Reason Rally

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David Silverman at Reason Rally 2012.

The first Reason Rally held in 2012 was billed as the largest secular event in world history, but this claim was not accurate (see: Reason Rally 2012 was not the largest secular event in world history).[1]

It was held in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2012. Reason Rally 2012 was followed by Reason Rally 2016.

According to the Religion News Service 8,000-10,000 people showed up for Reason Rally 2012.[2] The Atlantic reported 20,000 individuals were in attendance.[3] The documentary The Unbelievers purports that over 30,000 people attended the rally.[4]

Large atheist gatherings such as the Reason Rally are rare due to the apathy of many atheists (see: Atheism and apathy). In addition, in recent years, international cooperation among atheists has been low (see: Atheism and international cooperation among atheists).

Reason Rally 2016

The Reason Rally 2016 is a followup to the 2012 Reason Rally. Like the original Reason Rally in 2012, it was held in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2012.

Far smaller turnout than 2012 Reason Rally

Atheist Hemant Mehta wrote:

But one of the storylines coming out of the event is that, compared to the ,,,people who showed up in 2012, this Rally brought together far fewer people...

That wasn’t supposed to happen. ...there was no rain this time around, and there were big-name celebrities on the speaking roster (though some of the most famous people on the list, including Johnny Depp, Margaret Cho, and Richard Dawkins, couldn’t ultimately participate for a variety of reasons).

No official crowd estimates have been released. But even in the early afternoon, when the crowd was likely at its peak, nothing I saw suggested “15,000 to 20,000” in attendance, as the organizers told Religion News Service. I’d put the range at about half of that, but we’ll see.

YouTube atheist Thunderfoot said about the atheist movement after Reason Rally 2016 had a very low turnout:

I'm not sure there is anything in this movement worth saving. Hitchens is dead. Dawkins simply doesn't have the energy for this sort of thing anymore. Harris went his own way. And Dennett just kind of blended into the background. So what do you think when the largest gathering of the nonreligious in history pulls in... I don't know. Maybe 2,000 people. Is there anything worth saving?[5]

Quality of public speakers at Reason Rally 2016

See also: Atheism and public speaking and Atheist conferences

The news website Vox reported about Reason Rally 2016:

It is clear, too, that almost nobody who takes the stage at Reason Rally was ever trained as a preacher. The whole thing is languid, urgent words in measured tones. The goal is an "end to bigotry," in the pitch of a polite request, to "reject" a supernatural worldview with all the force of tepid applause. Jamie Raskin says the job of politicians is to "listen to scientists" and closes with "Put your thinking caps on America!" Penn Jillette struggles to get a video playing, chokes up over Hitchens, then plays a Bob Dylan knockoff about his love for all people. The Amazing Randi devotes half an hour to a muted jeremiad against the obscure "facilitated communication" hoax. Peter says he does not know what "FC" is, but he'll look into it.[6]

Reason Rally and lack of diversity

Reason Rally 2016 and lack of diversity in terms of attendants

Thunderf00t estimates that there was a 2 to 1 ration as far as men to women attending Reason Rally 2016.[7]

Reason Rally 2016 speakers and lack of satisfactory diversity

See also: Atheism and diversity and Western atheism and race and Atheism and women

Lyz Liddell, the Executive Director of the Reason Rally Coalition declared about the Reason Rally and its lack of sufficient diversity:

Again, I want to be careful here because I don’t want to point fingers at any one volunteer or group of volunteers. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the messages that the Reason Rally sends, and I take full responsibility for the response you received. It was not our finest moment.

We discussed how the email that you received came off as somewhat defensive in its attempts to make our speaker lineup appear diverse when it is, at the moment, a bit monochromatic. As an organization, we are upfront about the fact that, at the moment, the speaker lineup on our site is not as diverse as we want it to be. My team agreed that the key piece of information missing in the message sent to you was that we have a lot of outstanding invitations that, when accepted, will make the list of speakers much more diverse.[8]

Reason Rally 2016 opened with an off key gay men's choir

In a video, Thunderf00t points out that the Reason Rally 2016 opened up with an off key gay men's choir.[9]

Eric Hovind vs. Thunderf00t discussion at Reason Rally 2016

See: Eric Hovind vs. Thunderf00t at the Reason Rally

Reason Rally 2012

See also: Reason Rally 2012

Reason Rally 2012 and the mocking of religious beliefs

See also: Atheism and mockery

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins speaking at the Reason Rally.

Salon magazine described the Reason Rally thusly:

Right from the start, the 2012 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., set the tone that was to dominate the rest of the day. As the crowd was filtering in to the National Mall, a band fired up the crowd with a rousing song that lampooned the belief in “Jesus coming again,” mixing it with sexual innuendo. As the assembled crowd clapped and sang along to other songs satirizing religion, a large costumed puppet figure of Jesus danced among spectators. “We’re not here to bash anyone’s faith, but if it happens, it happens,” comedian and master of ceremonies Paul Provenza announced to laughter and applause at the outset of the event. The bashing and attacks on religion, mainly Christianity (in its evangelical and Catholic forms), happened as much if not more than positive portrayals of secularism and were in sync with new atheist leader and scientist Richard Dawkins’s advice to “mock and ridicule” people’s beliefs. When one of the authors asked an official from the Secular Students Alliance, a group prominent in organizing the event, about whether the ridiculing of religion was productive, he answered, “This is what we do.”[10]

Reason Rally 2012 related incident involving David Silverman and Richard Dawkins

See also: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins and Atheist factions

David Silverman took feminist Rebecca Watson off the speakers list for the Reason Rally after Richard Dawkins objected to her speaking at the event.[11] See: Elevatorgate

An article by Sarah posted at Skepchick about a conversation between Richard Dawkins and David Silverman (ex-president of the American Atheists organization), which took place during the planning phase of the Reason Rally:

Richard was standing behind the podium, and he asked Dave something along the lines of, “What exactly is the Reason Rally?” Dave started explaining it, and as he did, someone who was waiting in the line outside opened the door to peek inside and we could all hear a lot of noise. I rushed up the aisle and made frantic “shut the door” gestures at the people peeking inside, and they did. As I walked the ten feet back, I couldn’t hear everything Dave was saying, but I heard the name “Rebecca Watson.” Richard suddenly had a very angry look on his face and I heard him almost shout, “No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.” and then Dave immediately replied, “You’re absolutely right, we’ll take her off the roster. It’s done.” Richard huffed for a moment, Dave continued to placate him, and then he made the video.

I was crushed.[12]

For more information, please see: Elevatorgate

Rain and the Reason Rally 2012

See also: Atheism and the suppression of science and List of atheist and agnostic pseudosciences and Christianity and science

According to CNN, the Reason Rally experienced rain due to thunderstorms moving through the area at the time of the event.[13] Despite the wide availability of weather forecasts provided by meteorological scientists, pictures from the rally show that a large percentage of the crowd was rain soaked due to a great many of the attendees not having umbrellas and/or rain gear for the event.[14][15]

Reason Rally 2012 crowd size

See also: Global atheism and Atheist movement

Although the rally was billed as "the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history" and many American atheists claiming that they are an oppressed minority (See Atheist whining), atheists/agnostics appear not to have been able to generate the crowd at the Reason Rally that Glenn Beck was able to gather for his Restoring Honor Rally.[16] KCCI8 News reported concerning the Restoring Honor Rally, "A scientific estimate placed the crowd size around 87,000, while media reports varied dramatically from tens of thousands to 500,000."[17]


See also


External links


  1. Winston, Kimberly (March 24, 2012). "Atheists Rally On National Mall; The 'Reason Rally' Largest Gathering Of Nonbelievers (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  2. Benjamin Fearnow & Mickey Woods, "Richard Dawkins Preaches to Nonbelievers at Reason Rally", The Atlantic, March 24, 2012.
  3. Gus Holwerda, "The Unbelievers" April 2013
  4. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  5. American atheists are on the rise. They have radically different visions of the future, Vox
  6. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the video on the web page
  7. Reason Rally 2016 Interview with Lyz Liddell
  8. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the second video on the web page
  9. Is mocking religion enough? Harris, Dawkins and the future of atheist/secular politics by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, Salon magazine
  10. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  11. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  12. Atheist rally continues in spite of rain; students highlighted throughout by By Dan Merica, CNN
  13. Rain soaked crowd at the Reason Rally, Digital Journal, photographer: Sean Fraser, date: 3/24/2012
  14. Reason Rally: 30k godless undeterred by rain, Examiner, March 25, 2012
  15. [1]
  16. KCCI8 News - On this day: August 28, UPDATED 1:00 AM CDT Aug 28, 2014