An Interview with Kevin Bolling — Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance — Session 5

Image Credit: Secular Student Alliance.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What does Larry Decker mean to you, from the Secular Coalition of America?

Kevin Bolling: Larry, I had a chance to meet him, at the lobby days of the Secular Student Alliance. He has been a great resource for me as well. Anyone that can wrangle all these organizations and get them going in the same direction and on the same page will always get my hat off.

Larry and I have had several conversations and we, of course, will definitely be working a lot together. Cher has also been amazing. She was at our student leadership conference and did a great presentation, talking about some of the political things coming up and ways that students can get involved.

So, we will be definitely working with SCA in easy ways to get our student organization involved in political issues that concern them, making them more aware of the political issues that are affecting the secular community and also developing easy ways for them to facilitate with that on their campus.

To create awareness for what those political issues are, two, to make sure that the students are more informed and provide them with easy ways for them to start practicing their political prowess; so, that they, in the hopes, continue with that in the future.

Again, building secular leaders and secular advocates is important to us all for this movement.

Jacobsen: What do you consider the core perennial countervailing force or wind to the secular movement, in America?

Bolling: Oh… is there one? That is a good one. I think that depends — my guess is that different organizations are going to have different answers to that. So for SSA, some of what our core is, is making sure that we are an inclusive umbrella organization for students however they identify themselves religiously or not.

So that we, yes, are in an inclusive place for them. To be able to have those conversations and to live their values, we also, for the secular community, are making sure that we are doing a good job at educating them and helping them determine what their values are and how to activate those.

So, that they can be future leaders for the movement as the nation. In this, we are in a unique time again, politically, in a society where the religious rights and the political rights are having a profound impact on the separation of church and state and religion in politics; then also how that affects various subsections within the society.

So, clearly, Muslim students, the Muslim population right now, with the whole immigration issue, the Latino community, a lot of the women’s health issues right now. Again, that we have a job to make sure that we are looking at social justice equality issues.

That we are being responsible in collaborating with those individuals and recognizing that the games that we have in those areas are games for all of us and the loss that we have in those areas are losses for all of us. We clearly want to work with people and to have those be games for everybody.

Jacobsen: What is one way the secular movement at large shoots itself in the foot?

Bolling: Shoots itself in the foot. In any movement, when we have internal strife or we argue as if a family, even with all of it in love, it is still arguing. That takes away the focus of the bigger picture of where we are going.

Part of my message coming in is “I will collaborate and work with anyone who shares our values and is moving in a forward direction. It can be a win-win for that organization and our organization” and so on.

The secular movement is, in my understanding, much, much better at that collaboration. That is a great thing to always concentrate on, how we are collaborating, how we are moving forward.