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March 25, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Photo Essay: Reason Rally – Washington D.C. – March 24, 2012
On Saturday, March 24, 2012, atheists, agnostics, secularists, rationalists, skeptics, freethinkers, and lest we forget, godless heathens, descended on the National Mall in Washington D.C. for The Reason Rally. Rain and even thunderstorms were in the forecast but that didn’t deter the estimated 20,000-30,000 advocates for reason and logic. I was there for the rally and stayed for the entire event – all 8 hours!
Photo Essay: click any photo to begin the full-size slideshow
I think diversity is a key takeaway from the rally. The rally was not about bashing religion even if there were moments that were less than kind to religion. The rally was about separation of church and state, giving a voice to the secular movement, and acceptance of all religions, races, sexual orientations, etc.
A sign that sums up the idea that we don’t need the fear of punishment from God to be good people.
Jesus makes an appearance at the Reason Rally.
A sign stressing the importance of separation of church and state. There is simply too much religion in politics, especially during the Republican primary season.
United States Capitol Building shrouded in mist.
Part of the estimated 20,000-30,000 in attendance at The Reason Rally.
Jessica Alhquist – The 16-year-old student who was part of an effort (along with the ACLU) to have a “School Prayer” banner removed from Cranston High School in Rhode Island.
In July 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to the school superintendent on behalf of an unnamed parent who complained about the banner. Ahlquist had noticed the banner in her first year in high school. After reading about the complaint, she decided to sit in on the school board meetings. She also created a Facebook page to raise support for the cause.
The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU asked Ahlquist if she would serve as a plaintiff in a lawsuit. The suit was filed in April 2011. The Cranston School Committee had made defense arrangements with Joseph V. Cavanagh, Jr. and The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which represented them without charge.
District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux issued a decision in favor of Ahlquist on January 11, 2012. The decision was in part based on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), and Lee v. Weisman (1992).
Tim Minchin performs to an estimated 20,000-30,000
Bad Religion fan eagerly awaiting their performance at the end of the rally.
Nate Phelps speaks at the rally. He is the estranged son of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps. He had a great story to tell about how he lost his faith, found it again and ultimately after struggling to find answers (and after the events of 9/11/2001) he accepted his atheism.
Richard Dawkins was one of the most anticipated speakers at the rally and he got a huge round of applause.
The Washington Monument – At times the top of the monument was barely visible from the low clouds and mist.
Let’s put a little more emphasis on the life that we are living instead of what comes after.
Bad Religion closes the show with a great performance.