Reason Rally Not A Religious Revival


The following is a response to a point the Chaplain raised. She felt the Reason Rally was comparable to those old Billy Graham revivals and thus, a religious event with attendees having what looked to her as a religious experience.


I think you’ve enter the “atheism is a religion” fallacy.

This Saturday you’ll have two crowds descending on Philly, one to see the Flyers and the other to see Bruce Springsteen. Both will get energized by being around similarly minded people. Both will hoot and holler together. Both will likely be wearing paraphernalia associated with who they’re going to see and may be buying more there. Many from both crowds will be bringing their children to expose them to what they’re seeing. Many from both sides will be tailgating before and perhaps after the events. Now I ask, is Bruce Springsteen comparable to the Flyers? Are they the same?

“Atheism” is a convenient catch-all for a variety of topics where ultimately the religious, or some comparably faith-based believers are the antagonists. Anti-vacs, anti-evolution and science, anti-sex education, anti-abortion, anti-equality for gays and women, and so on. Do they really have anything to do with atheism? No. Nothing has anything to do with atheism other than the god question, however all that shit and more is caused by, or justified by the belief that a god exists who hates all that science and butt sex so atheism (I’d prefer critical thinking) becomes the cause or at least the battering ram many people need to get behind to smash the foundation of these dangerous and un-constitutional actions by believers. And yes, I do feel people need to get together to oppose these muddle-headed initiatives and certainly no political party will as both are guilty to at least pandering to the faithers if not supporting and championing faith-based nonsense themselves.

Does passion equate to religion? Does gathering en mass with like minded people make you religious or the group a religion? Is supporting a cause a religious action? I’d have to say no to all of those questions.

Now with that said, I wouldn’t attend a Reason Rally because one, I’m crazy busy and two, I hate crowds and all that’s associated with crowds. However, I do attend industry conventions because it’s an opportunity to hear and perhaps meet top people in my field. I suppose for some who went to the Rally, that was an appealing reason for them to go, but it’s not for me. I did attend a small event a few years ago at Penn where PZ Meyers gave a talk, but if it was going to be held in an auditorium I probably wouldn’t have gone. To each their own which, ultimately, is one of those “atheist” sentiments which has nothing to do with atheism but is generally held by atheists it seems and is a sentiment worth rallying behind.

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15 Responses to “Reason Rally Not A Religious Revival”

  1. Sometimes it's just cool, and fun, and thrilling to be at a "happening " event. Think of those millions of people who reminisce about being at Woodstock even though there were only about 300,000 there. I was at the Watkins Glen concert in 1973, and there were twice as many people there, and it is fun, and cool and thrilling to reminisce about it. If atheism takes off, and people jump on the bandwagon, they'll be looking back on this Rally as a turning point in public acceptance. It's human nature to want to be able to say "I was there".

    But, yes, it's not a religious revival. It's an areligious revival. No god required.

    So Bruce is in Philly this weekend? Darn, I'm going to miss it.

  2. He's been here all week I think.

    I just don't care much anymore for crowds. That said, I'd love to catch a game at Arrowhead in the near future, but if I lived in KC I probably wouldn't be a season ticket holder, unless I became one of those people who get the special early parking pass in order to set up your BBQ the day before the game.

  3. I'm with you, these days, especially with regard to sports. I've been offered tickets to drive to Philly and watch an Eagles game in their new park (which I admittedly did once) but I'd still be happier to be sitting in my family room watching the game, and even then, I'm reading a book. I have no inclination to be at a Super Bowl. And despite the fact that the Reason Rally was a relatively short drive away, I made no effort, nor did I have the desire to be there. When I was younger, I would have jumped at it, but no longer. Though I have to admit I thought about it seriously. It was a happening event, after all. ;)

  4. Philly,

    I'm well aware that atheism is not a religion. Still, I can't help thinking that the experiences that people reported after attending the reason rally – euphoria, inspiration, motivation to go do something meaningful – are similar to the emotions that religious followers feel after they attend big religious events. As for your questions,

    Does passion equate to religion? Does gathering en mass with like minded people make you religious or the group a religion? Is supporting a cause a religious action?

    I agree with you. Still, I like what SI said,

    it's not a religious revival. It's an areligious revival.

    There's nothing wrong with getting together with likeminded people, and there's nothing wrong with being inspired and feeling good and seeing that lots of other people think and feel the as you do. But I think it's a mistake not to recognize that rallies, and even sporting events (I went to the Verizon Center to watch a hockey game last weekend) meet human needs for community, belonging, etc.

  5. BTW, I didn't say the Reason Rally was a religious event. I said it had similar dynamics.

  6. Wing Bowl and the Last Supper story have similar dynamics. Are they comparable?

  7. Rock Beyond Belief would be more to my liking. I'd be more likely to go to a rock concert than a rally. Still, for those who were at the rally in DC last week, I'm glad they got what they wanted from it.

  8. I think it's too easy to put down things we personally don't care for by making connections between it and something others don't care for. Here's a silly example – a football rally for the Cleveland Browns is just like those early beer hall rallies of Brown Shirts in 30s Germany. Lots of drunken, machismo posturing, carrying on and euphoric frenzy.

    Am I going to go to a Reason Rally? No, I hate crowds and I generally don't care for fawning over celebrities. Would it be fair to equate the Reason Rally to a new Twilight movie premier? I don't think so. How about a Billy Graham revival? Again, I don't think so, unless I was making a joke.

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  10. I think that they have got the point and they are really making the protest about the right things. We should be admiring these types of people that are standing for the rights of others.

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