Glimpses of Reason Rally 2016

Glimpses of Reason Rally 2016 June 6, 2016

I am happy and exhausted from two days of Reason Rally activities, starting with the Saturday breakfast at my house (just 3 miles from the rally at the Lincoln Memorial) and ending with the Sunday mini-conference at a Capitol Hill Hotel.

I was so excited by the prospect of hosting 60 people for breakfast, including Patheos bloggers, Clergy Project members and local and national freethinking friends, that I forgot to take pictures. At least that’s the excuse I make for myself. Luckily, other attendees who snapped a couple of shots were willing to share them with me.

Here’s thrilled Celia Jones with handsome Fernando Alcazar, author of To the Cross and Back.

Fernando and Celia

And here are two more very happy rally goers: me and another clergy project member, David Madison, who has a book coming out soon – Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief.

Linda LaScola and David Madison

Fernando and David have also contributed to the Rational Doubt blog.   Celia and I are on our tippy toes straining to be pictured with the two very tall guys.

There were five Clergy Project members present – Fernando, David, Jeff Falick (aka The Atheist Rabbi), also a Rational Doubt contributor, and two others whose names I can’t mention. They are “out” on The Clergy Project private site, but not yet out to their families. They were thrilled to meet other TCP members and to be at the rally.

Although I don’t have a photo to prove it, I have a lasting vision of them sitting together on the back porch thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. As one of them said to me,

“I can’t tell you how much I needed this!”

The Reason Rally itself easily exceeded expectations simply by not raining. Not a drop – though violent thunderstorms were predicted. We know providence was not smiling on us, but we were very grateful nonetheless.

Reason Rally 2016 reflecting pool

There is a question about the size of the crowd compared to the 2012 event. To me, it looked smaller this time, but it’s hard to say, because the reflecting pool separated the crowd and the better weather, compared to last time, meant we weren’t standing under big umbrellas as we were in 2012. Another Patheos blogger, Hemant Mehta, provides a lengthy analysis of the event here.

The Sunday mini-conference was well attended and very spirited, including, among other events, a session of the Sunday Assembly and a panel on “Leaving Religion” which I participated in, along with Julia Sweeney, Maryam Namazie, Mark White, Gayle Jordan and moderator Sarah Haider.

panel 2016

Wish you were there.

>>>> Photo Credits: Lynne Williamson, David Pandozzi, Linda LaScola, Phil Ferguson (tweet)

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  • davewarnock

    Thanks for the report, Linda. I regret I wasn’t there- would have been great! I was, however, in touch with one of the TCP members you couldn’t mention and she was just ecstatic at what she was experiencing and the people she was meeting. She is new to all this and really needed that time there.

    Thanks for all you do.

  • carolyntclark

    Thank you, Linda. I’m green with envy at being in the company of so many wise folks ! 🙂

  • Clay G

    Hi Linda, I received the invite and wished I could have stopped by! I was selling rally t-shirts at one of the hotels though. I wanted to share one neat story from the weekend that I shared with some facebook friends.

    My fiance and I were manning the Info Desk at the Marriott hotel, and a young woman stopped by to buy a shirt (I’ll call her Sue). We heard how she grew up Catholic, and that she was in the area when the 2012 reason rally took place. She had no idea what it was all about but began to research. Not long after, she became friends who someone who was very vocal about her atheism, and Sue discovered how kind and gracious her new atheist friend was, and realized someone could be good without god. This set her to learn more, and 4 years later, she was attending her first Reason Rally as an atheist. It was one of those stories that just warmed our baby-eating hearts.

    • carolyntclark

      love that story !

    • Linda_LaScola

      HI, Clay – sorry you couldn’t make the breakfast, but so glad you got to hear and share that story. Luckily, this kind of thing is happening more and more, thanks to events like the reason rally.

  • ctcss

    I haven’t seen any mention about the scheduled meetings with senators and representatives that were supposed to happen during the weekend. How did those go? Were there any positive reactions or developments? Also, does any group have a full time lobbying presence either in DC or in any state capitol? From what I understand of the lobbying process, it’s really important to develop a steady, ongoing presence so as to help make a case for needed legislative adjustments for a group’s interests. If non-believers are feeling ill-used by some of the the powers that be, an often helpful approach is for a lobby to make proactive concerted efforts to try to influence the form that legislation takes before it becomes law. But either before or after the fact, a reasoned case needs to be persistently made for legislation and policy to accommodate the needs of the group.

    None of this is easy, of course, but it is long-term doable if a group or groups are interested enough to make the ongoing effort to protect their interests. Basically, in order to gain a seat at the table, it’s important to pull up a chair and join in the game. Everyone else does this. Hopefully non-believers will learn to do this as well.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I just got this in an email today

      Here’s an excerpt:
      “Last weekend the Secular Coalition had its most successful and largest event ever! We brought more than 250 nontheistic Americans to meet with two thirds of Congressional offices to ask them to support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, which would mandate science-based and LGBT inclusive sex education, in the House and Senate. Then on Saturday secular Americans flooded the National Mall for the Reason Rally. “