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NPR Featured One of Our Student Leaders!

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Dear Friends,

Earlier this month, NPR interviewed Daniel Muñoz, one of our student leaders at the University of Texas, for a feature segment on leaving religion. As the SSA's Regional Campus Organizer for Texas, I wanted to pass along Daniel's thoughts on not only growing beyond faith but also growing a secular community. Daniel's parents raised him Catholic, but at fourteen his growing understanding of science and philosophy led Daniel to reconsider the beliefs of his parents.

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Daniel at a counter-protest with his group at the University of Texas

Being able to find a secular community, both in-person and on the internet, greatly helped Daniel as he came out as a non-believer. As Daniel noted in the interview, “people my age feel so much differently about atheism than they used to because you can go onto the internet, you can hear what atheist thinkers have to say, you can be involved in a virtual community, you can see that we don’t have horns: we’re not crazy.”

As more and more Americans come out as secular, societal attitudes about atheism are shifting, especially among young people. Daniel shared that he and many of his peers don’t need to have any sort of relationship with a god, though he sees some value in parts of religion, such as the community. However, when it comes to forming his own morality, Daniel has a different view on religions’ value.

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.

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