By Ryan Saylor
They have only hosted one meeting, but a new student organization at Van Buren High School is already making waves after more than 60 students attended the first meeting of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) – the only such alliance among Arkansas’ public high schools.
Senior Aaron Centeno helped found the new student group and said its members were not attempting to evangelize secular beliefs, but rather trying to raise awareness of belief systems outside of the widely-held Christian faith prevalent not only in Arkansas, but across much of the United States.
“We’re trying to gear (the) focus toward religious awareness and to kind of get people to know different religions so they get out of the mindset that their religion is the only one available to them.”
According to a Pew Research study, 78.4% of Americans identify as Christian, while 4.7% affiliate with other religions such as Jewish (1.7%), Buddhist (0.7%), or Muslim (0.6%). About 16% of Americans identify as “unaffiliated,” with 1.6% of Americans calling themselves atheists while 2.4% are agnostic (both fall under the unaffiliated group for statistical purposes).
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