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Secular Student Alliance Decries Violence in Response to Satire

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As many of you know, today in France, Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that has previously received threats and attacks based on past critiques of Islam, was attacked by gunmen. Twelve people were killed in the attacks, including journalists and policemen. We at the Secular Student Alliance condemn this assault on free expression. The Secular Student Alliance stands in solidarity with those affected. We mourn the lives lost and offer condolences to the families of the victims.

The Secular Student Alliance promotes secularism and pluralism, and we are outraged and dismayed to see violence as a response to expression. The work of Charlie Hebdo occurs in a complex context where racism and thoughtless Islamophobia influence the discussion. We join those, including many Islamic leaders, who have decried this act of violence by religious extremists. Blasphemy is a victimless crime, and religious beliefs, like all other ideas, are not above criticism. Because satire has the power to open minds and transform even dearly held perspectives, it is a threat to fundamentalism of all types. We trust Charlie Hebdo will emerge from these attacks with very much the same spirit as before. The world is watching, and we stand with Charlie.

#JeSuisCharlie

Secular Student Movement Update 1/8/2015

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Every week, the SSA prepares a summary of what the secular student movement is doing. To hear this update and news from the secular movement, tune into the SCA's National Secular Movement Update every Thursday at 12PM ET.

Presented by Kelley Freeman, Communications Associate at the Secular Student Alliance

Most of our students are currently still on break, but we still wanted to mention all of the great things they put fsutogether for the end of their semester. The Secular Student Alliance at Ferris State University in Michigan hosted a really awesome Interfaith panel with over 250 people in attendance, with a representative from a Christian group, a Muslim group, and they brought in Jeremiah Bannister, a former Roman Catholic, to represent the atheist perspective. SSA at Ferris State is looking forward to working more with religious groups on their campus in the coming semester. We also saw the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at UW-Madison, raise $155 for gifts to a local women's shelter

While on break, we also awarded the Students for Free-thought at the University of Michigan-Flint an award for Outstanding Activism. They have been one of our most active groups this past semester and have done some really amazing work. Projects this past semester have included a 'stop the stigma' chalking campaign as a response to a pro-life chalking day, a dialogue on the American War on Drugs, a memorial scholarship, and working with their Black Student Union in response to Ferguson. Their work represents a focus on social justice that we are proud to make a crucial part of the future of the SSA. 

Throughout the month of December, we collected stories from staff members, speakers, individual activists, volunteers, board members, affiliate groups, and students talking about what they are excited about as the Secular Student Alliance moves in 2015. This year marks the 15th anniversary of our organization's founding and we have lots of really great events and plans coming up for the year. If you are interested in finding out why we (and so many other people) are excited about the work SSA is doing, please take a look.

For more information, questions, comments or additions to student-led efforts in the secular movement, contact [email protected].

Awesome Interfaith Panel by Ferris State

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time. We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series. If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

While some non-theists may disagree, working with interfaith groups on campuses can be a great way to spread acceptance and understanding of atheist and agnostic students. As such, our affiliate groups are often leaders on their campuses in interfaith causes, and the Secular Student Alliance of Ferris State University in Michigan is no exception. Earlier this year, their leadership put together a response to an unkind article about atheists in their campus newspaper, and worked all semester long to put together an Interfaith panel for the end of the semester.

“It’s a common misconception that we’re just here to bash Christianity,” SSA Vice President and Business Administration/Legal Studies junior Corinne Staten said. “That’s not what we’re about. It’s not about a war on religion.”

Ferris State with JeremiahThe Secular Student Alliance of Ferris State University brought in Jeremiah Bannister to represent the atheist perspective in their interfaith panel, which also had representatives from the Muslim Student Organization and Real Life Christian group on their campus. Their event lasted over two hours and had over 250 attendants - Vice President Corinne Staten says it would have gone longer, but the university made them wrap it up. 

Afterwards, the panelists and respective student organizations enjoyed a long dinner and chat. They have plans to host more events together in the spring.

When asked how the SSA empowered them to put together this event, leadership at Ferris State said, "If it wasn't for SSA, we wouldn't be an organization. We would just be a group of misfits. We're glad that we got ahold of Jeremiah! Jessika Griffin, the Mideast Regional Campus Organizer, is amazing. She helped us through the entire process. None of this would be possible without SSA and we are glad to be a part of such a great organization!"

Great work, SSA of Ferris State! We look forward to what the spring semester brings!

$15 for '15: Amanda Scott

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Amanda Scott, a student member of the SSA and winner of an Award for Outstanding Activism, talks about she chose to join our $15 for '15 campaign. You can join the $15 for '15 campaign and be a part of our future!

Amanda

My name is Amanda Scott, and I am a student member of the Secular Student Alliance. Over the last month, they have shared stories with you from people who are passionate about their work as part of their $15 for '15 campaign. I wanted to share with you why I, as a student and activist, chose to join this campaign with a donation to the Secular Student Alliance.

You can join the $15 for '15 campaign here!

You probably remember my story. After coordinating an effort against displaying an "In God We Trust" plaque at the Mobile Government Plaza in Alabama, the local CBS affiliate posed a question about me personally to their viewers on Facebook. They asked, “What are your thoughts on a local woman who wants to see an atheist motto placed next to the words 'In God We Trust' at Government Plaza?”

In response, members of the local community commented, “Shoot her for treason,” “Go jump off a bridge,” “Get a rope,” “Whatever happened to stoning people in the city square?” and “If you don’t believe in God, how can God or the word God offend you? I wish people like this would walk into traffic.”

The secular community rushed to my defense. The Secular Student Alliance recognized my activism by honoring me with an Award for Outstanding Activism, and passed on hundreds of emails telling me how they admired me for standing up for secular principles and withstanding the backlash from my local community. These messages of support keep me motivated to keep being a secular activist!

Donating to the Secular Student Alliance’s $15 for ’15 campaign is my way of giving back to the organization that gave me support when I needed it the most.

Join me in ensuring secular students have the support they need by giving $15 per month throughout 2015. Some people can give less, others more. Wherever you are at, come and join us.

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