Beliefs Revelations

Dawkins’ health keeps him from Reason Rally

Richard Dawkins at the 34th American Atheists Conference in Minneapolis in March, 2008.


(RNS) Richard Dawkins, the outspoken British atheist and best-selling author who had a stroke earlier this year, says he will not attend what’s being billed as the largest rally for nonbelief ever planned in America.

Dawkins, 74, cited “doctor’s orders” in a statement Wednesday (March 23) announcing that he will not speak at the Reason Rally on June 4 in Washington.

“My impression as an outsider is that America is close to a tipping point,” Dawkins said in a statement. “The Reason Rally could raise consciousness past the tipping point where politicians will suddenly realize they’ve been sucking up to the wrong lobby all these years. Please come. I wish I could be there too.”

Richard Dawkins. Photo courtesy of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

Richard Dawkins, the outspoken British atheist and best-selling author who had a stroke earlier this year, says he will not attend what’s being billed as the largest rally for nonbelief ever planned in America. Photo courtesy of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

The Reason Rally, a daylong gathering of atheists, humanists and others, will convene on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Dawkins, who spoke to tens of thousands at the last Reason Rally in 2012, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in early February. He is expected to recover.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, one of the rally’s sponsors, said he was “especially saddened” to know that Dawkins won’t be able to attend.

“There may be no one today more directly responsible for galvanizing this community into a movement,” said Paul Fidalgo, director of communications for both Center for Inquiry and the Reason Rally. “But this movement is of course far more than one person, and the amazing speakers already lined up for this year’s rally will embody all that’s brought the secular movement this far, and all that it has to look forward to.”

(Kimberly Winston is a national reporter for RNS)

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • Sincere prayers for Dawkins’ medical recovery from stroke.

    (And yes, if Dawkins were a Christian, I’d pray the exact same prayer!)

    Dawkins has badly wasted his life by getting stuck in atheism. But he is correct about one thing. America IS “close to a tipping point”, as he said.

    What sort of tipping point, you ask? I honestly do not know. After all, I have had no experience in national tipping points. However, you can find out the answer for yourself.

    Simply put on some fresh scuba gear, and dive on down to the bottom of the Dead Sea. From there, simply conduct some live interviews with the former residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. THEY will tell you without hesitation, about the predictable end result of America’s tipping point !!!!!

  • Well that was typical passive-aggressive defamatory nonsense one expects these days when a Christian says, “I will pray for you”.

    Religious folk better pray long and hard for Dawkins to feel better. Without him, they will be forced to deal with atheists who are aware of how social media works and who are not so prone to saying silly stuff. 🙂

  • Is it not nice of people to be nice to Richard who goes out on a limb to destroy believing in God people and mock them in whatever chance he has. It is called a gesture of kindness.

    Maybe watch this and keep denying God will you now and see that behind the scenes of not seeing realm there is a power that can knock you also off your feet because that is what can happen to you when you pray. And no these people are not hypnotized.

  • What is the point of some (emphasis) people on both sides deliberately and cruelly disparaging the beliefs of the other side? Especially when most people on both sides think it’s all-too-obviously pointless — and wrong — to abuse others and their beliefs.

    The very least these abusers should do is take their respectively disrespectful cases in-house and sort it out with their this-believing or that-believing peers, before running outside just for the sheer self-indulgent joy of being mean to others.

    Of course I wish Mr. Dawkins well, as I would the meanest stroke-burdened Christian I could find. They’re people, for goodness’ sake! But once they got well, I’d have a few kind words for ’em.

    The most important words, spoken with hostility, will convey only hostility-smothered words.

  • Its not nice to say untrue defamatory things about atheists yet that is done as a matter of course by many religious believers. Even to the point of calling for their deaths, imprisonment or denying them basic civil liberties. But this is the world we live in.

    The main problem many have with religious belief is the lack of understanding of the phrase, “your mileage may vary”. Too many believers lack the respect for the boundaries of others or lack the humility to understand that what works for them is not always going to be appropriate for others.

    Yes it works for you. But there is no reason why I must be interested.

  • We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
    Richard Dawkins

  • What did one twin say to the other in the womb? I don’t believe in Mom because I’ve never seen her.

  • One of the often quoted cliches used by Dawkins – in fact, the whole atheistic movement is based on nothing but smart alecky comments – the whole thing is a comedy routine.

  • That would make the baby a nihilist, not an atheist. What was your GPA in philosophy?

  • Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr’s death will send them straight to heaven.
    — Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

  • My last vestige of “hands off religion” respect disappeared in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th 2001, followed by the “National Day of Prayer,” when prelates and pastors did their tremulous Martin Luther King impersonations and urged people of mutually incompatible faiths to hold hands, united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place.
    — Richard Dawkins, The Devil’s Chaplain (2004)

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