Saturday March 24th, 2012, “We’re here…. We’re Godless, Get used to it!” The roar is said to be heard far past the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., young and old screaming with the same hoarse pride and excitement. Thousands of people, dance and sing at the National Mall, some rugged faced, some smiling pleasantly, many young, many old, all wet but somehow undeterred from gathering.
This is the Reason Rally. The largest gathering of non-believers in the world, held in order to encourage non-believers to come out publically, to oust stereotypes, promote awareness that atheists exist in all demographics, genders and come from all backgrounds and political persuasions.
Numerous polls, as speakers pointed out, show that atheists and the non-religious are the least trusted group in America. Dawkins, James Randi, Eddie Izzard, and Taslima Nasrin all echoed the sentiment of political activism to erode negative associations with atheism.
Atheism has moved in the last ten years from the subject of controversy to the subject of public intellectuals, like the late Christopher Hitchens. Numerous books, Documentaries and even films have come out in defense of atheistic beliefs. What was once the flag of shock rock is the label of your doctors, coworkers, neighbors, and family. “You already know us, and you already love us” a speaker pointed out. The crowd lets out a joyful cheer.
One of the many Southern Marylanders in attendance was Marybeth Baumgartner. Years ago, a younger Marybeth Baumgartner, reading the biography on the cover of a novel, chanced upon the word “atheist” having never seen it before, she found a dictionary and moments latter self-identified with the word, this description has stuck with the 21 year old college student for some time. Now standing with thousands of others, atheists, agnostics, non-theists, anti-theists and every breed of non-believer the crowd begins to another chant.