Reason Rally 2012

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Reason Rally 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][2]

It was held in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2012. In June 2016, Reason Rally 2016 was held. See also: Reason Rally

According to the Religion News Service 8,000-10,000 people showed up for the rally.[3] The Atlantic reported 20,000 individuals were in attendance.[4] The documentary The Unbelievers purports that over 30,000 people attended the rally.[5]

Large atheist/agnostic gatherings such as the Reason Rally are rare due to the apathy of many atheists (see: Atheism and apathy).

Reason Rally 2012 was not the largest secular event in world history

Although Reason Rally 2012 was billed as the largest secular event in world history, strictly speaking that is not accurate. Communist countries have embraced state atheism. And Marxist-Leninism along with Maoism explicitly adhered to the atheist worldview and communist countries have engaged in militant atheism and religious persecution (see: Atheism and communism).[6] China still engages in religious persecution. Communist countries had large/massive rallies. For example, at Tiananmen Square during the Cultural Revolution, the atheist Mao Zedong greeted 1,500 Red Guards and waved to 800,000 Red Guards and spectators below. [7]

During the Cultural Revolution, a new form of militant atheism made great efforts to eradicate religion completely.[8][9] Under this militant atheism espoused by Mao Zedong, houses of worship were shut down; Buddhist pagodas, Daoist temples, Christian churches, and Muslim mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; and sacred texts were burnt.[8][9] Moreover, it was a criminal offence to even possess a religious artifact or sacred text.[8] The death toll in 20th Cenutry China attributable to Mao Tse-Tsung's "Great Leap Forward" is estimated by reputable sources "to be as high as forty million."[10] However, following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, many former policies towards religious freedom returned although they are limited and tenuous, as religion is closely regulated by the government.[8]

Historically, the atheist population has tended to lean leftward in their politics (See: Atheism and politics and Secular left). According to the University of Cambridge, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[11]

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 2012 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.”[1]

Reason Rally 2012 related incident involving David Silverman and Richard Dawkins

See also: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins and Atheist factions

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 Reason Rally 2012:

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 Attendees weight management practices compared to African gospel crusade attendees

African Christians clapping at an open-air meeting. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[16] The traditional African diet is healthier than many Western World invividuals' diets and Africa has some of the lowest obesity rates in the world.[17][18] In recent years, Christianity has seen a rapid growth in Africa.[19] See: Global atheism and Atheist population

See also: Atheism and obesity and Atheism and health

When one compares pictures the attendees of the Reason Rally 2012 with attendees of the 2014 Cfan Christ For All Nations gospel crusade held in Barundi, Africa, there was a significant higher proportion of attendees of the Reason Rally who were overweight/obese.[20] According to medical science, excess weight/obesity poses serious health risks.

The traditional African diet is healthier than many Western World invividuals' diets and Africa has some of the lowest obesity rates in the world.[17][18] In recent years, Christianity has seen a rapid growth in Africa.[19] In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[16]

In the journal article Religion, self-regulation, and self-control: Associations, explanations, and implications, psychologists McCullough and Willoughby theorize that many of the positive links of religiousness with health and social behavior may be caused by religion's beneficial influences on self-control/self-regulation.[21][22] Furthermore, a 2012 Queen's University study published in Psychological Science found that religion replenishes self-control.[23] Also, numerous studies indicate that those who engage in regular spiritual practices have lower mortality rates.[24][25]

According to the Gallup Inc., "Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious."[26]

For more information, please see: Atheism and obesity

There is considerable amount of scientific evidence that suggest that theism is more conducive to mental and physical health than atheism [27] See also: Atheism and health

Reason Rally 2012 crowd size

See also: Global atheism and Atheist movement

Although Reason Rally 2012 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.[28] 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."[29]

Atheist activists exaggerating the number of atheists in America

In 2012, the organization PolitiFact Rhode Island accused American Atheists president David Silverman of wildly exaggerating the number of atheists in America by attempting to included the Unaffiliated (also called Nones) who made up about 15% of the United States population at the time (despite the fact that only 15 percent of "nones" identify as atheists) and by also attempting to lump agnostics with the atheist population.[30][31]

According to PolitiFact Rhode Island:

When the American Religious survey asked people what they thought of the existence of God, 2.3 percent said 'There is no such thing.'...When Pew asked a broader question -- "Do you believe in God or a universal spirit?" -- 5 percent said "No."[30]

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) found that only 0.7% of U.S. adults identified as atheist, but at the same time 2.3% said there is no such thing as a god.[32] The reluctance of Americans to self-identify as atheists is likely due to the American public's low opinion of atheists (See: Americans have a low opinion of atheists).

The atheist Georgetown professor Jacques Berlinerblau likens the strength of the American atheist movement to a "gimpy little zebra".[33]

The atheist Georgetown professor Jacques Berlinerblau declared:

American atheist movements, though fancying themselves a lion, are more like the gimpy little zebra crossing the river full of crocs. In terms of both political gains and popular appeal, nonbelievers in the United States have little to show. They are encircled by cunning, swarming [religious] Revivalist adversaries who know how to play the atheist card. The gimpy zebra remark was a little goofing on this over-the-top chest-thumping that emerges from Movement Atheists. They wildly overestimate their numbers. They tend to overestimate the efficacy of their activism. They underestimate how disciplined and organized their adversaries in the religious right are, too. They fail to recognize that mocking religious people in public is entirely inimical to the goals they wish to achieve."[33]

See also


External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Is mocking religion enough? Harris, Dawkins and the future of atheist/secular politics by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, Salon magazine
  2. Reason Rally - American Humanist Association
  3. Winston, Kimberly (March 24, 2012). "Atheists Rally On National Mall; The 'Reason Rally' Largest Gathering Of Nonbelievers (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  4. Benjamin Fearnow & Mickey Woods, "Richard Dawkins Preaches to Nonbelievers at Reason Rally", The Atlantic, March 24, 2012.
  5. Gus Holwerda, "The Unbelievers" April 2013
  6. China’s Communist Party Reaffirms Marxism, Maoism, Atheism
  7. (Chinese) 倪天祚, "毛主席八次接见红卫兵的组织工作" 中国共产党新闻网 2011-04-07
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Seeking a complete annihilation of religion, places of worship were shut down; temples, churches, and mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; sacred texts were burnt; and it was a criminal offence even to possess a religious artifact or sacred text. Atheism had long been the official doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party, but this new form of militant atheism made every effort to eradicate religion completely.” 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bryan S. Turner. Religion and Modern Society: Citizenship, Secularisation and the State. Cambridge University Press. “The contrast between religion in American and militant atheism in China could not have been more stark or profound. While the Red Guards under Mao Zedong's leadership were busy destroying Buddhist pagodas, Catholic churches and Daoist temples, the Christian Right were equally busy condemning the communists.” 
  10. Robert Stearns (1 October 2011). No, We Can't: Radical Islam, Militant Secularism and the Myth of Coexistence. Chosen Books. ISBN 0800795202. “Reputable sources estimate the death toll in twentieth-century China to be as high as forty million, attributed directly to Mao Tse-Tung's "Great Leap Forward."” 
  11. Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  12. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  13. Atheist rally continues in spite of rain; students highlighted throughout by By Dan Merica, CNN
  14. Rain soaked crowd at the Reason Rally, Digital Journal, photographer: Sean Fraser, date: 3/24/2012
  15. Reason Rally: 30k godless undeterred by rain, Examiner, March 25, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  17. 17.0 17.1 World's fattest countries
  18. 18.0 18.1 Traditional African diets are healthier than Western diets, Today's Nutrition
  19. 19.0 19.1 The African apostles: How Christianity exploded in 20th-century Africa
  20. Religion, Self-Regulation, and Self-Control: Associations, Explanations, and Implications
  22. Religious involvement and mortality: a meta-analytic review. McCullough ME, Hoyt WT, Larson DB, Koenig HG, Thoresen C., Health Psychol. 2000 May;19(3):211-22.
  23. The role of spirituality in health care, roc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2001 October; 14(4): 352–357.
  25. McCullogh ME, Larson DB, Hoyt WT. et al. (2000). Religious involvement and mortality: a meta-analytic review. Health Psychology. 19, 3. 211-222
  26. [2]
  27. KCCI8 News - On this day: August 28, UPDATED 1:00 AM CDT Aug 28, 2014
  28. 30.0 30.1 American Atheists President David Silverman says there are twice as many atheists in U.S. as Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists combined By C. Eugene Emery Jr. on Sunday, February 26th, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.
  29. Meet the 'Nones:' Spiritual but not religious
  30. Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, [3], March 2009, American Religious Identification Survey [ARIS 2008], Trinity College
  31. 33.0 33.1 Professor Jacques Berlinerblau tells atheists: Stop whining!, Christian Century, Sep 14, 2012 by Kimberly Winston