Monday, January 16, 2012

Reasons to go to the Reason Rally! Liberal Religious Listen!

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a meaningful holiday, in which we reflect upon the horrific tragedies of our American history, and celebrate the progress we’ve made thus far in overcoming them and promoting civil rights. It’s also a day off work and I am sitting around watching the History Channel and welling up with tears. I have deep admiration for that Christian minister and his message of non-violence. I keep catching glimpses on the internets of people wanting to point out Dr. King’s flaws as though if these things are true that somehow discredits the amazing, amazing things this man did for our country. That can be more research and potential argument for another day. He really was an “ordinary man who did extraordinary things”.

I actually am not coming here to write about Martin Luther King, but to write about an upcoming event I’m very excited about, the “Reason Rally”, at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Watching footage of Dr. King’s “March on Washington” in 1963 has me even more excited about going to this iconic place and being part of a movement that is very important. I’m not going to speculate on how MLK would feel about atheists and separation of church and state in America today, or use his immense struggle to make an issue for personal freedoms, but I will use a general quote of his that I have heard a lot today, that we, as the liberal religious, should not forget. Why should we care about this “largest secular gathering in history”? I will use Martin Luther King’s words here, which will continue to be applicable in the course of events in this country. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

I hope that we, as UUs, and defenders of religious freedom care about this event. As more and more atheists are “coming out”, more and more are being made to feel as though they are “outsiders”. This event will help raise awareness of atheists/ agnostics/ humanists/ and various varieties of non-believers- that we exist, and we deserve representation in this democracy, especially as there are more and more threats to justice, with lawmakers wanting to bring Christian based pseudo-science into schools, and as children like Jessica Alhquist receive death threats for asking her school to abide by the Constitution and remove a school prayer. These are threats to justice. Just as we as UUs Stand on the Side of Love for gay marriage and immigration issues, I hope we will also stand with the atheists, many of whom sit in our loving pews each Sunday and go out into hostile communities and schools each Monday.

OK, maybe I’m getting a little preachy. Did I mention that I’ve been watching MLK speeches all day? I think I’ll just post some info from the event website, and from the UUA. Oh, and did I mention Tim Minchin will be there performing? And the earlier mentioned Jessica Alhquist will be speaking. Along with Richard Dawkins, and James Randi, and other speakers and performers? And it is at the National Mall in Washington DC? And there are buses from all over the country providing really reasonable transportation? My son and I are taking a bus, sleeping all night on the bus, going to the rally, and sleeping all night the way back. I get to be a part of history, take my kid to DC, and see Tim Minchin all for $100 per bus ticket and the price of food. Those are some reasons to go to the Reason Rally. So far, I have not been able to muster much interest within my local congregation. I'm not sure if it is the fact that maybe people aren't as enthused about riding a bus for 16 hours as I am, or if people are wanting to embrace our religiosity over our secularism? Even if people do not want to go, I hope there will be some discussion of it. I've searched for other UU blogs or tweets or mention of this anywhere, and so far am finding nothing. I know my blog has only twelve followers, of which maybe three (?) are UUs, but I want to try to figure out a way to start a conversation about this. This is exciting and important to me and I at least want to make sure it is on people's radars, and would like even more to have a discussion about it, and would like even more to fill a bus from Peoria to DC and take a journey together.

UUA Statement on Religion and State:

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has long expressed our support of the separation of church and state in relation to public education, partisan politics, free exercise and religious pluralism. For the reason, the UUA works to ensure that federal dollars are not used to fund religious discrimination, to combat government endorsement of religious beliefs, and to ensure freedom of religious expression.

Goals of the Reason Rally:

-To encourage attendees (and those who can’t make it) to come out of the closet as secular Americans, or supporters of secular equality.
-To dispel stereotypes – there is no one “True Atheist”. We will have non-theists from all political persuasions, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We will show that there are secular Americans in every American demographic.
-Legislative equality. Secular Americans can run for office and adequately represent theists, just as theists in office can represent their secular constituents proudly and openly. We deserve a seat at the table just like theists, and we hope this rally can put our values in the radar of American voters.