Under ordinary circumstances, we’d be excitedly preparing for an in-person Secular Student Alliance (SSA) National Conference, which would normally be held on a college campus and serves as the largest gathering of secular students in the country. However, this is no ordinary year. This weekend, from May 14-16, the SSA conference will be hosted virtually and everyone is invited to attend—with free sessions for students, humanists, and the larger secular community.
The Secular Student Alliance supports individual students and student chapters at middle schools, high schools, and college campuses. Our pre-conference workshops, specifically designed for students, are on Friday, May 14. Three panels, led by students and alumni, focus on giving secular students the advocacy training and support they need to take action on campus and in their communities. They include:
- Become A Secular Advocate – To empower individual students to become advocates for the issues they are most passionate about.
- Build a Secular Community – To equip students with the skills to raise awareness on their campus of secular issues, engage in difficult conversations, reach out to other nonreligious students, and to start a secular chapter on campus or help them to grow their existing chapter.
- Be an Intersectional Activist – To challenge students to consider what brought them to their secularism, where it can take them, and how they can have an impact as a community through intersectional activism.
Our Saturday and Sunday schedule is packed with a variety of live speakers who participants will have the opportunity to interact with on a wide range of exciting topics.
On Saturday, we are excited to have Sasha Sagan discussing her new book and the role of rituals in secular life. Jocelyn Williamson, from the Central Florida Freethought Community and Florida Humanist Association, will discuss building and developing local groups using the QVC approach for maximum impact. Clara Fang, from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, will share what you can do to help solve climate change. We will feature conversations with Representatives Don Beyer, Hank Johnson, and Mark Pocan—members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. Michelle Ciurria will host an interactive conversation on whether or not science is truly rational and objective. Isabelle Oldfield and Margie Delao, from the American Humanist Association, will discuss building effective coalitions and how to unite people of faith, conscience, and aligned goals in support of true religious freedom and human rights for all.
On Sunday, Alison Gill and Debbie Goddard of American Atheists discuss some of the challenges nonreligious Black people, trans people, and other racialized and sexual minorities face in secular communities. They will examine the available data from the U.S. Secular Survey and discuss how we can make secular communities more welcoming and inclusive. Rebecca Markert and Elizabeth Cavell, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, will discuss Bostock v. Clayton County and what it means for religious liberty, namely religious exemptions to the Civil Rights Act, and how that could impact civil rights moving forward. Anjan Chakravartty will talk about scientific and philosophical literacy as a basis for public understanding. Jon Steingard, frontman of the Christian band Hawk Nelson, shares his journey from a pastor’s son in a Christian rock band, to his loss of faith and becoming agnostic, and how to be part of something “bigger than” oneself. We end the conference with a conversation with secular leaders and members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus on Christian Nationalism and the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
You can register today for free at bit.ly/SSAcon2021. Please feel free to share the link with others–everyone is invited to participate. The full conference schedule is available at bit.ly/SSAcon2021schedule. Please sign-up for any individual panels that are of interest to you! Following the conference recorded sessions will be shared directly with panel registrants and made available at bit.ly/SSAcon2021schedule.