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.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Thank you for saying good without gods, that warmed my cockles.

  • momtarkle

    Thank you!

  • JustinL

    And where exactly was Joe Klein during all of this?

  • Itarion

    Damn. Beat me to the punch.

  • m6wg4bxw

    I’ve never understood the point of walking in these things.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    He’s giving away free money! And where… is the BATMAN?

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    You get people to agree to sponsor you, paying money for your charity. It brings more dollars than simply asking for donations, as well as more community awareness and involvement.

  • Nichelle Wrenn

    I”d feel sorry for him if he wasn’t just a great git. Every time an atheist group does good Joe Kline has to get it. And it’s wonderful!

  • Richard Wade

    I never understood the point of walking in these things either, and I was mystified why people would donate money just because someone they knew was walking in one, until I walked yesterday. For some reason, it works. It stimulates something powerful in our humanity; it touches the positive part of our “herding instinct,” something that more often is a source of negative behavior. Walking in such a huge crowd, all going in the same direction, all with one desire in mind, one goal to achieve, with many other people elsewhere seeing us amassing such a unity of purpose, the effect is remarkable, both in the caring it fosters in individuals, and in the material giving it produces.

    More than two and a half million dollars was raised because twenty-five thousand people all walked ten kilometers in the same direction. That averages one hundred dollars per person. Far fewer of them could have afforded, or would have been willing to give a hundred dollars if each were considering it entirely on their own.

    Humanity (and humaneness) can be synergistic.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It makes some sense to me, though I still won’t participate in something like it. Crowds — especially enthusiastic ones — are very intimidating to me.

  • Mark W.

    And where’s the news headline, “Atheists rush to defend Jesus Christ as the King of Kings is assailed by angry Christians!”

    Of coarse the Faux News headline would read, “Satanic Atheists pick fight with freedom loving All-American Patriot-Christians while they were calmly talking to Jesus.”