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Love Trumps Hate: Secular Student Convening Mobilizes Students for Social Activism


Columbus, Ohio – The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) will host its 2017 annual conference from July 7-9, at Ohio State University on the theme Love Trumps Hate. The largest secular student conference in the nation, each year the conference brings together hundreds of students and community leaders to learn leadership development, grassroots organizing skills, and secular activism. This year’s conference will be no different—just better.

SSA organizers envision the convening as a training ground for secular activism, offering practical tools—grassroots organizing and leadership skills--for students to organize their peers around issues of intersectional activism.

The number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10 percent in 1986 to 31 percent just last year. And against the backdrop of today’s tumultuous social and political climate, SSA’s student activists have already been leading social justice movements on their campuses and in their communities across the country. They are more motivated than ever to create positive change, and SSA Con is a pivotal step.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Annie Pearl Avery, a legend of the Civil Rights Movement and self-identified secularist. Miss Avery was one of the first to be arrested in the 1965 attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery, the day now notoriously known as “Bloody Sunday.”
  • David Smalley, founder and CEO of Secular Media Group, the parent company for Dogma Debate Radio, Secular News Network, and Secular Media Network. David is also an author and national speaker on secularism and atheism.
  • Christopher Cameron, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, president of the African American Intellectual History Society, and author whose work includes early religious history and the history of slavery and abolition.
  • Becka Alper, research associate at PEW Research Center and author. Becka contributes to the Center’s domestic religion polls.

And featured panels include:

Political Advocacy: With a focus on church/state separation, LGBTQ rights, women's healthcare, and more, we focus on it’s important for secular activists to make their political voices heard, from the perspective of student and professional activists, including:

  • Matt Enloe, SSA at University of Chicago
  • Lucien Greaves, The Satanic Temple
  • Erin Hagen, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Jim Helton, Tri-State Freethinkers

Racial Justice: Black Lives Matter! How can we, as secular activists, work to advance these intersectional causes? This panel will reinforce the importance of tackling racial justice causes alongside secular causes, and explore how they are related from experienced student and professional activists. This panel will be moderated by Mandisa Thomas, President of Black Nonbelievers.

Panelists Include:

  • Diane Burkholder, One-Struggle Kansas City & LGBTQ Humanist Alliance
  • Sean Rivera, SSA at University of Texas, San Antonio
  • Sam Farooqui, alum of SSA at Florida State University
  • Annie Pearl Avery

Reproductive Justice: Why is it important for secular activists to be involved in fighting for reproductive rights, and combat the toxic influence of the Religious Right? We’ll hear from student activists as well as professional activists on why this is so important, how to be involved, and how we can fight for these rights!

  • Erin Carhart, Planned Parenthood
  • Jennie Frischtick, SSA alumni
  • Kayla Bowen, Morehead St SSA

For more information, visit: Secularstudents.org/2017con, and join the conversation at #SSAcon.

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