Godless and proud: Atheists rally in D.C.

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – They are godless, they are proud and they are demanding a political voice. And they are no longer happy with being the silent minority.

Thousands descended onto the National Mall Saturday morning for the “Reason Rally.” It was a show of force and a show of unity.

“This is the largest gathering of atheists in the country in our history,” says Hemant Mehta, an atheist activist and blogger for Friendly Atheist.

He says atheists are tired of being ignored by Congress and want to be heard. Neither the religious right nor the liberal left is paying any attention, Metha complains.

“We want them to realize there are a lot of us here and we vote and you should listen to what we have to say as well,” he says.

The rally drew Americans from across the country, from all walks of life and from all ages. It was aimed at shattering the stereotype of the “angry atheist”.

“We are regular people,” Mehta says. “We are your neighbors, your friends and we are good people even if we don’t have God.”

Many are afraid to tell family and friends they are atheists because of possible backlash, like getting thrown out of their homes or losing their jobs.

But Jesse Galef with the Secular Student Alliance says Americans probably know more atheists than they think. Plus, being nonreligious can mean many different things such as agnosticism, humanism and plain skepticism.

“Whatever people call themselves, we are a distrusted minority because people don’t understand us,” he says.

Shelly Hattan traveled from Texas with 10-year-old daughter and her husband. She spoke at the 2002 Godless American March on Washington and says this rally is about reaching out to others.

“We are regular people and we shouldn’t hide in the closet,” she says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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