Although there has been criticism about using the term ‘reason’ to describe an atheist rally in Washington, I think it is an important coming out party.
The numbers show that more people than ever are growing wary of religion in politics and part of this is due to the rise in public criticism spearheaded by gnu atheists determined to push secular values into predominance in the public domain. A rally to show that there is political capital to be gained by doing this is simply part of this social evolution. As Russell Blackford writes, the purpose of the Reason Rally is to demonstrate that
It’s about secular government, a secular state – and that’s not a great secret. Secularism isn’t something that only non-believers can support. Generally speaking, it is good for believers as well – not all of them, always, in all circumstances, but very many of them, perhaps the majority in Western countries, in current circumstances. Secularism has a lot going for it apart from its appeal to those of us who reject religion.
So why wasn’t the rally called the Secular Rally? Why co-opt the term ‘reason? To address these critics, here’s Russell again:
Yes, the people who are organising the rally think of themselves as “people of reason” – so sue them. But the material makes clear that what they are organising is a rally to defend and promote secular government. There is nothing misleading about any of this, and of course they think they are the party of reason.
Mind you, for those who went to the Rally, it was also an emotional experience to be a part of a large similar-minded group of diverse people that rarely if ever congregate. For that reason alone the rally seems to have paid dividends. Even PZ Myers – the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon – says that he is happy to have been a part of it and when he watched The Friendly Atheist’s video provided below, he ‘teared up a little’. Maybe that’s because his image is a bit fuzzy when it finally appears.
Anyway, I think TFA accurately captures much of the sentiment about why it was important to hold a Reason Rally from the atheist’s perspective. Enjoy.