Atheists Turn Out for AIDS Walk Los Angeles

Sunday morning I had the great pleasure to walk for 10 kilometers with 14 of my fellow members of Atheists United to help raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). In response to my previous post two weeks ago, several of you sponsored me for a total of $740 dollars. Thank you! My deep gratitude goes to Dayanna, Pam, Joe, Rick, David, and three anonymous people. Your kindness helped to raise the Atheists United team donation to $1,295. This year’s event has brought in $2,520,684 for APLA and more than 25 other critically important AIDS organizations.

The mood was contagiously festive as 25,000 people walked the route through West Hollywood. Overcast skies kept the temperatures very comfortable but did not dampen anyone’s spirits. In our bright red t-shirts, we met many people who were curious about our organization or atheism in general, and who talked with us as we walked. There was no negative interaction with anyone.

Even Jesus chatted pleasantly and cordially with us while we waited in the crowd for the walk to begin. He was a tall, warm, and friendly man dressed as the prophet, and he looked like he could also do a good impersonation of Rasputin. He warned us about a seedy-looking handful of five hecklers we would encounter at one place on the route who shout insults at everyone passing. They hold the typical “burn in hell”-type signs and yell curses similar to those of Westborough Baptist Church. We all agreed with good humor all around that we would support him in his efforts to stand up to their negativity. There will probably be some good pictures of him and us soon on the Atheists United website.

We made an impressive bright red phalanx as we tried to not get separated or strung out thinly along the route. We joked that it would look odd to be wearing t-shirts saying “Atheists United” if we were walking as “Atheists Dispersed.”

Public atheist service and outreach to communities is necessary to counteract the pervasive ugly stereotypes about us. If more and more nonbelievers keep getting involved, we can turn our image around. But what I want to emphasize today is that it’s also FUN. I’m looking forward to finding more very visible ways to be good without gods. Keep me company!

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.