What if the atheists declared they were about to throw "the largest atheist event in world history" on a Saturday in Washington and few people showed up? Reason Rally organizer David Silverman estimated that "99 percent of all atheists are closeted." The closet must still be full, because they sure weren't in Washington.
The Washington Post story on Sunday guessed there were "several thousand" people in the intermittent rain. But Paul Fidalgo of the Center for Inquiry told the Post, "We have the numbers to be taken seriously. ... We're not just a tiny fringe group."
It's interesting that our secular, religion-mocking media mostly skipped over this rally as one steps around a ranting homeless person. The networks were missing, as were the Associated Press, The New York Times and others. Perhaps they didn't think an atheist protest this explicit was worth getting behind. Their kind of secular, religion-mocking rally was 2010's Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear."
The pre-rally publicity was too ridiculous to believe. At National Public Radio -- yes, they are interested -- Barbara Bradley Hagerty explained the rally was "not to tweak the faithful. It's to encourage closeted atheists to take heart." How NPR-thoughtful. Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta complained, "Every time you hear the word atheist in the media, you know, there's always an adjective before it. It's always angry atheist, militant atheist, staunch atheist. It's never happy, smiling atheist." There are also dumb atheists who don't know "happy" is also an adjective.
On Saturday morning, as the rain began to pour on the atheists, NPR weekend anchor Scott Simon added more blather from his DC studio: "Rally organizers say they don't want to mock religion. A lot of nonbelievers I know and hear from are eager for atheists to be seen as more than just scolds who point out absurdities and inconsistencies in religion or the kind of grumps who file lawsuits against shopping-mall Santa Clauses."
This from the man who cued up Christopher Hitchens to denounce Mother Teresa just after she died. Sadly for the atheist publicity team at NPR, reality came barging in. That lonely Post story explained that a Reason Rally attendee was confronting religious counter-protesters with a sign reading "So Many Christians, So Few Lions." This is also a T-shirt that atheists sell each other.