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On Atheism and Spirituality – An Address

On Atheism and Spirituality – An Address

Atheism has always been my default position, though I flirted with Unitarian Universalism for a time, out of the belief that “some” form of spirituality could be helpful in leading a happy life. What I have since discovered is that spirituality for me simply means acknowledging my very real connection to this Universe of which I am a temporarily conscious part.

As we know from Dr. Sagan and others, the atoms that make up our bodies are in a constant state of renewal and attrition. The atoms in my body have been around for 15 billion years, and will persist for yet another 15 billion or more years. They are only temporarily arranged into Troy Boyle as they are only temporarily arranged into you who are reading my words. That’s amazing!

Our consciousness is an epiphenomenon that, like a rainbow, is the product of other processes without which we would not exist. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Where we err, as a species, is inventing narratives where that consciousness persists forever. We all want it to do so, but it does not. Religion is the expression of that desire, that need and that fear. Discontinuity is terrifying to try and conceptualize. I completely sympathize with the desire that something spiritual is “out there.”

I take heart from this idea: we are just a collection of atoms, non-randomly organized into life by what seems to me to be an inexorable, and probably common, process. There may be intelligences vastly greater than ours in the universe, cool and long-lived, that have a greater understanding, and there may be intelligences yet that make those intelligences seem like amoeba, as compared to humans. That’s an encouraging thought. We are all of us, from the greatest to the smallest, brothers and sisters of each other, and children of the organizational principle of matter and energy. If that’s not spirituality, I don’t know what is.

Jacob Kramer, VP of Outreach on The Non Prophets

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We are proud to have Vice President of Outreach Jacob Kramer put it on the line and speak with The Non Prophets Radioshow, Matt Dillahunty, and Shilling. The Non Prophets are sponsored by The Atheist Community of Austin, a great network of secular, agnostics, and free thinkers with blogs, cartoons, newsletters, podcasts and a television show. They have a wide and devoted audience and are highly respected voices in the secular community.

“We are thankful to have Jacob share thoughts and we invite you all to listen, enjoy, and hopefully become encouraged to engage in debate.” 

Mp3 audio:

National Atheist Party on Stephen King’s radio station WZON

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President Troy Boyle and Treasurer Bernard “Flash” Kellish from the National Atheist Party on Stephen King’s radio station WZON with Don Cookson and Pat LaMarche.

Open Letter to Rep. Palumbo (R-RI

Open letter to Rep. Palumbo (R-RI) concerning Jessica Ahlquist’s victory in having a Christian prayer removed from her high school auditorium by court order subsequent to which, Rep. Palumbo called the 16 year old teen, “an evil little thing”:

Mr. Palumbo,

At what point did you stop being a Rhode Island Representative, sworn to represent the interests of ALL Rhode Islanders, and decide to only represent the interests of Christians?

The United States is a secular nation, designed to be so by the founding fathers. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights explicitly establishes this country as a secular nation, but that’s not what you want, is it? You want a Christian nation. A nation with a state-mandated religion no different from the governments in the Middle East. You want a nation where the rights of non-Christians, to be free from religious indoctrination, are trampled on a daily basis.

Why else would you castigate a 16-year-old girl for doing what is right in removing a Christian prayer from her secular high school’s auditorium? Surely you realize that the halls of learning should be open to students of ALL ideological backgrounds. Or do you? Judging from your statement that Jessica Ahlquist is “evil” – you apparently think that only Christians have a right to be educated in the U.S. public school system, or that they should be second-class citizens who should “look away” when Christian proselytization is plastered all over the school grounds.

Your intolerant bigotry, like the bigotry evinced by those earlier politicians opposed to civil rights for African Americans, will follow you for the rest of your undoubtedly short political career. I can only hope that the flood of negative responses you are sure to receive will cause you to re-assess your discriminatory position, and realize that the U.S. is a diverse, secular nation, with opportunities for all, justice for all, and the freedom to worship or NOT WORSHIP for all.

After witnessing this behavior, I must ask: If you are re-elected, HOW do you propose to represent your atheist constituents?
We salute Jessica Ahlquist for doing what is right.

National Atheist Party blasts NH Republicans for anti-evolution legislation

National Atheist Party blasts NH Republicans for anti-evolution legislation

The National Atheist Party Blasts NH Republicans Jerry Bergevin(District 17), Gary Hopper(District 7), and John Burt(District 7) for putting forth anti-evolution legislation in New Hampshire.

Introduced by Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17), New Hampshire House Bill 1148 would “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

The first question this proposal brings to mind is, “What does atheism have to do with the Theory of Evolution?” Apparently, Congressman Bergevin holds a personal opinion that anyone who accepts the Theory of Evolution is an atheist. As Dr. Kenneth Miller has proven in Kitzmiller vs Dover, this could not be further from the truth.

Second, this bill exemplifies Bergevin’s complete ignorance of the field of science. The teaching of science does not include a scientist’s personal bias. Furthermore, scientists must leave their “political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism” at the door when they put on their lab coats. We would strongly recommend that Congressman Bergevin purchase any basic, grammar school science textbook to learn more about what a scientific theory really is and how the scientific method allows for no bias in the scientific process.

To further add insult to injury, R-Gary Hopper and R-John Burt would like to interject their beliefs with House Bill 1457. This bill would “Require science teachers to instruct pupils that proper scientific inquire results from not committing to any one theory or hypothesis, no matter how firmly it appears to be established, and that scientific and technological innovations based on new evidence can challenge accepted scientific theories or modes.”

While this bill may sound plausible at first, after a careful read it becomes clear that this bill would force science teachers to tell their students no scientific theory is sound or valid. This is an indirect attack on the theory of evolution and the big bang theory, as it is quite certain that both Congressmen would not suggest there are alternate theories for gravity, thermal dynamics or relativity. Clearly, the purpose of this legislation is to create a loophole for bringing intelligent design and creationism into the public classroom.

The question of teaching evolution versus intelligent design and creationism has long been settled through numerous court cases, ranging from the infamous Scopes trial  to the Kiztmiller case. Obviously, Bergevin and his colleagues have not read through the volumes of information or numerous court cases available on this subject.

When it comes to upholding the Bill of Rights and the 1st Amendment for his constituency, Congressman Bergevin and his colleagues are setting a very sad example of a what it means to be a public servant. House Bill 1148 is nothing more than Bergevin’s personal, religious attempt to circumvent the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause by interjecting his favored religious dogma into the public school system. The introduction of the bill is just one example of why the National Atheist Party was formed: to combat those who would bring their religious beliefs to the political arena and to keep religion out of our government and public schools. Congressman Bergevin and his colleagues should not be wasting valuable legislative time and money on such ludicrous, nonsensical bills when there are so many more pertinent issues that must be dealt with in our country.

The National Atheist Party condemns these pieces of legislation and casts shame on those Congressmen who put them on the dockets in New Hampshire. These bills are in direct violation of the separation of church and state and show the continued need for a checks and balances system that will prevent the insertion of religion into our children’s public schools and daily lives. It is a sad day when our own elected officials do not seek to uphold our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but the N★A★P is here to continuously remind them of these essential documents, which were created to ensure the rights of all Americans are protected. Keep religion out of our government and our schools!

NAP Live on The Thinking Atheist

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Tonight on January 17, 2012 at US Central 6pm, The Thinking Atheist will speak with Troy Boyle, President, and Jacob Kramer, VP of Outreach for the National Atheist Party  plus they will be taking your calls and emails. 

Join the Thinking Atheist and the NAP to confront the question, “If people agree on the rejection of gods, can they find consensus and be effective as a political party”

Call in to this number to speak with the host (347) 637-3611

or
Email [email protected] with your opinions.

The Thinking Atheist

National Atheist Party criticizes bill as violation of Constitutional rights.

Indiana Schools Consider Prayer Bill

Indianapolis, IN January 11th 2012 – Introduced on January 9, 2012, Indiana Senate Bill No. 251 calls for “Allowing the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school to provide for the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.” To take effect July 1, 2012, the new bill would allow public schools to require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.

“The implications of this bill are far-reaching,” said Shannon Kietzman, who is the State Chapter Leader for the Indiana State Chapter as well as the National Membership Coordinator of the National Atheist Party, or NAP. “Not only would the bill give schools the authority to bring religion into a non-religious setting, but it would also place the burden on families who do not want to participate. Those children are at risk of being ostracized due to their difference of religion or lack of belief.”

According to the bill, students may be exempt from participation in the prayer if the student chooses not to participate or if the student’s parents choose to not have the student participate. The bill further specifies that the Lord’s Prayer is to be the prayer that is recited, though it gives the school the authority to determine which version of the prayer is to be recited.

“This bill sends a clear message: Christianity is our chosen religion,” continued Kietzman. “It further implies that religion is necessary for a person to be of sound character and to be a good citizen. This is an insult to atheists and to all others who do not practice a religion.”

The bill states that the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer is intended to help students “recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen.” Critics of the bill believe the current wording implies that those who are not religious are immoral and incapable of becoming good citizens.

“When it comes down to it, this bill is discriminatory and is in clear conflict with the Constitution,” said Kietzman. “The NAP is encouraging Indiana residents to contact their representatives and to make it clear that we do not approve of this bill. Religion is something that should be taught at home, at the church or in other private settings. It has no place in school.”

The National Atheist Party is a progressive, secular 527 political organization committed to the Constitutional ideals of Freedom of Expression and the Separation of Church and State. Founded online in March 2011, the National Atheist Party has grown to include chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The National Atheist Party supports the secular vision of the Founding Fathers,” adds Troy Boyle, who is the President of the NAP. “They were unified in their strongly felt belief that no one religion should be favored over any other. This bill is a slap in the face to any and all U.S. citizens that may hail from a different tradition than Christianity. Buddhist families, Muslim, Wiccan and even atheist families must be welcome in the halls of learning. The NAP is working for the day that discriminatory practices such as these are a thing of the past.”

The National Atheist Party is open to members of all faiths and ideologies, races and creeds, sexual preferences and cultures. We prize diversity above all things, and oppose those who would enforce a homogeneity of belief or political ideology.

In Georgia, “In God/Allah/FSM We Trust” – or You Pay!

Atlanta, Georgia – Senate Bill 293 is in the pre-file stage and would, if passed, require extra fees to the state government to have deity specific language removed from license plates in Georgia.

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SB 293 would include “In God We Trust” on each license plate. Having this removed would require an extra fee. This bill is in direct violation of each citizen’s First Amendments rights. The separation of church and state is a fundamental right that all US citizens have to protect us and our ability to reject or practice the religion of our choosing without governmental interference.

In choosing God over other deities, forces, and no deity; the government is choosing Christianity over other religions and the wishes this nation’s nonbelievers. As the US Constitution and related precedents hold, this is a violation of the separation of church and state. This is no different than having the license plate state, “In Allah We Trust”.  The government has no place in the promotion of any religion or any supernatural belief.

Sign the petition on Change.Org .

Campaign headquarters for this effort.  Please join us!

Also, you may contact the representative for your own district and let them know that their constituents are concerned and watching. You can find out who your senator is here.

The National Atheist Party is open to people of all races, sexes and sexual orientations, and cultures. We are committed to a government free of superstition and bias and are guided by principles of equal opportunity, recognition of merit, and economic responsibility. The National Atheist Party does not seek to inhibit the religious practices or beliefs of any group, but is committed to the idea that religious preference is a private matter and has no place in the government or workplace. We support the separation of church and state, and seek to ensure its strictest interpretation.

Dan Coats – What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

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To learn about the question campaign, watch this video, and join the “What will you do for the atheist voters?” campaign page.

Dan Coats, who is currently serving as a Senator in Indiana, began his journey into politics after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Wheaton College in 1965. He then served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968 before earning a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1971. After serving as the assistant vice president of a Fort Wayne life insurance company for a period of time, Coats jumped into the political arena when he began working for U.S. Representative Dan Quayle in 1976. When Quayle ran for U.S. Senate in 1980, Coats ran for and won his boss’s former seat. Coats continued to follow in Quayle’s footsteps in 1988, at which time he was appointed to the empty Senate seat that was left when Quayle was elected to Vice President of the United States. He served in this capacity until he lost his seat to Evan Bayh in 1999. When Bayh retired, Coats won back his old seat in 2010.

Throughout his poltical career, Coats has served on several committees, including the Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He has placed a priority on National Defense and was named Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany in 2001 during his hiatus from Indiana politics. Coats has a history of voting in favor of prohibiting same-sex marriage and supporting abstinence education, while voting against bills that would prohibit job discriminating based on sexual orientation. More information on how Senator Coats has voted in the past visit On the Issues. Currently, Coats serves on the 112th Congress of Indiana and is a member of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), which allows him to “push [his agenda] for spending cuts and fiscal restraint”.

Outside of politics, Coats and his wife founded the Foundation for American Renewal, which is a non-profit organization focused on “encouraging renewal through America’s founding Biblical principles of faith in God, liberty, and compassionate entrepreneurship”.

When challenged with the question, “What will you do for atheist voters?” Senator Coats chose to respond in a letter:

Thank you for contacting me about religious freedom. I appreciate hearing from you.

The First Amendment of The Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. This gives citizens the right to practice any religion without the threat of religious discrimination or persecution. As a strong Christian, I also believe America should welcome those from all faiths, and, indeed, Americans worship a variety of religions. This gives America a unique identity in the global scope, and truly makes our nation the land of the free.

Thank you again for contacting me, and please do not hesitate to keep in touch on matters of concern to you

Sincerely, Dan Coats

U.S. Senator

For more information on how to get involved in the Question Campaign please contact your local SCL.

Faith-Based Healing Exemptions: Illegal and Immoral

Faith-Based Healing Exemptions: Illegal and Immoral

Members of the National Atheist Party have noticed a trend in the string of faith-based healing child neglect cases spanning the past 30 years that disturbs them deeply. Though federal law has determined that, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child [321 U.S. 158, 167] to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death,” as delivered by Justice Rutledge in the Supreme Court case Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944); {1} many states still include laws that provide some partial immunity and/or consideration when ruling based upon clauses established under the guise of religious freedom. It is the opinion of the National Atheist Party that child neglect, fatal or not, should never be tolerated under any circumstances, and that the act is exponentially more abhorrent when any form of freedom of religious expression defense is used – it is not a matter of religious freedom, it is unadulterated child abuse.

The Hickmans knew the baby was born early but believed he would survive. When he turned blue, gasped for breath and lost consciousness, the Hickmans prayed but did not attempt to get medical help.

Conspicuously absent from these cases have been conspiracy and accessory charges. An individual may be held as liable as the perpetrator of any crime when they have encouraged, aided, or planned the crime with the individual that carries it out; it is the opinion of all rational human beings that this should hold especially true when the crime involves child neglect/abuse. However, the leaders of faith healing churches who encouraged the parents that committed these crimes have escaped unscathed; as have other members of their congregations that prayed over the severely ill child, and were aware that medical treatment had not and would not be sought. The National Atheist Party considers this to be an atrocity, considering how quickly an accessory to even misdemeanor crimes is charged by our current legal system.

Parents who choose prayer in lieu of desperately needed medical attention are regrettably prevalent even in our modern society. In 1998, a research study by Seth M. Asser, MD, and Rita Swan, PhD was published in Pediatrics that reached the conclusion: “One hundred forty fatalities were from conditions for which survival rates with medical care would have exceeded 90%. Eighteen more had expected survival rates of >50%. All but 3 of the remainder would likely have had some benefit from clinical help” from the years 1975-1995 {2}. There is no accurate statistic currently available for the amount of children who have suffered extreme mental and physical anguish due to this practice, though it is reasonable to assume that it is many more than the one hundred forty documented fatalities.

It is the firm belief of the National Atheist Party that no law should allow any individual to use religion as an excuse for a deed that claimed the lives of seven children per year on average for twenty consecutive years, we also believe that an individual shall be deemed to be complicit in the death of such a child should they fail to report an instance of such illegal neglect and could face charges of conspiracy to murder, manslaughter and child abuse.

Charles Knoll
Public Relations Staff Writer

{1}- Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Web.

{2}- Seth M. Asser, MD, Rita Swan, PhD. Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. 1998. Web.