Dateline October 7, 2011
In what is billed as the largest secular event in the history of the world, major US secular organizations have joined together to sponsor a one day rally on Saturday, March 24 on the Washington, DC, Mall. The president and vice president of the Humanist Society of Gainesville as well as other members plan to be there.
Drawing on the lessons learned by the LGTB community, the secular community plans to show the world, "We're huge, we're everywhere, and we're growing." Indeed, non-believers are coming out of the closet, encouraged by statistics showing that as much as 10 per cent of the population actually admits to being unbelievers, and a total 20 per cent do not affiliate with any religion.
In addition to encouraging more non-believers to assert their (un)beliefs, the rally organizers want to use the event to dispel myths and stereotypes about secularists. "There is no one 'True Atheist,' no matter what your pastor or parent may tell you, says the event website."We will have non-theists from all political persuasions, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We will show that there are atheists in every American demographic."
The organizers also want "to show the country that atheists can run for office and adequately represent theists, just as theists in office can represent atheists proudly and openly. We deserve a seat at the table just like theists, and we hope this rally can put our values in the radar of American voters, who may one day elect an atheist to public office."
Ronald A. Lindsay of the Center for Inquiry, the publishers of Free Inquiry magazine, says, "Some people are bigots and will remain bigots no matter what. But one reason many Americans harbor prejudice toward atheists is that they know about them only through what they have heard from their minister or priest, some right-wing politician, or perhaps some fatuous media personality such as Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. Fortunately, many nonreligious are no longer willing to "pass." Finding their voice, they are letting others know that they don't believe in a god -- and that they are leading happy, fulfilling lives. But more of us need to shake off our complacency and come out."
Among the groups sponsoring the event are our parent organization, the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Freethought Society, Military Atheists and Freeethinkers, Secular Coalition of America, Coalition for Reason, the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
Headlining the speaker list is Richard Dawkins, the author of ground breaking books that challenge religion's claims to legitimacy. PZ Myers, Hemant Mehta, Greta Christina are among a long list of distinguished leaders.
Organizers stress that the rally is not intended to bash religion or the "faith community," but to assert the dignity and humanity of non-believers.
Rally organizers want this to be a fun event as well. Jamie Kilstein, stand-up comedian and co-host of Citizen Radio, will add to the entertainment. The band Bad Religion will give a one hour performance at the end of the rally. To sample their song "American Jesus" go to http://www.skepticmoney.com/reason-rally-march-24-2012-washington-dc-now-with-the-band-bad-religion/