Atheism on Campus Reaches Milestone, Tipping Point
[Update: This press release originally stated that 29% of individuals 18-29 were unaffiliated with religion, when the correct percent is 22%. Of those unaffiliated with religion, 29% were between ages 18-29.]
250th Affiliate Joins Secular Student Alliance
February 9, 2011
Columbus, OH - Organized atheism on campus has reached a milestone - and perhaps a tipping point. The Secular Student Alliance announced today that it reached 250 affiliates, supporting campus groups for nonreligious students across the country and around the world. The movement has doubled in size in the past two years.
"We're witnessing a major shift in our society," said Communications Director Jesse Galef. "More students are proudly calling themselves atheists, which inspires others to do the same. We used to go out and find them. Now, they're springing up everywhere and finding us, asking to join the movement."
The SSA has shown remarkable growth recently, up from 100 affiliates in fall of 2008. Starting this year, they have made a push to expand their services to high school students. After reaching 12 high school affiliates in the past four years, five new high school groups have joined in the past month alone. 30 additional campuses have requested the group starting packets this year in an effort to begin the process.
The organization's growth is reflected in the country's changing demographics. Surveys have found that younger Americans are the least likely to be religious, and are rejecting religion more than ever. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, 22% of 18-29 year olds are religiously unaffiliated, compared with 15% of the population as a whole.
As this growing segment of the population goes to school, they increasingly look to find or create welcoming groups of like-minded peers. Secular groups are encouraged to focus on activism, building community, education, service projects, and cooperation with other groups. The SSA provides them with resources like group-running guides, activity packets, project grants, and go-to staff members to answer questions.
"We're not going to rest on our laurels," said Executive Director August Brunsman. "Our movement will continue to grow and empower more students to improve their communities. The question is not whether we can get a group on every campus - but when it will happen."