Reason Rally on the Mall is a milestone event for the growing atheist movement
(Published in the Washington Post Local – March 22, 2012)
On Saturday, March 24, 2012, the National Mall in Washington will play host to what is expected to be the largest gathering of atheists in history. Dubbed Reason Rally, it will be attended by thousands of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and non-believers of every stripe. It’s being called Secular Woodstock. Music will be provided by the band Bad Religion.
But, the rally will be more than a soggy mosh for the religiously unpersuaded. Reason Rally will show that all the cool people are atheists now and that the days of consent by silence are over. It’s an appeal to millions of hidden atheists to come out of their closets and join the fun.
The Constitution gave us the rights but the Internet gave us the voice. After two millennia, atheists had a way to find each other and to demonstrate that we are not the hell-bound, baby-eating monsters that the preachers warned you about. It turns out that we are everywhere and we are here to stay. We are your friends, family, neighbors, plumbers, politicians, and your IT guy. We are patriotic Americans who love our country and do not, as is often suggested, have to move to Russia.
Instead, we are just going to have a big party on the National Mall.
To put it in perspective, the rally is not likely to rival the sea of people at Obama’s inauguration. But, it’s not the numbers that make Reason Rally an important event. It is the spectacle of thousands of deity-free Americans, on the Mall, carrying smart, funny signs and listening to the notorious evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, explain why reality is important.
According to the most recent American Religious Identification Survey, over 75 million Americans are not Christians. Over 50 million of those have no religious affiliation and profess little or no belief in a supreme deity. These are the “Nones” and their numbers have doubled since 1991. The few thousand godless Americans you will see on the Mall are just the tip of a large iceberg – with a Darwin fish on the side.
Reason Rally will give a heads up to those who have been reluctant to recognize the mushrooming numbers and the growing political presence of secular Americans. There are millions of us, with legitimate concerns about government endorsement of religiosity. Like women and birth control, we deserve a seat at the table when the adamantly religious are deciding our fate.
Reason Rally is happening because it’s time for Secular Americans to be seen and heard, to defend science, and separation of church and state. We’ll be on the Mall because it’s time to push back against the creeping theocratization of America.