August E. Brunsman IV is the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. This essay is part of a series we called our Executive Corner Pieces. These are generally published the second Tuesday of each month and give you a little insight to the thoughts of our Executive Director.
Last month, we publicly launched our revamped Mission, Vision, and Values and the response has shown us how many folks share our organization's values and vision. The SSA is committed to increasing diversity, focusing on making our work richer by working with intersectional causes, and helping more people use secular values to find meaning and purpose in their lives. We are very proud of all the work that went into this revamp and of the time and effort from our Board of Directors and tireless staff. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we appreciate that our supporters feel the same way about the direction of the Secular Student Alliance.
However, we’ve also received some questions about our new Mission, Vision, and Values that I wanted to address.
Some supporters are concerned that we won’t be continuing the sort of work we’ve done in the past with our affiliate groups, but our new Mission, Vision, and Core Values adds to who we are as an organization. We’re still planning to do Ask an Atheist Day, Graveyard of the Gods, and Darwin Day. We’re also going to keep supporting debates and discussions that question the role of religion in society. We remain proudly secular and fearless inquiry is a central part of who we are!
Most of the students we support see their secularism as a core part of their identity. Their decision to focus on the only life and only world they know informs all of their important decisions. We want to let our students know that we expect and encourage their thoughtful engagement on the pressing issues of the day. This isn't just about our students’ time in high school or college, but about living meaningful lives as secular individuals. We want to set them up to continue spreading secular values and normalizing secular identity after they graduate. To do that, we need a secularism that’s big enough and rich enough to inform a lifetime of decisions. Just to be very clear, we don’t think we have all the answers. But we do want to encourage a lot of conversations.