Are more atheists coming out of the closet?
Some are saying yes, especially after a “Reason Rally” last weekend on the National Mall in Washington, organized by American Atheists, an organization that advocates for the separation of government and religion.
The rally, which attracted thousands of participants, comes as culture conflicts have become part of presidential politics this year. Participants said they wanted to talk about how public policy has recently been influenced by theology.
“The majority of us just want rational public policies based on facts, not someone's book of cobbled together fantasies," Dwayne Windham, 34, from Austin, TX, told USA Today. "Atheists have to carry our weight on an intellectual and a moral basis. The worst thing you could do is be immoral and stupid."
Atheists groups also had been erecting billboards across the country in advance of the rally with their message, according to CNN, which recently reported on a billboard placed in a Muslim neighborhood in New Jersey that said in both English and Arabic, “You know it’s a myth… and you have a choice.”
“We’re looking for equality for atheists," David Silverman, president of American Atheists, told CNN. "We are here to say there are atheists in your community, in your church."
A report by Trinity College in Connecticut shows that the number of people who identity themselves as atheist has nearly doubled since 1990, according to a 2009 report on NPR.org.
Fifteen percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, NPR reported.
In Maryland, there are approximately 950,000 adherents to Catholicism, the largest identified group in the state, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives. More than 3 million in the state are “unclaimed,” which means they are not adherents of the 188 groups in the religion data surveys.
Furor over religion—or lack of it—has been at the forefront of 2012 presidential politics, with cultural issues infusing debates, especially those on women’s issues.
Last week, decried a U.S. health care mandate that would require health insurers to cover all FDA-approved contraception methods.
Between 250 and 300 people attended the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom—Stop the HHS (Health and Human Services) Mandate!” rally in front of Congressman Elijah Cummings's office on Main Street in Ellicott City Friday to protest his support of the mandate.
Weigh in below. Are you a closet atheist? Are there more atheists nationwide?