Goodbye to the CFI

If you’re not up to speed on this, here’s the back story:   Ron Lindsay, CEO of the CFI (Center For Inquiry),  inserted himself into the opening of the Women in Secularism Conference (which the CFI was sponsoring) where he used his position to lecture long time feminists on the error of our ways, in particular our supposed efforts to use “privilege” as a tool to silence poor abused white guys like me.  People howled in outrage.  Lindsay doubled down by attacking and comparing one of the speakers at the conference to North Korea.  Being a long time feminist, as well as a cranky old white guy myself, I wrote Tom Flynn and the board of directors a letter of protest.  Others commented extensively, and  the misogynist haters, stalkers and harassers cheered Lindsay on.  Then we all sat back and waited for something from the board of directors.  Some sign that they got our message.  But apparently not.

“The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.”

I was profoundly disappointed.  Really this is a non-response, a refusal to comment, a cowardly evasion that did nothing to address the situation.  There was no suggestion of censure, or reproach, or even disagreement with Ron Lindsay.  There was nothing that inspires me with any confidence that the CFI is an organization I can support.

Being “unhappy with the controversy” is not the same as being unhappy with the actions or statements made by your CEO.  It’s more like being unhappy that some people disagree with him and found his remarks objectionable.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody could just agree that Ron Lindsay didn’t do anything offensive?  Then we wouldn’t have this nasty controversy that makes us unhappy.

From the statement:  “The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences.”  I read this as: We stand by our CEO and can’t really see why there’s been any problem with anything he said or did.

I want the board of directors to recognize in some real way, whether by censure or call for apology or dismissal of Ron Lindsay, that there IS a problem and that Ron Lindsay is the source of that problem.  I want something more than corporate spin and bafflegab.

Much as I enjoyed my recent participation in the course given by Richard Carrier under CFI sponsorship, until I read a meaningful response from the CFI board of directors I shall have nothing to do with any CFI activity, including participation in any future CFI course.

I’m hoping to go to Skepticon this year.  For sure I’m going to send them a few sheckles.  Many groups are willing to protest, but not even Barack Obama turned down money from the bad guys.  If you can spare the folks at Skepticon a bit of cash, here’s the link.  I’m told every little bit helps.



  1. Lauren Lane Said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 3:44 am

    Hey! Thanks for writing about us. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make, but in the end we knew it was the right thing to do.

    We hope you can make it to this year’s Skepticon! We’ll give you as many high fives as you can manage!

    Co-Founder, Skepticon

  2. Darwin Harmless Said,

    June 20, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    It will only be a question of time and money. If both of those can be solved, you can expect another appearance by banjo guy. 🙂

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