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.
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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.”
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.
- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 1:545
Exactly why churches should have to pay taxes.
15,000 years ago there was a vast empire that rose out of the mindset of humans who embraced thought and natural order. Some time before that, they had collected their need for understanding and pooled it into their subconscious minds in an effort to combat their doubt and fears, as well as understand their existence. In the collective subconscious that makes up humanity's freedom as a species and ability to progress, they created one being that was the entirety of their race, who was shaped in their image and would guide them forward. They called it God.
God in its ability created a realm for souls to rest should they wish to be spared from the constant reincarnation of the spirit into new bodies. It then created soldiers to ensure its protection from negative human emotions that threatened its existence.
14,500 years ago – the young humanity outside of the empire thrived with the belief in god while the empire created new levels of understanding and thus new control of natural forces.
14,000 years ago – A new hybrid race was born with abilities over nature and energy. Because of the birth of one, the empire would die, and a war would consume the state of the world.
13,000 years ago – the split of heaven and the imprisonment condition was created for souls. Human civilization was again assaulted and the adults were killed off, and the children lost sight of the civilization had been, including written word. Radiation from the destruction of major cities reset the carbon clocks and the melting of ice cause the coastal cities to be lost to the rising waters.
12,000 to 6,000 years ago – the rebuilding of civilization.
6,000 years ago to the present – humanity is submerged in religions meant to keep truth away from them, make war with each other, and control them so they remain ignorant to the past. Fragments of truth are buried in each main religion to further destroy the chance of the faithful putting together the pieces. What they believe in is not the truth. It was just something written by the winner.
Cool story bro, but maybe work in a zombie apocalypse.
Is this based on Scientology? Where are the cool rockets that look like DC 10s and the nukes?
um...who turned on wifi in the asylum?
The way you delivered this implies that it is fact, which it is not. Atheists mock the religous for "blindly believing without question" and you are no different. How the heck would you know if religion was created in that manor? You don't know anymore than anyone else does about religion and God. That's the problem with internet Atheists. I know many Atheists and find them to be pleasant people but get one on the internet and they spout off a bunch of crap about they they "know". Quit being a hypocrite.
@remnant: nice thought and worth researching the connections between each religion to find said truth, but i think ancient alien theorists have already been working this angle. but i did enjoy the story, much better then others i have read. :)
Oh, yes, it all makes perfect sense now. What a maroon. I don't know who are worse, the atheists with all the answers or the philosophers. In reality, each just has questions, not answers.
Let this be the introduction to the new religion that shall end other religions. With a clear purpose and enemy. Once the task is done, and humanity is liberated, then it will be a religion no longer. Truth shall be embraced as evolution and scientific process will lead to new discoveries of progress and possibility. Without the shackles of religion, the world will change as it was meant to.
Take this experiment to your favorite religious friend who is convinced God works in this world: Give him/her a daily newspaper that report local, national and international news, a green highlighter and a pink highlighter. Ask them to mark the articles in green that show God is acting as a positive force in the world and mark the articles in pink where God is punishing the ungodly. My guess is that, if they mark any articles at all, their judgment of their God will align with their personal biases.
perhaps your understanding of exactly how god "works" is skewed, leading you to the wrong understanding?
You're right. God has chosen not to intervene in our lives....for now. He will in the future. The sin in the world that shows what humans are like without Him is nothing but further proof of our need for God.
What's the difference between something that does not exist and something that does not influence anything in our world?. If you can't tell it exists, it makes more sense to disbelieve than to believe.
if i entered you statement into an excel spreadsheet, it would return a "corcular reference" error :-)
Anyone willing to take your test is arrogant or plain theologically stupid... Your question is flawed as it assumes that we as humans can tell the difference. God does not state do it my way and "nothing goes badly for you" or state that the wicked will not prosper...
Joel Stauffer –
Duh. Where do you think personal biases come from? That's the point of religion and belief in God. It helps us understand the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. So, obviously, what you call personal bias is really religious/God-inspired understanding.
Atheism is for the simple minded, unable to grasp that there might actually be something beyond what they perceive with the basic human senses. As if our rudimentary understanding of science is the provider of answers; whereas it is something beyond our perception which has created the need for science to try and explain it.
Believe what ever you want, just don't tell me about it cause I don't care. That goes for all believers and non-believers. Also don't drive slow in the fast lane, it's rude
It's is rude!
What people believe matters. Beliefs matter insofar as people actually believe what they say they believe. Beliefs are our best representation of how the world IS. Beliefs are our purchase onto reality. Beliefs MUST manifest themselves in the actions of those who hold them. Beliefs modify behavior, and the behavior of others has quite a lot to do with your own life, and the society in which you live.
I have seen too many people hit the wall at 400mph to pretend that it doesn't matter what others believe.
Because I believe in Christ and the principles He encouraged, I try to do unto others as I'd like done to me. Therefore, I move over to the other lane when I see someone wants to pass. It really isn't that difficult to apply this kind of consideration in all walks of life. If people followed Christ's teaching, it would actually make for a better world in both the great and small details of life for everyone. Unfortunately, most people have their eyes on themselves instead God or others. This often leads to traffic jams, road rage, and worse...total annihilation of the human race. To be continued...
therein lies the rub.... most (not all) christians do not follow the teachings of christ – except when it suits them....
This Christ character does not hold the copyright to kindness, goodness and decency. I try to use those things everyday. I don't have to use an imaginary "parent" to remind me to use them, or the threats that the same imaginary "parent" will punish me during my life or in my "afterlife" for not being good.
It's called humanism. Believing that we all matter and that we should treat all people humanely. Look how many religions automatically eliminate groups of people from their treat nice list. Most Atheists will treat all people nice (or at least evenly.)
Oh dear – read the bible. Just read the first five books. This puerile, needy, arrogant so-called god commands his people to love him. He commands them to destroy anyone who does not agree with his rhetoric. Burn the cities. Kill every last inhabitant. ". . . take the babes from their wombs and dash them on the stones." "Test their faith" by demanding them to kill their firstborn (Abraham and Isaac). What a bunch of crap. And you thought the Holocaust was bad. Sheesh, people. Who sucked out your brains?
It was childhood indoctrination based on lies and submission that sucked out their brains.
That's very naive.
What's naive? That your imaginary desert god was made up by overzealous men?
God never issued any "demands," only "commands." Learn the difference between the two and why God did not issue the former.
I suggest you learn the difference between the two. You see, it's a difference without a distinction.
If you dont believe God/ religion exists, then Its man who wrote the book and man is the one who came up with those things and man is to blame for all the hate and murder etc. So technically its man who is the problem, and being against religion and for Man is having your cake and eating it too. You get rid of religion, ok great but the person responsible for religion, MAN, is still there so you havent gotten rid of the problem. You cant blame religion/ GOD and advocate for a Humanistic approach when it is, by your beliefe system, MAN who invented both.
you are absolutely correct. Since we as Atheists don't believe in God, then we have known all along that MAN has been responsible for creating religions and creating all the bad things that has been done in the name of religion. As Atheists, we aren't saying that MAN is good or bad, but that each man has the capability to do good or bad. It is individual choice. MAN is imperfect due to free will. Or is MAN perfect because he HAS free will? Men wrote the religious texts, they have been used by the authors and later generations to control the thoughts, minds and lives of other men. Some of this work has been good, some bad.
Lotsa Pascal's Wager posts here today.
If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.
Who is to say that Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama aren't true gods?
How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, New Testament, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?
If you're a Bible adherent, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, As.syrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God's words?
Recognize the greatness of his noodley appendage.
exactly. Why are people so sure they have the One True Faith when there have been millions of religions and hundreds of thousands of gods throughout history?
I'll take Frigg, the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf and Doukhobors for the win.
How do we know that all those gods don't exist?
Brilliant post - best I've seen on CNN in ages. Kudos.
Theists who've never read a book that didn't say "Sweet Valley High" on the cover still think Pascal's Wager is some unassailable fortress of logic...except the ones who go, "wut if u atheists r wrong lol" almost never know what Pascal's Wager actually is.
Yeah, what he said.
I hope everyone goes...gather in one place all the people who would tell me what to believe, and those who would tell me what not to believe. Then I'd have an absolutely wonderful day. Elsewhere.
Can i tag along?
It's called "Stifle Free Thought."
If all atheists and, especially, all agnostics "came out", the churches would lose a lot of members.
That is starting to happen. Mainstream Christianity in America is losing about a million members a year. Unfortunately, fundamentalist lunatic Christianity is on the rise.
Hey Edwin, you know who's less likely than anyone to discriminate against any religion? Atheists.
That is a load of crock! The people bashing people of religious beliefs on here are the athiets! They do nothing BUT bash people of religious thought! You might try paying attention to what people are saying before you make yourself sound ignorant........
Jmom.... just because we think you are an idiot does not mean we don't think you have the right to be an idiot.
No, you're the one that sounds ignorant. Atheist sare tolerant, however, it's clueless wonders such as yourself that are so blind that you can't see the constant shoving of your beliefs on others. If you silently believed, that would be one thing, but you don't. Your lack of respect for the separation of church and state is just one of them.
What is so clueless about Jmom's comment? Actually the two responses to her post prove her point quite succinctly.
They do no such thing.
Sorry Fufu, I didn't realize thinking someone that isn't bright meant we were intolerant of religion. It has it's place in life, along with amusement parks and movie theatres.... entertaining but too much time in them makes you forget reality.
That explains all the open-mindedness and tolerance for various faiths in the Soviet Union and Communist China, not to mention current bastions of tolerance like Vietnam, which claims to be 81 % Atheist. It is delusional to claim that Atheism is more or less religious than any other belief system, or that humans are anything other than naturally intolerant of people they perceive as outside their group. Tolerance is something that goes against human nature, that is why it must be taught.
I'm not about to defend every religious nut out there, but there is no real difference between Dawkins, who has questioned the right of Christians to bring up their own children, and any other religious fanatic. Any discussion of these things should not be based on ignorant sweeping statements, it needs to be based on facts. Tens of millions of people killed for their faith, ethnicity or just their inconvenience by the Soviet Union, the first state to officially pursue as an ideological objective the elimination of religion, is a fact just as much as the pogroms, crusades and inquisition.
Oppressive third world dictatorship societies do not represent "Atheist" society. Their base of power is theoretically "the people" but that is far from the truth. As an Atheist, I don't believe in any religion and simply want it out of my government. It does not mean I wish to abolish religion. To use these regimes as an example of the "bad" of Atheism is like me using Iran to point out the bad of religion in government. No freedom of press, no ability to assembly, protest, practice any other religion or probably non-religion.
I much prefer being categorized as a 'naturalist' as opposed to being called an atheist. Being an atheist implies that I am against god. Since there is no god, how can I be against something which does not exist? All answers are to be found in the natural world with plausible, rational explanations. Religion is conjecture buoyed up with empty propoganda.
Actually, the word "atheist" simply means "not theist". It's the fundamentalists in this country who have demonized those who do not blindly follow their religion. They are the ones who have made "atheist" a swear word that people think means "hates god" or other nonsense.
Please people stop believing this nonsense. Being an atheist simply means that you do not believe in god. It does not imply that you are against religion, or against anything for that matter. Dont let the people trying to change the definition of the word 'atheist' win.
Atheist – The lack of a belief in a god or gods.
As @Atheist has stated above you are not using the dictionary definition of atheism, but the definition as religious fundamentalists would have you think. Atheism is the default state of all humans, and I can't imagine anything more "natural". Atheism makes no claims that require vetting, it is simply the "lack of theism". Don't cower away from what correctly defines your views because of the stigma associated with it.
Al – Paul, Christians are crazy!! So are all the other religions that have a diety. When you are compelled to act hour your God directs, it is always wrong in the eyes of all the others whos God is supream and infallable. Over population and Religion are the greatest threat to humanity
excuse all the errors – kinda hard on a cell
So you mean to say that right from the George Washington to the current President of the United States who profess to be Christians are crazy? That' also makes many of the nations themselves who profess to be Christian as crazy in your view. Being respectful of those who don't subscribe to your belief system is good, don't you think?
What I find funny is the instant mistrust that a declaration of atheism typically receives in America. I haven't declared that I feast on the flesh of slaughtered babies or drink kitten's blood by moonlight, and yet, I am labelled a "threat" and "un-American" by political forces. All because I prefer to employ logic and reason, rather than cherish comforting illusions. It's so bassackwards, it's hysterical.
And in a strange way we can take comfort in the discrimination we receive from religious people because it reminds us why we are Atheists to begin with.
Strange, isn't it? As atheists we believe that the beauty and wonder of the natural world has come to fruition without the help of a God. Given that we are not inclined to believe in magic, dark rites, etc., it makes no sense that theists should eye us mistrustfully. The logical consequence of atheism is a lack of ulterior motives, as we don't deign to act on behalf of an otherworldly being whose motives cannot truly be known or understood. I for one, am simply grateful to be given the gift of consciousness and seek every day to enjoy the blink of time I have been lucky enough to have received.
Pascal's Wager is disproved by no less than Jesus Christ in Matthew 25. Anyone who "believes" just to save his own skin is not saved. The tree that bears no fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Those with an ear to hear, let them hear.
Proof please (and no, the Bible doesn't count since it's known to have been selectively edited over the years as well as to contain allegorical content).
Those with a brain to think (for themselves), let them think.
proof would lead to not having a choice to believe in god. that goes against freewill.
@booboo: isn't that what prayer does also? it disproves god because it's either he won't change his plan for you, meaning your free will means nothing to god; or god's plan means nothing if your prayer can change it meaning god isn't all powerful. so which is it?
WHO CARES????...ALL human beings are mindless bleating sheep following blindly behind WHATEVER was taught to them from the cradle and all their lives.
This is nothing but the same thing the Catholic church did to Galileo, or the inquisition did to men, women AND children, OR some despot eating people, OR the TaIlban killing "devils and disbelievers". TOTAL MINDLESS TWADDLE perpitrated by MINDLESS PEOPLE FOLLOWING MINDLESS PEOPLE taught from books written by HUMANS wanting to maintain CONTROL.
IT'S ALL ABOUT POWER, HOW TO ACHIEVE IT AND HOW TO KEEP IT.
@ "Al" first off if you are the "voice" of the atheist then no wonder noone takes them seriously! LOL
"Noone", well theists are not known for being smart and that includes your spelling.
Folks, it's a win win, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
If there is a heaven, imagine there must be thousands, perhaps millions, of virgin teenage chicks, and get this: There are NO LAWS up there! YeeHaw – sounds like Wilt's record will fall within weeks, maybe months!
I figure I'm covered either way.
This is why people who practice organized religion are hilarious - "you are covered"? LOL - so you don't need to genuinely believe to go to heaven? Just be a nonchalant pedant who adheres to the dogma and all is okay...
As long as you are giving your hard earned dollar to the church, I suppose they really don't care. What a joke...
“We are the last group against whom it is politically correct to be bigoted,” he said. Not true - it is also PC to be bigoted against christianis, lawyers, and white people. A better question is this: political correctness aside, is atheism suffering from significant discrimination or bigotry? Yes - but not nearly as much as Islam, Judaism, Wicca, African Americans, Hispanics, fat people, gays and lesbians.
Awareness is good - but don't play the "poor me" card when it's not really warranted. Atheists aren't as free to (non)-practice as christians, but they have it ever so much better than most other "downtrodden" groups.
It is also OK to be blgoted against Italian-Americans. The normal hardworking ones are considered either Mafia or Jersey Shore. Sad.
Disagree with other groups listed as you state. It's quite common to hear when the question is posed, that even "rascist" people would rather sit beside a Muslim, Jew, person of African descent, etc, than sit next to an Atheist.
How is this for discrimination – in a recent gallup poll –
37% of folks said they would never vote for a gay person.
38% said they would never vote for a Muslim.
And a whopping 48% said they would never vote for an atheist.
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.