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RELEASE: Atheists demand the end of discrimination at Catholic universities

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8/17/2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kelley Freeman, (614) 441-9588 x101
kelley.freeman@secularstudents.org

Atheists demand the end of discrimination at Catholic universities

COLUMBUS, OH - A new article at Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily brazenly advocates for religious discrimination against atheist, agnostic, or otherwise secular students. The article makes the claim that secular student groups represent a ‘danger’ to students and calls on Catholic Universities to deny those students' freedom of assembly and religious expression. The Secular Student Alliance calls for the end of discrimination against non-religious students at Catholic universities.

The article in question points to three current Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups at Catholic universities and states that these organizations’ “disrupt and undermine the community by acting for contrary goals or goods.”

“Our group's main goal is to give students a space to explore their beliefs without judgment and without anyone being pushed to affiliate with any one belief system,” stated Nora Marren, President of Dominican University’s Secular Student Alliance. “We welcome both non-religious and religious students alike to join us in our discussions. Excluding non-religious students from representation on campus would be going against Dominican's mission statement by preventing the creation of a just world.”

“Religiously affiliated universities and colleges should welcome atheist groups, and all faith groups, in the spirit of cooperation and acceptance. In the end, we're all striving for the same thing: a better world. No one single group of people can succeed in attaining such a goal without the support of others,” stated Arthur Wawrzyczek, former leader of DePaul’s past Secular Student Alliance affiliate.

Though there are Catholic institutions with Secular Student Alliance affiliates, groups at other Catholic universities have been denied. Notre Dame University, Duquesne University in Pennsylvania, and the University of Dayton have all rejected attempts to establish Secular Student Alliance affiliates. 

“Catholic universities should remember that they are not just Catholic, they are also universities. Universities should be places where people of diverse identities fearlessly exchange ideas,” said August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. “These Catholic universities try to recruit students of all stripes with statements about how much they embrace diversity and celebrate intellectual freedom,” Brunsman continued.  “We want them to live up to that ideal and welcome Secular Student Alliance groups as part of their diverse communities.”

The Secular Student Alliance at University of Nevada-Reno is Outstanding!

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Every year, the National Secular Student Alliance hears about amazing things that our students, affiliate groups, Secular Safe Zone Allies, and advisors are doing. When we hear of an individual or group doing something especially awesome, we present them with an Award for Outstanding Activism for their exemplary work. 

The Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision opened the door for nontheists to step in and deliver secular invocations in their home towns, including students, and hats off to the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Nevada-Reno!

On Monday June 8th, Ryan Davis, President of the SSA at UNR, delivered a secular invocation at Sparks City Council. The invocation was drafted by SSA at UNR members Gennadiy Gurariy and Dr. Bernard Drumm.

This was not the first time the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Nevada-Reno has been involved in issues related to government-sponsored prayer. In the fall of 2013, the SSA at UNR was pivotal in ending the practice of public prayer in Reno's City Hall. When Sparks, Nevada approved prayers during government events, the SSA at UNR wanted to send a strong message that these invocations infringe upon the rights of agnostics and atheists in the community. 

This is, as far as we know, the first explicitly secular invocation in the state of Nevada.

The transcript of the invocation is as follows:

The Lamar University Secular Student Alliance is Outstanding!

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Every year, the National Secular Student Alliance hears about amazing things that our students, affiliate groups, Secular Safe Zone Allies, and advisors are doing. When we hear of an individual or group doing something especially awesome, we give them an Award for Outstanding Activism for their exemplary work. 

lamar

At the Secular Student Alliance we strive for intersectionality, and are always delighted to see our affiliate groups embracing social justice. That's why we're presenting the Lamar University Secular Student Alliance an Award for Outstanding Activism! 

Last month, Lamar University SSA students and family members marched in their second ever Pride event, in Beaumont, Texas!

"We all marched with our banner and our shirts, representing the SSA in the Pride march, even though it was pouring down rain and we all got soaked," said Amber Barnhill of Lamar University SSA.

What is especially exciting about this event is that Lamar University SSA did something that we've never seen before - they made LGBTQ Secular Student Alliance t-shirts for their event! 

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If you and your Secular Student Alliance affiliate want to embrace the LGBTQ community on your campus, check out the official logo we've designed specifically for that purpose! Be sure to send us pictures of your finished products!

We love it when our affiliate groups participate in their greater community! Great work, Lamar University Secular Student Alliance! 

Are you as impressed as we are with the Lamar University Secular Student Alliance? Interested in supporting their work and ours? Consider a donation to the Secular Student Alliance today! 

RELEASE: Atheist students counter Westboro in Chattanooga

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7/21/2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Cara Zelaya, (321) 961-9254
cara.zelaya@secularstudents.org

Atheist students to counter-protest Westboro following Chattanooga shooting

CHATTANOOGA, TN - Students from Secular Panthers at Georgia State University, the Secular Student Alliance at Dalton State College, and the newly founded Secular Student Alliance at Clayton State University will be participating in a peaceful counter protest of Westboro Baptist Church July 24 at 9:00 a.m. at the Chattanooga Funeral Home in Hixson, TN following the shooting of five Marines in Chattanooga last Thursday. 

Students from all three secular groups will be joining several area veteran groups to create a human shield so the families of the victims will not have to see the protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church.

“We are participating in this peaceful counter-protest at the service so as to provide the families a place to mourn in peace, as it should be,” stated Sean Kirk, Secretary of Secular Panthers at Georgia State University. 

These students join over 9,600 other people planning on participating in the "Wall Against Westboro.” Westboro Baptist Church is best known for its hate speech, particularly against LGBTQ persons, Jews, and politicians, as well as for picketing funerals of soldiers. 

“We ask that our students at the Secular Student Alliance stand for something, rather than against something,” said Cara Zelaya, Southeast Regional Campus Organizer of the Secular Student Alliance. “We are thrilled when our students are setting examples of compassion and empathy towards their fellow human beings.”

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