Secular Humanists Go to Washington

D.J. Grothe

November 2, 2002, saw history’s largest gathering of politically active secular humanists in the United States’ capital city. An estimated 2,400 secular humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and other nonreligious citizens attended the “Godless Americans March on Washington,” marching down the National Mall to a more than four-hour rally in front of the Capitol. Organized by American Atheists, the march featured speakers from many “godless” organizations, including the Council for Secular Humanism.

The Council, an early and enthusiastic supporter of the march, was well represented from the podium. Ed Buckner, executive director, gave a talk entitled “No More Lies,” which got the audience to chant and cheer. Buckner argued that America is not a Christian nation, and should not be. Norm Allen, director of African Americans for Humanism, also spoke. Allen’s speech was titled “Black Nontheists: Coming Out.” He talked about the trials and tribulations of Black freethinkers, and stated that Black secular humanists have always been heavily involved in Black humanism and intellectualism. He said that now is the time for Black nontheists to come out of the closet.

Other recent activities endorsed or sponsored by the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry include:

December 23, 2002: HumanLight Celebration. A celebration of humanist values: tolerance, compassion, empathy, honesty, free inquiry, reason, and rationality, and more. The event was launched in New Jersey in 2001 by the New Jersey Humanist Network, and is being held in several parts of the country this year. It provides an excellent alternative to Christmas celebrations. For more information, see www.secu-larhumanism.org/societies.htm or www. humanlight.org.

January 1, 2003: New Year Reality Revival. This event was partially inspired by another held in the ’90s in California by the Atheists United group. Further ideas were generated through the Committee for the Scientific

Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal’s Young Skeptics Program, when science educators wanted to address the continuing need to encourage science literacy. Activities include reviews of “Annual Science Discoveries” and “Reality Revival Exhibitions.” For more information about getting involved in a New Year Reality Revival in your area, see www.secularhuman-ism.org/societies.htm or www.secular-season.org.

January 29, 2003: Thomas Paine Day. Paine was a great hero of the secular and humanist community. This celebration of Paine’s birthday and life, started by the Thomas Paine Foundation, is a great way to advocate reason in your community. To hold a celebration or get involved with one in your area, see www. secularhumanism.org/societies.htm or www.secularseasons.org.

February 12, 2003: Darwin Day. Becoming ever more popular with science-enthusiasts, Darwin Day is rapidly becoming a common celebration a mong scientists, educators, and secular humanists around the world. It’s not too early to start planning your involvement. With a goal to enhance the public’s image of science and the theory of evolution, Darwin Day is a great way for you to help advance the aims of the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry. See www.secularhumanism.org/ societies.htm and www.darwinday.org for more information about getting involved.

What You Can Do Today

Even if you weren’t able to make the March on Washington, there are other ways that you can help the Council for Secular Humanism celebrate reason and humanity. Consider sharing a Free inquiry gift-subscription with secular humanist college and high-school students and friends in your region. Become an Associate Member of the Council for Secular Humanism, North America’s leading organization for ethical nonreligious people. And get involved with the secular humanist society in your area! To find an independent secular humanist society allied with the Council for Secular Humanism near you, visit our Web site or contact me at this


DJ Grothe is field director for the Council for Secular Humanism.

D.J. Grothe

D.J. Grothe is on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Science and Human Values, and is a speaker on various topics that touch on the intersection of education, science and belief. He was once the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation and was former Director of Outreach Programs for the Center for Inquiry and associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine. He hosted the weekly radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry, exploring the implications of the scientific outlook with leading thinkers.


November 2, 2002, saw history’s largest gathering of politically active secular humanists in the United States’ capital city. An estimated 2,400 secular humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and other nonreligious citizens attended the “Godless Americans March on Washington,” marching down the National Mall to a more than four-hour rally in front of the Capitol. Organized by American …

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