Europe has long been home to political parties with religious connections, however tenuous. In Germany alone, for instance, there is the national Christian Democratic Union, the Bavarian Christian Social Union, and the minor fringe Christian Centre Party. Now, however, some Americans are trying to start a party based on atheism. According to the Washington Post:
How viable is a political party with the word “atheist” in its name?
Troy Boyle, a corporate legal representative for a finance company, thinks very viable. Last March, he and a friend founded the National Atheist Party, which they believe to be the first American political party organized on the belief that God does not exist.
Boyle, 45, got the idea to start the party while watching an interview with Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist and author of several “New Atheist” manifestos, including the best-selling “The God Delusion.” In the interview, Dawkins wondered why atheists did not organize to influence politics.
“It struck me like a bolt of lightning when he said it,” Boyle recalled. From his home in Elsmere, Ky., he started researching atheists in politics. “And I found nothing. So I picked up the gauntlet. I decided to start a political party.”
While there is no “Christian party” in the United States, Christians are certainly politically active, so why not atheists? So what does the National Atheist Party stand for?
What it stands for, Boyle said, is no governmental favoring of religion — including no religion.
“We are convened with the idea that the Founding Fathers had it right,” Boyle said in an interview. “The separation of church and state, the establishment of the U.S. as a secular nation — those two concepts are our watchwords. We don’t want government to impose a religion, and we don’t want government to impose no religion. We want government to be silent with regards to religion.”
I appreciate Boyle saying that government should not “impose no religion,” and I agree that government shouldn’t impose a religion, either. The matter of church-state relations is nowhere as simple as he presents it, of course, though that may be a matter of the inability of a newspaper article to get into the details more than lack of understanding of the complexities on Boyle’s part. But the party doesn’t stop there:
The party’s platform was decided on by a vote — again via Facebook — and includes hot-button issues such as gay marriage (for it) gun control (tighten it), abortion (a woman’s decision), immigration (reform it), energy (green it), and the economy (legalize recreational drugs to create revenue and jobs).
So…the National Atheist Party is the Democratic Party without God? Well, to be fair, most Democrats don’t advocate the legalization of recreational drugs, though there is a growing movement to do so. But the fact is that even including the NAP’s stance on church and state, this is really nothing more than mainstream liberalism. So why exactly is a party of atheists necessary? Alternatively, what about conservative atheists? Are they welcome, and will there be regular arguments over every aspect of public policy and life other than atheism?
Whatever. I think a political party based on a religious opinion is a mistake, but Mr. Boyle is more than welcome to try his hand.