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Fall Brings Record Numbers of Atheist, Agnostic Student Organizations on Campus

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Columbus, OH - Indicative of a larger pattern, atheist and agnostic students will return to campus this fall with a better chance than ever of finding groups of like-minded young people. The Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a national organization devoted to supporting nonreligious student groups, reported having a record 219 campus affiliate groups, up from 159 in 2009 and 100 in 2008.

"The secular student movement is growing faster than we ever expected," said SSA Executive Director August Brunsman. "It's a challenge to keep up with the demand for services. That's a nice problem to have."

The growing organization of secular students parallels the broader trend in the U.S. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that the secular demographic was the only one to have grown in every state since 1990. Studies consistently report increases among the religiously unaffiliated, with those under 30 the most likely to be nonreligious. As this population goes to college, they increasingly aim to find - or create - active, welcoming groups with like-minded individuals.

Affiliated groups provide activities and a social network for college students seeking an alternative to campus religious ministries. They frequently host discussions, social events, educational panels, and community service.

The SSA supports its affiliates in a variety of ways including supplying literature, group-running guides, hands-on assistance, discounted access to prominent speakers, and project grants.

"We envision a future in which nonreligious students are respected voices in society," said Brunsman. "The increasing numbers and organization are promising signs that we're making progress."

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The Secular Student Alliance is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to organize, unite, educate and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific rationality, secularism, democracy, and human-based ethics. More information can be found at http://www.secularstudents.org.

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