Billed as “The Largest gathering of the secular movement in world history,” the Reason Rally is set to take place on March 24, 2012 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. While the rally is intended to provide secularists with the opportunity to meet with like-minded people while also dispelling the negative stereotypes that are associated with atheism and other secular beliefs, an underground campaign known as “Bibles for Bucks” has developed that threatens to derail one of the event’s primary goals.
“The Bibles for Bucks initiative does nothing but undermine what most secular humanists stand for,” said Troy Boyle, who is the president of the National Atheist Party, or NAP. “The goal of the Reason Rally and of the NAP is not to insult theists in order to elevate atheists in some way. Rather, we simply want to let the world see that we are a strong, united voice and that we are normal, everyday people who care about our fellow man and who demand respect for our rights. You can’t ask for your views to be respected while simultaneously putting down the beliefs of others.”
The Bibles for Bucks initiative urges Reason Rally participants to make pledges to the organization of their choice based on the number of theists who approach them and proselytize to them during the event. While the Bibles for Bucks campaign initially encouraged participants to pledge for every bible received at the event, it was later changed to pledging a certain dollar amount for every theist who approaches “to share their dogma at the Rally.”
“We do not agree with the approach of the Bibles for Bucks campaign,” said James Klawon, who is the Deputy Vice President of Administration for the NAP. “The campaign does nothing but make a mockery of those theists who choose to attend the Rally. Our hope is that we can engage in open, honest dialogue with theists. Respect is a two-way street, and secretly keeping tabs on the number of theists who attempt to engage you in conversation so you can use it as an excuse to donate to an atheist organization is far from respectful.”
In an attempt to create this open dialogue, promote reason instead of hate and capitalize on media attention, Klawon sent an invitation to the Westboro Baptist Church on behalf of the NAP. In part, the letter invited the church to visit the party’s information booth to socialize and to receive one of the party’s “swag bags” containing promotional items. The letter can also be interpreted as a challenge to the Westboro Baptist Church to attend the rally with an open mind to its message.
“As the Westboro Baptist Church is representative of the most extreme interpretation of fundamentalism, we felt it appropriate to reach across the ecumenical aisle and invite them to the Reason Rally,” continued Boyle. “If any group in America could benefit from exposure to secular thought, it is Westboro. The Bibles for Bucks campaign, however, will make our attempts to bridge these gaps and to forge a greater understanding between theists and atheists more difficult.”
The National Atheist Party is a non-profit 527 political organization dedicated to the preservation of the Founding Father’s vision of a secular nation.
To learn more about the party, visit www.usanap.org