Reason Rally, religious freedom rally converge this weekend

In two separate events this weekend, Washington, D.C. will see a flood of protesters who say their beliefs and values … Continued

In two separate events this weekend, Washington, D.C. will see a flood of protesters who say their beliefs and values are under attack in America: religious conservatives on Friday and then
secularists and atheists the next day.

The scheduling was a strange coincidence, protest organizers say.

The Stand Up For Religious Freedom event will be held Friday in dozens of locations across the country — noon local time for all. It was prompted by the White House’s announcement earlier this year that many faith-based organizations would not be exempt from the new health care law and its mandatory coverage of contraception and other reproductive services. The rally is being organized by pro-life organizations and appears to be mostly Catholics, whose bishops have been the most vocal and visible critics of the mandate.

This is the first protest since the term “religious freedom” has come to be shorthand for problems some religious conservatives have with the Obama-backed health care law.

The Reason Rally, slated for the Mall on Saturday, is billed as the biggest gathering of atheists and other secular advocates. This movement is a quilt of groups who in the past have squabbled over language and goals: Are they simply focused on church-state separation? Rights and acceptance of the Godless? Are they atheists or non-believers?

Herb Silverman, a leader of the movement, says the rally symbolizes a new phase of unity. The groups are modeling themselves on the Religious Right and its huge success at setting asides theological differences (say, between conservative Catholics and Protestants) to focus on shared agenda items, such as opposing abortion and the removal of prayer in public schools.

“We want people to come out of the closet and show people we can be good without God,” said Silverman, who successfully sued in his home state of South Carolina to eliminate a ban on atheists holding public office.

An eclectic mix of people are scheduled to address the rally, including Bill Maher and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, who according to Silverman is the only member of Congress who has said he does not believe in God.

“We don’t out anyone, but we know of 27 other members of Congress who are atheist or agnostic, but they are afraid to say so,” he said.

Some longtime atheist-watchers say the rally will force a movement whose advocates say they represent tens of millions of Americans to cough up their numbers.

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  • Frimp13

    I’m amused by the idea of “longtime atheist-watchers.” Who are these folks and how do they not have something better to do with their time?

  • BBlanton1

    I’m amused that atheists even bother. If there is no God, why do they give a flying flip if other people believe there is? That’s like organizing to protest Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. They don’t protest Buddhists or Taoists or Muslims. That tells me there IS A GOD and that atheists are demon spawn who still believe they can divert God’s plan for humanity and “win” and ultimately destroy God. Like you said. Don’t they have lives and something better to do with their time?

  • JDale_123

    If enough idiots start wanting to dictate law based on what they claim Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy want, then I guarantee you’ll see a lot more people speaking out against believing in such drivel.

  • SusanTBergert

    Excuse me? “Atheists and non-believers’? Kinda like saying “women and females”, isn’t it? …We are gathering at the Mall because we are concerned about the well financed efforts of the Christian Right to turn our country into a theocracy ruled by a Christian Sharia that is a far cry from the teachings of Jesus. It is a hateful, selfish and greedy–excuse me–“prosperity oriented” belief system. Secular humanists believe in the Golden Rule, social and economic justice, protection of our environment, equal rights, religious freedom for ALL, and most of all separation of church and state. We are coming to DC to proclaim that we are good moral people, regardless of what power hungry televangelists orthat ex-Hitler Youth Pope would have you believe.

  • dogon3

    Nonbelievers do not usually base their assessments on what ministers and churches say. They evaluate based on reason and secular situations. When the religious come trying to impose their will based upon their “concepts” of the supernatural, there comes a conflict between the two and the nonbelievers must justify themselves in the face of unreason.

  • pierrejc2

    BBlanton1:
    You obviously have better things to do with your time than inform yourself or even think.

  • Chip_M

    “Some longtime atheist-watchers say the rally will force a movement whose advocates say they represent tens of millions of Americans to cough up their numbers.”

    I guess these “atheist-watchers” (whatever the heck they are) think that every atheist in the country will either be on the mall for the rally or they don’t exist? Critical thinking is apparently not the atheist-watcher’s forte.

  • Cassandra77

    Let’s hope the Post does a better job covering the religious freedom rally than it did the March for Life — it was so lacking that even the WaPo ombudsman conceded the point.

  • Cassandra77

    Let’s hope the Post does a better job covering the religious freedom rally than it did the March for Life — it was so lacking that even the WaPo ombudsman conceded the point.

  • larryclyons

    BBlanton1 – I’ll stop caring about fundamentalist and other religious fanatics when they stop trying to shove their religion down my throat.

  • ccnl1

    The following vitiates the need for any type of reason rally.

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

  • TruthSeeker01

    I think those in the religious industry have it right that their beliefs are under attack. Its called EDUCATION.

  • RickWatcher

    The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion not from religion.
    Our founders gave God the credit for this nation being created. That is why Benjamin Franklin, during the Constitutional Convention, made the original motion that prayers be made by local pastors before all meetings. He said in part, “If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, is it probable a nation can rise without His aid?”
    Separation of Church and State is a construct of an activist socialistic judge when he took the words of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists out of context.
    While no religion should be pushed upon anyone, Islam doesn’t believe this, neither should secularism or atheism be forced upon the people. All the court cases trying to remove all signs of God and Jesus from view is just proof of where our fore parents stood concerning God. They felt He should be involved in all aspects of life and they gave Him the glory through art work and writings they created throughout history and the nation, and that is exactly why our nation rose to be the greatest nation on earth.
    It has been the removal of God from public life that has brought us most of the troubles we are having. Wisdom and knowledge is a gift from God even if you don’t want to admit it and since his removal mans thinking is becoming more and more foolish and it’s dividing the people and destroying the nation.
    Better learn the truth before it’s too late.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” – Ben Franklin, Deist

    “Priests…dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.” Thomas Jefferson, Deist (to put it mildly)

    “My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.” – Abraham Lincoln (apparently not a Christian)

    “I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).” – Thomas Paine, Deist

    You are mistaken. The greatest political minds in this nation’s history simply had the clairvoyance to navigate the idiocy of a majority religionist population, hoping that knowledge would one day catch up to superstition. You are alone. There is no intelligent voice, past or present, that shares your point of view.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    And keep in mind the views of our founders were limited by the accident of their pre-Darwinian births, and the fact that a full renunciation of religion would have been political suicide. Imagine what they might have dared to say about the Great Lie if they had lived in later times.

  • Sara121

    How can you have freedom of your religion if you do not also have freedom from others’ religions? They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. The point of secularism is to ensure that no particular religion is privileged, especially in such a way that would infringe on other’s rights.

  • Sara121

    How can you have freedom of your religion if you do not also have freedom from others’ religions? They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. The point of secularism is to ensure that no particular religion is privileged, especially in such a way that would infringe on other’s rights.

  • SusanTBergert

    In fact, Jesus may never have existed. If he did his story was embellished by borrowing as you said from other religions popular at the time. One such god was born on De 25, he was visited by wise men, he was a son of a god (like lots of other “heroes” at the time, and he was even sacrificed. It wasn’t Jesus!

  • ccnl1

    Some added reasoning- (only for the newcomers)

    THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    “Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah.”

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this “tin-kerbell” got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other “no-namers” to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these “pretty wingie/horn blowing thingies” to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

  • ccnl1

    From Professors Crossan and Watts’ book, Who is Jesus.

    “That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

    “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus’ followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

    “While the brute fact that of Jesus’ death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. ”

    “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

    I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those “last week” details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered.”

    See also Professor Crossan’s reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

    Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

    Part of Crossan’s The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

    There is a

  • DanaB1

    “If there is no God, why do they give a flying flip if other people believe there is?”

    Because other people don’t just “believe there is,” they try to pass laws to force everyone to live the way they declare their god wants. They try to keep our kids from being taught real science in the public schools. They want things posted in government buildings like public schools and courthouses that affirm that belief in god even though not everyone shares it. And they harass, intimidate, discriminate against and demonize those of us who don’t share their belief.

  • ReadThinkAct

    Bottom line: Nobody has come back to America from the dead to let us know who is right or wrong. Based upon personal experiences I have had plenty of what I would call evidence that God does exist, and therefore, I have a confirmed belief in God and I rely on Him. However, a very dear friend of mine is a confirmed atheist. I was raised by a devout Catholic Christian father who had had no “religion” when he was growing up; she was raised by a firmly atheistic father. When the going gets tough, she calls on me and asks me to pray for her, with a promise that she will keep her fingers crossed when I am in need of support during a rough time. We are there for one another, even though our belief systems could not be more different. Apparently, she does not need a higher power in her life to keep her on the path of goodness; I choose to believe in God, based on amazing events in my life that defy reason. I believe in the power of God, and I do need God, but I respect my atheist friend and I defend her right to have her own belief system. She feels the same way about me, and we have both been pro-active about issues for the common good. She lives a good, clean life. Do I wish she were a believer? Of course, but I have no business trying to persuade her to change what she holds firmly in her heart. We both understand the meaning of mutual respect.

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