Secular Student Alliance too focused on bashing religion

Unbeknownst to what I imagine are a lot of students, UCA houses a Secular Student Alliance chapter on its campus. I bring this up because it’s important to keep the group alive and thriving since UCA prides itself on “diversity”. But in recent years, the group has not flourished on campus.

I suspect most of this stems mainly from the group’s location. Central Arkansas isn’t the most welcoming place to an “alliance” of secular college students wishing to be involved in community service.

As a freshman, I was very interested in the group because I found objectively discussing religion to be a very fulfilling experience. I went to three meetings and none after that.

I had older friends who were already members of the group, so I was as welcome as a first-time freshman could possibly be at college. Don’t get me wrong, the group was very welcoming, but not in the traditional sense.

Its actions were welcoming, but its speech was not. During the 40-45 minute meeting, the older members of the group joked and dabbled in business from time to time, but mostly engaged in what I found to be an unreasonable amount of bashing Christianity.

I tacked this up as being the first meeting of the semester and went back for round two a few weeks later. The meeting agenda didn’t change much.

A few speeches were planned and the phrase “vagina monologues” was thrown around a lot, but I mostly sat and listened to members make fun of religion, coming off extremely pretentious and unintelligent in the process.

Round three was the same and, like I said, I gave up after that. I truly wish things had been different.

Having an SSA chapter on campus holds great potential for positively diversifying the student community, but the way they have gone about their business does not fulfill that task.

For instance, many posters were put up around campus last year to give the group some publicity. They were having an interest meeting and wanted students to come hang out with “the heathens.” Are you kidding me? They pride themselves on being intellectually superior but refer to themselves as “heathens”?

Stop selling yourselves short, SSA members. You’re not heathens by any sense of the word. I realize that you’re making a joke, but it’s not funny. By putting that word on your poster, you’re instantaneously creating a negative stereotype, which, on a southern university campus, spreads like wildfire. You’re making yourself out to be these so-called “heathens” just because you choose to be a secularist.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as I’m sure you know, but to those of you reading who don’t, it’s true—there’s nothing wrong with being a secularist, just like there’s nothing wrong with being religious.

However, there is something wrong with creating a potentially beneficial Recognized Student Organization only to spend your meeting time ridiculing religious individuals with barely any intelligible rhetoric and getting nothing done. Isn’t the point of your group to close the gap between religious and secular individuals?

It’s time to step up your game, SSA members. You have a great message, but you need to find a productive and efficient way to get it across to students. For your group’s sake, I hope you figure it out soon. I have faith in you.

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