Atheist Reason Rally 2016 draws hugely disappointing crowd; atheists try to analyze why so few showed up

Atheists claim it was a wonderful event as they analyzed the possible reasons why this year's Reason Rally held at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. Saturday, June 4 drew a much lesser crowd than expected.

(Creative Commons/BDEngler)Crowd at the Reason Rally. National Mall, Washington, DC, March 24,2012.

Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist wrote on his blog the next day to dispute the attendance of 15,000 to 20,000 reported by organizers to Religion News Service.

"I'd put the range at about half of that, but we'll see," wrote Mehta as he quickly added that the size of the crowd is "not 'that' big of an issue."

Nevertheless, he went on to enumerate at least six possible reasons why the recent rally failed to beat the estimated 30,000 people who participated in 2012.

Mehta's main reason was that the atheist community was not well aware that there was going to be such an event taking place. He also pointed out as his second reason, that although the event organizers tried to hype up the buzz by inviting top celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Margaret Cho, and Richard Dawkins – who were also not able to attend the event eventually – the buzz may have been misplaced.

The atheist blogger also touched on the influence of politics, pointing out that the leading presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders "all claim to be religious, but I'm not worried about any of them making decisions based on the voices in their heads."

Executive Director Lyz Liddell agrees that the atheist rally is altogether a political event.

"That's the reason we're holding this in an election year. We want to see reason taking precedence over religious-driven ideology," Liddell told CNN Wire.

Liddell also pointed out that the rally in 2012 had atheist speakers who were anti-theists and anti-religion in contrast to this year's shift to secularism where some of those invited to speak were not really atheists, such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Rep. Bobby Scott.

"A pluralistic, secular government is the only way to ensure that all individuals have the freedom to follow the religious path of their choice," said Gabbard, the first and only Hindu in Congress, as he explained his attendance in the secular rally.

Liddell explained about the organizers' aim. "We need to ally with people who share our goals. It's not an 'atheist vs religious people' conversation."

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