Today, June 4th, The Reason Rally is happening at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, and it will (perhaps) be the biggest gathering of non-religious people in history. When last held in 2012 roughly about 30,000 people turned up, so on that basis the estimate is for a similar sized crowd.
I wish I could be there, but alas, it is way too far away across the Atlantic.
So what is driving it all?
The goal of Reason Rally 2016 is to showcase the presence and power of the nonreligious voting bloc, and to demand that reason be put at the forefront of our public and political discourse. We want to excite and empower attendees about that message so they bring it back home and apply it at the local and state levels.
Not only are we celebrating our secular, atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinking, and nonreligious identities, we are preparing to exercise our power at the voting box to bring good sense back to government. But Reason Rally 2016 is first and foremost a celebration — we’ll have awesome speakers, bands, entertainment, and political leaders — all there to celebrate and support the secular community.
Who is Speaking?
Lots of well known names …
- James Randi, Bill Nye, Carolyn Porco (leader of the imaging team on NASA’s Cassini Project), John de Lancie (the guy who played Q on Star Trek), Lawrence Krauss, Penn Jillette, Julia Sweeney, Kelly Carlin (daughter of the late comedian George Carlin) …
… and many many more, you can find the full list here.
It is Washington, so there are some politicians on the speakers list as well …
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Dem.-HI) was elected in 2012 to the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii’s 2nd District. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress
- Rep. Bobby Scott who is currently serving his twelfth term in the Virginia General Assembly
Who is Funding this?
The sponsors include many atheist, secular, and humanist organizations from right across the US. See the full list here.
Is it just the gathering today in the Mall?
Nope, there is a full schedule spread out over 4 days … details here.
The Inevitable Reactions
Various religious groups have plans to turn up. Ray Comfort, the well-known apologist, better known as the banana man, apparently had plans for 1,000 Christians to turn up, but was told by the Police that he needed a permit and would not be getting one to do that. What will happen is that it will all play out in the ever so predictable manner, picture in your mind megaphone-wielding Christians carrying enormous crosses, ridiculing the attendees, and urging conversion. The response will be a crowd of 30,000 simply ignoring them or rolling their eyes.
The attempts to convert people from using reason to superstition might appear to be rather pointless, but the truth is that Mr Comfort is not too concerned about that. His primary motive is to be recorded on camera doing things such as this, and that then ensures that he can maintain a constant flow of donations from those that support him.
A rally such as this in Washington DC sends a very clear message.
Almost 1 out of even 4 people in the US now identifies as non-religious and yet there is nobody representing them or their interests. A voting block that is now almost 50 million strong has a potentially huge impact, and if those in office continue to marginalise them, then they will find that this quiet revolution will soon drum them out of office.