FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, please contact:
Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail
Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail
The Secular Woman Board of Directors, in consultation with our most active members and supporters, regrets having to express our organization’s deep concern over recent public statements from Dr. Ron Lindsay, Center for Inquiry (CFI) CEO, during and following that organization’s Women in Secularism (WiS) conference this past weekend.
Secular Woman promoted the WiS event heavily with our membership for months. During this period we raised $2190 that enabled seven women, relatively new to the secular movement, to experience an event they would not otherwise have had the means to attend. Based on member feedback, we estimate that another 25 of the reported 300 WiS attendees were at the conference because of Secular Woman’s encouragement. Additionally, 57% of our Board of Directors was present.
Through Secular Woman’s @AbortTheocracy campaign, thousands of our fans, followers and members have been made aware of CFI’s efforts in the area of reproductive rights. In fact, CFI is the only organization to have taken advantage of this service announced to secular leaders on an internal list-serv for leaders in the secular movement.
Given our support and the aims of WiS, we find it stunningly unacceptable that Dr. Lindsay chose to greet our members, our Board, and other attendees with his personal, ill-formed criticisms of feminism rather than welcoming us all to the conference we had promoted and paid to attend. Worse, he instead chose to personally welcome a man who has harassed and antagonized many of the speakers scheduled for the weekend, and who now has an interview about the conference on the front page of the website of A Voice for Men, which is monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their misogynistic content.
We are incredulous that in a conference about women in the secular movement Dr. Lindsay was completely silent about the threats, harassment, and stalking that many atheist women have experienced at the hands of other atheists. Additionally, we are truly appalled by the tone and content of his blog post, “Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication,” in which he bizarrely compares Rebecca Watson’s writings to missives from North Korea, misuses a Secular Woman statement to his own purposes, and claims that those who are active feminists cannot be real reason-and-evidence based secularists.
Not having seen an apology, retraction, or other followup to these official communications, we are forced to arrive at several conclusions:
that Dr. Lindsay’s actions are endorsed by the CFI Board of Directors as consistent with its mission and expectations of leadership
that CFI supports ad hominem attacks on individuals who disagree with CFI staff
that CFI is content with its limited diversity and doesn’t value the support of Secular Woman or our thousands of members and supporters
that Dr. Lindsay’s, and by extension CFI’s, endorsement of the Open Letter, which Dr. Lindsay’s blog violates in every way it could, was a sham
As a result of Dr. Lindsay’s actions, the past year’s conflicts have been further enflamed, continuing to alienate the demographic showing most growth potential within the secular community – women – not just from CFI, but from the secular movement. Secular Woman is hopeful that Dr. Lindsay and/or the CFI Board of Directors will offer a formal, complete, and deserved apology and retraction to Secular Woman and secular women and feminists* regarding his “welcome” statement and later blog comments. We trust that Dr. Lindsay and the CFI Board will now, and in the future, actively demonstrate their intolerance of all who harass, threaten, bully, and work to silence women and feminists. Finally, Secular Woman seeks open and honest in-person dialogue regarding women, feminism, and the secular community with the CFI Board of Directors.
Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.
*Note: statement has been edited to remove “all” in reference to secular women and feminists deserving an apology. All women do not want an apology. The statement was intended to reference secular women and feminists in a general sense, not to imply that literally all women were in agreement on this issue.