Alum Evan Clark strives for progress with Atheists United


Photo contributed by Evan Clark

Alumni Evan Clark gives a speech at Death Valley Secular Star Party on March 28th, 2020.

Taylor Love, Reporter

Evan Clark is one of California Lutheran University’s many alums to make a name for themselves after leaving the institution. While he was a student, he founded the school’s Secular Student Alliance in the hopes of creating a more inclusive campus for all students, not just the non-religious ones. 

Now, Clark is the Executive Director at Atheists United, a non-profit organization based out of Los Angeles. According to their website, their mission is to build communities, empower people with secular views and promote a separation of church and state. 

“It’s critical that we provide opportunities for growth and welcoming environments for all students and all identities,” Clark said in a Zoom interview. 

Clark acknowledges his time at Cal Lutheran as being a major contributing factor to his success today.

“I think it was critical to my growth as a leader and my sense of what community was,” Clark said.

His presence on campus was felt by many. Director of International Admission Dane Rowley, who was Clark’s admissions counselor, remembers Clark asking questions about the religious environment on campus and how to start clubs once he was here. 

“He was really instrumental in pushing the needle as a student to kind of carve out that space,” Rowley said. 

Rowley also said Clark opened a door for non-religious students on campus. There was a lack of a safe space at Cal Lutheran for those who did not partake in religion. 

“For faculty and students who kind of did not fit that mold, it wasn’t always super welcoming,” Rowley said. 

Little backlash was received on Clark’s end, and the club positively impacted the university as a whole.

“I was elected the student body president, so I was probably the most public face on campus so it didn’t create this huge clash that at least I experienced. I think it improved the level of dialogue on campus,” Clark said.

There was nothing quite like the Secular Student Alliance on campus before Clark had started. For a while the club had gone dormant but was recently started back up. Olivia Chee, the club’s current president, shares the same ideas about the club’s purpose. 

“This club was really important to have on campus just to show that even in such a religious campus we can have this little pocket of secularism,” Chee said. 

For Chee, however, it is not just about secularism. It goes far beyond that. The goal is to welcome anyone to join her club despite religious identity. 

“It’s really about supporting and encouraging all people,” Chee said. 

Clark played a major role in letting students who do not identify as religious know that they are, indeed, welcome. This is now a role he continues in his professional career. A Gallup report done on United States citizens revealed that the majority of the population no longer belongs to a church. This is a group that used to be in the minority. 

“We have very little cultural power, we have almost no representation in government, we have very few direct resources,” Clark said. 

Atheists United is actively trying to change that. One of their biggest accomplishments has been starting a recovery program for drugs and alcohol. This is something that he believes to not be welcoming to most atheists.

“Most recovery programs in the United States relate back to religious organization,” Clark said. 

A legacy is left behind by Clark, not only with the continuation of SSA on campus, but the effects of him speaking up for non-religious students at an affiliated school have lasted many years past his departure.