I’m beginning my leg of the Blogathon for SSA Week… now! From now (9am PDT) until 9pm PDT, I will write one new blog post every hour. Plus, for every $100 raised during that time, I will post one new picture of our cats! And all donations will be matched by SSA Supporters Jeff Hawkins and Janet Strauss — so whatever you donate, it will be doubled!
As SSA Campus Organizer Lyz Liddell says: Students aren’t just the future of the atheist movement. Students are the present of this movement. Pretty much everyone in the atheist movement keeps gassing on about how important it is for atheists to do on-the-ground community organizing, to create social support systems that can help replace the ones people often lose when they leave religion and come out as atheists. Student organizations are doing a huge amount of this work — and they’re doing it now.
And they’re doing it for a demographic that is very, very receptive to our ideas. When you look at polls showing the rise of atheism in the United States in the past few years, you see that trend most dramatically among people 25 and under. Atheism is creeping up slightly among older age groups… but it’s shooting up like a rocket among young people. (It’s something the Christian Right has already taken note of, and is freaking out about — the rate at which kids brought up in their Christian bubble leave their religion when they hit college.) Student organizations are making atheism visible to a large group of people that is very, very receptive to the idea of atheism once they become aware of it… and they’re creating communities and support systems for these people when they do leave religion.
And they’re doing it at an astonishing clip. Check out this graph of the number of SSA affiliates over the years. Check out how the direction of the graph is going “Foom!” right through the ceiling. And note how fast the number of high school groups is growing (the green tips of the bars on the graph). As of this writing, there are 379 SSA affiliate groups — and 46 of them are high school groups.
And in case I haven’t mentioned this enough, the students in this movement are just freaking awesome. Whenever I work with student groups — which is a lot, the overwhelming majority of my speaking gigs are for student groups — I’m always struck by how energetic they are, how motivated, how inspired, how creative, how well-organized, how much work they put into their groups, how much work they put into making their groups welcoming and fun. They put me to shame, really. When I was in college, I was pretty much majoring in romantic drama and getting high. These folks are majoring in changing the world.
Please support them. Donate money if you can — even small amounts make a difference! Or help by publicizing SSA Week, telling friends and family why the SSA is important to you, post about the SSA on Facebook and Twitter (they even have some handy Facebook- and Twitter-ready icons for you to use if you like!). If you want to support and nurture the blossoming atheist movement, supporting the Secular Student Alliance nourishes those blossoms right at the roots.