Student secularists find one another

By Will Huston

It is a little after the end of the school day. Biology teacher Lisa Lee’s classroom buzzes with students chit-chatting and munching on cookies. SSA President senior Elaine Colomb asks for everyone’s attention and proceeds to ask about their beliefs. There are 12 atheists, a few agnostics, a Christian, and one devout Pastafarian attending the meeting.

The Secular Student Alliance, or (SSA), is a nationwide organization that has been around since 2001; FC students have recently started a chapter here.

“We didn’t have our first meeting until January,” said Lee.

The meetings last about a half-hour to an hour, where the students move the desks into a misshapen circle and proceed to discuss everything from politics, to religion, to personal stories.

Of course, one might ask what the purpose of the group is.

“It’s to create a place where like-minded people can get together and talk about different issues without fear of persecution,” said senior Alex Queen.

The first meeting was more of an introduction for the members. The junior and senior members told stories about their lives as nonreligious people.

“I’d like to spread awareness for what an atheist is,” said Colomb.

“[They’re] really open and accepting,” added  senior Sarah Henry, the vice president of the SSA.

In addition to being vice president of the SSA, Henry is also president of the National Art Honor Society, a member of the National Honor Society and has taken part in Dance Marathon.

Out of the group, each and every member has his own hobbies, including Queen, who said he is into “everything band.”

Past that, the group also expressed interest in doing volunteer work and relief efforts for organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s a great thing to do whether you’re religious or nonreligious,” said Queen.

Members are occasionally questioned about their beliefs, one of the main reasons why some choose rather to stay quiet.

“I get told I’m going to hell constantly,” said Henry.

During the meeting, Colomb also mentioned how she’s had objects thrown at her.

Lee said, “Some people have experienced verbal abuse.”

Even still, some people, like Colomb see the importance of participating in the group.

“It upset me at first, but I’ve learned to deal with being different,” said Colomb.

Over a decade has passed since the founding of the SSA nationwide, and FC members hope that will go even farther in the future.

“I’d like to be a leader in the secular movement,” said Henry.

Senior Ben Denison eats a cookie while seniors Sarah Henry and Elaine Colomb joke around him. Photo by Will Huston
Senior Ben Denison eats a cookie at an after-school meeting for the Secular Student Alliance while seniors Sarah Henry and Elaine Colomb joke around him. Photo by Will Huston.

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