Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has dropped out from a speaking engagement at the Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on June 4, which is aiming to be "the biggest gathering of nonreligious people in history."
Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist blog said on Thursday that Lyz Liddell, the rally's executive director, shared with him that Depp has dropped out, along with his wife, Amber Heard.
While Liddell is "disappointed that they're not coming," she said others will take their place. The rally is still scheduled to have speeches by celebrities like Billy Nye "The Science Guy," and prominent atheist authors, such as Lawrence Krauss.
As reported in a variety of online articles, Heard filed for divorce from Depp earlier this week, which the rally organizer said could be one of the main reasons for the couple backing out of the speaking engagement.
"She added that she had heard speculation that the two might back out due to the social pressure of appearing at an 'atheist' rally, but she doesn't believe that rumor at all. The bad timing on top of the personal complications are the more likely culprits here," Mehta wrote.
While Depp has not specifically stated his religious beliefs, or lack there of, in a 2011 interview with CNN's Larry King, he said: "I have faith in my kids. Yeah, I have faith in my kids. And I have, I have faith, you know, as long as you keep moving forward, just keep walking forward things will be alright, I suppose, you know. Faith in terms of religion, I don't, religion is not my specialty."
Conservative leaders in America, such as Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham, have been highly critical of the upcoming rally, arguing that atheists will be worshiping man in their "anti-God religion."
Ham wrote on Facebook earlier in May that the rally "is really a worship service — they worship man — worshipping the god of self. They exalt reason and have a blind faith that the universe and life arose by natural processes."
New Zealand-born evangelist and Creationist Ray Comfort also announced that he will be engaging directly with rally participants by handing out $25,000 in Subway gift cards, alongside a copy of his book, Why Pigs Will Fly Before America Has an Atheist President.