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SSA Board Member Maggie Ardiente Speaks on Steps of the U.S. Supreme Court


MaggieOn the morning of Feb. 28th SSA Board member Maggie Ardiente spoke at a rally on the steps of the United State Supreme Court.

The rally was in support of the Freedom From Religion Foundation just before oral arguments in FFRF's lawsuit questioning the legality of the Faith-Based Initiatives were heard in the Court. In addition to Ms. Ardiente, speakers included Fred Edwords, Director of Communications for the American Humanist Association; Stuart Jordan, Board Member of the Washington Area Secular Humanists; Lori Lipman-Brown, Director of the Secular Coalition of America; and Margaret Downey, President of Atheist Alliance International and The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP).

The Faith-Based Initiatives are a clear breach of the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.

After the rally, Maggie and other speakers were interviewed. That interiview aired on ABC at 6:30p EST on Sunday (March 4th, 2007); you can watch it here.

Here are her remarks:

Good morning. My name is Maggie Ardiente and I'm on the Board of Directors of the Secular Student Alliance.

I am here to represent high school and college students of among the 63 million Americans who claim no religion. Our purpose is to organize, unite, educate and serve students that promote the ideals of scientific rationality, secularism, and human based ethics.

We represent students from all parts of the country; in Alaska, California, Florida and Massachusetts; from Harvard University to UCLA, from the University of Michigan to the University of Alabama; students dedicated to promoting reason and science on high school and college campuses.

Now, many adult Americans today have very little "faith" in our youth generation. Some of them think that all we young people think about is updating our profiles on MySpace, or checking out the latest YouTube video.

Rena and Maggie at SCOTUS

But studies have shown that today's younger generation are more interested in critical thinking and naturalism than ever before
. The Internet is driving the next generation of skeptics, making information readily accessible to everyone. And we're turning that knowledge into activism. This is a new enlightenment, and we're equipped with the tools to empower today's youth to use reason for their own good and the good of their generation.

The Secular Student
Alliance is at the forefront of this movement. I'm talking about students at James Madison University, whom in addition to promoting science and evolution through their annual celebration of Darwin Day, also raised hundreds of dollars for Doctors Without Borders. Students at the University of North Texas, a predominantly religious campus, are promoting the atheist viewpoint on panels and discussions. And then there are the students at the University of Kansas, who annually host more campus events than all forty of the religious campus groups combined.

These students are making a difference. They are making a statement on college campuses all over the country that the next generation of freethinkers is not going to sit idly around while the principles of church-state separation are ignored. Today's young atheists are activists, and today, we're standing behind the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the challenges to President Bush's faith-based initiatives in this case. Our assertion is this: the United States government has no right to tell us what to believe. We can do far better than faith-based social programs. We need reason-based initiatives: social programs that address the needs of ALL Americans.

It's time for a new enlightenment: to be the voice of reason and an advocate for equality, and the thousands of atheist and agnostic students represented by the Secular Student Alliance are ready to fight, for our generation and future generations to come. Thank you.


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