Although I’ve been interested in the Reason Rally held in Washington D.C. this weekend, I didn’t go, and I’ve struggled to articulate my reaction to it. The most reasonable way for me to express my reason, it’s often seemed, is simply to be where I already am, reasonably. Trucking on down to Washington D.C. isn’t necessary for me to feel like I’m holding my own.
Looking through the firsthand reports of people who participated in the rally yesterday, I found some who seem to share my befuddled reaction, amazed that in our day and age, such a rally is needed at all. Faisal Syed, a former Muslim who attended the rally, wrote “As much as I loved it, here’s to hoping we don’t need to have many more rallies. It boggles the mind that here in the 21st century, when we are peering at planets orbiting distant stars, when we’re thinking of going to Mars, we still have to stand up for, defend, and celebrate science, reason, rationality, equality, and secularism in the face of superstitions from thousand-year-old books.”
A moment of clarity came for me when I saw the photograph shown here. A Christian counter-protester carries a sign announcing that everyone attending the Reason Rally will be thrown into a lake of fire as punishment for “rejecting Christ” and their “dirty rotten sin”.
The Reason Rally attendee next to the sign clearly doesn’t take the threat very seriously. Yet, many Americans do. Rick Santorum‘s ongoing campaign for a narrowing of America demonstrates that.
The people I associate with, whether they’re religious or irreligious, express a tolerant attitude for people who disagree with their beliefs. I’ve purposefully chosen to live in a community, however, where respect for diversity is the norm. It’s easy to forget that there are many places in America where it’s still extremely difficult for a person to publicly acknowledge that they don’t have any religious identity. Until such places are the exception, rather than the rule, it will be sadly reasonable to attend events like the Reason Rally.