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March 22nd, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Atheist rally billed as 'coming out' moment for nonbelievers

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A coalition of atheist and secular organizations are coming together on Saturday to hold what is being billed at the largest gathering of atheists in history.

David Silverman, chairman of the event committee and president of the American Atheists, said the rally is aimed at uniting atheist organizations and letting the religious know that there are nonbelievers among them.

“We need to stress to the theists that we are here,” Silverman said. “Atheism is growing in all 50 states. What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality.”

Silverman initially told CNN that the rally would draw anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people to the National Mall, and the National Park Service has planned for 30,000 people. With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday, however, Silverman told CNN on Thursday that he expects somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people.

The cost of the event is around $300,000, Silverman said, but philanthropist Todd Stiefel, Founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, is supplying half the money.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

The rally has been a catalyst for protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, a group well known for its picketing of funerals of American servicemen and servicewomen. Westboro Baptist has been granted a permit for the “grassy area between 14th and 15th” streets, according to Carol Johnson, a communications officer for the National Park Service.

Though a press release for the reason rally touts 17 groups planning to protest, only the Westboro Baptist Church has applied and obtained a permit. Johnson said rally organizers have notified the Park Service of other possible protest groups, but none of those have applied for a permit.

The rally's long list of speakers and presenters runs the gamut from intellectuals to celebrities to comedians. The event is headlined by Oxford professor and author Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins, who is widely regarded as the most respected figure in atheism, is lending his voice to this event because he says freedom for atheists is “constantly under threat from people who would like to turn this country into some sort of a theocracy.”

“The Reason Rally is part of an effort to combat the attack of the theocrats,” Dawkins told CNN. “There is in this country at the moment a great revival of atheism, and the number of atheists in the country is much larger than people realize.”

Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital

At a press conference for the event, Silverman was adamant that the rally won't be the last. He didn't say whether it will be become an annual tradition, but he intends a higher profile for atheists in the future.

“The next step after the rally is all eyes on the election,” Silverman said. “We want to post hard questions to the candidates.”

Dawkins, too, related the rally to politics.

“The nonbelieving constituency has not been vocal enough, and it therefore has been politic for them to be ignored by their congressmen, by their senators,” Dawkins said.

Directing his comments at Congress, Dawkins said, “You have been neglecting them, overlooking them and riding roughshod over them as though they didn’t exist. Well, they do exist and they outnumber some of the other lobbies that you have been so assiduously sucking up to all these years.”

The America Atheists also are holding their annual convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Secular Coalition for America has scheduled its “Lobby Day for Reason” on Friday.

The weekend is part of a larger blitz by a coalition of atheists to “win” equality in American culture, Silverman said.

“We are the last group against whom it is politically correct to be bigoted,” he said. “That is something that needs to change and I am very confident that we will within 20 years.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (3,073 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    Reality.

    Your favorite subject... Chasing ghosts ...

    March 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  2. Wobbly Bob

    Atheism is just a transitory stage to the ultimate state – apatheism. An atheist feels the need to put up billboards and go to rallies. An apatheist goes out hiking or boating or otherwise doing something productive.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • BG

      Best comment I've read on these boards in months. Including mine.
      :lol:

      March 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • GodPot

      I agree, atheists do not "need" a rally like this. However, I think it's more likely the same feeling a Star Trek fan might get from going to a convention. It's just fun being around a large number of like minded fan's who can laugh with the person next to you that you don't even know when someone on the podium makes a Romulan Ale joke because you know they know, you know?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Bob Hope

      :)

      March 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "Atheism is just a transitory stage to the ultimate state – apatheism. An atheist feels the need to put up billboards and go to rallies. An apatheist goes out hiking or boating or otherwise doing something productive."

      That's why the Christians waste their time in prayer with their hands clasp accomplishing nothing white the Atheist is out their communities making a difference. – Oh Yeah...that's been proven.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "white "

      while – argh...LOL

      March 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • BG

      @ OhYeah (sure, we all miss the Macho Man...)

      "Atheist is out their communities making a difference."

      You wouldn't post something that trite unless you had a list prepared, right? Let's have it.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "You wouldn't post something that trite unless you had a list prepared, right? Let's have it."

      Thanks for proving your ignorance. That's the point you don't KNOW Atheists. So everything you say about them is a LIE!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Really?

      "You wouldn't post something that trite unless you had a list prepared, right? Let's have it."

      Religion has killed more people in the history of humanity than atheists so what's your point or are you really that dumb.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Al

      By "apatheist" do you mean someone without any interest or enthusiasm in things? Hardly sounds like the atheists I know.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • BG

      @ OhYeah & Really?

      Well, aren't you " two " a pair.. want some cheese with that whine?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Really?

      "Well, aren't you " two " a pair.. want some cheese with that whine?"

      Thanks for proving you don't have any really substance to your allegations just more stupid lies.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "Well, aren't you " two " a pair.. want some cheese with that whine?"

      Really.... BG doesn't get it they're to stuck on their own ego to understand their ignorance. LOL!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Wobbly Bob

      For Al:

      "Apatheism is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief or disbelief in a deity."

      "Apatheism" has replaced the older phrase "I Don't Give A Flying Fuck About Anything That Has To Do With Religion, So Shut Up And Fuck Off!", which was a bit too wordy.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Krishna

      I believe it is the other way. We start with apatheism, but when theists push us to the extreme we try to stand our ground and being athiest.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • damo12345

      Far too much suffering in this world can be traced back to these primitive tribal beliefs, and far too many people that are intelligent enough to realize they're looking at bunk either go along because they're afraid of reprisal from believers or simply because they've been indoctrinated for so long it's never even occurred to them to question what they've been told.

      Trying to convince other atheists to "come out of the closet" is highly productive.

      Making people question the lies they've been taught is highly productive.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Eric

      The moment the religious stop passing laws and performing actions that interfere with the freedom of women, gays, minorities, non-believers, etc., is the moment atheists can stop speaking up.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  3. tallulah13

    I'd love to attend, but I'm on the West Coast, but I'm sure it will be covered on this blog. I look forward to reading about it.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Edwin

      You know, it is possible to organize other rallies or conventions. If you live in or near a large city, see if you can get a convention center or hotel to host an event.

      I know, organizing events is tedious and not for everyone - so email this event's organizers and ask them about doing one near you.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  4. portland tony

    A professional organization that was formed to prove that something doesn't exist. If it doesn't exist there's nothing to disprove. ! Ignore it. The whole scheme is like a three dollar bill...phoney ...Just some jerks trying to prove there's a sucker born every minute.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Atheism does not try to prove god doesn't exist! How is this so hard for people to understand? The one thing that atheists have in common, ONE THING, is that they feel that there is no evidence to support the existence of god. That's it, done, not even an assertion.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • BG

      Hey, Hawaii – why is it that I have complete respect for agnostics, but I find the absolutes blathered by atheists completely laughable?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      I don't know, that's something that you'll need to figure out for yourself. Maybe your just a condescending ass? I can only speculate, but the tone of your question suggests a few things.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Wobbly Bob

      Out of curiousity, BG, why do you not find the absolutes of religious people laughable?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • karlito

      Fine question Wobbly Bob!! I'm willing to bet there isn't a good answer

      March 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • BG

      @ Hawaii

      It was rhetorical. Trust me. I know the 'answer.' The fact that you thought it was an actual question tells me all I need to know about your deductive* abilities

      *or lack thereof.

      @ Wobbly Bob

      "...why do you not find the absolutes of religious people laughable?"

      Reread my comment. I do find them laughable..

      March 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      Then give us your reasoning. Asserting that you have a reason, but not giving it is tantamount to me saying, "I have 1billion dollars, trust me." At least you didn't try to deny the condescension in your post.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Wobbly Bob

      Your comment does not say what you think it says, BG. It only mentions atheists and agnostics. It does not address religious people at all.

      So why do you find yourself laughable?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • BG

      @ Wobbly Bob

      What's next, Bob? I'm rubber and you're glue? Geez, talk about limited, but if you insist....

      "Religious people" have more in common with agnostics than atheists. Yeah, I know.. Pascal and all that shít. It's immaterial, because people will believe what they want (or need) to believe despite any rationalizations from naysayers. You don't matter to them, Bob. You never had and never will. I hate to be a buzz- kill, but that's just the way it is.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • BG

      Another "rubber and glue" retort from @ Hawaii.

      "At least you didn't try to deny the condescension in your post."

      Any 'condescension' is coming from atheists. Take a look in the mirror, dude.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • ....

      "Any 'condescension' is coming from atheists. Take a look in the mirror, dude.
      "

      Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot, that log in your eye is HUGE!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      Is attempting to deflect all you can do? You in no way even attempt to take up the points I am bringing up.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • BG

      @ Hawaii

      If all "atheism" was was the absence of satisfying empirical evidence I wouldn't care. Not a bit. Hell, if you stood in the airport with a robe and a tambourine chanting "There is no god" I might even give you a buck. Maybe two depending on how disheveled you were and how bad you stank.

      The absence of evidence isn't the problem with atheism. It the -constant- personalized badgering, belittling, castigation, condemnation, etc. of believers in an effort to neuter the effect of their religious special interest groups. I've said this for months. You want political pull? Start a lobby. Organize. Send money to politicians. Do what everyone else does. Grow, empower yourselves though the process. Establish some patsy politicians, etc...

      But all atheists do by belittling believers is to further entrench and polarize them in their beliefs, so they send their politicians more money...

      March 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • ....

      "The absence of evidence isn't the problem with atheism. It the -constant- personalized badgering, belittling, castigation, condemnation, etc. of believers in an effort to neuter the effect of their religious special interest groups. I've said this for months. You want political pull? Start a lobby. Organize. Send money to politicians. Do what everyone else does. Grow, empower yourselves though the process. Establish some patsy politicians, etc...

      But all atheists do by belittling believers is to further entrench and polarize them in their beliefs, so they send their politicians more money..."

      Wow you have blinders on read back on this blog the post by Christians they do exactly what you are accusing Atheists of doing, You've done it yourself, the reason you see it is because you know you've done it yourself. You sir are a hypocrite!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Al

      Trust me, we'd like to be able to ignore it, but it's kinda difficult when so many believers claim that we're evil and immoral just because we don't believe what they do.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • BG

      @ -–

      So, atheists can dish it out, but when it's returned they cry foul? Good. Take your bat and ball and run home.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      You are speaking about militant atheists, not the average atheist. The same happens when people speak about christians showing hate, and all that stuff. It's a small portion of that particular demographic. You're generalizing all atheist thoughts based on the extreme of that demographic. Should anyone (religious, agnostic, atheist) have their thoughts belittled based solely on their belief structure? Of course not. But unless you want to be part of the problem, then generalizing will only make things worse.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • ....

      "So, atheists can dish it out, but when it's returned they cry foul? Good. Take your bat and ball and run home."

      Wow talk about huge log in your eye....boo hooo you hurt my feelings, there is no love from you, guess you didn't really understand your Christ message after all – thanks for proving your a hypocrite.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • ....

      "So, atheists can dish it out, but when it's returned they cry foul? Good. Take your bat and ball and run home."

      Wow talk about huge log in your eye....boo hooo you hurt my feelings, there is no love from you, guess you didn't really understand your Christ message after all – thanks for proving you're a hypocrite.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • BG

      " guess you didn't really understand your Christ message after all..."

      -My- Christ message?

      You know what they say about assumption, 'eh?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Don't bother

      "You know what they say about assumption, 'eh?"

      Lycidas won't answer specific questions except ask more questions it's their cop-out. Don't bother wasting your time on this stupid poster.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • BG

      @ Hawaii

      "You are speaking about militant atheists, not the average atheist."
      Sounds familiar.

      "The same happens when people speak about christians showing hate.."
      Other than WBC, who might this be?

      My comment to @ .... below applies to you as well.

      @ ....

      You want an unfair playing field. You can't have it. Life doesn't work that way.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • BG

      @ Doh't bother, Homer

      "Lycidas won't answer specific questions except ask more questions it's their cop-out. Don't bother wasting your time on this stupid poster."

      Once again, I told you that you're off the mark. You really should attend your ESL classes.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • .....

      "You want an unfair playing field. You can't have it. Life doesn't work that way."

      LMAO – Thanks for proving you don't understand the message in the bible and you are not a true Christian. Satan be gone!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "Once again, I told you that you're off the mark. You really should attend your ESL classes."

      Just proving you're a liar nothing more. Your stupidity speaks for itself.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      How am I advocating an unfair playing field? How about the christian groups protesting abortion clinics, the killings at those places. Militant behaviour is not dependent on the denomination of religion. Take a look around, there are plenty of examples. Evangelical preachers condemning all those who don't believe as they do, people in my state that post untrue assertions about what atheism is to villify around schools and colleges.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • BG

      @BG

      "How am I advocating an unfair playing field? How about the christian groups protesting abortion clinics"
      Let them. They're few and far between and politically impotent.

      "... the killings at those places. Militant behaviour is not dependent on the denomination of religion."
      Again, aberrant, not routine behavior.

      "Evangelical preachers condemning all those who don't believe as they do..."
      How many follow them? You're talking inconsequential minorities.

      "... people in my state that post untrue assertions about what atheism is to villify around schools and colleges."
      Where's your outreach? So far, your PR efforts (generally or specifically) speaking, suck. Atheism is confrontational, offensive, and aggressive. Exactly what do you expect the reaction to be?

      March 22, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • BG

      @ HawaiiGuest

      Yeah, well obviously that last one was to you. I cut/paste your response to me. Sorry.

      Here's an example of what I'm talking about. My response to GodPot went unanswered, except for Beavis throwing insults. Obviously I hit a nerve and his wheels fell off.

      @ GodPot

      " Most atheists I know would consider themselves democratic humanists who believe in a representative government of democratically elected persons to both make the laws we know are mutually beneficial for everyone and enforce them."\

      Fine. Let's run with that, because that's essentially what we have now. The only problem is there's a preponderance of 'believers' who want to democratically establish laws favorable to them. Hey, it's democracy, right? You're outnumbered – you're the minority interest. So the courts have to step in order to maintain parity of what's "mutually beneficial" to all involved.

      How is what you -want- different from what you already -have-?

      March 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • gpc

      "Atheism is confrontational, offensive, and aggressive. Exactly what do you expect the reaction to be?"

      Some atheists have been confrontational, offensive, and aggressive in response to treatment like that from the religious. The religious think the can treat the nonreligious like crap and get away with it. Now atheists are outspoken and showing the stupidity of religion and the religious are getting really defensive. What reaction did the religious expect?

      March 23, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Edwin

      When other people actively interfere with your ability to believe as you choose (in this case, that there is no God), then a gathering is necessary.

      By interference, I mean things like this: inserting christian morality into laws concerning birth control or abortion, inserting christian religious references into public schools or courthouses or sentences passed by judges (like a court-ordered probation condition requiring regular attendance at a church), etc.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • mattens

      OK... so why are you and your co-religionists so afraid of them, then?

      March 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  5. momoya

    Oh, h e l l yes!!

    March 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Not for amputees.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • just sayin

      Regeneration is a work in progress.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Jesus

      – ~You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      March 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Regeneration is a work in progress."

      For new people the original poster plus this poster are the same and are proven LIARS.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • My Cat

      Atheism and agnosticism are great for children. Better to teach them logic and rational though than magical thinking.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Edwin

      Those who state emphatically that prayer does NOT change things are angry, ignorant morons.

      Prayer *might* cause actual physical changes to the environment, though clearly not all the time, nor perhaps in a statistically significant way. But... real prayer DOES change the person who does it. If you anti-prayer people were a little more open minded and tolerant rather than angry bigots, you'd respect that. Regular prayer, whether christian, taoist, zen, wiccan, humanist, or whatever, is a transformative experience that positively affects the person praying. If prayer never causes a physical change to the universe, it still changes things.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Edwin

      An just to clarify, I'm an atheist... or at least an agnostic. I'm just not hateful towards the beliefs of others.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  7. TheRationale

    I would very much like to see more things like this.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • fred

      That is very shortsighted. You and all nonbelievers have no idea what the world would look like if there was no restraining force. Goodness and Evil coexist in this world. Christ or God stood against evil for the last 6,000 years or so. What do you hope to gain from a godless experiment on humanity?

      March 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • momoya

      Humans had to stop Hitler because god wouldn't do the job, fred; come back when you've got one tiny shred of real evidence for your god and we'll listen.. Until then, you've got to acknowledge that your faith can't do anything other than demand your strained, creative belief–like any other god/mystery belief.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • GodPot

      "You and all nonbelievers have no idea what the world would look like if there was no restraining force." Thats right, we don't have any idea because religion has dominated the world for as you say, 6000 years. I don't really think humanists could do any worse.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      GodPot
      If there is no God the effect and affect of the Bible remains the same. We know what that result was, good or bad is a matter of opinion. The question is what gives you the right to force this new grand experiment on the people? Remember man has worshiped since the Neanderthal so when I said 6,000+ years that could well be 195,000 years. Now, in 20 years your godless mind set will have greater impact than Jesus. Who is playing God now and what is the difference

      March 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot said

      "Thats right, we don't have any idea because religion has dominated the world for as you say, 6000 years. I don't really think humanists could do any worse."

      Religion has dominated the world since the beginning of structured civilization. Why? Who's to say. Insecurity, visits from aliens, surrender to forces over which we have no inherent control – choose you rationale. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that by demonstrating belief in a 'higher authority' man recognizes that he doesn't possess all the answers – man is not, and cannot be, omniscient. This self-humility is necessary for survival as a culture and species.

      Things go to hell when 'man' thinks he know it all and exercises all his 'decisions' accordingly. Bad. Very bad. Ask anyone who has survived under a know-it-all dictator.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • momoya

      @ fred

      I'm not sure what your first two sentences were saying, and nobody is forcing a "new grand experiment" on anyone.. Religion was really a great advantage for a very crucial period in the history of our species, but its influence is fading.. The "godless mindset" you seem afraid of is not a bad thing, but a good thing, and nobody is asking you to believe differently, anyway.. You can believe whatever you want about god; nothing's stopping you, not even god–and if you can imagine anything about god (because he doesn't tip his hat in any one direction) then you can believe whatever you want without the mechanism of god and god-belief..

      It's not about "playing god," it's about the natural arc of any narrative.. Christianity and the Abrahamic religions have had their time on the world stage, but now their influence is waning–it's happened to every religious belief before yours, and now it's your turn.. Don't be mad; be glad that we are going to be a little bit more honest about things than before.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • karlito

      BG...so you are saying we should believe in something that probably doesn't exist because it's good for us. Kinda like Santa Claus to children?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Fred wrote, "God stood against evil for the last 6,000 years"

      Dude! Your god CREATED evil. So he's been standing against himself all this time?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      fred, I'm sorry that you are terrified of living a life without supernatural threats and rewards. My parents taught me that there are consequences for my actions. There was no mention of god. It was entirely sufficient to make me a responsible, honest adult. You should give it a try. Let go of your fear and be responsible for your own life.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • BG

      @ karlito

      You can't equivocate childhood belief in Santa to civilization's need for religion. When kids grow to adults we still hold the spirit, if you will, of 'Santa' being a good, attentive, compassionate, etc... action. We become Santa for our kids. Our kids will do the same for theirs. Santa is performance, an act of attention passed from generation to generation.

      Religion is control by voluntary proxy. Religion goes south when it's 'memberships' use it to leverage their self-interests. Yeah, I know. Mixed bag. Just like everything else in life.

      Ever hear the saying "a little humility is good for the soul?"

      March 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • fred

      Prmewonk
      The better to test you with my dear ! Even man made products need to be tested to be certain they are fit. Jesus said Satan was allowed to sift Peter like wheat. LIfe puts us through a strainer. I know of no better plan than what God has layed out sort the goats from the sheep.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Things go to hell when 'man' thinks he know it all and exercises all his 'decisions' accordingly. Bad. Very bad. Ask anyone who has survived under a know-it-all dictator."

      1. Since there has never been a period in history where religion has been completely silent from the major world powers we do not know if things would go to heII, and I submit that it is the theists throughout history who claimed they "know it all".
      2. Since when does a dictatorship denote atheist rule?

      dic·ta·tor/ˈdiktātər/Noun: A ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      tallulah13
      Problem is I would live differently if there was not an eternal record keeper. Not in an immoral sense but I would be more selfish with my time and money. If I was to please my boss or a family member I can be very manipulative whereas God cannot be fooled. These are assumptions I make because I remember the kind of person I was when there was no God. With God I am a different person not because of threat or reward but because something changed in my core att-itude.
      I also assume others are this way and all hell could break loose if suddenly God is no more.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • karlito

      Fred....It's kinda sad that you are only good because someone is watching. I'm good because it feels right to me.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Al

      fred
      "Remember man has worshiped since the Neanderthal"
      Ah, so we shouldn't abandon doing something that the Neanderthals did, eh? How do you feel about living in caves, wearing animal pelts, and only using grunts for language? It's called "progress" for a reason, you know?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • GodPot

      @fred – But what if you are wrong? What if most peoples good behavior comes from a chemical in our bodies?

      Oxytocin (Greek, “quick birth”) is a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

      In humans, oxytocin is thought to be released during hugging, touching, and o r g a s m in both s e x es. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity. About 5% of the populace do not produce oxytocin on stimulus so yes, you are correct, without some other deter-ant such as law enforcement or in your case "God" a small percentage of the world would attempt to run wild because they feel little or no empathy for their fellow human. The rest of us will continue hugging and smiling and loving each other because we care about each other, we have empathy for others and do the right thing because we understand we are the others.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • momoya

      @ fred

      I really doubt that; I think you'd find a way to rationalize behavior very similar to how it is now.. Your morals aren't that flimsy.. If you need to believe in eternal record keeping, do so, it's not unreasonable and the laws of physics allow for such minute record keeping.. Humans are the ones regulating behavior now, they just use old myths to prop up common sense ideas.. Humans are going to continue regulating behavior in the future whether they use your god as a framework or Islam's, or some other god belief or non-god belief..

      Humans have done horrible things to each other with and without god beliefs attached to their actions; let's see how decent we can be starting out with honesty.. There's no personal god anybody can prove, and he doesn't disparage any beliefs, so let's just admit that he likely doesn't exist and do things the best we can.. If our morality with god-belief is the best we can do, other methods will be discarded as new or old religious views are reaccepted and revalued once again.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • GodPot

      For anyone interested in learning about why humans exhibit morality.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot

      Here's the essence of your argument.

      http://www.trythought.com/blog/2011/06/the-atheist-dictator-problem/

      Fascism obviously isn't contingent on atheism. It's a hell of an enabler though.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      Your probably right about that my morals were inforced by the Cub Scout/ Boy Scout oath and motto. That is where the notion of helping an old lady across the street came from in my head. We were always doing good for the community. The scouts however had a God base as did much of american culure through the 60's. The Christian world-view was everywhere so it became a part of our make up. Those born after 1990 probably will have a much different base to draw from.
      Lets hope GodPot is right and we can just put some feel good chemicals in the water.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "Your probably right about that my morals were inforced by the Cub Scout/ Boy Scout oath and motto. That is where the notion of helping an old lady across the street came from in my head. We were always doing good for the community. The scouts however had a God base as did much of american culure through the 60's. The Christian world-view was everywhere so it became a part of our make up. Those born after 1990 probably will have a much different base to draw from."

      That's why you admit that you became an alcoholic so guess they didn't instill crap in you. You are so full of it that you are the most entertaining stupid poster on here.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      fred
      Your boss and your family are actually real people, with minds separate from your own, whereas God resides totally in your mind as far as you can tell, right? So, what you're actually saying is that you can fool other people, but not yourself.

      Yet, suppose you are right, and God has actually existed all this time. If he suddenly winked out of existence what's to stop people from continuing to believe that he's still there? Nothing at all, right? People will make "miracles" out of ordinary events, like we atheists suspect is happening right now, to use as "proof" that he's still there. So, it's safe to say that the belief would carry on and all hell would not break loose.

      That leaves just the belief in God itself, without any dependance upon his actually existing, which you think is keeping yourself and others in line. Again, that is something you are placing upon yourself psychologically. Just another manifestation of personal will power, and nothing more.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • GodPot

      @BG – Most dictators who want to consolidate power to themselves must exclude all outside influence which of course includes the Church, otherwise it's not much of a dictatorship, it's a theocracy. This does not mean that atheists as a group want any one of their number to consolidate power to themselves by force. There is a HUGE difference between not wanting God to rule you and anarchy or dictatorships. Most atheists I know would consider themselves democratic humanists who believe in a representative government of democratically elected persons to both make the laws we know are mutually beneficial for everyone and enforce them.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot

      " Most atheists I know would consider themselves democratic humanists who believe in a representative government of democratically elected persons to both make the laws we know are mutually beneficial for everyone and enforce them."\

      Fine. Let's run with that, because that's essentially what we have now. The only problem is there's a preponderance of 'believers' who want to democratically establish laws favorable to them. Hey, it's democracy, right? You're outnumbered – you're the minority interest. So the courts have to step in order to maintain parity of what's "mutually beneficial" to all involved.

      How is what you -want- different from what you already -have-?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Funny

      "BG"

      Aka – Lycidas, Uncouth Swain, etc...

      Wait did you lie when you said you only use 3 handles?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • BG

      Interesting comparisons, but off the mark. Spin again.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • BG

      You know, it -is- possible for there to be more than one of us out here.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Don't bother

      "Interesting comparisons, but off the mark. Spin again."

      Typical co-out proving it's not worth your time with is stupid poster, they to ignorant to answer directly. LMAO!

      March 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • BG

      @ dont bother

      what part of 'off the mark' are you having difficulty with? ESL?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "what part of 'off the mark' are you having difficulty with? ESL?"

      Thanks Lycidas and all the handles you lied about .... you just proved me right. ;-)

      March 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • BG

      whatever. You're probably, what – 12?

      March 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "whatever. You're probably, what – 12?"

      That is a 12 year old response. So I was right, you are stupid.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • derp

      "Ask anyone who has survived under a know-it-all dictator'

      Like the dark ages, where the know it all dictators were called popes.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Edwin

      This was a good thread for a while... not completely polite, but close. I really appreciate when christians and atheists can discuss concerns without bashing or ridiculing each other. Sadly, the insults seem more the norm.

      To me, tolerance is the high ground we should all strive for. If (Group A) is attacking you, certainly defend your beliefs against them, but not by attacking their beliefs. For one thing, they won't listen to that anyway, so why do it? For another, it justifies their use of those tactics against you. Instead, talk about tolerance - work not to convert the infidel, but to coexist with them. Besides, you will attract far more converts with honey than vinegar, so to speak...

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  8. BG

    From the article:

    "With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday..."
    That's funny.

    "The cost of the event is around $300,000, Silverman said, but philanthropist Todd Stiefel, Founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, is supplying half the money."
    Where's the other half coming from? Don't tell me that they're going to pass the plate.. er, hat. Whatever. Maybe once the AA gets organized they can have little donation envelopes printed up for their members...

    March 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      What does AA have to do with this?

      March 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • GodPot

      American Atheists, not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous which is for Christians who believe they don't have the strength to quit drinking on their own so must throw their burbon, er, burden on God...

      March 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Thx Godpot. I work at a substance abuse counseling facility, so when I see AA I automatically think Alcoholics Anonymous.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • fred

      GodPot
      Thank God for 12 steps it works when you work it !

      March 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • AAatheists

      1. We admitted we were powerless over Godlessness—that our lives had become meaningless
      2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
      sanity.
      3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
      understood Him.
      4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
      5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
      of our wrongs.
      6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
      7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
      8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
      amends to them all.
      9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
      so would injure them or others.
      10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
      admitted it.
      11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
      God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us
      and the power to carry that out.
      12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to
      carry this message to other atheists and agnostics

      March 22, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • GodPot

      @fred – I quit drinking last May, and I haven't touched a drop since and guess what, not one prayer, not one "please God" not one meeting, I didn't even tell my wife, I just quit after I had been having about two bottles of wine a night for 20 years. And theres wine and Rum in the house all the time since my wife still drinks, so it's not environment either. I believe it was Yoda that gave me the best advice when he said "Do or do not, there is no try."

      March 22, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • fred

      You may never know who was praying for you to quit. That is one thing about prayer regarless if it works or not you are thinking good things and good outcomes for the person.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot

      You're very fortunate. Sanctimonious and self-righteous, but fortunate none the less. Every think that you -just might not- be clinically addicted? Hmm?

      Your attempt at setting a universal standard is disgusting. Nice that you quit on your own, but to suggest that everyone should be able to do the same? It's probably good that you're not drinking, as alcohol tends to exacerbate one's as sholish qualities.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BG

      If you're going to be all mad at sanctimonious behaviour and attempting to lay a universal truth based on an individual idea, then get angry at fred and AAatheists as well.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • LRB

      Fred – Can you please pray for my friend who lost both of his legs in an accident last year? Can God please heal him and let his legs grow back? I bet if you pray hard enough it will happen

      March 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • GodPot

      I am not the only one who has quit drinking or other bad habit's without God and I think it is absolutely false that anyone "needs" a deity to pray to for the strength to do it. In fact I believe many theists fail at quitting so often because they link their faith with their problem so when their faith is low, so is their reason to not drink, and that coupled with the thought that you can always ask God for forgiveness does not give a very stable base for long lasting change.

      As for being "Sanctimonious and self-righteous" I do not believe I am "Feigning piety or righteousness" by taking credit for something I did without your God's aid. It's called taking responsibility for my own actions. If you are offended by my "I did it, Why can't you" attltude then I am sorry that you feel that way, but it doesn't change the fact that "I did it, and You Can Too".

      March 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • fred

      LRB
      I could site Biblical reasons why legs do not reappear following prayer but it would be nonsense to a nonbeliever. Personally, I lack the faith to pray for legs to grow back. That is a real issue for me as by now I should have that kind of faith given all God has shown me. Bottom line without faith and trust it is impossible to please God. I know in this area I do not please God. I prayed for God to heal a friends legs but, finally they were amputated. Through the ordeal she had more faith and trust in God than I did and today a much greater strength and thankfullness. I remain stuck with limited faith. There is a lesson in there for me but I am not getting it.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot

      " I think it is absolutely false that anyone "needs" a deity to pray to for the strength to do it."
      Sanctimonious

      "... the fact that "I did it, and You Can Too"
      Self-righteous.

      Who-in-the-hell are you to say what anyone else should or shouldn't need in order to fight their personal addiction? I don't know if you're an actual addict, or just a blowhole. I'm pretty sold on the latter.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • GodPot

      @BG – I guess without you to verify my drinking habits over the last 20 years I must not have been addicted, right?

      I do not want to diminish anyone else's triumph over an addictive substance whether they used a belief in God or not, but anyone who thinks it was God that held their arm back from grabbing that next bottle I just want to remind them, it was their brain and their muscles and their willpower (aka faith) that had to be used in order to do it. After seeing some members in my ex-church go in and out of AA often having relapses because they had done something unrelated to their drinking that they felt took them further from their faith like infidelity or family members dying or whatever they felt weakened their faith or were weaknesses of faith, I knew it could not be something external if you really want to quit. I believe praying to quit drinking is as useful as praying for a football team to win a game. Lot's of people do it and even broadcast their piety, but I do not believe it does one bit of good.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • BG

      @ GodPot

      My point is simple. What works for you, works for you. You can offer, suggest, ascribe, etc. your experiential success to others, but to intimate that yours is the only right way is ridiculous.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • closet atheist

      Holy cr@p, BG... you are dense.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Edwin

      The other half probably comes from registration fees.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    one day, when religion goes away, it would be great to hold these meetings of the mind at what used to be churches/temples. they've got to be used for something once religion fades away. once bastions of ignorance could serve as houses of logic and reason instead. either that or local swap meets.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • GodPot

      "when religion goes away" this event would just be another day at the park.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Edwin

      Why should religion dwindle into non-existence? It may be old, but it has value to many. Why are you so set on destroying what they consider valuable? Does it offend you to see others believe something different than you?

      If so, you must have a great deal in common with those religious folk you despise.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Jesus

      I am NOT an atheist. I am an ANTI-THEIST and proud of it. I don't just deny a belief in a God(s), but oppose those that do and vigorously oppose those that seek to impose their religious dogma on our political decision making. The First Amendment states that our government shall NOT RESPECT the establishment of a religion. Impliedly that means NOT RESPECT the establishment of any religion in whole or in part, including positions based on religious beliefs (e.g. anti-abortion, marriage between a man and a woman etc.)

      March 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  10. IslandAtheist

    Looking forward to it.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  11. Mr Chihuahua

    If you read about somebody arrested for public intoxication and indecent exposure, that was me lol!

    March 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  12. Sam Yaza

    Just say can we Pagans come join the party you know it always fun to protest The abrihamic god
    gay right
    Pro choice
    FEMEN

    we just love to come out

    March 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  13. gaytheist

    We are cu-ming out of the closet together. Finally the world will leave us to do what we want in our bedrooms.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i think you have the best name i have ever seen on these blogs.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • fred

      Why the obsession with the bedroom and I really doubt the whole world cares. If God decided to let you do as you will in the dark why would his faithful try and stop you?

      March 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • gaytheist

      Atheiphobic comments just make you look silly fred. Have you hugged a theist today? You seem a bit cranky.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • gaytheist

      @BootyFunk
      and a Funkn Booty right back at ya ! Hope to see ya at the rally; I plan to cu-m as the Bishop of Westboro during the burning of the witch reenactment.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • momoya

      It's really hard to describe the image that popped into my mind on reading that, but I'm sure it's not as outrageous and funny as gaytheist's version.. C-um out for all of us that can't make it, y'hear?!

      March 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • gaytheist

      cu-mon momoya I saved a spot for you

      March 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  14. Al

    Lol Westboro baptist church is gonna be there..

    March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i love that the westboro church will be there. they are like a free commercial to leave christianity. hahaha.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  15. Sam Yaza

    Good for you make sure you wear bullet proof gear because if we “Pagans” did this we would be shot in the street even though we grew 200% in the last 10 years I much rather them sheep not see are faces yet but the wolves are among them

    Gaia
    for god in 2012

    yes see JC there is some one ruining against you

    March 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    Awesome! Yay atheism. This is a victory for truth.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      Take one more step toward ridding the world of religion and its ignorance. I am NOT an atheist. I am an ANTI-THEIST and proud of it. I don't just deny a belief in a God(s), but oppose those that do and vigorously oppose those that seek to impose their religious dogma on our political decision making. The First Amendment states that our government shall NOT RESPECT the establishment of a religion. Impliedly that means NOT RESPECT the establishment of any religion in whole or in part, including positions based on religious beliefs (e.g. anti-abortion, marriage between a man and a woman etc.).

      March 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. Ungodly Discipline

    Wish they could re-schedule for better weather. It would be great to attend this! Are any of you back east going?

    March 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  18. *frank*

    Are they going to burn Tebow in effigy?

    March 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Well, Duh!

      They can't burn him for real. He keeps jumping in that little baptismal pool.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That killed me, Primewonk. Thanks for the laugh.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Jessy G

      Primework, that was awesome. definately tied for first place out of all the comments i've read.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  19. *frank*

    I like french toast.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Reuters

    Let there be no T-Storms.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • James Green

      tsk-tsk they can't pray away the inclement weather..

      March 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Atheist Rally

      Sure you will enjoy yourselves and celebrate your holy day – April 1st

      March 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Amused

      "tsk-tsk they can't pray away the inclement weather.." You're correct! NOBODY can do that! Although, there are many delusional fools who believe they can...

      March 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @James... so right. Damn it. I bet it will be sunny in "the grassy area between 14th and 15th streets"... then we'll know for certain that prayer DOES work (Westboro Baptist Church's designated area for those with poor reading comprehension)....

      March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • WOW

      30000 bigots are coming out?!?!?!

      March 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Frondly Reminder

      Atheist Rally
      "Sure you will enjoy yourselves and celebrate your holy day – April 1st"

      Your Palm Sunday is on April 1st this year! Ahahahahahahahahhahahaha!

      March 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Atheist rally

      Christians celebrated the Palm sunday triumphantly & joyfully waving their palm branches and inviting everyone of cheer to join 'em.

      The Atheists on the other hand were celebrating their holiest of days, April 1st with much fanfare proudly proclaiming there is no God.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist rally

      How is April 1st a "holy" day for atheists. We don't believe in the divine, and we don't believe that a day can be "holy". A day could be significant. It could be remembered as a day that a major event in a town, city, state, country, or even the world happened. I'm not getting your rational at all.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • GodPot

      "How is April 1st a "holy" day for atheists. We don't believe in the divine, and we don't believe that a day can be "holy"

      It's not Holy, it's holey...

      We will get up there and declare our collective conversion to Christianity and then in one loud, clear voice we will shout "APRIL FOOLS!!"

      March 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      April 1 is a playful opportunity to celebrate gullibility, so it could be like our version of Halloween, I suppose?

      March 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Al

      Reuters
      "Let there be no T-Storms."
      Why, are you afraid of being "smited" by one of God's lightening bolts? Just kidding! :-)

      March 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.