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March 25, 2012

Putting the Atheist Point A-Cross

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On Saturday, the National Atheist Organization held a “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. Looking through Getty’s photographs from the event, billed as “the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history,” I’m struck by how many ralliers depend on religious iconography to visually express their atheism.

In this photograph from the rally, it’s even tempting to see something very much like a worship service under way. If it weren’t for that deviant character atop the wooden cross (not too far off from the original story!), we would need to rely on the caption to tell us this isn’t some kind of Christian praise concert.

Maybe this photograph, then, is less about antagonism among the nation’s believers and atheists, and more about the great American effort—still very much in play—to strike just the right balance between the secular and the sacred in the public square.

- Phil Perdue

(photo : Allison Shelley/Getty Images. caption: A cross with a clown mask is held aloft during the National Atheist Organization’s ‘Reason Rally’ March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. linked photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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