The First Amendment of the Constitution, considered the foundation of our free society, outlines five basic rights unalienable to all citizens. And one club at PCC has made it it’s mission to make sure the standards of freedom from religion and the separation between church and state continue to be upheld.
The Secular Student Alliance club (SSA) provides a place of comfort and peace for all PCC students who feel like outsiders because of their religious, or nonreligious, beliefs. It lends a welcoming arm, especially for students who are questioning their religion.
“It is a safe place for secular, atheist, agnostic and questioning students where they come and they can say ‘I’m an atheist or I’m not sure what I believe,’ and they’re not gonna be told they’re going to hell or they have no morals,” Terri Smith, president of the SSA said.
Most students who identify as atheist are looked down on, Smith herself has dealt with the prejudice.
“Being told that we have no morals, we’re going to hell, we shouldn’t be here, atheists need to move out of the country,” Smith said.
They’re made to believe that because they don’t believe in any sort of God, they’re terrible people. The SSA proves otherwise.
“We are not a club that debates religion, we are open to anyone who wants to come whether you’re religious or not, we respect people and we ask for the same,” Smith said. “And we’re not gonna try to convert anybody.”
The SSA advocates for the rights and humanity of all people, not just one group.
“What I get the most out of the club is how the interests of the Secular Student Alliance intersect with so many of the other clubs and causes I care about on campus,” Tommy Puckett, vice president of the club said. “Everything from health to advocacy, combating racism, prejudice, promoting a pro scientific agenda … it covers just about everything I care about.”
The SSA holds respect to the highest degree, using their meeting time to discuss different topics in a manner that doesn’t offend people, but rather makes them feel welcomed to participate in the conversation.
“We talk about humanist ethics and morals, we talk about separation of church and state, we talk about volunteerism, giving back to the community,” Smith said. “These are the things that are important to us and we have a lot of fun.”
While most religious clubs on campus discuss their beliefs, the Bible and share prayers, the atheist club discusses topics that are relevant to society.
“The club gives me a home for my non religious beliefs in a school filled with Christians and religious people,” Kevin Abrahamian, treasurer of SSA said.
The club itself does not use PCC’s Inter-Club Council funding, but rather is funded by the National Secular Student Alliance.
“They give us tabling supplies and they will fund speakers, they will fund travel for speakers, housing for speakers,” Smith said.
The SSA meets every Tuesday from 12-1 in the C building.