Frustrated with the omnipresence of conservative Christianity in today’s American politics? You’ll want to hear this conversation with the President of the National Atheist Party, Troy Boyle. It’s “an open, progressive, secular Party, open to any member from any walk of life, any creed, any background, any ideology, any religion, any race, any color, any sexual preference or orientation and without any sort of discriminatory practices whatsoever.”
RUSH TRANSCRIPT: Troy Boyle[REV. DR. C. WELTON GADDY, HOST]: Welcome back to State of Belief Radio, everyone. I’m Welton Gaddy.
One of the great propaganda successes of recent years, I think, has been the positioning of people of no religious faith – atheists, secular humanists – as hostile to religion, hateful to religious people and even downright un-American. This campaign has been waged primarily by conservative Christians; and frankly, it doesn’t take much to make their enemies list. I mean, I’ve made that list, because despite being a Baptist minister – I’m not their kind of Baptist minister.
Of course, away from the glare of the conservative media spotlight, there is a growing trend toward cooperation – not only among people of differing faiths, but between people of faith and people of no faith. We’ve discussed the exciting developments on this front in the interfaith community right here on our show. We’re learning from our differences, and we’re celebrating our commonalities; and one of those commonalities – the most important one, I would say – is maintaining the non-religious nature of our government system. All of our freedoms flow from that. Those freedoms need a secular government. All of us are invested in preserving that.
Well, I guess it’s a sign of how far this country has drifted from its founding principles when the very concept of a National Atheist Party is somehow new and revolutionary. We’re going to find out more about it right now, I’m glad to say, because the Party’s President, Troy Boyle, agreed to take a few minutes away from waging a War on Christmas, motherhood and apple pie to be with us today on State of Belief Radio. Troy, welcome to the show.[TROY BOYLE, GUEST]: Good afternoon. It’s my pleasure to be here. [WG]: I’ve just talked a little bit about the value I see in our current political mess for your Party. Give us your answer to that question. It’s the question: “Why? Why a National Atheist Party?” [TB]: Well, you know, any honest amount of historical inquiry will bring you to the idea that our founding fathers knew that America was to be a nation with many different sects, both of Christianity and other religions; and in order to give everyone a level playing field they established a secular government, secular nation. And in the last, oh gosh, I would say since the 80’s, since the Reagan 80’s, we have seen an increasing focus and attack from the Christian right wing on our government in order to really establish a theocracy; and The National Atheist Party was convened to give a voice to the non-religious that have never had a voice in government since the founding of this nation. And what we want to say is: we don’t care what religion you practice, but government should sponsor no religion. [WG]: Troy, I want to say this to you – but I know you already know it, because I want our listeners to overhear it – but I am pretty sure that you didn’t take that view of history out of anything that David Barton wrote. David Barton is the guy who is the revisionist historian going around our country trying to refute the accuracy of what Troy has just said, but what Troy has just said is the true history of this nation. Troy, I’ve read your website so I know we’re on the exact same page, but I’d like for you, if you will, to summarize the founding principles of the Party for our listeners. [TB]: Well, the principles of our Party are to be an open, progressive, secular Party, open to any member from any walk of life, any creed, any background, any ideology, any religion, any race, any color, any sexual preference or orientation and without, you know, any sort of discriminatory practices whatsoever. We welcome any and everyone who supports the idea that government should be neutral toward religion; and also, as proponents or advocates of the Atheist community itself, we’ve polled our membership and developed an 18-plank platform to use during elections on issues, and this will galvanize our membership to throw their voting weight behind issues of interest to Atheists. [WG]: If you don’t mind, would you give the website right now that people could go to and find those principles? [TB]: Certainly. There are two. The first is our external website: www.usanap.org and the second one is our Facebook website, which would be www.facebook.com/national.atheist.party. [WG]: Troy, you know, listening to you describe those founding principles – I just have to be honest – it made me sad; because you shouldn’t have to do that any more than I should have to do that. Dadgummit, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party ought to be doing that for all of us, and it’s a sad thing for me to realize that it takes some of us outside those Parties to see that reality. [TB]: I agree with you. It is sad, and I think it was an inevitable outgrowth of the bipartisan system. In many other countries you have multiple Parties – five, six, ten, twelve Parties – that have to form coalition governments in order to run their country; and I think that if America could somehow develop that kind of diversity in its political process, we would see a return to those values. By having a simple bipartisan arrangement year after year after year and election after election, they become increasingly polarized; and by becoming increasingly polarized, you know, you’re going to have a fence where you fall on one side or the other of this issue of secular freedoms. [WG]: You know, how are you going to keep that from happening in your Party? [TB]: Well, currently we’re a 527 organization, which is an IRS classification for nonprofit political organization; and what we consider ourselves right now is a voting bloc. If an issue comes up that threatens American freedom, if there is an issue that comes up that we feel is in direct opposition to those constitutional principles, then we will throw, you know, our voting weight behind the vision of the founding fathers, and hopefully, by doing so, we can affect the outcome of those issues. We can’t currently support candidates, because to do so would invalidate our 527 status; but in the future, as we grow in size and in membership and in donations, we will certainly do so. [WG]: What kind of timeline do you have in moving these steps forward toward becoming a really significant presence in the electoral campaigns? [TB]: Well, every state, as you may know, has specific Election Commission hurdles that you have to overcome in order to get ballot access and get in the race, as it were. We’re looking at those and, you know, of course we’re going to try and start in states that are Atheist-friendly – and there are a couple, believe it or not – so, timeline? I think that we’ll probably run candidates, at least for local offices, by 2016. [WG]: What types of people are joining you in the National Atheist Party? [TB]: Well sir, we have, obviously, thousands of Atheists across the country. We have chapters in every state, including the District of Columbia, and among our membership, in addition to Atheists, there are Agnostics, there are Free Thinkers, there are Humanists, there are Wiccans, there are secular Christians and there are Buddhists. We have attracted people who are concerned with keeping any one religion from being sponsored by the US government. I know that a lot of people talk about Christianity being the values that the nation was founded on, and I’ll give you that. That’s correct. There’s no getting around that. But Christianity means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and forcing any one view of it down the citizenry’s throat is not what this country is about. [WG]: I just have a hunch. As President of The Interfaith Alliance, we have a lot of members who are affiliated with no religion in this nation, and who come to be a part of our membership because they’re scared of what’s happening with religion in our nation; and so they join us, and we welcome that. I have a sense that you’re going to have people joining this Party who are affiliated with organized religions, in some instances, because your mission is the mission of the Constitution, toward which any thinking American ought to be looking and pledging allegiance.
I have a personal question. What brought you to this work?[TB]: Well, I’ve been an Atheist all of my life, and for most of that life it hasn’t really been an issue. Increasingly, in the last 20 years or so, I have seen government and local institutions, businesses, everyday people becoming more and more and more intolerant, and that’s not the America that I grew up in. I want an America that is diverse, that celebrates diversity; to me, diversity is America’s great strength.
So, as I’ve said before, I was listening to an interview by Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist from England, and he wondered in this interview, I think it was on Dateline – it might have been something else – he said that he’s frustrated, and doesn’t understand why, in a country as large and as vocal and as wealthy and as otherwise active as the United States is, why there hasn’t been an Atheist organization involved in politics. And as soon as he said that, a light bulb went off over my head; he threw down the gauntlet, and I picked it up.[WG]: Great. Troy, tell us one more time the two websites, because I think people will be interested in finding out more about your work, and that’s a good way for it to happen. The two websites again. [TB]: Sure. The external website is www.usanap.org and the Facebook website is www.facebook.com/national.atheist.party. [WG]: The National Atheist Party is a fascinating, valuable and commendable undertaking, and, I would add, eminently American, in the best sense of the word. Troy is the President of that new Party and I’m very pleased, Troy, that you were able to be with us today. We’re going to be checking in on your progress in the near future. I hope that you will let us know if there are things for us to talk about that would be valuable for people to hear, I would be glad to check in with you.
Troy Boyle is the President of The National Atheist Party. He has joined us here today. We thank him. State of Belief Radio.[TB]: Thank you, sir.