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.”
If nutball Glenn Beck can do it, anyone should be able to do it.
Wish I had know about this earlier I would have joined the march
2 timothy 2:3-5 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. Belive what you want...but remember that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord!! God gives you free will...you can believe what you want...but you will pay the price for you choice.
I don't believe in fairytales, sorry.
Why should I have to pay your fictional god with my one and only life being devoted to him?
Yeah, right, cause it's logical for god to sacrifice himself to himself in order to appease himself by exploiting a loophole in a plan he made himself to fix the problem of a rib-woman eating fruit because she didn't know until after she ate the fruit that it was wrong to eat the fruit that a talking snake offered to her.
If you were God come up with a better plan that allows free will yet sorts out those who have a soul longing for eternal unity from those that would once again look away from God. The most gifted of all angels could not do it after eons of praising God and Eve didn’t fare any better in a perfect garden.
The cross was God showing how great is the love and desire that none should perish but all come to the glory of God. Take another look at the two on the cross next to Christ and see the core difference between those that can last in that heavenly place and those that would not be happy there.
I heard that childcare will be provided by DC Catholic priests. It's all part of the ' No Child's behind Left" program.
Cheap, hate-filled remark. Not funny.
Look back at the anti-atheist comments in this comment list, and tell me again who's spouting more hate-filled remarks.
Prayer changes things .
~`You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~"
What has prayer ever changed?
Whenever I see something along the lines of "atheism is..." followed by derogatory statements lacking any justification beyond "I SAID SO" or "THE BIBLE SAYS THIS", I tend to replace the word 'atheism' by 'theism' or the religion of the speaker for a bit of fun.
St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 1, Verses 18-23:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (atheists), 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image (the mammon or God of capitalism and materialism) made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Beside the creation God gave us a second revelation of his divine love: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
If for you the creation isn't enough evidence of God's love for you and the mankind, then regard the gospel: God gave his Son for you. This is the clear proof for his love. If you believe that and get baptized (infant baptism is valid, just refer to it) you return into the confident community of the loving God.
MAN CREATES, GOD CREATES
If you see a simple car, you immediately know that it was assembled by workers and designed by engineers.
If you would claim any car emerged just by evolution, people would send you to nuthouse.
Nearly nobody sends you to nuthouse, if you claim creation emerged by evolution, whereby the works of creation are much more ingenious, than a simple car.
Isn't that a discrepancy?
Don't float with the current, but just use your reason.
That is easily the most flawed logic i have ever seen. It truly shows that religion blinds people into accepting whatever they are told. Who wrote that book you are quoting? Did your god come down and write it or was it men who wanted control?
You don't need any scripture to conclude that there must be a creator.
You see the creation every day, consequently there must be a creator.
Scripture merely tells us that The Creator is Jesus Christ.
My god, your standards of proof are low. Because something was merely written down, 2000 years ago, that is sufficient proof for you? Proof of 'God's love' for you is a story that he 'sacrificed' (how do you know someone's intent from thousands of years ago?) his 'son' – and that too only for a special subgroup of humans who believe one version of the god story (Christians)? If this is your standard of proof (your word) before you believe in something and (presumably) live out your life accordingly, there are lots of amusing but 'true' stories rational people would have for you.
You must not believe in Yorkshire terriers, St. Agustine cattle or the various antibiotics used each day. These are just a few examples of evolution. Without evolution, we would not have these organisms that did not exist not that long ago. They are not cars made of non-living materials, that are alive. Genetics and evolution create changes in organisms and man even helps it along to improve his pets, food and drugs. It really is that simple. No magic being in the sky is making these things happen, science and research are the causes for these creations.
Arguing with a Theist is like playing chess with a Pigeon. No matter how well you play and how easy it is to put them into check-mate....they will still squawk loudly and jump on the board crapping and knocking all the pieces over.
What's the difference between a Christian and an Atheist? The Atheist has actually read the bible.
What an unfair generalization. Obviously, in any discussiion one eventually reaches a point where one must either have the gift of Faith, or one doesn't. Ir's entirely possible to make a rational argument for the existence of God, but ultimately, it's a question of Faith. I expect science will continue to posit the existence of sub-atomic particles that help explain the universe, but they will believe in them because they see the consequences of their existence. Alll creation ultimately points to the existence of a Creator, a first cause, a God.
lol, this made my day
"What's the difference between a Christian and an Atheist? The Atheist has actually read the bible." Isn't that the truth? Most people are religious because their parents raised them to be. They have never done their historical due diligence themselves. The people that have, tend to be atheist. This includes reading the bible or other religious texts.
Richard Dawkins is trying to make Atheism a religion... hahahahaha
No he is not...he's trying to make a point that there are many of us that just keep quiet about our non-religious beliefs because of fear of reprisal. Nobody at my work knows I'm an Atheist because of discrimination. There are many more of us than you think bub. I'm in my late 20's early 30's and almost every person I know my age doesn't believe in god.
Nearly everyone I know is an atheist too. I don't know a single person that goes to church. Religion is nothing but a money maker.
What are they going to say? "We gather here to affirm...that we believe in nothing..."
Although I do not share it, an agnostic view has some logic- claiming that one cannot know if a divine power exists. But to completely reject the possibility takes a lot of cojones.
gatecrasher, gnosticism and agnosticism deal with whether or not esoteric knowledge can be determined, theism and atheism deals with belief in god.. Agnosticism and atheism are not on the same continuum.. Most atheists are also agnostic in that they do not believe in any particular god, nor do they think spiritual knowledge can be got.
Atheism does not declare that "there is no god," in any other way than the same way you would declare that there are no unicorns.. Of course, unicorns might exist somewhere in the universe, but there's no need to bring up that fact every time unicorn fantasies are being discussed–one simply insists that there are no unicorns.. It's the same way with an atheist responding to the question of god's existence.. Of course some god or other might exist, but we don't see evidence for gods or unicorns, so we say "God does not exist" without adding the addendum about minute possibilities of as yet undefined and indeterminable beings.
It doesn't take cojones. It takes pure logic. Religion is no more than a geographical cultural custom. You're the religion you are most likely because you were raised around it either by your parents or your environment. If you were born in Iraq or China you would not be Christian or Lutheran or Catholic or whatever it is you claim as the 'truth'. Thousands of religions in this world and they all think THEIRS is right...think about it.
Agnostics are atheists who are afraid of using the term to define themselves because of the negative connotation associated with it. You're either a theist or you're not...
I don't think their message is that they believe in nothing. They have no belief in a deity. There larger picture is more clear. They believe public policy decisions should not be shaped by someones belief in a super natural being, that has never been proven or disproved to exist. Your statement that they don't believe in something is a bit of hyperbole. They certainly can believe in gravity.
Adolf Hitler, the lifelong Christian who spent most of his time fulfilling the primary goal of the medieval Christian church (exterminating Judaism), was subject to over 40 assassination attempts in his career. He survived every one, and only three really came close. As Hitler himself openly admitted, he could not possibly have survived all these assassination attempts without the grace of god on his side.
So after protecting Hitler, god sat back and ate celestial popcorn while Hitler committed mass genocide against Jews, but also dozens of other groups and unfortunates in the count of millions.
But wait, god wasnt done. When all those poor slaughtered jews arrived in the afterlife, god lets out an evil chuckle.
"You think THAT was bad? sure Zyklon-B might seem pretty nasty, but you see, none of you believe in JC, the son I had tortured to death on earth. So as a punctuation mark to your torturous genocide at the hands of Hitler, I'm going to send you all, good and bad, men and women, innocents and evil, to eternal torture screaming in hell."
But dont forget, I am pure good!
What a sad and twisted view of history. If this is where one goes when one doesn't believe in God, that is worrisome, indeed.
Awesome... well said... and that's only the tip of the iceberg of the idiocy that is religion
Hitler was only a "Christian" of convenience. If it suited him he was a Roman Catholic or a Lutheran, but in reality he was a Neo-Darwinist who believed in Evolution. He believed that Evolution culminated in the White Race.
He wanted a state run church that he could control. When Lutherans pastors like Bonhoeffer stood up to him he killed them.
Hitler was a follower of State Religion that mixed a little bit of Christianity with Neo-Darwinism, and Nordic Mythology. Read Hitler's Mein Kampf before you make misinformed comments.
Oh and I am a born Again Christian. I love Jews, I have Jewish blood that runs thought my veins and my savoir is a Jew. I love Jews as do all True followers of Jesus.
"Hitler was only a "Christian" of convenience. If it suited him he was a Roman Catholic or a Lutheran, but in reality he was a Neo-Darwinist who believed in Evolution. He believed that Evolution culminated in the White Race.
Many Christians have used evolution in support of their bible. Nice try – he was still a christian.
Hitler killed millions while claiming the ultimate god of the universe was on his side.. He was a god believer; he was a monster.. That he held a weird philosophy within that god belief is to be expected - all christians do it.
@MennoKnight – MOST Christians are "Christians of convenience" They cheat, they lie, they condemn others that don't believe and tend to know nothing about their own religion. But they turn around and pat themselves on the back saying they are good simply BECAUSE they are christian. Convenience
MennoKnight...You make a valid argument for the non-believers. Many of the christian faith do not follow their bible. They change, re-interpret or frankly just ignore those parts that they do not wish to believe. For example, judging others, wearing expensive jewelry and clothing in church, making money off the poor, etc. There are so very many differing beliefs that many do not see the signifcance of belonging to this very strange group who selectively pick what to follow.
Perplexed, please, point out where what I said is in any way wrong or against scripture. No? I didnt think so.
LMAO, Hitler was very much a Christian, his entire life. Yes he believed in evolution (as every educated human being outside the deep south of the US does), but his exterminations had nothing to do with 'evolution' at all, or rather nothing past an invention of racists in which they tried to falsly apply biological evolution to societies.
I have read mein kampf, extensively. Including all the constant references to God and Hitler's faith.
Actually Gaunt, the truth is that Hitler was NOT a Christian. In fact, he hated Christianity. Atheists like to say that Hitler was a Christian in order to support their lack of belief in God. Consider these quotes by Hitler in his book: Hitler's Secret Conversations 1941-1944 published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.
Night of 11th-12th July, 1941: "National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things." (p 6 & 7)
14th October, 1941, midday: "The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State." (p 49-52)
If you take out Hitler's name, that sounds almost exactly like what you and other atheists say. You have a lot more in common with Hitler than any genuine Christian. And if you read even a little of the Bible, you would see that God's character is not to sit back, eat popcorn, and watch the tortures of the Jews. He doesn't make people do or not do anything. You sin every single day with your unbelief, lying, lust, covetousness but He doesn't make you stop doing those things. And He doesn't make you do other things like go to church. You choose to sin and God let's you. Hitler chose to sin and God let him. The Jews choose not to believe in Jesus Christ and God doesn't make them. So yes, they go to hell, but it's their choice. Just as it is yours to sin and go to hell when you die. If you want to escape it, you must repent (turn from your sins) and believe in Christ. And lastly, Jesus chose to die on the cross, God didn't force Him to. When Peter tried to stop Jesus, Jesus said, "Get behind Me Satan." And in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."
You told someone else to get their facts straight before they posted and not be ignorant. I counsel you to do the same.
I hope all non evangelicals exert themselves on election day.
Why, because you don't want my vote for Obama? Oh wait, you think that all Christians are like Westboro.
The only time I see atheists making sense is when I hear that grand old bigot of bigots jimmy carter, I still can't believe americans lowered themselves to make him president!!
I can't believe Americans can believe that Ronald Regan traded weapons, with the help of Oliver North, to our enemies ( Iran) when they were holding over 300 Americans hostage. Only to have those Americans released on Ronald Regan's inauguration day.
When will we realize that arguing over religion and politics is a futile battle then no one will ever win, and the only thing that comes of it is suffering?
The way I view it is this: we arent arguing with each other, because yes that would be futile, but as soon as someone posts religious nonsense, when someone of the opposing view argues against it, it allows a third party to get two sides of something they may be undecided on. The two sides of the argument might help them make an educated decision. If one side is only preached, the brainwashing continues
All i see in the comments is crying and masturbation. Everyone needs to just live and let live.
If you cry when you mast.ur.bate, you're probably doing it wrong.
Or your religiously indoctrinated guilt and shame at having committed the Sin of Onan is overwhelming...
A professional organization that was formed to prove that something doesn't exist
lol, "prove something doesn't exist"? Try reading what Dawkins says, rather than projecting what you're conditioned to believe atheists say. Since when was 'wanting equality' synonymous with disproving what others believe? All he wants is to be treated equally instead of the way you seem to be treating atheists.
All Hail the leader of the New Atheist Religion, their Pope of Atheism King Richard Dawkins!
You are as much of a religion as the Roman Catholic Church
I don't understand the need Christians have to call athiesm a religion. Are you trying to say we are all equal? Are you saying athiesm being a religion is negative? Because that would imply all religion is negative. What is the point of calling athiesm a religion?
Much worse because they are dedicated to evil.
Indeed. So where is the equal treatment?
"Much worse because they are dedicated to evil."
Continue to prove to the world what a LIAR you are.
Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.
I don't understand this either. Why do they feel the need to label atheism a religion, when all they want to do is be able to not practice any religion in peace? Does labeling it a religion therefore make it an acceptable target to attack? Or is it just that they can't comprehend that some people choose to trust their own faculties and rational thought rather than outsourcing their thinking to some writers who lived several thousand years ago?
Not quite as well funded as the pope and his well funded cronies. Why did they close their accounts with JP Morgan last week?
TAX all Religions!!!
The decision is made subconsciously.. Subconsciously, every god believer knows that no beliefs or religions have an advantage in their position; nobody can prove that their view of god is right over another view–none of the believed-in gods are willing to show themselves provable.. Therefore, the christian/believer reasons, if I can just define atheism as a religion, I don't have to consider its rebuttals and ideas–just like the believer does with every religion..
Every time a christian or god believer claims that atheism is a religion, it's really an admission of their own unbelief.
The point is the irony.
Does anyone else find it ironic that Atheists hold evangelism rallies and revivals? Every day they become more like what they claim to despise. It happened to the organized church and now its happening to you. . . .
Actually I do kind of agree with this. That is sort of ironic.
As an atheist myself, I agree with this as well. The issue isn't with being a part of a religion. The issue is that at nation of equal religions is being legislated to by one religion.
Haha! "Hey, let’s get together and rally and let everyone know what that we don't believe in something!" Does anybody realize how stupid that is? Heck, I'm going to start a rally myself. The world needs to know that I don't believe in Unicorns! Next, Santa!!! They will hear my voice!!!
If significant parts of the world DID believe in unicorns, and tried to force their unicorn morality based on their 2000 year old book of unicorns on everyone else, you WOULD see rallies.
Next time you post, please try and be a little less ignorant. K?
Yes thats exactly what they are rallying for. They dont believe in Santa, unicorns or God.
A small group of Atheists surrounded on all sides by a large group of protesters. When I was young (and the world was new:-) ), I remember a similar situation when the Klan or American Nazi's held a similar public rally. it doesn't seem worth the Press to publicize 0.000000032% of the Population. Only CNN would pay attention to a lost cause.
And only a sad, ignorant little man would take the time to whine on a website he proclaims to hold disdain for.
You are understimating their numbers.
Atheist/Agnostics encompass 15% of American population. Although I must say I do like that you site 2 Christian organizations protests to try and make your point.
Most studies put the number of Americans who have no religious beliefs at around 1/3. We're here...we're just quiet.
Thank you Antman. You are right. Many do not come forward because many religious people are intolerant of others views. It is just easier to keep quite. One grows tired of being pounded over the head by a book which was written by men and has been interpreted so many times no one really knows what it says.
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.