The first Reason Rally held in 2012 was billed as the largest secular event in world history. 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. The Atlantic reported 20,000 individuals were in attendance. The documentary The Unbelievers purports that over 30,000 people attended the rally.
Large atheist gatherings such as the Reason Rally are rare due to the apathy of many atheists (see: Atheism and apathy).
- 1 Reason Rally 2016
- 1.1 Far smaller turnout than 2012 Reason Rally
- 1.2 Quality of public speakers at Reason Rally 2016
- 1.3 Reason Rally and lack of diversity
- 1.4 Reason Rally 2016 opened with an off key gay men's choir
- 2 Reason Rally 2012
- 2.1 Reason Rally 2012 and the mocking of religious beliefs
- 2.2 Reason Rally 2012 related incident involving David Silverman and Richard Dawkins
- 2.3 Rain and the Reason Rally 2012
- 2.4 Reason Rally 2012 crowd size
- 2.5 Reason Rally 2012 was not the largest secular event in world history
- 3 See also
- 4 External links
- 5 References
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.
|“||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?||”|
Quality of public speakers at Reason Rally 2016
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.||”|
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.
Reason Rally 2016 speakers and lack of satisfactory diversity
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.
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.
Reason Rally 2012
Reason Rally 2012 and the mocking of religious beliefs
See also: Atheism and mockery
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.”||”|
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.
For more information, please see: Elevatorgate
Rain and the Reason Rally 2012
According to CNN, the Reason Rally experienced rain due to thunderstorms moving through the area at the time of the event. 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.
Reason Rally 2012 crowd size
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. 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."
Reason Rally 2012 was not the largest secular event in world history
Although the Reason Rally 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). 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. 
During the Cultural Revolution, a new form of militant atheism made great efforts to eradicate religion completely. 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. Moreover, it was a criminal offence to even possess a religious artifact or sacred text. 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." 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.
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."
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.
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."||”|
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. 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 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."||”|
- Is mocking religion enough? Harris, Dawkins and the future of atheist/secular politics by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, Salon magazine
- Reason Rally - American Humanist Association
- Winston, Kimberly (March 24, 2012). "Atheists Rally On National Mall; The 'Reason Rally' Largest Gathering Of Nonbelievers (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- Benjamin Fearnow & Mickey Woods, "Richard Dawkins Preaches to Nonbelievers at Reason Rally", The Atlantic, March 24, 2012.
- Gus Holwerda, "The Unbelievers" April 2013
- Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
- American atheists are on the rise. They have radically different visions of the future, Vox
- Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the video on the web page
- Reason Rally 2016 Interview with Lyz Liddell
- Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the second video on the web page
- Is mocking religion enough? Harris, Dawkins and the future of atheist/secular politics by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, Salon magazine
- My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
- Atheist rally continues in spite of rain; students highlighted throughout by By Dan Merica, CNN
- Rain soaked crowd at the Reason Rally, Digital Journal, photographer: Sean Fraser, date: 3/24/2012
- Reason Rally: 30k godless undeterred by rain, Examiner, March 25, 2012
- KCCI8 News - On this day: August 28, UPDATED 1:00 AM CDT Aug 28, 2014
- China’s Communist Party Reaffirms Marxism, Maoism, Atheism
- (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
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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."”
- 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.”
- 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.
- Meet the 'Nones:' Spiritual but not religious
- Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, , March 2009, American Religious Identification Survey [ARIS 2008], Trinity College
- Professor Jacques Berlinerblau tells atheists: Stop whining!, Christian Century, Sep 14, 2012 by Kimberly Winston