The National Atheist Party is changing its name to the Secular Party of America in a bid to boost its political influence and expand its slumping membership, The National Review reported
With a membership of just over 3,000 and numerous internal struggles, the three-year-old organization decided that rebranding their group would help raise its profile.
"We are certain that not only is the new name far more inclusive of a greater number of Americans that share our vision of true separation of church and state, but that it will open the door to those that may not have joined us if for no other reason than because 'Atheist' was in the name," read an announcement on the NAP’s website
"We will miss the old name but now it is time to move forward and focus on being a viable and respected political party. We hope to make a worldwide network of secular organizations."
Among the setbacks facing the party is a lack of funding that forced the cancellation of last year's national convention and the resignation in March of the group's president and co-founder, Troy Boyle, who said he needed to devote more time to his careers in the law and as a comic-book artist, the National Review reported.
Party officials said they held a two-day vote on the name change, which was approved by 77.6 percent of members who cast ballots.
The group was founded in 2011 under the name Freethought Party. The name was changed to the National Atheist Party a year later, a move that leaders said prompted an initial boost in membership.
Boyle, of Elsmere, Ky., said he founded the organization with the hope of it becoming a political force, advocating for government to take no position on religion.
The National Atheist Party, now the Secular Party of America, is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 527 political party, making it a not-for-profit that can spend money to advocate for political issues, but not for individual candidates.
A year ago, the party claimed it had 8,000 members in all 50 states. Its latest claim is less than half that number.
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