New Video Series for Secular Student Group Leaders

Admittedly, this is total shameless self-promotion. However, it’s done with the intention of trying to help. 

Gordon Maples and I (Kelley Freeman) have started a video advice series for the leaders of Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups. We are both alumni of really strong SSA groups with at least six or seven years of group running experience between us. While this is not an official project of the Secular Student Alliance, we want this to be as helpful as possible and we take questions on Twitter (or in the comment sections of the YouTube videos).

We plan on doing a video every Monday night at 7:30p (ET) — and they are Google Hangouts on Air so they are live! So far, Gordon and I have covered starting your own secular group on campus and tabling effectively. This coming week, we will be talking about how to run meetings and choose meeting topics.

These videos shouldn’t last much longer than half an hour each week. Occasionally, we’ll have other experts on to talk about topics (Hemant has promised to show up at some point)!

Here is our latest video, about tabling:

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Pastafarians Detained in Russia After Complaints from Orthodox Church Group

Russia’s government is technically a federal, semi-presidential republic, much like the United States.. It has a history of being very secular, explicitly atheist while under Soviet rule. However, in recent years, the church has become a powerful institution, quite the change for a once-Communist country.

Earlier this year, Russia passed an (unopposed!) anti-LGBT law. Russia also has very strong anti-blasphemy laws (as demonstrated in their arrest of punk rock band Pussy Riot) and a new law to essentially protect the feelings of religious believers.

Despite the growing number of visible “Pastafarians” over the last few years, Russia’s Orthodox Church does not find the satire funny at all — nope, not one bit. While Russians are not necessarily known for their sense of humor, this response goes overboard.

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Catholic Blogger: Selling Gay People Flowers for a Wedding is Like Selling Bank Robbers a Bag for the Money

Rebecca Hamilton, a fellow Patheos blogger, recently posted about a small business owner in Washington (state) who is being sued for refusing to provide flowers for a wedding.

As you might expect, the only reason she denied the couple in question flowers for their wedding is because they happened to be gay. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, claimed that she had no problem selling flowers to LGBT people… as long as it’s not for a gay wedding because that would involve “actively participating in something that just about all traditional Christians consider sinful.” As a result, she’s countersuing the state saying that her constitutional rights were violated.

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Have a Good Friday… Night!

This past Friday — Good Friday — the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina decided to have a little fun with their student body. They got together a bunch of members, their tabling supplies, some flyers, and… condoms.

Taking a page out of the Illini Secular Student Alliance‘s book, they decided to tell their fellow students to “Have a Good Friday… Night!”

Perhaps due to the University of South Carolina’s low Catholic population, general friendliness of the student body, or the fact that they were passing out condoms, the event was a huge success! SSAUSC reports that they were out of condoms and flyers by 1:00PM that Friday. They had started tabling around 11:00 that morning.

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Help Out CTHULU!

Yes, you read that right. I’m asking you to help out CTHULU: the Critical Thinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers at Lawrence University. (Is that not the most clever acronym you’ve seen for a Secular Student Alliance affiliate or what?)

They’re currently selling t-shirts online to raise money for their group and the original design is done by the group’s founder and president, Alexa Blumenstock. [Read more...]


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