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Mar 06 2013

Should the National Atheist Party change their name?

While I am proud to be associated with the National Atheist Party, that name is in conflict with our core value as atheists.  Because we are among the greatest defenders of the separation of church and state, we know that perspectives on religion should not be politicized.  Atheism should no more be equated with a political party than the Christian party or the Muslim party.  None of us can speak for all of us, and as a collective, we really don’t have much in common.  Politically we’re all over the place.  But most of us share a perspective with secular citizens who are not without religious beliefs, but who keep their positions on religion separate from their politics.  That is how it should be.

 

I have heard many atheists express discomfort at having the words, ‘atheist + party’ stuck so close together.  However some secular Christians have ignored that label and joined our party anyway –despite the implied exclusion- simply because they share our secular values.  Thus it seems to me that to continue calling this an atheist party is both inaccurate and hypocritical.

 

I suggest that we should be a genuinely secular party, THE Secular party.  I believe that naming ourselves thus will give us more influence on both sides of the ‘aisle’ -as it were.  Those with or without faith can be comfortable in sharing in the idea that policies of state should be humanist regardless of religion.  I believe the Secular party will not only draw disillusioned Democrats and repulsed Republicans, but we will also likely garner members currently with the Green party, because we who are already involved in this party are environmentally-conscious and progressive.

Currently the National Atheist Party acronym is N.A.P., which gives the image that we’re all inactive or asleep.  From what I’ve seen this hardly the case.  Ken Loukinen, national director of American Atheists says that if we were to call ourselves the American Secular Party, the acronym would be A.S.P.  He then suggested that our symbol should be an asp, a snake, and preferably one associated with an apple. :-)

33 comments

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  1. 1
    Sam Henline

    You have my full support in this! Thanks for speaking up!

  2. 2
    samsalerno

    I agree. I was involved in the NAP party early on. But I backed out for the reasons you mentioned. However if it were a secular party I would step up as a party representative. I suppose I should tell Troy that myself.

  3. 3
    Paul Loebe

    A.S.P. I like that. I’m in.

  4. 4
    Cephus

    I don’t think “atheist” or “atheism” should be in the title, it has nothing whatsoever to do with atheism, it has everything to do with secularism. Atheism is the lack of belief in god(s), full stop. It has nothing to do with politics.

  5. 5
    franklovell

    Excellent proposal, well argued; I hope the NAP adopts the recommendation!

  6. 6
    pyrobryan

    I have to agree with the notion that “atheist” in the title carries with it a certain exclusive implication. It doesn’t seem like atheism, specifically, has anything to do with goal of the party, making the title a bit superfluous.

    Just my opinion, but I don’t know how great of an icon an asp would be for a political party. Territorial, aggressive and poisonous don’t really seem like good qualities for a political party. Then again, the donkey and elephant were initially used to make fun of the parties they represent, so…

  7. 7
    Donovan

    At first I didn’t like the ASP, since I can easily see that being twisted to represent secularists as snakes, in the derogatory sense. But then I thought, great! Fox News just might do most of the work in getting the word out. All we need to do is get Glen Beck to hear about this, or David Barton, and Bill’O will be all over it.

    Hell, we can make Tea Party heads explode by adopting the old snake rallying flags, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

    I also really love the idea of taking an atheist organization and changing the name and theme in order to accept a more diverse group with similar values. I think it’s very inclusive and will hit the theocrats harder. “Members of our group joined the atheists. We have been treasoned upon! Martha! Grab your beads and summon the prayer warriors!”

    I think it’ll make them desperate enough to put the last nails in their own coffins while at the same time healing the rift between the religious and non-religious so politicians can get back to screwing us over on the good old class system again. “I don’t care if you’re poor and atheist or poor and Christian or poor and Muslim… Seriously, I don’t care. Why are you still here? Git! Campaign contribution or GTFO!”

  8. 8
    Shakatany

    Excellent idea. It would broaden the appeal of the party to more people who aren’t ready to declare themselves atheists but who simply want religion out of the government.

  9. 9
    Washington Cornwallis

    I like it. I agree that adding politics and atheism together is a bad mix, so I support this name change. (And not just because of that other atheism + fiasco.)

    I also like the cheekiness of the symbol. :D

  10. 10
    Mattmon

    The party originally had a different name when it started – I think it was something like the Freethinker Party. After they changed their name to National Atheist Party, that is when it started generating a lot of interest. For that reason, I say leave it as it is.

  11. 11
    moarscienceplz

    Hmmm, “Asp” sounds too much like ass.

    And if “Dems” is the shorthand for Democrats, would “Secs” be the shorthand for the Secular Party? “Hey everybody, come join our Secs Party!”

    Maybe I just have a dirty mind.

    1. 11.1
      Les Religion

      Is this a drawback or an advantage?

  12. 12
    Sage Dave

    My support also. As an active member of the now ASP, I think this is a much better choice.

    @moarscienceplz – Someone suggested S.A.T.A.N.

  13. 13
    Onodera1980

    Words of wisdom as usual.

  14. 14
    Sansgerd

    NO!
    cause I’ll have to change my tatoo…..

  15. 15
    L.Long

    I think a party named as ‘National Atheist Party’ would be a failure in that there is very little others will see as worth while or able to compete with the other parties. In fact I’m surprised to not see the religidiots referring to this As the national nazi party because we all know how they hate to acknowledge him as one of their own and are always referring to us as nazi. I think we should become very active in the Green Party. Yes they have a few nutty ideas but it already exists and has issues we mostly agree with, and unfortunately anything with the name atheist in it will be a target for the 85% majority no matter what we stand for. Also just because the Greens have things we don’t agree with does not mean that once own own party gets going we will have useful agreement among ourselves.

  16. 16
    Kevin Schelley

    I vote for the National Bacon Party

  17. 17
    A Hermit

    I thought “NAP-CON” sounded very restful….

  18. 18
    John-Henry Beck

    I’ve been pretty squeamish about the name too, despite various explanations I saw last year. And people in it pointing out that it was chosen by the membership and could be changed that way too. To me, ‘atheism’ just wasn’t something to build a party on. A party for atheists should be a secularist party, etc.
    I keep thinking I should try to get more involved sometime anyway.

  19. 19
    Iamcuriousblue

    Well, I’d say if they’re serious about electoral politics, they should drop the guaranteed-to-lose third party strategy, except in local elections in places like San Francisco or St. Paul, MN that have instant runoff voting rather than winner-take-all. Otherwise, you’re stuck with trying to make your way as a caucus of one of the two major parties (and clearly it isn’t going to be the Republicans) in order for your agenda to actually have a shot. I have no great love for the two-party system, but it’s what we’re stuck with until some kind of preferential voting, like instant runoff, is adopted more widely

  20. 20
    spanner

    Maybe I’m just old, but, any word between “national” and “party” is problematic, I think. Starting that word with the letter “s” is just asking for trouble.
    I like A.S.P mostly because it is exportable. Decades from now there could be coalitions of national parties called N.A.S.P., C.A.S.P., and S.A.S.P.

  21. 21
    Lulis Leal

    I agree. I much prefer using the word “secular” to “atheist.” I find it to be much more inclusive.

  22. 22
    ThorGoLucky

    I’ll join after the name change. And they need a party animal; I propose the fennec.

    http://paradoxoff.com/fennec.html

  23. 23
    lpetrich

    A political party? It won’t go anywhere unless our voting systems are changed from first-past-the-post to third-party-friendly systems like proportional representation or Single Transferable Vote. It’s Duverger’s Law.

    A lobbying group, however, is a different story. That would be much more worthwhile as long as we Americans continue to be stuck with FPTP.

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