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SSA Joins "Openly Secular" Coalition With Goal of Fighting Discrimination

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New Coalition Formed to Highlight and Overcome Discrimination Against Nonreligious & Atheists

                                            Group Calls Itself “Openly Secular”;

                            Makes Call To Action for Victims to Share Their Stories


Columbus, Ohio – The Secular Student Alliance has partnered with a coalition of secular groups to form a new organization called Openly Secular. The goal is to highlight and overcome discrimination in America.

Atheists and other nonreligious people not only face discrimination on a regular basis, but the prejudice often goes unrecognized because it can be socially acceptable to distrust those outside the majority religious faith. A Gallup poll in 2012 found almost half of Americans would vote against a well-qualified presidential candidate from their party, if that person was an atheist.

“Our mission is to is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and all nonreligious people to be open about their beliefs,” said Todd Stiefel, Chair for the Openly Secular coalition and founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. “By being open about our beliefs and values, we can show that we, like all people, are worthy of love and kindness undeterred by religious differences.”

Secular Student Alliance Election Results

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The Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors is excited to announce that Seráh Blain, Ashley Carter, Mark Hatcher, and Brendan Murphy were all elected to serve two more years on our Board of Directors starting on May 1st, 2014.  Joining the Board for the first time are Nicholas Freeman, Bridget Gaudette, Dr. Barry Markovsky, and Ashley F. Miller.

"We are thrilled with the election results," said Board Chair Evan Clark.  "We are building an ever more diverse Board with undergraduate leaders, graduate students, community organizers, and faculty advisors."

August Brunsman, executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, remarked "this is exactly the kind of leadership we need to normalize secular identity and spread secular values with students today.

Everyone is encouraged to read about the new board members.

Edwin Kagin, 1940-2014

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We at the Secular Student Alliance are saddened by the death of Edwin Kagin.  Kagin was a longtime secular activist who championed the separation of State and church, human rights, and the need for evidence-based education.  We were fortunate to enjoy his counsel as a member of the SSA's Advisory Board. 

Edwin Kagin was one of the founders of Camp Quest, and in his role as National Legal Director for American Atheists, had recently argued cases against the IRS and against the inclusion of a cross beam, found in the rubble at the site of the terror attack, in the 9/11 museum.

SSA Board member, Hemant Mehta, and SSA Executive Director, August Brunsman, offer these thoughts.

"Edwin Kagin dedicated his life to an important cause -- spreading rational thinking -- when he could easily have made more money or acquired more goodwill doing something different. He was never content being an armchair activist; instead, he wanted to get down in the trenches and create change, whether it was through writing legal briefs (which often swayed judges) or through starting, with his wife Helen, a summer camp that is still thriving today. Even the Secular Student Alliance has benefitted tremendously from his support and advice over the years. He has influenced generations of non-religious Americans, including many so young they may not know his name, and the legacy he's left behind will be felt for many years to come." - Hemant Mehta

"Edwin was an honest friend, a creative activist, a skilled lawyer, a passionate poet, a peerless wartime consigliere, a planter of trees whose shade he knew he would never sit in, and above all a troublemaker. I know for the rest of my life I’ll be asking myself 'What would Edwin do?'  From time to time, I'll even do it." - August Brunsman

Welcome Jamila Bey!

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JamilaWe are thrilled to announce the hiring of our new Communications Director Jamila Bey!

Jamila spent ten years as a producer and editor at NPR, where she worked on shows like Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered. She recently hosted the hour-long radio show The Sex, Politics, And Religion Hour.

Jamila brings to the SSA a wealth of experience as a speaker and writer, and we are excited about her inside knowledge working as a member of the press. She was a debater all through high school and much of college, and has been a member of our Speakers Bureau for two years. She is passionate about STEM education, particularly advancing women and minority participation in STEM fields.

Jamila studied at Duquesne University, which as a private school has refused to allow an SSA affiliate group to form on campus. In her free time she is a debate and chess instructor, as well as a trivia ninja—to Jamila, Jeopardy! is a full-contact sport.

Please join us in welcoming Jamila Bey as the Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance!

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