Secular Student Alliance Gets $250,000 Matching Offer

This is game-changing news for the Secular Student Alliance:

Secular Student Alliance supporters Jeff Hawkins and Janet Strauss are excited that the SSA is growing so rapidly. Jeff and Janet know that students are an essential demographic if we want a more secular world. That’s why they helped us in 2011 as we added 110 secular campus groups, sent 303 packages of tabling supplies, held our largest annual conference ever, and organized 94 speakers’ bureau events around the country.

But we know we can do more.

That’s why they’re challenging SSA supporters to take it to the next level. They are pledging a $250,000 matching offer – whatever you donate, they’ll match dollar-for-dollar up to a quarter of a million dollars!

Jeff Hawkins told us, “Janet and I love what the Secular Student Alliance accomplished in 2011. We are thrilled they have set their sights even higher in 2012. Building the secular student movement is an essential investment in our nation’s future. We challenge everyone who wants a more secular future to join us in contributing.”

It’s no wonder they’re so supportive: Just take a look at the SSA’s growth over the past few years:

A quarter-million dollar matching campaign is a *huge* show of support for a group I believe is the most important one in our movement. But it doesn’t mean anything unless you give Hawkins (the person who invented both the Palm Pilot and the Treo) and Strauss something to match. So please consider making a donation to the SSA!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

    This is the kind of news I expect to see when I visit this site. Pro-atheist reports, news, updates, etc. 

    I’ve been confused since finding this site. The title is The Friendly Atheist. If atheists are so friendly, then why are most of the posts here making fun and attacking Christians? There has been very few posts against Islam and I’ve never seen anything against Hindu, Buddhism or any other religion. Why is one religion being singled out?

    This site should be re-labeled the hateful, self-righteous, atheist. That’s what mostly gets posted on here. If you want the movement to grow, be more “Pro-atheist” and less anti-Christian. Just a thought. We have enough hate in the world without this site promoting more of it. Posters on here get upset because some Christians say they are intolerant of certain sub-cultures and then turn around and say how much they hate Christians. Yea! More hate. Doesn’t the old adage say that 2 wrongs don’t make a right? How are you any different than the Westboro clan?

     Let’s see how long the pro-atheist stories last until another anti-Christian story comes up. I understand the comment section getting swayed, but the content can be controlled and a bit more focused on presenting atheism in a positive light and not just focusing in on attack methods. 

  • Slow Learner

    mommaJ, concern troll much?
    The fact is that Hemant is a Friendly atheist; he’s much softer edged than some prominent figures in the movement, and I’m not aware of him calling out anyone’s behaviour without good reason.
    However, he lives in a country with a large number of aggressive Christians who cannot abide atheists living openly in the same community. So while it is great to do things like the Foundation Beyond Belief, and also publicise secular parenting and support groups, to ignore the assaults on secular people, and the campaign to merge church and state which is going on around him would be Panglossian and irresponsible.
    If you are a Christian, as your comment seems to impy, I suggest you attend to the deep problems in your own community first; or alternatively read Hemant’s posts more closely, to see that he does not ‘focus on attack methods’.
    If you genuinely cannot see the moral difference between Hemant and the Westboro clan, your perception of reality appears to be seriously warped. Find one example of a post on this blog fostering hatred? One example explaining that some people just don’t deserve equal rights? I won’t hold my breath…

  • Rwlawoffice

    So the most important demographic for a more secular society is the children?  Sounds like indoctrination.   

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      University students aren’t children?

      • Rwlawoffice

        The organization is not limited to college aged students.  

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Usually your comments are more thoughtful, but here I think you are being transparently disingenuous. Your labeling this as “indoctrination” appears to be a tu quoque attempt to counter complaints that I’m sure that you’ve read on this site about how religions definitely indoctrinate young children without their consent, before they reach the age of reason and can freely make up their own minds about religious claims.

      Hemant is talking about the SSA, an organization that helps college and high school students who are already in the process of rejecting those claims, despite whatever religious indoctrination they’ve gone through.  I know of no SSA activities involving the Sunday school age bracket. These young adults are making their decisions voluntarily as freethinking agents, and because of the intolerance of the indoctrinated people all around them, they face isolation, rejection, and harassment.

      Their generation and the next are the demographic that will become the secular majority rather than the minority in our society.  Growing up with no support in a hostile environment foments bitterness, cynicism, and intolerance.  I think that giving them access to the support of their peers and giving them affirmation of their value to society will help to reduce that. We don’t want a secular society that is just as bigoted as the religious one that is steadily being replaced.

      • Rwlawoffice

        Richard, I really always like your comments even ifIi don’t always agree with them. So with real respect, you can spin it however you want, but the goal here is to reach young adults and have them believe the same as the organization. The statement of beliefs automatically excludes those that have any belief in anything that is spiritual. As such it wants people who believe as they do and engage them in activities that enforce those beliefs.  If a Christian organization did that you would call it indoctrination and it would be lambasted on this site.  The only difference is that you belief the same as the organization and as such don’t complain that they are extending these believes to young adults and encouraging them to agree.

      • Rwlawoffice

        Richard, I really always like your comments even ifIi don’t always agree with them. So with real respect, you can spin it however you want, but the goal here is to reach young adults and have them believe the same as the organization. The statement of beliefs automatically excludes those that have any belief in anything that is spiritual. As such it wants people who believe as they do and engage them in activities that enforce those beliefs.  If a Christian organization did that you would call it indoctrination and it would be lambasted on this site.  The only difference is that you belief the same as the organization and as such don’t complain that they are extending these believes to young adults and encouraging them to agree.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          I have attended SSA meetings at different colleges, as well as a two-day regional conference for SSA leadership. I never witnessed or heard of any proselytizing for atheism, or any SSA activities where the goal was to approach believers and to somehow change them into unbelievers.  If you have witnessed such a thing, then please provide names, locations and dates. I’d be very interested. Otherwise, your characterization of the goal of the SSA is just your unfounded claim. Sincerely returning your respect, you are the one who is “spinning” this. Please show me the facts to back up your spin.

          Once again, the purpose of the SSA is to support students who already have come to disbelieve.  Students who are troubled by their doubts and who want to discuss their issues with other students who are either unbelievers or who also have such doubts are welcome to attend as visitors or as members.  They approach the group; the group does not approach them. The doubters are free to go to theist groups as well, and they should go, so that they get a variety of opinions for a well-informed decision. 

          SSA groups sponsor public debates, discussions, and lectures about a variety of issues around science and/or religion to promote the kind of thoughtful inquiry and free discussion that is generally discouraged in the larger society. Winning converts to atheism is not the purpose of such public discussions, and if it were, it would be a very ineffective method.

          • Rwlawoffice

            “Winning converts to atheism is not the purpose of public discussions”

            Richard Dawkins in the video on the SSA website:

            “Students are carrying the banner for the movement with the help of SSA”

            If a Christian organization does this it is called indoctrination.

            I am sure you understand that not only small children are subject to indoctrination. The military would show that. So although the SSA may claim to be open and accept all ideas in an open discussion, only those that believe as they do can join and become part of a movement to promote as many people to atheism as possible to do as you say “bring in a more secular society” in the future. This is exactly the same type of behavior that you object to in Christian organizations.    

            • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

              Your saying that Dawkins’ poetic phrase “carrying the banner for the movement” means unilaterally and aggressively trying to convince Christians to become atheists, i.e., atheist missionary work, is a contorted stretch worthy of a yoga master.

              Your comparing the SSA to military indoctrination is laughable, but don’t take it to the Comedy Club.

              The SSA does not require any members to be atheists. Membership only requires agreement with their purpose, which is to “bring about a society in which the ideals of scientific rationality, secularism, and human based ethics flourish,” and to “foster those values among high school and college students.” (From their bylaws)

              All of your assertions rely on your uniquely very loose definitions of verbs. If you want to claim that “bring about” or “foster” means aggressive indoctrination, or that “promote,” as you have used in your last comment means proselytizing,  then that is just you getting your exercise by stretching and spinning. Careful, don’t pull a muscle.

              Apparently, you now think that “indoctrination” is any kind of
              conversation at all. Oh my goodness, that means that you and I are
              “indoctrinating” right here! Wow. Imagine my embarrassment.

              I won’t persist in this playground “Is too,” “Is not.” duet. You initiated your claim, I asked for evidence, and all you have done is to repeat your claim. Endless repetition of claims seems to be the basic standard for what passes for evidence among those who make religious claims, so I’m not surprised.

              Now you’re simply saying that no matter what verbs the SSA uses, they’re lying, nyah, nyah, so there. If you know of specific SSA actions that go far beyond your so-broad-they-mean-nothing verb definitions, then once again, names, locations and dates, please.

              If you want to repeat your “Is too,” one more time, then you’ll get the last word. Bye.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Richard, I apologize if you believe that this discussion has deteriorated into a “is too” “is not” discussion.  That was not my intent.

                 Of course I have not been to a SSA meeting and can only go by what they say to the public on their website. I am using their words to describe what they do and what their goal is. I am sure that they view themselves to be open minded and not attempting to influence anyone but that does not comport with their bylaws or their activities as expressed on their website. In fact is you are a religious person and do believe in anything that is beyond nature, you cannot join.

                My only point is this- If you changed out SSA for Christ Church, would you  view what they do as indoctrination? If not then you are being consistent and I applaud you.  If you do then my point is made.

                The term indoctrination gets thrown about  in a pejorative fashion against any religious teaching or groups that get together to foster that teaching. I was simply trying to point out that when a secular organization has the stated goal of  fostering the secular growth of young people in order to grow the number of secular people in society , i.e. the “movement” it sounds the same.

                I did not and do not compare the SSA to the military. I simply used that  as an example that young adults are open to that and it is not just sunday school age children.

                I wish you the best.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          I have attended SSA meetings at different colleges, as well as a two-day regional conference for SSA leadership. I never witnessed or heard of any proselytizing for atheism, or any SSA activities where the goal was to approach believers and to somehow change them into unbelievers.  If you have witnessed such a thing, then please provide names, locations and dates. I’d be very interested. Otherwise, your characterization of the goal of the SSA is just your unfounded claim. Sincerely returning your respect, you are the one who is “spinning” this. Please show me the facts to back up your spin.

          Once again, the purpose of the SSA is to support students who already have come to disbelieve.  Students who are troubled by their doubts and who want to discuss their issues with other students who are either unbelievers or who also have such doubts are welcome to attend as visitors or as members.  They approach the group; the group does not approach them. The doubters are free to go to theist groups as well, and they should go, so that they get a variety of opinions for a well-informed decision. 

          SSA groups sponsor public debates, discussions, and lectures about a variety of issues around science and/or religion to promote the kind of thoughtful inquiry and free discussion that is generally discouraged in the larger society. Winning converts to atheism is not the purpose of such public discussions, and if it were, it would be a very ineffective method.

  • Simon

    Impressive growth indeed. I would highly recommend whoever creates the statistical graphics for the SSA (indeed this goes for all creators of statistical graphics) to purchase books and/or courses of Edward Tufte. The visual being used does not do justice to the data.


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