Safe zone created for secular students

The SV Secular Student Alliance is in its first year as an RSO and is making strides in relaying its message to students.

President Katherine Cummins-Lanter said there have been a lot of misconceptions about the group. Many associate secularism with being agnostic and atheist but the group encompasses so much more.

While agnostics are unsure about religion and the existence of a God and atheists do not believe in the existence of gods, secularists have a wide array of beliefs.

“You can be secular and value that and follow religion, or not follow religion and that is fine, also,” Cummins-Lanter said.

Secularists believe that religion should not play a role in parts of society such as government.

Treasurer Sam Oswald said the group stands for the Constitution and the separation of church and state. He said a goal of the Secular Student Alliance is to educate others and to break some of the misperceptions people hold.

“We are good, moral reasoning people who want to help our community and help people around us, just like any other organization on campus,” Oswald said.

The group has met with students from Standing in the Gap and His House to understand each other better. While they may not have the same beliefs, the groups are planning to work on service projects together.

Some of the members of the Secular Student Alliance traveled to New York City two weekends ago to participate in The People’s Climate March. Cummins-Lanter attended because she wants the Secular Student Alliance to learn how to advocate for people affected by climate change.

“One of the goals of the group is advocacy and service,” Cummins-Lanter said.

The group will bring former Evangelical preacher and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Dan Barker, to campus to speak on the topic of losing faith. He will speak Nov. 14, but the details of the event are not finalized.

Oswald calls the group a “secular safe zone” where students are able to talk without being judged.

“People can be free to discuss their thoughts and feelings, even if they have friends and family who vehemently disagree with those,” Oswald said.

The group meets every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in C130. All students are welcome to attend.

The meetings start by watching “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” a science documentary that explores the discovery of the laws of nature. Students then discuss their ideas about the episode.

“We’re hoping to build this community where people can come together and talk about what they believe, and show that we value each other’s differences,” Cummins-Lanter said.

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