Around D.C.: Atheists rally on the Mall

Atheists from around the country gathered on the Mall Saturday for the Godless Americans March on Washington. The purpose of the march was “to give added voice to this diverse community of non-believers,” according to a press release.

Although thousands were expected, about 500 people attended the march organized by American Atheists and endorsed by more than 100 atheist groups. Goals of the American Atheist agenda include the end of use of public monies to fund organized religion and removal of religious symbols from public buildings.

In opening remarks, American Atheists President Ellen Johnson declared “all Americans are godless Americans because there is no God.” Johnson also criticized the use of religious symbolism in American government and said President George W. Bush tried to “whip up religious fervor after 9/11.”

According to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, nearly 30 million Americans do not identify with a religion. Johnson asked attendees of the rally to build support among friends and neighbors and get involved politically to advance the atheist agenda.

“If you want a godless hero my friends, look in the mirror,” Johnson said.

Secular Students Association Executive Director August Brunsman urged the need for “secular groups in every college campus in this country.”

Representatives of various Christian groups protested the demonstration, carrying signs and distributing literature.

The Mission Valley Christian Fellowship traveled with 18 members from San Diego to, according to Fellowship member Gilbert Miranda, 23, “save the world, not condemn it . we are here to share the teachings of Christ.”

According to the Godless Americans Web site, the rally was modeled “in a grand tradition” and compared the atheist movement with those of “gays, blacks, women, even the Promise Keepers” to the extent that those groups have also been marginalized in American society and politics.

-Ben Quevedo

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