Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I am thrilled to be here today at the International Liason Committee of Atheists and Freethinkers among this most distinguished audience representing the cause of the separation of church and state.
I am David Silverman, president of American Atheists. American Atheists was formed in 1963 by the late madalyn Murray O’Hair who led the fight to remove forced prayer from public schools.
Since then, American Atheists has been on the forefront of the fight to free America from religious tyranny and bigotry.
I have been with American Atheists for 15 years, although I have only recently become president. In my time with the organization, I have become very aware that secularism in Europe is under increasing attack, even though it is far ahead of where we are in the USA. In America, religion is even now, attempting to remove our rights, rewrite our history, restrict our science, and dictate our politics. The Religious Right thinks it has the right to do these things, and they have the money and the power to make strides against logic and common sense.
But the tides in America are changing. We are speaking out louder than we ever have in our history. Our supporters now include famous, rich, and political people. For the first time, atheists are on television in fiction and nonfiction alike, and for the first time ever, atheism, while still very unpopular, is in “vogue”. Atheism is the fastest growing religious segment in all 50 states, but because of our negative reputation which is spread by preachers and the politicians in their control, most atheists still keep their thoughts secret for fear of repercussions from friends, family, and coworkers.
The atheist population has a lot of work to do to achieve our goals of acceptance in society. To that end, the major atheist groups are creating the Reason Rally, which will be a huge gathering on the center of Washington DC, on March 24th, 2012. I am proud to chair this event, which will be the largest atheist gathering in World History. We intend to show America that the atheist population is thriving, and more importantly, relevant.
There are several atheist organizations in the USA, and most of them are co-sponsoring the Rally.
This will allow us to present the whole movement to a huge crowd, most of whom will be unaffiliated with the movement. It is our secondary intention to introduce all our organizations to this crowd, so they can see the breath of our growing movement, and pick and choose the organizations that best fit them. We hope that you will all take notice of this event, as it is likely to be the most important event in American Atheist History. Please do what you can to publicize this event, as we need the largest crowd possible, and support and publicity from the International community would be greatly appreciated.
American Atheists is also involved in several lawsuits which we filed to keep the religious right at bay. The most poignant is the recent lawsuit against the “miracle Cross” display at Ground Zero.
This is a piece of the World Trade Center that looks like a twisted cross. It has been in a church for ten years, and now has been installed into the museum, which is publicly funded, with a religious ritual led by a priest. However, such actions are illegal in America, and we have taken on the responsibility to challenge it. As you can imagine, this is very unpopular among the Christians who want the World Trade Center to display only this Christian symbol. In the spirit of Christian love, we have received numerous hate mails, vandalism, and death threats. But we will not back down until
the Cross is removed, or at least until the atheists who died on 9/11 get equal representation.
Yes, American Atheists is very busy these days, but we are seeing the results. Since I became president last year, our membership has grown by over 35%, our donations are way up, and we have re-established ourselves as the premier atheist organization in America.
Our job is hard, and our workload is intimidating, but our morale is high, because we are not only DOING good, we are accomplishing good.
Since 1963, we have been fighting for our rights in America only. But we have to do our part of the world stage, as well as the American stage. So this is my message to the International
Freethinkers of the world: you have a friend in America. We are here to support you and help you when we can. While we will always concentrate on the problems at home, we know very well that we all depend on each other to fight the global problem of ignorance and dogma.
Our fight is long and just. We seek nothing but freedom for all, but as we say in America, freedom, like peace, must be fought for. Together, supporting and helping each other, we can and will win this most important battle for the future of our species.