Two National Groups Team Up To Protect Rights of Young Atheists

This is a match made in hell — and it’ll help secular students around the country.

The Secular Student Alliance and Freedom From Religion Foundation have announced a joint partnership that will offer free legal help to young atheists whose rights are being violated:

“No student should ever be subjected to religious discrimination from their school, but they don’t always know where to turn for help,” said Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “With today’s partnership, we’re telling students that when push comes to shove, we have their backs.”

“Younger Americans are less religious than ever, and they’re turning from religious congregations to secular communities,” said SSA Communications Director Jesse Galef. “This partnership ensures that students both know their rights and that we’re here to defend them. The message to school administrators is clear: secular students won’t be pushed around any more.”

This has unofficially been going on for years, but the new initiative means that SSA’s groups and members will be formally educated about their rights, while FFRF will take the helms in case any violations come up.

This past school year, we’ve seen plenty of examples of Christians who confuse public schools with churches, whether it’s holding religious assemblies, (almost) performing pro-Christian plays, having unqualified individuals teach Christian-based sex education, posting Ten Commandments plaques on classroom walls, hanging a portrait of Jesus in the hallway, saying (or allowing) prayers at graduation, or hoisting Christian banners at football games.

If students — atheists or otherwise — know that religion is being illegally promoted in their schools, they can have confidence that SSA and FFRF will be there to help them out.

By the way, there are some very interesting stats in the press releases from the organizations: In 2009, the SSA has 143 groups. This year, they have 386 (including 48 at high schools).

In 2009, the FFRF addressed 54 complaints about public schools. This year, that number is 405.

(Might as well throw in a cheap plug: I wrote about a number of these sorts of public school violations — and the brave students who fought back — in my book The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide.)

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.


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