Sadly there is more drama within the atheist community. Last night, Lee Moore of A-News published a report of voter fraud within the now Secular Party of America. Over the summer, the National Atheist Party (NAP) took a vote to change their name and that vote was allegedly fixed.
Moore’s allegations came complete with multiple named sources and screen captures of conversations calling for the fix as well as screen captures of the fix itself. The evidence seems pretty solid, but I don’t want to rush to judgment.
In full disclosure, I am a voting member of the Party and I voted on this issue. Personally, I like the “National Atheism Party” name better, but I was very impressed with Flash Kellish when I met him at the NAP’s Reason Rally After Party and he seemed to think that the name change would really help the struggling organization. I voted for the name change trusting Kellish’s judgment but thinking that it wasn’t really the name of the organization that was the actual problem.
I want to explain that last part. The Party is a political party and this causes a great deal of confusion for people including me. Many people don’t want to change their political affiliation and mistakenly believe that they must do so in order to be a member of the Party. The Party has not done a great job explaining this and so most atheists have not joined and have no interest in joining. I tried unsuccessfully to get them to explain this in an Examiner article I wrote to help promote the group and their mission.
Already knowing the answer, I asked Jacob Kramer the VP of outreach, “Do you want people to change their voter registration to the NAP?” His response was long and complicated when a simpler answer would have been better. But it wasn’t just this, the organization should address this concern front and center if it really wants to recruit atheists to join – and they haven’t.
Plus, I was not really a fan of their spending priorities and that might have hampered their success. The Reason Rally After Party seemed to have lots of fancy food and no well-known atheists or atheists in general to eat it. I was pretty disappointed that very few people were in attendance. The Party had to actually cancel their convention once for what I suspect are similar reasons.
All this being said, a name change might have been a good idea to attract more people, but I really don’t think it was the main problem. I really thought the name, “National Atheist Party” was pretty good because of it had “atheist” in it. On the other end of the debate, “secular” deals more with the issues that are important to atheists so I can see the appeal to that too.
Voter fraud in an atheist organization is unacceptable. Just as Christians believe that they should be super virtuous because they are representatives of God, I think atheists should be virtuous because we are representatives of reason. Atheist in our community have a “higher calling” to be moral though our reliance on reason and humanistic values. We represent our community and are constantly bombarded with accusations that without a deity to worship we can’t be moral. When we get caught rigging a democratic vote, it plays into theist’s propaganda.
If the name change didn’t pass and they really felt that it was vitally necessary, then they should have campaigned again and tried to convince their members to vote for the name change next time around.
I still consider both Flash and Lee as friends, but if these allegations are true – and the evidence certainly points in that direction, then I really hope that the “The Party” – whichever name they want to go by – cleans house of everyone involved in this and does a new vote. I also hope that Flash will work hard to regain the trust of the people. I think he is an awesome person who allegedly did the wrong thing out of a love for the organization he is passionate about.
I messaged Flash on Facebook and sent an e-mail to the Secular Party of America but have not heard back from either at the time of this publication. If and when I get a response, I will edit this post and include that response below.
UPDATE: Flash has replied to my message. He will be writing an official statement shortly, but has stated that both he and James have resigned as a result of this. I hope that both of them will continue to be involved in the movement in some capacity. With any luck, they have realized their mistake and will earn back the truth of the people.
UPDATE 2: The Secular Party of America has released their official statement which they have Tweeted out to me. Here is that statement: http://secularpartyofamerica.tumblr.com/post/60841716542/executive-board-statement-9-10-13-secular-party-of
UPDATE 3: The Secular Party of America just e-mailed me the link to their second official statement on this issue. Here is that statement: http://secularamerica.org/executive-board-statement-2 It is my hope that they can move forward as quickly as possible and get back to the necessary work they need to do on behalf of the secular community.
- Allegations of Voter Fraud Concerning the Secular Party of America (atheistrev.com)
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