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Resisting Theocracy: Follow up from the University of Montevallo Secular Student Alliance

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Affiliate groups of the Secular Student Alliance can request funding from us to host a speaker at their campus. Learn more at our Speaker's Bureau Funding page!

Just in time for Election Day, the University of Montevallo’s Secular Student Alliance hosted Chuck Miller, regional director of American Atheists’ Alabama chapter and founder of the Secular Coalition for Alabama! 

On October 23rd, Miller’s talk, “Resisting Theocracy” spoke to the importance of the separation of church and state and how it affects everyone whether they are religious or not. He talked about how secularists and their allies can improve the political landscape by banding together to bring about the positive change we all want to achieve.ChuckMiller

Hannah Martin, secretary of the University of Montevallo’s Secular Student Alliance, says, “He was very engaging and gave a lot of good advice. The audience seemed to really enjoy the lecture as there was a constant stream of questions from people at the end, all of whom seemed inspired and ready to work for that change.”

Officers of UM’s SSA were also able to meet with Miller beforehand at a local restaurant as a chance to introduce him to the group and campus, as well as to get to know him better and discuss ideas and current events. They were also able to make some connections for more possible events in the future.

In addition to having an awesome event, UM’s SSA was also able to get their presence known around campus with flyers in every building and a digital flyer on their local channel. They were also mentioned on a university-wide broadcast email for upcoming events at their university. Their event had a lot of people show up who had never been to an SSA meeting before! 

Their audience was diverse as well - questions came from religious standpoints as well as a non-religious standpoint. UM’s SSA also noticed many audience members taking the tabling supplies that the Secular Student Alliance provided. 

Secular Start Up: November Monthly Update

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Secular Start Up is the finest (and only) official video advice series from the Secular Student Alliance, put on by our Communications Associate, Kelley Freeman, and our Regional Program Manager, Gordon Maples. It originally started in August of 2013, when neither of them even lived in the same state.

RELEASE: North Georgia secular cadets' religious rights violated

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4 November 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gordon Maples (614)441-9588 x 113
gordon.maples@secularstudents.org

Secular cadets at the University of North Georgia blow whistle on religious rights violations by administration

DAHLONEGA, GA – Cadet students at the University of North Georgia are spearheading activism on their campus following the breach of their religious rights.

“University of North Georgia students are standing up for the separation of church and state on their campus, something that we encourage among our student activists,” says Gordon Maples, Regional Program Manager of the Secular Student Alliance, “Students have a lot more power and influence than they may think, and we want to help them advocate for their rights.”

Beginning in October 2012, the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus has received numerous complaints about its violations of the religious rights of non-religious cadets. There have been several instances of explicitly Christian prayers at mandatory events for cadets, most recently a 9/11 memorial event. The event was put together by the Student Government Association at the behest of the administration, and there were several prayers throughout the event.

UNG administration claims that this event was not required, but there are sworn affidavits from UNG Skeptics Society members stating it was, in fact, mandatory. The students are choosing to remain anonymous because they are concerned going public could jeopardize their future at the school.

“The memorial was in no way demonstrably separate from the University in its sponsorship,” one student stated, “It took place on university grounds and was presided over by the University chaplain and student leadership.”

Congratulations On Your Scholarship, Frank!

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Frank Skiff is a student at Florida International University, where he is the secretary of the Secular Student Alliance affiliate group on campus. As a group member he hosted a weekly secular beach cleanup! He is studying biology with a focus on entymology, and is hoping to earn a masters degree and expand his research on ecosystems. Frank was raised Catholic and attended church every week, though his interests were always piqued by science.

frankEarlier this year, Frank and a friend started a science and atheism clothing line to show others that they shouldn’t be afraid of their absence of belief, that they can make a difference, and that atheists are good people that do good things. Their clothing line, Absence of Clothing, donates money to secular-minded charities, and during 2014 has given over $2,500 to organizations like Homeless Nexus, Earth Justice, and Friends for Animals Sanctuary. The line has been featured by numerous secular writers and podcasts, and has began to impact more people in the secular community.

For the remainder of the school year, Frank hopes to work with his school’s SSA affiliate group to make sure their campus knows who they are and what they stand for, including working to get more funding for next year. He hopes to accomplish this through flyrering and tabing, and by teaming up with local allied organizations, like the LGBT groups on campus.

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