Reason Rally 2016: Nontheists Get Political
Last weekend’s Reason Rally saw the gathering of thousands of nontheists from all across the country and around the world, as humanists, atheists, agnostics, and all other types of nonbelievers came together on at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to show the world they exist—and that they deserve a voice in the political process.
Meghan Hamilton AHA came to the Reason Rally chock-full of free schwag! Bishop McNeill of the Freethought Equality Fund. Jamie Raskin, Democratic nominee for U.S. Representative for Maryland's 8th district, representing secular voices in government. AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt snags a selfie with CodePink founder and 2016 Humanist Heroine Medea Benjamin. ...he has a point. Our favorite science guy, Bill Nye, talks climate change, science denial, and creating a better future. Wu Tang finishing out the night with a bang! Shaolin Style. MAAF's Jason Torpy (right) and a supporter representing all the atheists in foxholes. Beautiful day for a wedding! Humanist Society celebrant David Williamson joyfully weds Anita Macauley and Gregg Casagrande at the Washington, DC War Memorial on the National Mall during the Reason Rally. Beautiful day for a wedding! Humanist Society celebrant David Williamson joyfully weds Anita Macauley and Gregg Casagrande at the Washington, DC War Memorial on the National Mall during the Reason Rally. Thanks to Lady Parts Justice, advocating for reproductive rights and education. You've left your golden uterus mark on us all.Tags: Reason RallyThis desire for greater political influence was only bolstered by the excellent lineup of political speakers at the event, from government officials like US Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Representative-Elect Jamie Raskin–an open humanist—to advocacy leaders like Secular Coalition for America Executive Director Larry Decker and American Humanist Association Board Member Anthony Pinn. These speakers discussed not only their personal views of the separation between church and state (hint: they vigorously support it) but also about the growing political influence of American nontheists in the wake of the rapidly declining religious right. In addition to these speakers, political issues were on the minds of nearly every attendee I spoke to at the American Humanist Association’s exhibit table. AHA members, as well as other attendees, wanted to know how they could become more involved in the political process so that the humanist voice was as loud as possible in our nation’s legislature. Many were very interested in the work of the AHA’s sister organization, the Center for Freethought Equality, which is working to increase the number of openly humanist government officials at the state and federal levels. What I found to be most fascinating was how many of these members weren’t just concerned about the separation of church and state, but about the broader humanist political agenda, from ensuring LGBTQ rights, ending gender discrimination, combatting racial inequality, and protecting our public education system from attempts to shift funding over to private religious schools. This broadening of the humanist agenda beyond just explicit issues of secularism signifies that the nontheistic community are not single-issue voters, but a mature constituency with a broad range of policy concerns. While the next Reason Rally may be some time away, humanist advocates are unlikely to rest on their laurels. Instead, based on the many conversations I had with motivated and hardworking humanist activists, members of the nontheistic community will continue to make their voice heard, whether it’s on the front steps of their local government building or in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Photos & captions by