June 4th is the big day for “Reason.” Or so we are told. The truly interesting development is how the Reason Rally appears to indicate the further demise/decline of the New Atheist Movement.
1. The first Reason Rally truly came across as an organic, grass-roots development. This Reason Rally comes across as something that was forced; put together by a select few atheist organizations, mostly tied to Richard Dawkins, in a top-down fashion.
2. While Dawkins has been heavily promoting this rally for months, organizers will be lucky if they can fulfill 25% of their fund raising objectives. According to the Reason Rally web page,
We have to raise $100,000 to make Reason Rally 2016 a reality.
It sure looks like the atheists were lying. It’s less than 18 hours away from the start of the Reason Rally and so far, they have raised only $22,408.66. Yet I’m sure it will still be a “reality.”
3. Some of the major voices in the New Atheist movement – Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne – are not scheduled to speak at the rally. In fact, neither Harris or Coyne have been promoting the rally. Could it be that the Reason Rally is part of the process to throw New Atheism under the bus? It looks that way.
4. The key speaker was supposed to be actor Johnny Depp, who does not have a history of making any anti-theistic or anti-religious claims. Depp had to withdraw from speaking at the rally after his wife publicly accused him of beating her.
5. Consider some excerpts from a recent CNN story about the rally:
a. the rally’s attendees and speakers include people of faith, notably such legislators as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.).
Huh? Will Dawkins refer to them as “faith-heads?” Or will be on his best behavior to hide his bigotry for the sake of the movement?
b. The last Reason Rally, held in 2012, may have had a much more excluding vibe, Liddell said. “Some of our speakers were anti-theists and anti-religion.”
This year, she said, the focus has shifted to secularism. “We need to ally with people who share our goals. It’s not an ‘atheist vs religious people’ conversation.”
Whoa! So Lydell admits the bigoted nature of the original Reason Rally. So is she truly distancing herself from such bigotry or she trying to do a better job of hiding it this time around?
c. Larry Decker, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, said his group has scheduled meetings with more than two thirds of the members of Congress, whom they hope to lobby on behalf of secular values. ….Decker himself identifies as an unaffiliated Christian. But even so, “I really feel more comfortable in this community,” he said.
Let’s add this up. The Reason Rally appears to be organized by “accomodationists” and has two “people of faith” as speakers. The focus on religion has been greatly diminished to be replaced by a focus on climate change and abortion. The fundraising objectives have been an embarrassing failure and some of the lead speakers in the New Atheism movement have been shunned by the rally and, in return, have made no effort to promote the rally.
All in all, despite how the rally is spun, I think it both fascinating and hilarious to see the bold pronouncements and posturing of New Atheism being shunned by the second installment of the Reason Rally.