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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. joey

    If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814, using the term atheist to mean one who lacks a god belief, not one who is without morals, as was a common use of the term in Jefferson's day

    March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      If you don't believe in sin, try doing what you think is good all of the time and, see how well you do. And, if you don't believe in God, try coming up with a better explanation for how the universe happens to exist, than Jesus already taught us for free; "Before Abraham was, I AM". Now that you have demonstrated to yourself that atheism and agnosticism are dishonest, you can freely admit you are a sinner who needs God's help, just like the rest of us sinners.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Now that you have demonstrated to yourself that atheism and agnosticism are dishonest"

      how on earth has it demonstrated that?
      because he doesnt accept 'it was magic' as how the universe was created? what a strange argument.

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

      long before christianity ever reared its ugly head, towns/cities/countries had outlawed murder and stealing. christianity tries to take credit for making people 'moral', but christianity didn't give laws for good living to anyone. they copied it from other civilizations and pretended they made it up. you think in Rome or Babylon that you could just walk up to anyone and stab them? sorry, you don't get credit for giving the world rules for good living. the golden rule was written down by Confucious a thousand years before christianity was even a blip on the map. christianity plagiarized other cultures/traditions.

      and you want to hold the bible up as a way of good living? it tells its followers to murder h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s, disobedient children, etc. it tells women to remain 2nd class citizens (did you know you are forbidden to wear men's clothing or to teach to gospel?) it says all sorts of heinous things. thank 'god' people aren't real christians aren't these days, you guys practice christianity light. if anyone actually followed the bible, they would rank among the most vile murderers in human history. read the bible for yourself. nothing i'm saying is false.

      but of course, atheists generally know more about the bible than christians, surveys show. maybe we're just making a informed decision? maybe christians should too. read your bible. it's likely you'll be an atheist before you get to the new testament.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      atheists have a much lower crime rate than christians. .2% of prisoners are atheist, yet the atheist/non-believer population in the U.S is 10% or higher. for christians, the rate of going to prison actually higher than what is represented by the general population. this suggests that if you are a christian, you have a higher chance of going to prison and if you are atheist, a lower chance. unless atheists just aren't getting caught for their felonies, this shows that generally atheists commit less crimes than christians. most of these crimes would be considered 'sinful' to a christian. so this suggests atheists are less sinful than christians, not more.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • waitasec

      try supporting your unsupportable claims

      March 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  2. beelzabarber

    seems silly to protest against someone who doesnt believe in anything

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

      Who says atheists don't believe in anything? We believe in all the same things religious people do, except for one thing.

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

      i believe in my fiance. i believe in my family. i believe in my friends. i believe in my co-workers. i believe in humanity. i believe in love, compassion and empathy. i believe helping others is the best way you can spend your time. this list could go on and on.

      atheists believe in a lot. just not imaginary friends.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  3. Pipe-Dreamer

    Come out come out where ever you are !

    March 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  4. Bolts

    I'm a poly-atheist. There are many gods I don't believe in.

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

      And a Christian is an atheist who disbelieves all gods but one.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      If you don't believe in sin, try doing what you think is good all of the time and, see how well you do. And, if you don't believe in God, try coming up with a better explanation for how the universe happens to exist, than Jesus already taught us for free; "Before Abraham was, I AM". Now that you have demonstrated to yourself that atheism and agnosticism are dishonest, you can freely admit you are a sinner who needs God's help, just like the rest of us.

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

      "And, if you don't believe in God, try coming up with a better explanation for how the universe happens to exist, "

      And how did your god just happen to exist? Oh...that's right it's a man made concept, nothing more.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  5. c

    I am a Christian however, I actually want enough atheists to show up just to drown out Westboro Baptist, who make Christians look like psychos

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

      Yeah, sucks when part of the flock shows Christianity for what it really is, eh?

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

      Atheist, don't be a goober

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

      you sound like a rational person, C. the way atheists look at it is this. you are ALL in a cult called christianity. some members are more extreme than others, much more, but at the end of the day, you're ALL in the cult. when a cult is accepted by society, it's called a religion. when a religion is no longer practiced by anyone, it's called a mythology.

      although i applaud you for not becoming a crazy religious zealot, all christians read from a book that says in no uncertain terms to kill h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s and other really, really heinous things. so i'm curious, why aren't you out there with westboro protesting g.a.y funerals? serious question. your book tells you to do much worse than protest, it tells you to kill them. how do you get around such orders from your rule book?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  6. achepotle

    I am mostly agnostic. but atheists seem generally smarter and kinder than theists....just cooler....

    March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • booboo

      youre hanging out with the wrong "theists"

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

      With all due respect, kinder? There are goobers in both groups. For example, the Westboro Baptist screwball vs Bill Maher. That is what makes the world. Good bad and ugly.

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

      Thank you. And I do believe there is a trend there.

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

      "youre hanging out with the wrong "theists""

      No, your stupid posts proves the original poster correct.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      If you don't believe in sin, try doing what you think is good all of the time and, see how well you do. If you don't believe in God, try coming up with a better explanation for how the universe exists, than Jesus already taught us for free; "Before Abraham was, I AM". Now that you have demonstrated to yourself that atheism and agnosticism are dishonest, you can freely admit you are a sinner who needs God's help, just like the rest of us sinners.

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

      YeahRight...and you just disproved it with your "unkind" remark. Apparently, atheists are just as flawed as the rest of us.

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

      It's not about being smarter or cooler, though those are often side effects, but it is about being kinder which will be the only way to prove to the theists we can not only be as moral, but even more moral than they who adhere to moral absolutism instead of most atheists prefered moral universalism.

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

      theists tell people they will be tortured for all eternity in ways you couldn't possibly survive in real life (cause where you gonna go if they torture you to death?) because you don't believe what i believe. that's something you will never here from an atheist. we believe we are all equal when we die.

      yup, atheists are much cooler.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • HeHasRizen

      God is real God is great. Repent and believe in him because time is getting short. This summer you will see the Antichrist rise and you all will think he is God when infact he is the Devils right hand man. Project blue beam , harrp, chemtrials are all done by the Rothschild family. They own the world. Their will be a great deception and Christians will fall for the illusion as well. This year the gov't will say there are Aliens as well. You ask how do I know this?
      Because the Lord Jesus Christ has shown me the way. He can show you the way as well if you repent and believe in him. I will pray for you all. Why would you want to be in Torture for eternity in hell? You want proof go to utube and type in Girl is dead for 23 hours visits heaven and hell. Most of you people believe anything a gov't official or scientist says. Guess what they all lie to you. CNN follows a script why do u think breaking news is celebrity focused? Why do all the news sources report non important information that what is really going on? Most of you are blind and now is the time to wake up before its too late.

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

      "Why would you want to be in Torture for eternity in hell?"

      Your hell doesn't exist and even if it did then it would only prove your god is a monster, not a loving god.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "YeahRight...and you just disproved it with your "unkind" remark. Apparently, atheists are just as flawed as the rest of us."

      And your stupid remark just keeps proving the original poster correct even more.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  7. PumpNDump

    It's simple:

    The Earth is 4.5 BILLION years old.
    Evolution is both a Scientific theory AND a Scientific fact, ergo man evolved from lower life forms.
    Dinosaurs existed, just not with men.
    The whole "god" and "jesus" thing, a total myth.
    There is NO academically accepted, peer reviewed evidence that "jesus" ever existed, none whatsoever.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Scott

      There's peer-reviewed evidence of his existence as a person, just not any about divinity.
      If we're going to make any headway against the theists, we have to make sure to be skeptical, not cynical.

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

      The entire story of Jesus (along with others from the Christian bible) is borrowed information from religions that predate Christianity by up to 2,000 years. Look up the stories of Horus, Krishna, etc -or- google "the greatest story ever told"...

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

      uh.. you have really been brainwashed.. even the scientific community knows evolution isnt fact. its far from it. seriously, you sound very religious

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

      there is no good evidence that jesus existed.

      and wrong, evolution is accepted as fact by the scientific community, you know, the guys who study the subject. there is an unbelievable amount of evidence backing up evolution and none going against it.

      if you have any evidence contrary to evolution or evidence that jesus existed, please present it.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      Who decided these are "lower" life forms? God creates life so life can adapt and change so that life can survive. This is accurately called "creation in transition" or, "life in transiation", not "evolution". There is overwhelming evidence that life adapts and changes so that life can survive. There is zero evidence that life ever has or every will "evolve". You and Dawkins need to go back to elementary school and start over.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      @ P-N-D,,,,

      The planetarial plains of existential physics thru so-called mathematical tinctures of numerologirial cunningness is subversional at best. Theoretical physicists know too well that the numerical posturing could be way off in either direction of collectiveness in universalism's aged line.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      how do christians handle evolutionary evidence? there are mountains of evidence backing up evolution. none against it. there may be pieces of the puzzle missing, but the picture is clear. evolution is fact. if you disagree, i'd like to know how you deal with the mountains of the evidence backing up evolution? i'm asking an honest question. aside from creationists that think the world is 6k years old and that God planted dinosaur bones in the ground to test humanity's faith... how does a rational person explain the geologic, paleontological, oceanographic, etc. evidence that paints a pretty full picture of life developing from more basic organisms into complex organisms. how do you explain all the evidence away?

      March 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      The earth is only 4.5 billion years old? Last time I checked, the Creator is considerably older. So, what does this prove, that the earth is old? Why does this have anything to do with the existence of God? What evidence do you have that Jesus is a myth? Atheists consistently make up all kinds of fiction that has no foundation in evidence, that's why they are atheists. No human being who is honest about the evidence is an athiest.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • YeahRigh

      "The earth is only 4.5 billion years old? Last time I checked, the Creator is considerably older. "

      You have no proof of that, especially since the bible has been proven NOT to be an historical book but just a religious book not based on real facts.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Junior

    What atheists don't realize is that they are following christianity and becoming more organized like organized religion. What a lot of atheists are doing right now, Especially those who were christians themselves, are using the message of Christianity and humanize it. Instead of believing in the Good of God and having hope in God, the humanized message is to believe in the good of mankind and having home in mankind. You can take an atheist out of the church, but you can't take the church out of an atheists.

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

      None to sharp, are you? Lol Tool

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

      HAHAHA
      Christians took the message of humanity and "Christianized" it. That means they made it worse.

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

      Oh geez, another "atheism is a religion" dolt. Buy a clue, godbot.

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

      Did you read that after you wrote it? LOL!

      For the record, 90% of our values are ingrained in us before we are able to pronounce "Mohammed", much less know who he is.

      Ludicrous.

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

      when christians say atheists are like a religion, we laugh. here's the difference between atheism and the religious - we don't believe in unprovable dogma. evolution and global warming have proof/data backing them up, not dogma. yup, we believe in humanity, something you know exists. somehow you equate that to believing in an invisible friend in the sky. laughable.

      if you want a much better ethical system without the religious nuttiness, try Humanism.

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

      Just another pawn of the religious majority – too bad they are either so naive or too unwilling to deal with reality

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Junior

      Don't you atheists believe that man are monkeys? Monkey see, monkey do. A person will copy of what works. A person values are ingrained from the culture they live in. You are who you are based on your environment.

      For example: Why do many atheist confront religion with contempt? it is because religion confronts atheism with contempt.

      Monkey see, Monkey do.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      What atheists don't realize is that there is no evidence for magically appearing universes, otherwise they wouldn't be atheists. And, what atheists also don't realize, is that those of us with half a brain believe they are poorly educated rubes, not to mention the most obvious of liars.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "What atheists don't realize is that there is no evidence for magically appearing universes"
      Actually we do realise that, but that is what religious believers say is exactly what happened....god created it by magic.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      Response to "Cedar Rapids" – I believe somebody created my computer, I didn't actually see anybody do it and, I 've never been to a computer factory or seen anybody actually make one. I just assume somebody made my computer, because this is what rational people would assume. And likewise, I didn't actually see anybody create the universe, I just assume somebody did, because this is what rational people would assume. Rational people don't believe either my computer or the rest of the universe magically appeared all by itself. At the bottom line, if nobody created the human brain, then computers magically appeared all by themselves. You need to go back to logic 1-A school and start over.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "I didn't actually see anybody do it and, I 've never been to a computer factory or seen anybody actually make one. I just assume somebody made my computer, because this is what rational people would assume"

      You can prove the making of the computer if you want to, you can't prove that your creator actually exists. So we can assume by your logic then that Santa Claus is real since presents just magically come under the tree....oh that's right it's a childish concept.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  9. R. G. Cunningham

    If only there would come a day when the world rejects religion the better the world will be. The millions of people that have been tortured, maimed and killed over some non existing god is disgusting. The heads of all religions should be arrested for crimes against humanity.

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

      Couldn't agree more! The three great dividers: Race, Language, Religion...

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Just remember, the first officially atheist states ever created managed to do their best in a few decades to match the centuries of the worst excesses of religions. The reason? Simple, it is human nature that is the problem, not what we believe.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mavent

      Dear moron: People like Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot managed to kill lots of people JUST FINE without religion. What really causes problems in this world is smug, arrogant jerks who think they're better than other people for arbitrary reasons. Something you're very familiar with.

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

      I can't begin to tell you long I have been saying the same thing. Thank you.

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

      the difference being no one was killed in the name of 'atheism' as opposed by those killed directly in the name of religion. Hitler thought he was doing God's work by killing Jews, killers of the Messiah. atheism doesn't tell us to kill h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s, etc.

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

      Yeah becuase people like Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il and Stalin have it all figured out there was/is no torture going on there.

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

      It will be a say day when you finally meet Him on judgment day. You may not believe in Him, but He definitely believes in you. He's there, He loves you and He died for you.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Kain

      Yeah because people like Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il and Stalin have it all figured out there was/is no torture going on there.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • jlv

      People are killed and maimed over ideals. So are you saying that atheists have no ideals? For people who are supposed to be about logic and reason some of you seem to lack the very thing that you accuse others of. Like the billboard that said that atheists make better lovers because no one is watching. By that logic they also make better serial killers, theives, rapists, and child molesters. I think you will find a lack of flawed organizations like religous ones doesn't promote a lack of flawed people. And when they have to give up their zealousness for one thing they will just shift it to something else.

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

      The violence committed on fellow human beings in the name of religion IS disgusting. There's been too much of it throughout the course of human history, and within a few more centuries, violence caused by religious groups may equal the violence wrought by secular and atheistic governments in one-half of the 20th century alone.

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

      RG
      There is coming a day...sooner rather than later...when all religions will be reconciled to one God. Its judgement and all will experience it. See you there!

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

      "There is coming a day...sooner rather than later...when all religions will be reconciled to one God. Its judgement and all will experience it."

      Only 30% of the world even believes in the Christian religion so your religion is being phased out and not soon enough! We can't wait till your brainwashed cult is no more, just like all the regions and gods before it.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      Not to mention the scientists who create weapons of mass destruction and otherwise work for the global war machine, the science and education that has resulted in global mass pollution and, the supposedly 'educated' bankers, lawyers and politicians who continue to bilk the common people who Jesus loves out of life, liberty, property and any hope of happiness. Gee, maybe there's another reason why people sin against each other thand the future of our own offspring, other than just religion, who can say for sure?

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

      "Not to mention the scientists who create weapons of mass destruction and otherwise work for the global war machine, the science and education that has resulted in global mass pollution"

      LOL! There are Christians posting on here that say that 55% of scientist are actually religious people so I guess you can blame them for that too. ;-)

      March 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  10. RIP

    Listen, No one wants to see any atheist lost forever. Seek God and he will be found, just read the Holy Bible. God gift is offered to everyone in this world. 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 1:42 pm |
    • PumpNDump

      blo me.

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

      You are confused. Atheism is not evolution. There are far more Christians that believe in evolution than there are atheists. Don't take my word for it.

      This is a good example of why we need this rally.

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

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      It's a world-view. I'll leave it at that.

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

      Dale a world view is a belief system, that's what religion is.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      reading the bible with an open mind is the best way to become an atheist.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • jlv

      Cedar Rapids reading it with a closed mind works so much better. It's easier to hate it and your fellow man when you think they have absolutely no value.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  11. M-W-T

    Did a god create MAN?
    Or did MAN create gods.

    Man has create all gods......which one do you believe in?

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

      FSM. That's my one true God.

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

      I don't know what created either of you but I'm pretty sure they're not winning any design awards lately.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  12. joey

    I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.
    – Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, ca. 1776,

    March 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  13. Bob

    "What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality.”

    Give me a break!! I consider myself an atheist, but certainly dont need to rally for "equality" – can we get a bit more information about the discriminaiton we apparently fact??

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

      Bob didn't you know on your job application you have to declare your beliefs?

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

      500 thousand dollars worth of rally

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

      For me, it is the condescension of theists when they learn that I am an atheist. It is amazing the ideas they will suggest. The most common is that I have no moral basis and am not trustworthy. People exclude me from events in assumption that I would not want to participate because a ritual is involved.
      I imagine it is a lot like being gay. There are just way too many misconceptions and prejudices.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  14. UncleJohn

    Dawson's like a GOD to the modern atheist!

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

      Dawson? -Reading comprehension-

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

      in the absence of a god man will worship man. it is in their nature

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

      Heh.

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

      Dawson is god and his creek is the church.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • karlito

      I'm asuming you mean Dawkins.....and how so?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Atheist

      Dawson? You mean Richard Dawson of Family Feud and Hogan's Heroes fame? Nope, sorry, don't worship him.

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

      As a modern atheist...no. No, he is not.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  15. joey

    Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason rather than of blind-folded fear. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.... If it end in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others it will procure for you.
    – Thomas Jefferson, to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787

    March 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Richard Aberdeen

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – supposedly written by Jefferson and signed by a long list of American founders. Jefferson also mentioned God in the last letter he wrote, a day before he died. The logical and rational conclusion is that Jefferson believed in God and, granted others freedom to make their own choices, accordingly. Of course, there is no such thing as a rational atheist, so why should we believe you?

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  16. RIP

    - 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 1:37 pm |
    • WilliamP

      I'm an atheist. I adhere to no books and I have no symbols. I'm willing to change my belief if I see evidence of a god's existence–but I have no faith that there isn't a god. Sorry, but you're just wrong.

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

      Oh boy...where to begin with an ignorant comment like that. Reasonable people need proof. With proof they are willing to change your mind. Go ahead, give me some proof of God and I'll become a believer.

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

      Atheists do not worship any "god". Atheism is not a religion.

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

      Nonsense.

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

      Uh, wrong.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Jay Davis

      Good lord you're a moron... none of those things makses something a religion. You could say the same thing about any group that has books and meetings – and still be wrong. saying atheism is a religion is cop-out used to relegate it to the province of stupidity that actual religions hold. It's outside the box altogether.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • The Master

      You're an idiot. You are one of the ignorant and should be ignored!

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

      You read the article, scroll down to the comments, and it doesn't take long before . . . boom . . . you see exactly what they are referring to when they say that it is "acceptable" in this country to be bigoted against Atheists. It may be a subtle dig, like comment above, or more blatant (like Santorum), but it is easy to see that right-wing Christians are among the biggest bullies this country has.

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

      Wrong. I don't "adhere" to anything. Belief in science is not required or even possible. Science simply describes what IS.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Dave U

    I find it hard to have the conversation as I don't want to offend those that believe, they have their beliefs and I have no right to question that, but I don't feel that when I state that I don't believe in god gets the same respect or courtesy. Typically when this conversation happens the vibe that people that believe put off is 'how can you live like that' I am predominantly surrounded my Christians so I could be wrong in my next statement but I feel that if I said I was Jewish or Muslim that I wouldn't catch as much resistance as when I say I don't believe in god. That doesn't mean I don't have beliefs, it just means my beliefs doesn't include god or religion.

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

      I think you are right. It does make it hard. I don't believe that many American Chris tians are living Chri st-like lives. I am a Chris tian and have non-believer friends. Discussions should be grace-filled and not hate-filled. Sorry you deal with this where you are.

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

      don't mean to be rude but your not actually OWED respect or courtesy.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Violette

      I hear you Dave, I am a closeted Atheist because most people who believe in God do not believe you can be a good person unless you fear retribution from the Almighty. I am a good person because I wish to be one, not because I fear for my soul or everlasting torture in hell. I know I am a better person than most people I know who profess to be Christian. But I am not going to tell many people that because I will be mistrusted and discriminated against.

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

      @ Dave U - You wrote, "......they have their beliefs and I have no right to question that...." No, you not only have the right to question those beliefs, you have the obligation to do so.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  18. Ric

    Listen, No one wants to see any atheist lost forever. Seek God and he will be found, just read the Holy Bible. God gift is offered to everyone in this world.

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

      No thanks, I do not need the crutch called god.

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

      Read it. Wasn't impressed. Didn't strike me as the work of a supreme being. Seemed more like a bunch of nomadic desert dwellers made up a bunch of stories that were then translated a bunch of times.

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

      Ive read the Bible cover to cover, as well as the Quran, the Bagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, and many other texts. What's your point? the bible is a glorified comic book changed and edited throughout history and changed in translations.You are worshiping a book not a god or his/her word. Its a collection of stories. Nothing more.

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

      have you considered you are the one who's lost?

      my my my the arrogance religious faith justifies

      March 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  19. Mario

    I wish I were at the rally. I hope it becomes an annual event, regardless of the numbers. Go, Dawkins!

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

      maybe it can become a weekly event.. every sunday!! (winky wink)

      March 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  20. joey

    If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market.
    – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:548

    March 23, 2012 at 1:36 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.