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Dr. Sarah Strand speaks with Sacramento State University about Neurobiology and Religion

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time.  We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series.  If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

The Secular Student Alliance at Sacramento State University brought in Dr. Sarah Strand to talk with them about "The Neurobiology of Religious Experience." Dr. Strand's presentation included discussions of how to induce an out-of-body experience and why people feel a sense of peace and connection (often interpreted as religiously significant) when they have an out-of-body experience.

However, as Dr. Strand explained, out-of-body experiences aren't evidence of a spiritual world. Because these experiences tend to induce a strong sense of pleasure, they instead provide the illusion of an invisible friend in a  world beyond our own, with religious meaning latching onto human characteristics developed earlier in our evolutionary history.

Campus Paper Reserves Column for Secular Students!

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time.  We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series.  If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

gwgA year and a half ago at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the campus newspaper granted column space to the priest of the campus's Catholic Church. Scott C. Broussard, who was one of the leaders of UL-Lafayette’s Secular Student Alliance, didn’t think it was right that only a religious group had access to this public forum.

So, he requested—and was granted!—an adjacent column! Titled "Good Without God," the group has kept the column going since Scott started it. Covering topics from dismissing the notion that atheists are evil to what it was like to grow up godless, the column has helped to both grow their community and to normalize non-belief on UL-Lafayette’s campus.

Wow! That's How You Meet a Matching Offer!

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Dear Friends,

Two weeks ago we told you about the Secular Safe Zone, our new program to ensure that every student has a safe, neutral place where they can talk about religious doubts without fear of bullying.

Many of you wrote back telling us how excited you are for the Secular Safe Zone and all of the good work we are doing at the Secular Student Alliance. In fact, Sam Harris and his charity, Project Reason, were so excited about this work that they offered a $30,000 matching challenge, and gave us one month to meet it.

You stepped up to this challenge. We are thrilled to announce that just eleven days after Sam Harris issued this challenge we have not just met it, but blown it away. You have helped us raise more than $56,000 in that time, over 185% of our goal for the month. Thank you all for stepping up to the plate and knocking this one out of the park!

Because of generous supporters like Sam Harris and all of you, programs like the Secular Safe Zone can be a reality. If you missed out on being a part of Sam Harris’s matching challenge, you can still make a donation to ensure that the work we do at the Secular Student Alliance can continue. Your support makes the work we do possible.

Obama Administration Invites Atheists to Interfaith Planning on Campus

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Five Representatives from Secular Student Alliance to Attend National Interfaith Gathering

Contact: Jesse Galef, Communications Director
[email protected] (614) 441-9588 x101

An unlikely party will be sitting at the table when the United States Department of Education hosts its interfaith initiative: atheists.  The Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit dedicated to organizing nonreligious students, announced today that they were invited to take part in a special planning session September 24th as part of the national gathering for the President's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.  The planning session, which also includes organizations like Hillel, Campus Compacts, and the Hindu Seva Charities, aims to determine the best ways for campus service projects to include all worldviews.

"We're honored to be included in the President's call for interfaith and community service," said Jesse Galef, spokesperson for the Secular Student Alliance.  "There are thousands of nonreligious students eager to work alongside their religious friends to make the world a better place."

The Obama Administration has had a history of reaching out to secular students, a practice which has provoked some religious leaders.  When President Obama invited atheists to a White House interfaith discussion in 2010, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. accused him of widening the tent too much, saying "I think we're being set up -- for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible -- to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century."

The pushback hasn't stopped the Obama administration from including the nonreligious in its campus outreach.

"From the beginning, President Obama has envisioned students from all worldviews, religious or secular, being part of his Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge," said Ken Bedell, Senior Advisor with the Department of Education's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center.  "We know it's important to include all viewpoints in this process."

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