Reason Rally on National Mall

Leaders in the secular movement head to the National Mall to exercise the First Amendment in their own way.

Follow On Faith Saturday for live Tweets from the Reason Rally on the National Mall, billed by organizers as the largest gathering of the secular movement in history.

“We want people to come out of the closet and show people we can be good without God,” Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition, told the Post’s Michelle Boorstein. Richard Dawkins, Adam Savage (co-host of “Mythbusters”) Penn Jillette and Rep. Pete Stark are among those expected to speak or appear via video presentation.

Follow tweets from the Post at Reason Rally below.

Many of the event’s participants wrote about the secular movement’s history and goals for On Faith this week. Read more about the Reason Rally, atheist activism, and the future of secularism below:

Richard Dawkins: Who would rally against reason?

Fred Edwords: The great atheist ‘coming out’

David Silverman: Why we need a Reason Rally

R. Elisabeth Cornwell: Why women need secularism

Tom Gilson: Atheists don’t own reason



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  • harry4

    Our human race has been around for some 100,000 years as homo sapiens. Current religions have been around for much, much less time. Yet, belief in the supernatural appears to be true for all of those millennia. Why is any current belief system that’s only been around for a few percent of the total time better than any of the prior ones? Because proponents of the new ones obliterated those of the old ones? That’s just not good enough.

  • njdon

    i’m out.since 1940 no one cares.

  • laboo

    Well, you could make the same point re particle physics vs. Newtonian physics (or the 6000-year-old earth crowd). And in that case, your argument kinda fails.

    As a progressive Christian, I have no problem at all with atheists and I agree wholeheartedly with them that the excesses of old-school knuckledragging theology are harmful, especially in the public square. But to deny recent advances in the canon of spiritually-related writing and thought isn’t any more progressive. Evolution is real and not limited to the physical portion of humankind. There is more to us than meat.

  • mainestreeter

    Forty years ago I thought that humans’ need for fairy tales to explain the universe would have been replaced by now with reality. No matter how much we learn about how things really work, that old need for fairy tales remains.

  • aristotlegleuteusmaximus

    Great. Now they (the propagandists) want to group the atheists into a coherent political entity so they can be manipulated like the rest of the faithful masses.

  • observer9

    So the atheists hold a big rally and it rains all day. The believers say God rained on their parade. As an allergy sufferer, I’m just glad the rain brought me “blessed” relief by washing all that pollen out of the air.

    I don’t know whether to thank the atheists, the believers, or God. So, to hedge my bets, I hereby thank them all. Praise the Lord and pass the nasal spray.

  • cynthiaholdeman

    One thing I’ll give the Christians, they build beautiful buildings.

  • Rubovitch

    In this day and age anyone who believes in a magical man in the sky is delusional. Just like Santa or the Tooth Fairy, or the Pope. Religion is the biggest blight on the world today.

  • sarahabc

    I love architecture too and I agree with you!

    But of course, there are also beautiful college campuses, train stations, libraries, federal buildings, etc.

  • phosgene

    i do find that hard to believe that the phrase “i’m an athiest” would never raise an eyebrow, never change a relationship over the course of 70+ years. either you haven’t told many people, or you’ve been exceptionally lucky.

  • sarahabc

    The Christians were there with a counter rally. The rain fell equally on both sides. In fact, it rained on a lot of states today. It’s spring time. That’s what happens.

  • cynthiaholdeman

    but Cathedrals and Basilicas take my breath away. Once I was in the Basilica in Oaxaca and was admiring the ceiling paintings about 5 floors above my head and some kid brought in and let go of a mylar balloon in the shape and color of Shrek’s head. So it settled on a bible story perfectly and I got a case of the giggles. I had to duck out in a big hurry.

  • beekeeper6

    I really enjoyed Tamila Nasrin. It was obvious her critique of Islam was making some of the faux liberals in the audience uncomfortable, but it was refreshing to hear someone on a stage on the National Mall call Muhammad a pedophile. This is probably the only country left in the world that you are free to say that.

  • giff

    Possibly, but we seem to have avoided a lot of the manipulation already inflicted so perhaps we have a higher level of resistance.

  • jimward21

    I’m holding out for some atheist ice cream.

  • jimward21

    The vast meaning of a well-lived and well-reasoned life? We have as much meaning as a tulip, our spring is just longer.

  • jimward21

    @mainestreeter – we have more leisure time than ever, so I would expect our myth making to increase. When the robots assume our work, we’ll spend all our evenings in church.

  • Pike4

    So speeches there are calling for zero tolerance and to shove Atheism in everyone’s face…this is different from annoying ultra-religious folks who do the same how, exactly? Believe what you want to believe, just don’t be militant and obnoxious about it. Some of us simply don’t want to hear it either way.

    I have friends and relatives that go to church every Sunday. Others, like me, go once a year on Christmas to make mom happy. I have other friends and relatives who haven’t been at all since they were little. All of us manage to get along just fine…for the very reason that we don’t feel the need to scream and yell at each other over believing or not believing.

  • phosgene

    don’t forget music as well. people that are inspired often do great creative work, and say what you want about religion, it has been a source of inspiration for many.

  • sugarplum491

    You have a good point. Now, so it seems, the atheists who feel a need to demonstrate in public have realized that they are just not in step with the rest of the world. However, they don’t exactly know what to do about it or if “doing anything” is necessary. I feel sad for them, but on the whole, nobody really wants to be bothered with them. Most believers don’t really think that atheists are evil people, only that they are seriously dented.

  • TPartier

    It sin’t about shoving Atheism in everybody’s face. It is about a society that operates on humane guiding priciples that are not victim to the mythologies of others. That factual reality and sound logic be our guiding posts.

    When 100’s of billions are lost to exemptions for Chruches, clergy, church owned property & what not. Your religion is picking my pocket.

    When your religion insists that I or one of my loved ones – or any other human being – forego the benefits of scientific research for reasons based entirely in your religious belief – you’re breaking my bones.

    Both conditions under which Thomas Jefferson would tolerate religion are thus violated. Keep your religion out of my government.

  • TPartier

    Then you understand that while many of those buildings were being constructed – others in their respective countries were being tortured for being of another religion, or – were slaves in the minister’s household…


    But buildings don’t stay standing because of belief, they stay standing because of reason.

    Cathedrals may be built for the purpose of the worship of god(s), but they put the roof on with nails.

  • _BSH

    It closes off reasonable debate when one side claims it stands for ‘reason’ and the other side is against it. True reason does not deny what it cannot disprove. Otherwise, it isn’t reason at all. Funny how many don’t understand that.


    Those who assert a position must provide evidence that it is true.

    Claiming that others must disprove an assertion for which no evidence in provided is UNREASON.

    See: Spaghetti Monster, Flying.


    So, Pike, you don’t like it when that kind of rhetoric is turned your way? Tough.

    To paraphrase Malcolm X, it’s “the hate that hate produces.”

    Or in the words of John McClain, “Welcome to the party, pal!”


    Why is there no love for Wotan here? Wotan and his son Baldur, who died because he was the most beautiful?


    God is punishing us all with this plague of plant spooge!

  • medogsbstfrnd

    atheists rallying on the mall for what is morally good, eh? A reasonable person might ask how a materialist philosophy that insists on survival of the fittest as the governing principle of all life logically arrives at a notion of what is morally good. God Almighty. Kool Aid gets dispensed in a variety of ways. Careful what you drink, lads.

  • JustSomeSnark

    you need to look up what “atheism” means…

    then we can go from there…

  • JustSomeSnark

    he was consumed by the great spaghetti monster, right?

  • observer9

    For folks who claim to be so darned smart, some of you can’t tell when someone’s joking without a special sarcasm font.

    Laugh a little and enjoy life. Too many atheists are just like the fire and brimstoners you rail against. You all take yourselves too damned seriously.

  • presto668

    I can’t prove a magic fat man in a red suit doesn’t fly around the world on Christmas Eve in an enchanted sleigh and slide down chimneys to deliver presents. Therefore I’m not allowed to deny it.


    I suspect that the current model of belief of the god king probably dates to the end of the Lesser Dyas15,000 years ago and the development of agriculture. It was useful to have divine kings and eternal commandments to keep people in their places, planting and growing crops. So the Egyptian ruler Osiris becomes the god Osiris over time and the Sumerian/Phoenician progenitor becomes the fish god Jah and Jah becomes JHVH.

    A top down god king model would not be a real good survival adaptation for a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe.

    In Werner Herzog’s wonderful “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, it is interesting that our ancestors of as long as 35,000 years ago, people fundamentally no different from ourselves, painted NO SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS in their wonderful depictions of horses, rhinos, lions, aurochs and their hands. They sculpted WOMAN, the famous Venus of Willendorf.

    Only the worship of a god king requires there to be a supernatural reality.


    NO! He went to Hel and not to Valhalla!

    You unbelievers will be laughing out of the other sides of your feet when Fimbulvintr comes and the Great Wolf Fenrir eats the moon and the World Serpent Jormundgard is loosed!

  • Curmudgeon10

    I’m still a little confused how atheists don’t see themselves, gathering as they do to support one another in believing in ….. nothing…as a bunch of morons.

    If you don’t believe in anything, that’s fine by me I even get a gathering so people who believe in nothing can get to know other people who believe in nothing.

    But atheists, in the main, are just not happy believing in nothing. It’s not enough for them. Not only must they believe in nothing, but it also follows they must ridicule those who believe in somthing. That’s where they lose me.


  • Dr_Gene_Nelson

    When Richard Dawkins was speaking, he noted that about 90% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are either atheists or agnostics. As a scientist who is one of the latter group, I was pleased to be part of the “Reason Rally” today, despite the wet weather. I’m not as confrontational as Dawkins, but I do appreciate the value of reason – and of having a set of falsifiable beliefs. That does not serve as a bar to my feeling of wonder and appreciation of being alive while looking at and photographing the famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms.

  • klinger1

    medogsbstfrnd: survival of the fittest has favored some characteristics in the human animal, including being able to walk on two legs, being able to communicate by speaking, and having feelings of justice, fairness, and empathy. These feelings are pretty universal in humans and are a better basis for being moral than fear of punishment in a supposed afterlife.

  • klinger1

    Our planet is saturated with religious organizations, from Mormons to Muslims, trying to convert people to their false beliefs. Probably every city in the US is in range of at least one radio station pushing Christian beliefs. The world can use a little more advocacy on behalf of understanding the universe without the supernatural beliefs of our ancestors. Today’s rally was one small step.

  • TPartier

    Um, let’s see – if maybe billions of tax dollars we helpt to pay weren’t being used to inspire hate among other things. If maybe they would just shut up when science has more than proven the light.

    Of course, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Edison were all morons too?

    Maybe YOU are the moron. Guess what the people who developed the original Darpanet, the Web, most of the semiconductors you rely on were – wait for it ——- atheists!

    We’re getting more vocal because more and more things that are the policy of the republic as a whole, are being usurped by the religious fanatics. Sad, that the most powerful nation (whose keys to power – the technology – were largely developed by atheists) must be hampered by the intellectually lazy. And by the way – the religious have been trying to shove their crap down our throats for 25 years.

    By the way – if Christianity is so hot – why is this nation never passed an anti-lynching law in spite of having had multiple opportunities to do it. Oh – and they had prayer in school then. Some good that did!

  • apspa1

    Religion, from the Latin “supernatural constraint,” is the fantastical reflection in people’s minds of external forces dominating over them in everyday life. A reflection in which earthly forces assume non-earthly forms.
    Religion grew out of the socialization of humans; their coming together to form early social systems. Out of that grew the form of social consciousness that needed to explain nature’s awesome and incomprehensible forces: Religion.
    Religion allowed people to believe in a special importance humans occupied in the nature of all things and it was characterized by by a unity of outlook, feelings and cult-like ceremonies.
    As human society grew and developed religion inevitably became a valuable method to control society for good and bad depending on the needs and goals of the most powerful and influencial.
    The basic and decisive feature of religion is belief in the supernatural.

    Atheism grew out of the appearance of religion. The same socialilization of humans that saw the appearance of religion also brought about discovery and accumulation of knowledge; that led to a form of social consciousness that led to a system of accumulating and verifying knowledge in the course of society’s
    practical experience. This system became known as science, from the Latin meaning “have knowledge.”
    Science progressed by passing on from the disclosure of relatively simple causal-consequntial relations and essential connections to the formationof more fundamental laws of being and thinking. It finds and studies objective laws, without the knowledge of which conscious and purposive practical activity is impossible.

    Religion and science are the result of the evolution of humans as social animals.

    The fundamental contradictions of these two forms of social consciousness are itself part of the evolutionary process, ie – out of disorder comes change leading to newer higher forms of disorder.

    This rally and discussions are the process at work.

  • Sara121

    Curmudgeon10, try and catch some of the clips of the rally so you can see what the people there DO believe in. Much of it is about removing the religious bias in our laws that actually hurt real people, believers, non-believers, and especially children. It was about standing up for individual liberty, equality, and the secular values of the Constitution. It was about compassion for fellow human beings. I suspect many believers might agree with some of those things. The only difference is that the people at the rally today don’t think any belief in a deity or an external reward/punishment system is necessary to have those kinds of values.

  • Sara121

    Agreed. I was really glad to hear her speak. Too often when atheists and secularists speak out we’re accused of targeting Christianity and saying nothing of Islam. It’s a lie of course, Dawkins and Harris and the rest talk about Islam all the time. But after her critique no one should be able to say that anymore.

  • Sara121

    I’ll spend my evenings reading science and history, hiking, and listening to music thank you very much.

  • TPartier

    Funny how you don’t understand that we can’t be running a nation on speculation about what some person’s moronic interpretation of a work that was not even written within 30 years of Christ’s life.

  • tuonela

    No SODDI, he was enlightened by the invisible lutefisk fragrance, stole an eight legged horse and road far until he met the salmon maiden who taught him everything and they live together beneath a hill in Finland where they will judge the quick and the dull when global warming wreaks its ultimate vengeance, or something.

  • tuonela

    Also, the very intelligent invisible lutefisk fragrance.

  • tuonela

    True, but not wholly so. Religiously inspired people have often been inspired to create destruction. Their behavior is often black with intent, and red in consequence.

  • tuonela

    I like best this definition of an atheist: one for whom God is unnecessary as an explanatory concept.