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Safety in Numbers at the Reason Rally

One of the things I struggle with in the Philly area is whether or not to wear atheist themed shirts in public. I usually don’t unless I am going to an atheist meeting or event. I do have a few shirts that are atheism-lite in that they advocate for secular values but are not obviously atheistic. For example, I love wearing my “Logic” shirt that I got from the Cult of Dusty. I also love my “I think therefore I am dangerous” shirt. Both express my values, without exposing me to the risk of offending the religious.

Normally, I don’t care if I offend the religious, but I am a small guy and usually traveling with two small children and when religious people get offended, they often get violent despite their claims that their religion of choice is one of peace. So for my own safety and that of my children, I have to walk carefully to some extent. I still have my atheist bumper sticker on my car though.

That was one of the great things about the Reason Rally. I didn’t have to be afraid while I was in DC wearing my Dangerous Talk shirt. There is safety in numbers and we had a lot of numbers despite what the media wants to report.

After the Reason Rally, I was on the metro with my brother and I noticed a shady looking guy wearing a huge crucifix staring at us with an angry look in his eye. Then all of a sudden, another guy came over and was also wearing an atheist themed shirt. He started a conversation with us because we too were wearing atheist themed shirts and he was happy to meet new atheist friends. But the really interesting part was that the angry Christian walked away from us without confrontation or incident as soon as our conversation with our fellow atheist began.

Later in the night, my brother and I were the added support for a woman wearing an atheist themed shirt on the metro. It was obvious she was felt afraid, possibly because she was a woman alone on the metro at 9 o’clock at night, but I am sure the atheist themed shirt she was wearing might have added to her fear knowing how “loving” some Christians can be.

I remember thinking that it was pretty great to know that there are visible atheists everywhere and that it is like we invaded Washington DC. We didn’t have to worry as much about our safety; our fellow atheists had our back whether they realized it or not. Just being there and being visibly atheist was enough to provide some sense of security.

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