What We Saw at the Reason Rally in Washington, DC

| headed down to the National Mall for the Reason Rally (no affiliation!) in Washington, DC. The March 24 event was billed as the "largest gathering of the secular movement in world history" and drew a several thousand-strong crowd of damp, enthusiastic unbelievers (and a few protesting believers) to the National Mall. asked a few of these folks why they bothered to gather on a rainy Saturday.

Produced by Joshua Swain, interviews by Lucy Steigerwald

Approximately 2.47 minutes long. 

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  1. Damn, the guy in the video already Godwinned us.

    1. I like how the lifers will comment on almost anything.

    2. Hitler believed the earth revolves around the sun and that he looked good in black, ergo....

  2. "We even love you, you jerk!


    1. I think he said jackass

  3. And Lucy gets dissed by the humanist too? That's like a perfect analogy for how libertarianism fits into the left/right divide. So unfair.

    1. Was that the "Oh, you are a teapartier" comment? Love the way this band of atheists demonstrates their intellectualism.

      The Black Christian man made the most sense of all, which really was a tall limbo bar to duck.

      1. It was just one moronic lady. Not necessarily a representative sample of the group.

        1. I don't think she was moronic. She just jumped to an unjustified conclusion.

          We all make mistakes, moronic man.

          (Look at me.)

  4. Is this what an Atheist revival looks like?

  5. Wow, that was sooo insightful! Really Reason, many of your supporters and the posters here are nonbelievers (to a proportion much higher than the general population if my informal poll is to be believed), yet this is the best segment you could put together?

    Oh, well libertarians and non-theists both get no respect, even from each other. First they came for the atheist and Reason sent some young'n to ask inane questions...then they came for the Libertarians and the surviving atheists cheered as the "tea baggers!" were taken away. Then Santorum got elected.

    1. This inane youngin is not super keen on a debate, but all I ask for you to realize is that 1) Christians are going to accuse us of making them look stupid and 2) this is not the entire event, this is a dozen interviews with people at an event which Josh Swain had to then edit, make as engaging as possible, and release, all in about five hours. We can't tell the whole story and that's not the point sometimes.

      1. There's nothing "inane" about open-ended questions eliciting maximum spontaneity. Bluntly, I prefer this to the journalists who try to ask long-winded questions in the mistaken impression that it makes them look clever.

        1. Could have been a few more questions like, "Why don't you believe in a God?" "Would you like atheists to have any political influence? What would that be?" "Who do you think are the most odious believers out there? Why?" "Do you distinguish at all between fundamentalists and religious liberals?"
          But an okay interview.

          1. Speaking of inane questions:

            "Why don't you believe in a God?"
            Does a person really need to explain why they don't believe in a fairy tale?

            "Would you like atheists to have any political influence?
            "ANY influence"? Really? This implies that at present, atheists have NO political influence.

            1. "Does a person really need to explain why they don't believe in a fairy tale?"
              At a conference or march about that subject, it seems relevant. And since believers,which is most people, don't assume it's a fairy tale, that could also be relevant.
              As for the second question, it's a lead into the 3rd question, "What sort of influence would you like" which assumes that not all atheists are statists, so it would be interesting (for some) to see how different sort of atheists view the state.

            2. "Why don't you believe in a God?"
              Does a person really need to explain why they don't believe in a fairy tale?

              What an amazing comment of substantive reason!

              Seriously, Chesterton would have handed you your ass back in the day.

      2. But in your editing the most civil voice that made the cut was from the Black Christian gentleman.

      3. Don't listen to these chumps, Lucy. I think you did a fine job, once again in semi-hostile territory. I feel like you keep get the short straw on these field assignments though.

        1. Are you nuts? I love this! Any time I get to work with I feel like a bad-ass!

          Thanks, though.

        2. She has to earn her stripes.

          1. She's well on her way. I want to be invited to the graduation ceremony where she earns the right to touch the blessed jacket and receive the monocle of greatness.

      4. is it just me or is that guy with the bad religion shirt the same guy who had the good rush/bad rush shirt who got skooled by Cavanaugh?

        1. never mind, the bad religion guy is younger.

      5. Lucy, I liked the piece. But wouldn't it have been better and easier to edit if you had made it 10-15 minutes long?

        Also, I really wish you looked like the character who's always pulling the football out from beneath Charlie Brown.

        But it's okay, you're still a good person in my book.

    2. I don't expect Reason to try to put together pieces that make me feel good by showing homage to my religion.

    3. This is very much like OTHER videos they've done where they just go around asking people questions. Like this one on a teacher's union rally. It's not meant to be a full-fledged article on the event, it's just literally what they saw there. They go around, ask a bunch of questions, then edit together the most interesting bits. Nothing more, nothing less.

      1. I'm still shocked that the Crypt Keeper is teaching after all these years.

  6. When you have to tell people you're a "free-thinker", you probably aren't.

    1. I hate it when people who are nonreligious but worship the state call themselves free-thinkers. I do have two libertarian-ish atheist friends attending the event, but it still annoys me when they label themselves "free-thinkers" just because they are atheists.

      1. I hate it when I am told my rationalism is a religion.

        My deity is not a fake one like in religion. It is liberty and knowledge.

        If those are a "religion" so be it.

        1. My deity is not fake! Obama is real, dammit!

    2. My thinking is shackled. It yearns to be free but faces naught but endless servitude.

      1. Yes, alas, your thinking is shackled to magnetic resonance fields and the deterministic flow of electrons through your brain's synapses. Don't worry, though: we'll find the swerving of atoms Epicurus asserted to us any day now. Neuroscience shall prove that free will exists and that the brain secretes morality!

        1. No it won't, you raving imbecile! Neuroscience has already proved that you have no free will, and therefore no choice but to be whatever kind of raving imbecile you turn out to be.

          1. Neuroscience=Calvinism?

      2. Don't you worship at the alter of Sabermetrics?

  7. I kept waiting for the part where the whole assembly chanted "I'm a freethinker" in unison.

    1. Some group gesture stuff to go with that would be good, too.

    2. Yes! We are all individuals!!

      1. I'm not!

    3. O all-powerful Atheismo, we beseech thee! Free us from thought and responsibility.

      1. Done, and done! Now prepare to be reprogrammed, you raving imbeciles!

  8. Like any good liberal, I need to know the racial breakdown of this event (excluding the pro-Sky-Daddy counter-protesters, of course).

    Because if there was not a "critical mass" of "atheists of color" I'll be forced to conclude that the freethinker movement is RACIST!

    1. Followers of Jesus appear to be 50% African-American.

    2. Keith Olbermann said Black people voluntarily attending anything is no proof that the group is not racist. He did not say what real proof is, so he took Janean Garafalo's "racism straight up" word for it. Who says commies are not scientific?

      1. Keith Olbermann said Black people voluntarily attending anything is no proof that the group is not racist. He did not say what real proof is, so he took Janean Garafalo's "racism straight up" word for it.

        Really Suki...three words is more than sufficient for any article that references both Keith Olbermann and Janean Garafalo.

        1. To Olbermann, any even slightly-black non-liberal = teh stoopid Uncle Tom.

          Oh, and fuck Garafalo with a used dildo.

  9. "Produced by Joshua Swain, interviews by Lucy Steigerwald"

    Hey, I was hoping Joshua Swain would do the interviews!

    Who's with me? Anyone?

    1. Chirp chirp

      1. Silence is golden.

  10. The Gwar guy is playing Jesus. Woezer!

  11. If there's one quality that defines atheists, it's their complete lack of a desire to organise and the general lack of a group identity with other atheists.

    Probably the single biggest difference from religious folk, who instantly feel a common bond with a complete stranger upon learning they share common beliefs.

    1. Not to mention the open-mindedness of the older woman, who though not a libertarian, was willing to learn, being a freethinking nondogmatic type of person after all.

      1. Being an atheist only makes you correct about that one thing in particular, it doesn't make you a "free thinker" or right about anything else just because you don't believe.

      2. Gatherings of people in D.C. for reasons of creed or activism tend to be rather inane.

        It does seem foolish that the organisers of this event didn't spread some kind of literacy about the "other" Reason, which has been around over 40 years and whose foundation's goals certainly have a fair bit of crossover with atheist movements.

        1. Unfortunately, many atheists aren't libertarians, so I doubt they'd want to give "the other" Reason any airtime.

  12. Somebody should shoot that nice family in the hoodies.

    1. It's only a matter of time.

    2. Geraldo was busy with another engagement this weekend,

    3. I wish all atheists were apatheists.

      1. I could care less either way šŸ˜‰

  13. That wasn't a complete waste. Lucy is cute, and the "tea party" lady was funny.

  14. Kennedy was on the "Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin" side, why didn't you interview her?

  15. I watched it on mute first, to see who's assholes and who's not without my being entirely prejudiced by what dumb shit they said. Lucy and black Jesus guy seem cool. Everyone else is fuckheads.

    And oh?as a Muslim, I too want the Jews out me bloomers. So that chick's OK, too, I guess.

      1. Just brilliant.

      2. That was pretty damn funny.

        1. I hate larry david and I thought that was funny.

          On a similar note:

          white guys really dig middle eastern chicks (and other fascinating data):

          1. Based on my white guy anecdotal experience 100% of persian chicks are hot and persian halfsies are super hot.

            So don't bomb bomb bomb Iran.

            1. you mean girls who are half Persian?

              Because there are circles where it might be thought that you were voicing a fondness for Persian partially transgendered men.

              1. I though he was talking about persian hobbits.



    Surely there was SOMEONE out there more deserving of a heart than the Douchebag of Liberty.

    1. Politicians are more important than you and me.

      1. Politicians are Dick Cheney is more important than losers like you and me.

    2. Tough! He got it, and someone else didn't. The universe doesn't care who's more or less deserving of a heart. When are you atheist moralists going to realize that in this amoral deterministic universe of yours, the laws of physics dictate that crap floats and gold sinks?

  17. I think Reason video coverage of demonstrations like this mainly show that intelligent people generally have something better to do on weekends than standing around listening to lousy speeches and musical acts.

    1. Good point. They should have picked a weekday DC so the really smart people who should be at "work" can comment.

  18. Arbeit Macht Frei

  19. "I don't have morals. I have ethics."

    Not bad.

    1. Aren't ethics what happens when someone tries to take morals and turn them into a consistent set of prescriptive guidelines?

      like, medical ethics, legal ethics, business ethics, etc...

      So what he's saying, is, he's a sheep. You don't need religion to have morals. In fact, I'd argue religions are more often than not ethical systems.

      1. Not really. You can have personal ethics - your own prescriptive guidelines. How I decide to interact with the outside world.

        1. yeah, the point is that ethics are codified as a set of rules of action based on the situation; the moral system are first principles that can be thought of as "generating" the ethical system.

          You can have an ethical system that commits horrible moral transgressions. Ethics require morals, but not the other way around.

          1. No, you've got that backward. Ethics are a transcendental code from which all Good is thought to derive and against which all contrary behavior and thought is Evil. Morality refers merely to social mores, which are subject to society's capriciousness. (See: Weimar Germany, followed by Nazi Germany, where murdering your racially inferior neighbor was perfectly moral, but the Nuremberg trials later determined it to be unethical.) Since atheists don't believe in transcendence, the only thing keeping them from discreetly murdering you in your sleep is lack of motive and opportunity. Sweet dreams!

            1. no, that's what philosophers like to say, but it completely goes against how it's used in common language, again, "medical ethics, legal ethics, business ethics" - those are not transcendental.

              My moral choices are personal, and in some cases very much in opposition to what the laundry list of what society in general considers to be 'moral'.

              Ethics, for example, might require you to not administer an experimental drug to someone suffering from cancer without setting up a placebo controlled trial, etc. That may not be the moral thing to do.

      2. ethics - noun
        1. the body of moral principles or values governing or distinctive of a particular culture or group: the Christian ethic; the tribal ethic of the Zuni.

        2. a complex of moral precepts held or rules of conduct followed by an individual: a personal ethic.

        The guy's an idiot. And you say "Not bad"? This says something about you, and it's not flattering.

  20. The black dude at the end that kept repeating himself is a meatsack version of an internet troll.

    No racist.

    1. meatsack

      No racisthomo.


  21. Check me out at 0:45!

    1. ....oh yeah....christfag.

  22. This is like the best chat room ever.

    1. Back to Hell, you.

  23. Had I been present, I would have made the situation very uncomfortable for the silly wench in the PETA shirt. PETA is a misanthropic nut-cult.


    1. "would have made the situation very uncomfortable for the silly wench in the PETA shirt"

      Would you do a version of the Larry David video Suki linked at 7:49?

      1. "Fuck me you meat eating, cow raping bastard! Fuuck meee!!" I'd so hit it.

  24. OMG! So far Ron Paul has 6 percent of the vote in the Louisiana primary! The tide is turning!

    1. I watched that whole debate about a month ago. Craig kept claiming that Hitchens couldn't prove that "atheism is true"... what a tool.

  25. Bravo, Lucy. You are my new favorite [wo]man on the street. Loved that CPAC video you did, too.

    1. Thanks much! I am trying to be as cool as Michael Moynihan. It is a work in progress.

      1. That's a high bar Miss. I think you can clear it.

        1. I'm curious. Since we're Teh Evul Patriarchy, wouldn't we be more likely to set an extremely low bar so women would have to limbo under it for our gratification?

  26. "largest gathering of the secular movement in world history"

    What am I, chopped suey?

    1. Yep. Thanks to you, we've stopped believing in evolution.

  27. Dick Cheney received a heart transplant. Experts say "He's more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil."

    1. From Trayvon Robinson?

  28. I think apatheism is atheism. The rest is anti-theism.

  29. This thread needs more beer: after drinking Boulevard brewery's latest, Rye on Rye, they have officially moved up to Ommegang's level as top American big bottle breweries. The Smokestack series has been fantastic, well done.

  30. I hate to have to ask this, but... is there actually a middle ground between "Christ-fag" and "atheist-fag"?

    Oh, and props to Apatheist, though I prefer Boss Tom's Golden Bock this time of year... not a fan of rye-based brews.

    1. There's faggotard. You don't really want to be on the middle ground in this kind of war; it's a no man's land.

  31. Some stoopid to brighten the day:

    "The best energy solutions deliver multiple benefits at once. Sinking oil and gas wells in communities across the nation may produce more energy, but more energy isn't all America needs."...

    Uh, yeah, toots... that's exactly what's going to happen.

  32. Here's an interesting question: Does a libertarian publication give coverage to a rally for religious freedom (like the held Friday in 140 places including Washington, DC)? On the one hand, the participants are religious types, but on the other hand, they are defending a libertarian cause. What to do? To cover, or not?

    "I've been involved in grassroots activism for years, including protests that have drawn national attention, and I've never seen as much secular, mainstream media coverage as the Nationwide Rally garnered."

    1. But my favorite moment was when everyone kneeled in prayer asking God to have mercy on America and to rescind the anti-religion mandate

      Hmm.. I must be under a rock all this time because I didn't know we had a anti-religion mandate. Oh wait, is he talking about the 1st's anti-establishment clause?

    2. I guess they should cover it for completeness sake but I think such kinds of rallies are useless, as freedom of religion is probably the most secure of our freedoms.

      But that is with the caveat of being according to our popular conception of religion. It would be much more useful if it were addressing events like Waco, or religions involving self-flagellation or polygamy. Most anything like that, which tests a particular or isolated freedom however, eventually has to be examined under the principle of liberty to form any cogent argument.

      1. Here is Reason's criticism of the anti-religion mandate:

    3. Religious freedom to impose costs on employees other employees are protected from.

      Religious freedom is freedom from religion. Religious accommodation, which our constitution arguably grants, already exists as exemptions for churches. Exemptions to the law earned by believing in stupid bullshit. And it has to be stupid bullshit in order to qualify.

      1. Yup, that's what it says right there in the First Amendment: "The laws of nature and of nature's God? Endowed by their Creator? Damn, people who believe that shit sure are stupid, but we may a well protect it."

  33. I was at the rally. There were a lot of nice folks there, and a few eccentric folks, and some who look for confrontation. It was about what I expected.

    There's a group on Facebook of skeptical libertarians, and 19 of them said they were going. I'm sure there were more and that the small group doesn't include all of the libertarian skeptics out there.

    For the record, being an atheist means you lack a belief in a god or gods. That's it. The fact that so many skeptics turn off their skepticism when it comes to government really sucks, btw.

    I'd say the purpose of Reason Rally was to help get to the point where more atheists are comfortable being "out of the closet." In some places (e.g. the southern USA) very few atheists will publicly state that they are atheist, and surveys say atheists are one of the least-trusted groups of people.

    1. Spot on! It seems like way too many atheists used up all their skepticism figuring out there's no reason to believe in gods.

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