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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. Pat F

    Is Barry Obama going to be at the rally? He has not gone to church since taking office, after making a big stink about "picking a church". The only reason he ever went to Rev. Wright's church was to try and pretend to be a black man.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • OldSchool

      I honestly hope he is a "closeted" atheist, due to the unfortunate fact that a fervent atheist wouldn't be electable in this country.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • There never was a god

      this is one of the dumbest posts ive ever read, ever

      March 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Of course, you aren't correct in saying he hasn't been to church since he took office, so why should anyone believe anything you say?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • sane

      President Obama has gone to church many times since taking office. That makes you a liar.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Mark

      Quoi?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Emio

      Uh why would it matter whether Obama was an atheist again? Oh wait, you're just being intolerant and prejudice towards atheists and reinforcing the reasons why this rally matters.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  2. Rodeo_Joe

    Freedom – Embrace the Chaos.

    As American as SW Frybread.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  3. joey

    The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopédie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions.
    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, from Paris, December 16, 1786

    March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  4. dtboy

    What the atheist fails to realize that God can never be disproven through science, because the belief in God is a personal one. As a believer in God, the atheist cannot disprove God more than the believe can prove that there is one. The 1st amendment prevents congress from creating and enforcing a federal church, so other than that, let it be. Why does the atheist even care that a person believes or not? Get back in your own boat and stop trying to rock the boats of others

    March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "What the atheist fails to realize that God can never be disproven through science"
      what a strange comment, we know science cant prove that but we dont claim it can, though it doesnt stop believers from claiming that that is what scientists are trying to do all the time.

      " Why does the atheist even care that a person believes or not? Get back in your own boat and stop trying to rock the boats of others"

      back at you, keep your personal belief personal instead of trying to control people's lives with it and there wont be an issue,

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Why? Because there are fanatics like Santorum that want to turn this country into a christian theocracy, that's why!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Atheist

      "Why does the atheist even care that a person believes or not?"

      Because religion has repressed and persecuted humanity for too many centuries. It is the malignant tumor on the body of mankind.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • abbyt

      we'll get back in our boat as soon as you get back in yours. it works both ways.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • booboo

      what most atheists who use the whole "religion has persecuted people" dont realize is that, religion isnt god. theyve simply figured out a way to weaponize him. religion is manmade and will continue even if the very idea of god is wiped out. man will worship other men, its in human nature.. thats why atheism doesnt work, its centered on god and the problem is man. atheism itself is religion (and no, its not a color of baldness)

      March 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      It matters because the inheritors of the Republican Party are forever after passing laws that impose tenets of their religion on those to whom those tenets are ridiculous.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • eddie

      Good question. One particular reason why we care is not that religious people believe in god, those who do are more than welcome to your beliefs, but when that belief impinges upon the freedom of others it becomes a concern. Take the current militations of creationists trying to disrupt education to superimpose thier beliefs or the contoversy over women's health care due to religious objections. Secondly, atheism is not a position that god can be proven not to exist, it is merely a lack of belief in a god. For me, that is due to a lack of evidence to support such a belief, but other athiests may have thier own reasons. Good question though, right up there with John Stuart Mill's point of individual liberty.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • sane

      Why does the atheist even care that a person believes or not?

      Atheists do not care that you believe. Just that your belief causes you to impose your beliefs on non-believers.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      The issue is not what you believe. The issue is what you believe I should believe.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • patrick in rhode island

      First of all – what you said is just as true for unicorns. Secondly, the atheists are not going to keep quiet.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • DREW

      What you fail to realize is that science does not work that way. We don't have to prove God doesn't exist. You have to prove he or she does. By your argument, Santa Clause could exist because I can't prove he doesn't.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • miss manager

      I don't care what you believe, what I do care is that it not be forced upon me like it is on a daily basis. Live and let live should be the motto. But unfortunately as you can see from the Candidates running it is about telling everyone what to do.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • ChuckB

      The issue isn't atheists being bothered by those who believe in God. The issue is the religious being bothered by those who don't believe. If someone gets in your face mouthing religious propaganda, what is wrong with denying their assertions?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Emio

      @booboo

      Atheism cannot be a religion since it's simply a rejection of a belief, a rejection is an action, because of that the word atheism doesn't even imply "what" beliefs drove us to reject a belief in god. Thus the reasons as to why people are atheist vary considerably. For example an atheist Buddhist and a secular humanist atheist probably have polar opposite reasons for being an atheist. Atheism does not define "why" we are atheists just that we reject theism, thus it can never be a religion.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Atheist

    To all you Christians who are so convinced that your god and your religion is the only way:

    http://www.cosmicsnark.com/2012/03/and-yours-is-right-god-why-exactly.html

    March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • booboo

      yet athiests have spent 300 grand to show their way is right.. hypocrites

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • sane

      booboo, sorry I do not get the hypocrasy. Please explain.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ boo boo – and one of the poorest states in Mexico has just spent $11,000,000 for an outdoor alter for the Pope to use this weekend.

      Hypocrisy much?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Kenneth

    Should "reasonable" Christians attend the Reason Rally?

    By definition Christians believe in the supernatural, resurrections, multiple deities (Yahweh, Jesus, Mary etc), heaven and other things without a shred of evidence.

    Some Christians even believe they can telepathically communicate with deities and some Christians even symbolically cannibalize their savior.

    By definition, Chrisitans do not embrace reason.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Atheist

      I say, why not? Maybe a few of these reasonable Christians will learn why their beliefs are founded in delusions.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Well, how can a Christian be considered "reasonable" when the believe in such fairytales?

      Delusion and reason are opposites.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Pat F

      Dear Kenneth:

      You're an idiot.

      Love, John and Yoko

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • booboo

      kenneth. you mock telepathy like its make believe. you do realize particle communicate telepathically. and many many scientific studies have shown human telepathy is indeed real. so sad so many people are so ignorant

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Perfrid

      No Christian defines Christianity the way that you did. Your straw man argument shows how unreasonable some atheists are.
      Areas of evidence for God:
      Cosmological argument
      Anthropic argument
      Ontological argument
      Moral argument
      Historical argument
      Personal experience
      To say that there is no evidence is just plain silly. You may not agree with the evidence, but to say that there is none is simply incorrect.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "any scientific studies have shown human telepathy is indeed real."

      cite your source.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Emio

      @booboo

      "you do realize particle communicate telepathically. and many many scientific studies have shown human telepathy is indeed real."

      Particles do not communicate telepathically, they do not have minds to begin with. Also there are absolutely no scientific studies whatsoever that have shown human telepathy. Anyone who thinks telepathy exists is not a reasonable person.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  7. patrick in rhode island

    You don't need to worry about me being an atheist but I understand if my moral relativism causes concern.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Pat F

      How odd that you think that anyone is concerned about your moral relativism.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • patrick in rhode island

      patf – how about cannibalism?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  8. There never was a god

    Man i should take a road trip. would do me good to be around so many like minded people. trust me springfield mo is home to a lot of jesusy nut jobs. does make me feel better that there are groups out there that represent the interests of a group that is unpopular with everyone. hopefully someday therell be an atheist president, someone who allows logic to guide there decision making.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  9. angel611

    Now's your chance God, most of them in one place, give them a lesson they won't forget.
    Something really dramatic, natural, like lightning or earthquake.
    Yea, that would be awesome.
    Last words of famous atheist leaders as they are dying "help me, I am burning, the pain, it is horrible, I cannot endure it, help me".
    Look it up.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • There never was a god

      you should just add 55 to your name so that we can know you by your real name. btw wishing death and pain on other people.... oh ya i forgot that christ totally endorses that

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Now's your chance God, most of them in one place, give them a lesson they won't forget.
      Something really dramatic, natural, like lightning or earthquake.
      Yea, that would be awesome."

      sounds like you and god have some anger issues, better try getting help for that.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Charlotte

      You sure as f*** sound like a kindly, loving religious nazi.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      So when that doesn't happen, you will give up your silly belief in imaginary beings, eh?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mario

      Oh, please! You keep your fairy tales, I'll keep my reason and science, thank you very much.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • ChuckB

      And if no violent natural events take place?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • WhatIsWrongWithYou

      Wishing pain and vengance upon people does not seem like a very Christian act to me, and far from angelic.

      Have you even read the bible? Do you understand the teachings of Jesus? He lived a life in a manner he thought was right, and INVITED others to do the same...not forced them under duress of "lightning and earthquakes"....

      You disgust me...

      March 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • matilda61

      Asking your God to cause a natural disaster to harm people. Nice.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • yeahalright

      yeah! Sic em Jeebus!

      Many athiest leaders' last words eh? Got any proof? That's right you wouldn't put much stock in proof.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • abbyt

      this comment disgusts me as well. there's not much of leap between wishing your god to cause harm to a bunch of people who don't share you beliefs and stepping forward and do as such in his name. sound familar? 911? and i thought christians were supposed to be a peaceful and loving religion, perhaps not. if i were christian i would be ashamed of this person and all who think like him/her

      March 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  10. joey

    Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.
    - Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:545

    March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  11. Newyorker

    The truth is that atheists scare the cr8p out of religious folk. I think this is one of those types of fears that are even greater than the fear of gay people. Religious people are scared of pretty much everything they don't understand.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • EPAB

      That would explain their roaring paranoia about atheists. Ever notice how defensive they become when anyone says anything, even benignly, about religion?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Many religious are unsure of their beliefs. Their faith is tepid. What if there is no God? They coudn't handle that.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • patrick in rhode island

      One woman told me that an athiest is worse than anything – even a convicted pe%do-priest still believes in god and that makes him a better man than me.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  12. bandgeek1

    Maybe I'm a freak, but I don't care what you or anyone else believes. Don't try to convert me and I'll show you the same courtesy.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • eddie

      great position to have, although, if someone was not trying to convert you, but were influincing your lawmakers to limit your reasonable freedoms then my guess is that you may want to have a say as well. That is the point of the rally is to be counted, not impose

      March 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  13. steveo

    well this is good for obama whether the lliy white "christians" living under the *unevolved* slimy rocked swamp portion of the repuglican party want it to or not.
    obama who has an undeniable record of being a "christian" to anyone who's not mentally unbalanced or has a right-wing ax to grind, can demonstrate his bible bonafides and delude the lazy-thinking middle who'd rather not tax the little brains contemplating any alleged "supreme being's" existence believe he's pretty OK b/c he goes to church and mouths belief in somebody living above the clouds who applauds dallas cowboys scoring a touchdown or tebow scrambling for a 1st down (explaining why the nfl isnt filled with mental giants), in particular social situations.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  14. joey

    The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind.
    - Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, 1813

    March 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  15. DK

    What possible gain does an atheist get from evangelizing? If a person truly believes there is nothing out there, then when the universe ends as a cold dark space; it will not matter if anyone fervently believed in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or if they were right about the absence of any deity. Further, the moment a person dies it makes no difference if they were Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu or Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. All human pleasure and suffering would be entirely irrelevant.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • mique

      Onre thing to consider is that athiests do not believe that there is a "better place" to go to upon death. This planet is it, folks. Shortsighted environmental policy backed by heaven believers is just that. Shortsighted. I would rather we work on having a paradise here and now.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • caliguyisawake@yahoo.com

      It is irrelevant.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • There never was a god

      idk that id call it evangelizing but id say that its important that more people know that their are groups that exist to represent them. athiesm is something that is shunned by a lot of people and theres a history of repression so i think something like this can be really beneficial.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • DK

      mique, Yes, but what is the environment on this dust-speck to the universe? Why would it matter if humanity did not exist? Would it make any difference if people did not exist at all?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Emio

      You're assuming that a period in which nothing living will exist has any relevance to the way we should act now. What happens at that time has no import on the value or meaning of our actions today, the fact that caring for others has significant meaning to us accords a level of value to it, and thus accords a level of value to our actions. We're therefore responsible for edifying those actions which hold deep meaning for us as human beings.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Emio

      "Would it make any difference if people did not exist at all?"

      Difference to what exactly? Why should the significance of our existence be dependent upon the existence of a "cosmic purpose". A "cosmic purpose" isn't necessary for our existence to hold significance. When a child's loving parent dies, the meaning of that child's feelings don't just disappear, they don't just stop existing, they're real and significant regardless of whether the boring statement "god exists" is true or not.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Koji

      DK: How does it matter? Because I live here, I live with my wife and child and I want to have a happy life. I want my daughter to grow up and have her own children who also have their own happy lives.

      There is no more deep reason, nor is there any need for any more of a reason. Why would I need to have a God to find meaning in life when I've managed to find plenty on my own? Because I only ever have this one life I want to live it to the fullest and give my daughter the same oppurtunities, the same joys, the same lows, the same highs. It's all part of being human.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • DK

      LOL. Pretending a bio-chemical reaction your consciousness call joy has meaning does not make it so.

      Besides if you acknolege that doing those things makes you happy, you should not deny a religious person from finding their own happiness in the way they choose. If you are claiming that your path to joy is better, how do you back that up? Did God tell you?

      Preaching atheism is still pointless. Nobody has presented evidence otherwise.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Emio

      "Pretending a bio-chemical reaction your consciousness call joy has meaning does not make it so."

      Funny you don't answer why not. Which is probably because you don't have a good reason why it shouldn't. Meaning is created through "bio-chemical" reactions, if "bio-chemical" reactions did not exist then we would be incapable of thoughts, feelings, let alone meaning.

      "Besides if you acknolege that doing those things makes you happy, you should not deny a religious person from finding their own happiness in the way they choose."

      Who's denying them happiness, it's only when seeking happiness causes harm for others that it becomes a problem. You wouldn't let a serial killer kill people just because it makes them happy now would you?

      "If you are claiming that your path to joy is better, how do you back that up? Did God tell you?"

      It's not about whether our path to joy is better, that's not even the issue here and no one even suggested that. You're being completely ridiculous.

      "Preaching atheism is still pointless. Nobody has presented evidence otherwise."

      Sorry but you don't decide whether atheism is pointless or not, and neither have you provided any evidence that it is. Within the context of a society where millions are prejudice towards atheists, calling yourself atheist carries social connotations to it. It requires courage. Personally atheism has been the best intellectual event in my life, not that it's my main outlet of intelligence, but atheism allowed me the freedom of thought, it freed me from the intellectually stigmatizing and dogmatic beliefs of religion. My mind was unconstrained and finally free, I was no longer afraid to question and think about the foundations of certain religious beliefs which eventually led me to atheism. That is not pointless.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Alain corcos

    If God exists, why did He give us the power not to believe in Him?

    March 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Billy Bob Cletus Feckwood, III

      Because He wants to test you to see if you should get paradise or get roasted in flames. He's quite a jealous God.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • DK

      You think God's purpose would be to force you to do right? Your challenge is central to most religions' philosophy. The ability to choose is pretty basic. It seems that you have dismissed something that you have not bothered to examine.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Kenneth

      At least Satan accepts everyone unconditionally, unlike Yahweh.

      Yahweh says: Make friends with my son or you're not coming in my house!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chad

      I believe that God doesn't want to be our puppetmaster (despite what others say to the contrary). He knows that true love comes from giving someone a choice to love you or not. The greatest love and faith and devotion comes from someone who willingly gives that to you. He could have controlled us completely. After all, He's the one that made us. But He loved us so much and wanted us to love Him back so much out of our own free will, He's allowed people to reject him. Otherwise God knows we'd be no better than robots with no life in us.

      When people talk about God sending us to hell, that's not accurate. God doesn't send anyone to hell; we send ourselves to hell. Hell is a place for those who completely reject God. In other words, God gave us a choice to accept and love Him or not, and there has to be a place for those who don't want anything to do with God. You might ask why would God allow that. God so respects our choices, that even though He wants to live with us forever, He's willing to let us go if we don't want it ourselves.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • booboo

      if we could prove god we would not have freewill, yet people mock god as a tyrant that doesnt want us to have freewill. the very definition of insanity if you ask me

      March 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Mark

      Free will. He gets more pleasure out of punishing us if we have the ability to choose whether or not to believe in him. Think about it! How tedious would it be if we were all made believers!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "and there has to be a place for those who don't want anything to do with God. You might ask why would God allow that. God so respects our choices, that even though He wants to live with us forever, He's willing to let us go if we don't want it ourselves."

      so why has that place got to be a place of eternal torment and horror, where you go as 'punishment'?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      If god knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, then he already knows all your choices you will make in your life. In which case everything you will do has already been decided, making freewill an illusion.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Manny

      Because God created Human beings... not robots. We have to choose to believe in him, just like we can't force our kids to love or believe in us. It never works without free will.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Chad wrote, " I believe that God doesn't want to be our puppetmaster (despite what others say to the contrary). He knows that true love comes from giving someone a choice to love you or not. "

      Is your god omnipotent and omniscient? If no, then he isn't much of a god, is he? Hardly worth worshipping. If your god is omnipotent and omniscient, then he knew – BEFORE HE EVEN CREATED THE UNIVERSE if you, Chad, are going to heaven or hell. If god knows you are getting your ticket punched for heaven, there is no way you can end up in hell. Likewise, if you are slated to go to hell, there is no way you can surprise god and end up in heaven.

      And for the tens of billions of people (so far) who are in hell, or going to hell, your god created them for no other purpose than to torture them for all eternity.

      Sorry Chad, but I'm just not feeling the love from your god.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. rickbull

    Article after article keeps calling atheists "non-believers," yet that is not factual. The only true non-believers are agnostics, who typically don't care either way. Atheists earnestly believe that there is no Creator, but they cannot prove that He does not exist (yes, I know: it is almost impossible to prove a negative). This means that they have "faith" that there is no Supreme Being. This is the very definition of a religion: instead of having faith in God, they have faith that there is no God.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Chad

      Well, actually, there are no true "non-believers." Everyone has beliefs, even those agnostics who believe that God cannot be known, even if he does exist, and therefore the matter is inconsequential.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • momoya

      It doesn't take faith to not believe.. If you tell me you have super powers, yet don't show me proof of them, it takes ZERO faith to disbelieve in your superpowers.. Don't be an idiot.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • John

      That is a typical believers rationalization of atheism. It is not a belief that one does not exist anymore than there is a belief that the world is not run by 3 inch tall furry pink elephants.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • dpilot73

      Actually you have the terms backward. Agnostics say it is unknown, Atheists say they don't exist.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • eigentor

      In the article, Dawkins himself refers to them as non-believers.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • bill

      An agnostic is someone who doesnt believe in a god but doesnt deny the possibility either. Yes, they dont believe either way but agnostics still tend to lean towards believing in a diety than not. Second, athiests dont "believe" in the non existence of a god. They have come to that conclusion have observing the evidence and considering all possibilities. Like you said, a negative cant be proven, and by that standard all knowledge and thought is a belief so saying athiests are believers is not the same as saying christians are, since christians have no evidence for their opinion.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  18. clarify

    I wish there weren't any groups protesting. Turn the other cheek and ignore the rally would be best. These folks can meet and make their statement and silence from us believers would be prudent.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Atheist

      The hatemongers at the Westboro Baptist Church would never turn down a chance for publicity.

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

      Westboro Baptist Church doesn't really count. I'm a Baptist and let me assure you, they are not Christians, they are kooks.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • sane

      You're all kooks.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • tom

      Interesting, Doug. PROVE they are not Christians.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  19. Chad

    I would be really interested in knowing specific instances in which atheists have persecuted in this country. I would completely disagree with David Silverman. It is not atheists but Christians who receive the most bigotry and prejudiced opinions against without any thought of political correctness. Just read these blogs for a minute and you'll see all kinds of hate-filled commentary on how evil and prejudiced and, ironically enough, how "judgmental" Christians are and, well, no one says, "Hey, that's unfair and uncalled for." No, Christians are in the majority in this country, so it's okay to say anything about them.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Chad: Your beliefs form your actions. If your actions infringe upon the liberties of others (insert birth control/condom debate joke here), I have the obligation to demand that you provide verifiable evidence that your beliefs are based in fact and reality.

      If you cannot provide this evidence for verification, your "belief" based positions are irrelevant and must be discarded as illogical.

      This process is not attacking your beliefs, only your demand that others follow them.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Actually, so-called "Christians" do most of the persecuting. They spew hatred towards anyone who suggests that their faith should not dictate everyone else's belief system and social system and legal rights. They keep claiming that their faith should rule our government. They keep claiming that their faith should determine who gets what kind of health care, who can read what, who can drink and when, who can marry whom. Atheists are fundamentally libertarians, and that includes liberty to follow one's own set of philosophies, whether based on Middle Eastern myth or not.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • matt

      Living in the south it would be extremely difficult for me in my job with sales if my contacts knew I was athiest due to their strong beliefs that are brought into the workplace. Just because you don't see it or think about because it supports your personal views doesn't mean that it's not there.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      My sister (who is a Christian, by the way), has gotten snapped at for wishing people "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Other religions are not as persecuted as they used to be due to the ALCU – which is roundly denounced as somehow persecuting Christianity instead of being seen as "leveling the playing field".

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      here is an easy test for you....compare the number of atheist organizations that wield a great deal of power that attempt to push those in power down a certain path because of their beliefs, with those of religious organizations that try to do the same thing.
      Yeah, those believers are so put upon by society, lol.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Jayne

      Don't worry Matt. Most "true believers" don't really believe all the S**t they're spouting. Just look at the news to see how often they need to be "forgiven".

      March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • DenverMatt

      I grew up in North Texas. The lower part of the bible belt. In middle school I let it slip out that I didn't believe in god. Since that day, I was ostracized by my fellow classmates, their parents, and the community as a social pariah. My classmates would call me names in passing in the hallway and in class, such as little devil, non-believer, I'm hell-bound, ect. Teachers as well. Parents of other students would make up rumors that I was worshipping the devil and wouldn't allow life long friends to hang out with me anymore. If something happened in the neighborhood I was always the first one blamed. So don't tell me how hard it is for Christians in the this country.
      It is comforting to know that there are other atheists out there that have similar experiences and don't JUDGE me based on my beliefs. I think this rally is a good thing and isn't a threat to your religion. We are merely standing up and letting everyone know we are here. We aren't going door to door evangelizing or sitting around with signs telling everyone they are going to burn in hell. Growing up the way I did was difficult as I seemed to be the only one that had any sense in my community. It was like growing up on an alien planet. Stop with the boohoo it's so hard to be a Christian BS. Most of us are just so tired of you attributing every thing to god every single sentence and telling us that over and over and over. Keep your religion to yourself please.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Koji

      You want to see how atheists are persecuted? Here, do a little experiment.... Tell someone you deeply care about that you're an atheist and watch their reactions. If they truly do love you, the worst you're likely to get is "Well, let's go discuss this with the pastor, I'm sure we can fix you." That is, of course, if they truly love you. If they don't, or if you tell someone you only sort of know be prepared to be attacked.

      "But why would I tell people that? I'm not!" That's not the point, the point is to take a moment and EXPERIENCE what it's like to be told you're wrong and that you have to be "fixed". I'm now 26 years old, I started letting people close to me know my lack of faith since I was 13 and I can't even count how many friends I've lost, people's trust I've lost (because I didn't wear a great big I'M A NON-BELIEVER sign on my chest), and just how many people have tried to fix me.

      That is persecution. That is why so many atheists are "in the closet" so to speak... because if we admit who we are to people we truly run the risk of losing our friends, our jobs, and upsetting our loved ones.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  20. Rich

    Atheism is a religion.
    Atheists also have books they adhere to, books on the theory of evolution and their own religious symbol which is a fish with legs. And now atheists have their own international convention to spread atheism. April 1st should be their religious holyday

    March 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • xab

      Don't you have a bridge you should be sleeping under?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • are you serious?

      obvious troll is obvious.

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

      The generally accepted definition of religion is: the service and worship of a God or supernatural being. I don't see how atheism fits that definition but you go ahead and make any Staw Man you like.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Charlotte

      Rich, do you lack the capacity for distinguishing between scientific evidence and religious dogma? Apparently not. Science has nothing to do with atheistic philosophies, although it's true plenty of atheists understand the scientific method and the idea of hypothesis and evidence. But then MANY RELIGIONS ACCEPT EVOLUTION, including most Christian denominations. It's only the more neanderthal and uneducated Christians who cling to the disproven myth of creationism.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Whether or not atheism is a religion is moot, i.e., so what. The crux of the matter is rejecting supernatural explanations for natural events and rejecting the notion that a god created and organized the universe. What would your point be in claiming atheism is a religion?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jayne

      Rich, you say theory of evolution like theory means it's not true. The definition of theory is "a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena". How does your theory of the existence of god stack up?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:08 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.