May 27, 2011 - 11:24 am

A cursory survey of the attendees at most secular or atheist "movement" meetings taking place around the country is likely to mystify your analysis of the results of the most recent American Religious Identification Survey. There are too many older people, not enough women and scantly any ethnic diversity. On the other hand, the “nones” beat the national average for those below 30 (29% vs 22%) and below 50 (41% vs 38%) while 40% of “nones” are women in spite of the common “woman are god-fearing” stereotype, and healthy African American and Latino atheist communities are thriving across the country.

Had you been at SCA's first Biennial Strategic Summit, however, you would not have been mystified. The organizers worked hard to model the diversity of our community by ensuring that at least half the participants and Saturday discussion group chairs were women while inviting more professionals in the often ignored 25-55 age group to directly engage in the planning of the event. And of course, the commanding presence of the members of the Secular Student Alliance, and the witty and insightful comments of Jennifer Michael Hecht and Susan Jacoby, foretold a brighter and more diverse future for secularism.  

Nor was this your standard educational and networking meeting. An in-person godless lobbying invasion of the congressional offices, as well as deliberative strategic planning sessions made sure that each and every one of the 100 attendees owned a piece of the future. Speaking for myself, and mirroring the thoughts shared with me by others, I will confess to a euphoric experience that has energized my interest and passion in the future of free thinking, rationalism, and secularism in this country. 

To the hard working staff and volunteers of the SCA, I offer my sincerest thanks and congratulations.

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