What better start could there be to this year’s American Atheists Convention than a national rally on the Washington Mall, which I wrote about in part one of this series.
This was a golden achievement and served as an obvious start to their annual convention in Bethesda, running from the end of the rally on March 24 to March 26.
After the resounding success of the Reason Rally, American Atheists held a free after party including “Debaptisms” performed by the always amusing Edwin Kagin. For many, humorous acts such as these serve to show, once again, that the symbolic practices of many organized religions hold very little significance in the real world.
At the conference, Richard Dawkins spoke about the folly that we should quietly respect the illogical and dangerous beliefs of our prospective political leaders. He strongly argued that it was both dangerous and unacceptable to hand the highest social power to men and women who openly vouch for laughably unproven and unfounded faith traditions, and that we need a caliber of leaders with real world understanding based in fact and not fiction.
The splendid and unashamedly blasphemous culmination of Sunday’s activity was a costume dinner, where attendees were encouraged to lampoon their favorite religious icons. I attended as a heavily robed black monk, rosary adorned. It was of no surprise to any present that our blasphemies went noticeably unpunished. The gods, and their creeds, seemed, as always, both absent and silent.
American Atheists are an unashamed group openly and proudly in conflict with the religious industry.
I left the conference with a newly revitalized will to attack injustice and irrationality wherever it should be found. American Atheists, as the name suggests, stand firmly in opposition to the influence of blind faith and dangerous power of organized religion. For them, there are no sacred cows and the toleration of even the smallest irrationality is not an option. This is a fight against a bloated and malignant emperor who must be shown publicly to have no clothes. In their eyes, this is a battle they must fight to the last and their numbers, particularly among the young, grow with each passing day.
Like many, I left the on a cold Maryland morning with a warrior’s resolve. Though I consider myself a compassionate Humanist, I cannot help but see the sharp edge of the debate, tempered by the glimmering intelligence of Dawkins and others. True, this is one end of a long continuum of non-theistic thinking but a powerful and increasingly popular one, especially among new online communities.
The next event in this amazing week of reason is the “Rock Beyond Belief” concert at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and I will report on this in the final part of my trilogy of posts.