I promised to work to start a secular student group at Marywood University (the school I am now attending for graduate studies). As many of you may or may not know, Marywood University is a Catholic university, so this will be a special challenge of sorts. I have created a Facebook group which all are welcome to join whether they be students or not. Please share the page (and/or this post) in order to garner support and raise awareness of this effort.
From the group’s Facebook page:
The mission of the Marywood University Secular Student Alliance (MUSSA) is to provide a community for secular individuals* (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, freethinkers, etc); foster discussion about topics relating to ethics, the separation of church and state, supernatural and paranormal beliefs; work with other local secular groups; and to present a positive and accurate view of secular individuals to the community at large.
Secular individuals are those who do not believe that any supernatural entities exist, but rather are separate from religion and religious belief. In terms of politics/government, those identifying as secularists maintain that governments be neutral in regards to religion; governments should not respect an establishment of religion or be anti-religious.
Why should a group like this exist?:
Marywood University students and staff may be skeptical about a group like this and wonder why secular individuals would want a group at a Catholic university and why a Catholic university should allow such a group to exist. Marywood, according to its mission statement, “roots itself in […] a belief that education empowers people,” “offers students a welcoming and supportive community that encourages men and women of all backgrounds to shape their lives as leaders in service to others,” “challenges students to broaden their understanding of global issues,” “live responsibly in a diverse and interdependent world,” and “respect[s] the value of each human being, for diversity in the context of vibrant community.” Further, its Catholic identity statement notes, “The University welcomes people of all religious and humanistic traditions […] so to as to arrive at truth.”
Secular individuals — even in a university setting — are often marginalized, rendered invisible, and stigmatized because of their worldviews. Unfair and damaging stereotypes about secular persons are often perpetuated such as secular persons hate religious people, have no respect for traditions in society, want to ban religion from public life, are immoral and/or completely self-interested, have terrible and lonely lives, do not believe in any gods because of trauma in life, etc. A group like this will provide an outlet for secular individuals and help combat these stereotypes.
What’s to come/disclaimer:
This group is not official yet, but documentation will be submitted so that this club can be considered to be official in the next semester.
Flyers, upon approval, will be placed throughout campus to promote this club and find individuals who may be interested in joining.
This group is intended to be an affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance. More information about the Secular Student Alliance can be found at www.secularstudents.org.
– Justin Vacula