Saturday, thousands of atheists gathered on the National Mall in Washington for the 2016 Reason Rally, which has been recognized as the largest U.S. gathering of nonreligious people in history.
The main event was totally free and featured appearances by science guru Bill Nye, entertainer Penn Jillette, physicist Lawrence M. Krauss and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), among others, as well as a performance by members of the legendary rap group Wu Tang Clan.
Organizers had expected upwards of 30,000 people, although the crowd was estimated to be a bit shy of that number. People discussed the importance of keeping church and state separate, and using reason and science (not supernatural religious beliefs) to guide politics and public policy. Issues of LGBT equality, climate change and reproductive rights,…all issues that are frequently challenged by religious dogma.
This year’s gathering was a much large follow- up on the 2012 Reason Rally, which only saw a crowd of around 10,000 people.
“Each rally will be larger than the last because people are opening their eyes like never before.”
“Unfortunately, the presidential candidates we are forced to choose from both pander to voters who are guided by their religious beliefs.” , said a rally volunteer. Donald Trump recently found religion at the beginning of his presidential bid, and Hillary Clinton has always spoken about her “Methodist faith”.
“It’s a concern to all of us because these beliefs will influence the future of our nation.”
“That’s the reason we’re holding this in an election year,” Lyz Liddell, executive director of the Reason Rally Coalition, told CNN. “We want to see reason taking precedence over religious-driven ideology.”
There are more than 500 members of Congress, and not a single one has publicly expressed that he or she doesn’t believe in God. Only one member, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), lists herself as religiously unaffiliated. More than 90 percent of Congress identifies as Christian.
Meanwhile, nearly one-quarter of Americans place themselves in the broad category of non-religious (those who are religiously unaffiliated or simply don’t believe in God).