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Regional Program Expansion

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We are thrilled to share with you the expansion of our Regional Program! Started in 2012, the Regional Program provides hands-on, designated support to our students and affiliate groups through Regional Campus Organizers (RCOs). When we first started the program, we had one full-time RCO in the Southeast, and one part-time RCO in Texas.

RegionsRegions

Last year we grew this program even further, expanding coverage to four additional states. And, for this school year, the Regional Program will be growing even more. We are thrilled with the four regions we have for this upcoming school year: The Mideast, The South Central, The Southwest, and The Southeast regions, which cover nineteen states and fifty-five percent of our affiliate groups! Students in these areas have a friendly face on the ground to help them with events and questions.

SSA Student Amanda Scott Featured in Anniston Alabama Editorial

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Insight: Alabama's quest for equality

In a government of the people and for the people, a number of groups have done quite well in getting the majority to accept that they are indeed people worthy of participating in the political process. No more do black citizens fear the night riders with guns and torches should they dare to show up at City Hall with a petition. LGBT folks are getting elected in greater numbers, and there are no laws barring them from holding public office.

Certainly, these groups still face challenges in achieving equality in the political and other arenas in U.S. life. However, despite the fact that our Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” seven states ban atheists from holding office. And while Alabama is not one of the places that have these unconstitutional provisions as law, bigots are hiding behind false e-mail accounts to drive out those who they believe are unworthy to participate in government.

Amanda Scott, 21, is a student at Faulkner State Community College. On June 19, she testified before her local county commission against a resolution to display a plaque reading “In God We Trust” at the Mobile Government Plaza. When the commission voted 2-1 to approve the plaque, Amanda testified once more.

This time, she spoke up to support a proposal that would allow other individuals and groups to put up their own plaques. Scott, along with the Mobile atheist community, suggested an “In Reason We Trust” plaque to accompany the pro-religion sign piece. Once again, the commission voted against the requests of the non-religious constituents.

Call to Action: Secular Students and Social Justice

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Dear SSA members, leaders, and supporters:

The trend of unarmed black men and boys dying at the hands of U.S. law enforcement is troubling and frightening. Furthermore, the lack of due process, suppression of freedom of the press, and militaristic response of law enforcement to peaceful protests in the city of Ferguson, Missouri have been very disturbing. 

SSA @ UCF students
Students from the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Florida

We have no reason to believe that Michael Brown was secular, nor do we believe that any of the behavior of local law enforcement was based on explicitly religious grounds. However, there are black men and boys who are secular students. We stand beside them. Furthermore, we want to live in a society where due process, freedom of the press, and peaceful protest are allowed. These are values that humanity reached not by divine revelation, but by imagining how to make this life better for all people. These are values that we see as critical for humans living together in a free society.

We have heard from many of you that you are eager to engage on social justice issues while embracing your secular identity. If you or your group are interested in engaging on these topics, make it so! We want to see you make the world a better place and we want to see you be open about who you are as you do it. We want you to focus your critical inquiry on all kinds of questions.

We know that social justice issues are tricky. We believe it’s incredibly important to be able to articulate the connection between the missions of our groups and the social justice issues with which we choose to engage. We have just released resources on engaging social justice issues. We look forward to offering more specific guidance, but we also want to hear from you about what issues you see as most important to engage with and why. Please let us know what you are doing and what you would like help doing.

We Are So Proud of Amanda Scott

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Standing up for your rights can be a very difficult and brave thing to do. However, no one should ever be vilified and harassed the way that many secular people are when they speak up for their rights.

Amanda Scott is a student at Faulkner State Community College. On June 19th, she testified before her local county commission against a resolution to display a plaque with "In God We Trust" on it at the Mobile Government Plaza. However, her voice was not listened to, and the commission voted 2-1 to approve the plaque.

Amanda.ScottAmanda wasn't done standing up for what she knew was right. She stood up once again on August 7th for a proposal to allow other individuals and groups to put up their own plaques. The one proposed by Amanda the Mobile Atheist Community, had "In Reason We Trust" written on it. Once again, the commission ignored her voice.

However, Amanda knew she could still get her perspective listened to. So when the largest local TV station requested an interview after her second testimony, she accepted. This news station, rather than focusing on the presence of the plaque, asked their audience what they thought about Amanda speaking up for her rights.

The results were horrific and beyond what anyone should have to deal with. Her community posted death threats, told her to leave the country, attacked her character, and attacked her appearance.

After a different news outlet ran a story about the hate mail she had received, more people stepped up to tell Amanda that she deserved the harassment and even accused her of lying about receiving them.

This is atrocious behavior; anyone should be able to stand up for their rights and their belief without receiving death threats.

We are so proud of the work Amanda has done towards advancing equality in her community, in spite of the hatred and harassment that has been directed towards her. We want to recognize Amanda's bravery in standing up for her fellow secular people in Mobile, Alabama, and are thrilled to be able to recognize her courage with an Award for Outstanding Activism.

Amanda, please know that you have the full support of the Secular Student Alliance. We know that an award from us doesn't make up for the harassment, but we hope it can serve as a reminder that you are doing fantastic work, and we are proud to have you as a part of the secular student movement.

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