few months later, I checked in on the National Atheist Party again. I noted that the party wasn’t making much progress toward having any actual campaigns for public office, but in response, activist Jim Rael asserted that he was seeing “exponential growth of membership and interest in the party”.

That was a little bit over a year ago. Tonight, with just a month left in the 2012 election season, I decided to check in on the National Atheist Party again, to see if they’ve made any progress.

What I found is that it’s ironic that the acronym for the National Atheist Party is NAP. Almost the entire political party seems to have fallen asleep. The party doesn’t have a single candidate for public office anywhere – not even for a local school board or highway superintendent. The last politically-themed comment on the National Atheist Party forum was back in April. The last event endorsed by the party was a book raffle in early June.

Since that time, a small number of people have continued to try to create the appearance of activity at the National Atheist Party. Someone’s still manning the Twitter feed, creating tweets, almost none of which have anything to do with the National Atheist Party. Half the states still don’t even have one person who’s stepped forward to volunteer as a state representative for the party.

It seems that the exponents in the “exponential growth” of the National Atheist Party have turned south.

8 comments to The National Atheist Party Falls Asleep

  • I agree that nontheism is nothing around which to organize a political party. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be politically active, of course!

    You might be interested to know that the Secular Coalition for America is presently organizing state chapters, to engage in lobbying on secular issues at the state and local level. SCA is a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization. They do not endorse candidates, but do engage in issue advocacy — especially church-state separation.

    Check out secular.org/states for more info!

  • According to that link, conference call for organization of state chapters will take place this month in the following states: Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming

    Go to http://secular.org/states for information about how to participate in the call.

  • Mr. Clifford doesn’t even have our Mission correct; or our current organization. Apparently “checking in” DOESN’T mean reading our material. The National Atheist Party is currently organized as a non-profit 527 under the IRS classification. We are PROHIBITED from directly supporting or running any candidates. As our party grows (and it has not, a single time in 19 months, experienced negative growth) and our funding increases, we will consider running candidates of our own, probably in local/regional elections.

    It took the Green Party 7 years to run a single candidate for office – yet Mr. Clifford is critical that we have not done so in a single year. I thank Mr. Clifford for his optimism, but I think 2016 is the first year that we can realistically expect the NAP to make the kind of impact that he would like to see.

    Troy Boyle – President – National Atheist Party
    http://www.usanap.org

    • You’re kidding, right?

      You were promising last year to run candidates soon, and now you’ve decided to prohibit yourselves from running candidates for public office, and you have the chutzpah to call yourself a party?

      You’re not a political party. You’re a chat-about-how-you’re-going-to-do-something-political-some-day-club.

      I do apologize for not fully investigating just how very pathetic your organization has become.

      Be rational, Mr. President of the Atheist Stamp Club. Political parties have been set up within a year in the past, and run candidates. It happens all the time – maybe not for national office, but look at the historical record before you try to convince us all that you’re on the pathway to success with “exponential” growth, okay?

      The National Atheist Party once claimed to be surging into political power, and now it’s just whimpering in a corner. You can’t even keep your chat room busy, Mr. President. The reason: Your mixture of religious identity into politics is anathema to most secular Americans. You started out by alienating your own base.

      I’m not against atheists engaging in political organizing. I’m against them doing it badly.

      • Mr. Clifford, first allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bernard “Flash” Kellish and I am an Executive Board Member and have been Treasurer since soon after our inception and will be moving to Public Relations & Marketing soon and I apologize for just now seeing this article but I felt the need to respond.

        Now may I ask you a question? How in the world did we get on your bad side? Because we attempted to correct your inaccuracies about our party, and you “seriously” take offense to this and begin name calling and attempting to belittle us? Is this standard operating procedure on your end? I will be the last to argue your right to your opinion on us or anything BUT, if you are going to dislike us for whatever reason and be critical, any reasonable person or organization would ask that you at least get the facts about them correct so as to add any possible validity to your views?

        I fail to see however the problem in how long it takes us to do anything? Should not the fact that there are concerned Americans exercising their right to organize and speak out in whatever capacity be a good thing and supported even if you don’t happen to agree with the message or progress thereof? So we have not progressed in due time the way you expect an organization should do, so what? Does this really make us a “pathetic stamp club”? Does this even warrant such words?

        I know that your expectations of where we should be as a PARTY have not been met, but I still fail to understand what it is about that that justifies such harsh and irrational criticism from you? What is it about that that makes you so angry?

        We are doing the best we can and many of us are new to this “political thing” but we are good people, that care and mean well. We are all volunteers that are trying to make it day to day and spare what time we can to make this happen in a non-profit organization run off of minimal donations. But I need not apologize, defend, or feel guilty for being where we are.

        I think we have done a fine job.

        This is a movement that I personally welcome ALL who wish to be a part no matter how long it takes them to get where they want to be, and I would humbly ask that you reconsider your position as I feel your article and following comments were inaccurate, unfair, unnecessary and out of line for someone who wishes to be taken seriously and as a professional who supposedly actually cares about the cause in general? Our hope is for a better world PERIOD even if we differ in how to make that happen. But the only way we will do it is by understanding each other, working together and communicating properly and I hope that we can set an example of that?

        There is no need for any tension here and I would like you to know my door is always open if you would like to discuss this further so you can have an accurate understanding of what we are about? Regardless of how you end up feeling about us after, at least we could possibly see eye to eye?

        Yours in reason,

        Bernard “Flash” Kellish
        Executive Board Member
        National Atheist Party
        flash.kellish@usanap.org

        • Bernard, what the people at the National Atheist Party have done to get on my “bad side” is to assemble an organization that combines volume, sloppy thinking and ineffective activism. The National Atheist Party is worthy of criticism, and the angry reactions of members of the National Atheist Party to my criticisms have made it a moderate point of satisfaction for me to observe the increasing similarity between the NAP and a nap. When you go and make flamboyant claims about your plans for success, engage in harsh attacks against critics, and then fail miserably, you should expect to gain some negative attention.

          You ask: “Should not the fact that there are concerned Americans exercising their right to organize and speak out in whatever capacity be a good thing and supported even if you don’t happen to agree with the message or progress thereof?”

          The answer: No. I don’t support organizations with destructive and counterproductive agendas. The National Atheist’s Party attempt to strengthen the role of religious identity in American politics is something I regard as destructive to the quality of democracy in general and counterproductive to the values that the National Atheist Party claims to support. Why would I work to help you accomplish your goals?

          You speak of irrationality. I hope you can understand that I regard it as an irrational idea to propose that I assist an organization whose agenda I disagree with.

          You also ask, “So we have not progressed in due time the way you expect an organization should do, so what? Does this really make us a “pathetic stamp club”?

          I apologize. It was not accurate for me to call the National Atheist Party a “stamp club”. I have to admit that I have no evidence that anyone involved in the National Atheist Party collects stamps. I should not have suggested that anyone affiliated with your organization is a stamp collector.

          I do have to point out that you have misquoted me, as I never called the National Atheist Party a “pathetic stamp club”. I referred to your organization as the Atheist Stamp Club, as a way of noting the National Atheist Party’s lack of a plan to achieve the sorts of things that an actual political party is expected to accomplish.

          I never meant to suggest that stamp clubs are pathetic, and apologize to fans of stamp collecting. I hope that this brief association of their hobby with the failed National Atheist Party will not cause any significant harm to their activities.

  • Doing it badly would be not doing it all, me thinks. I think also that it would be relevant and enlightening to research the inception and growth of existing and past parties. Even in the first pages of our National History, the idea of starting a nation began as talk between neighbors, business associates, family and with others down at the pub. Even our forefathers sat in informal gatherings over pints and quarts of ale to work out how to start something so big as a new nation, which could only come to be through the fires of war. As things progressed. support and ideas gathered, organizing began and networking continued. In the beginning there were many naysayers saying their predictable nays and maybe rightfully so based on size of the task being considered. Irregardless, a new nation was built against the odds for one reason. It was the right idea at the right time. The NAP’s growth and spread will also mirror this and The NAP will grow, not because it was organized quickly, not because it was highly financed and not because it produced quickly. rather, it is because it is the right idea and at the right time. I would encourage all to support this idea, your involvement will give this party more character, more humanity and more influence. In The NAP your voice will be heard, your ideas will be shared and your vote matters.

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