Funny story #1: There’s been some talk lately about how to better unite atheists and humanists in Minnesota, how to bring us all together on our common causes. August Berkshire wrote a post a few months ago about combining Minnesota Atheists and Humanists of Minnesota. There are reasons to not simply set up a Coalition of Reason, or it would have happened already.
As I was preparing for the Women in Secularism conference, I decided to talk to a few of the chapter leaders there about what it would take to set up CFI-MN and what doing that would offer us. After all, we also have a local skeptic group that could use some support.
Nothing may have come of the idea even if I thought it was good and presented it to our board when I got back, but I was planning to ask. That, of course, didn’t happen.
Funny story #2: I went to my records to get more information on my current monthly donations to CFI before writing to CFI’s development team with instructions. I discovered that these donations were on a credit card that expired in December.
CFI has gone six months without donation from me because they never notified me that they couldn’t bill that card. My monthly donation to Secular Student Alliance was on the same card. They notified me in January, and they haven’t missed a donation from me. Oops, CFI.
I haven’t had ties as close as theirs. I have paid to attend two of their conferences. I contributed to one as a speaker and moderator. I have donated money to allow others to attend. I have coordinated other donations to allow people to attend. I have promoted their work, both on my blog and through multiple interviews on the radio. I have, of course, donated money directly.
With one exception, that ended yesterday. It doesn’t end because the board disagreed with me. They didn’t, exactly. If they had, I might still have done this based on the content of their disagreement. I might have decided that their values and mine were to far apart on questions I care about, and I might have decided to withdraw my support. I don’t know.
What I do know is that yesterday’s statement constituted grossly incompetent leadership. It declined to take any position at all, and it pretended that a constituency of skeptics and secular humanists weren’t going to notice if only the language in which it waffled was vague enough. It wouldn’t have passed muster even by the low standards of a political debate.
I want the leadership of our movement to be effective and to represent the interests of the people in our movement. I won’t support any organization that is this incredibly bad at that. How could I trust a board that can’t even answer the question: Does your CEO’s behavior at a particular place and time speak for you as an organization?
So I’m done with all the work to promote CFI national. I’m done with their conferences, both as an attendee and in working to increase their attendance. That will go to organizations that–at a bare minimum–manage to look like they know what they’re doing. I will, however, as strange as this may sound, restart my monthly contributions to CFI.
These contributions will be earmarked for Melody Hensley’s salary. They can have my money as long as they support her. Given that Melody has stood up to Ron Lindsay publicly on several occasions recently*, and given that Lindsay is turning CFI into a personal playground for the exercise of his grudges, and given that the board of CFI can’t seem to make up their minds how they feel about him doing that, I feel that supporting her directly is worthwhile. Also, given that the board gave no indication that they even bothered to read any of the letters addressed to them, I feel that my support should be expressed in something I would hope even the most incompetent board can understand.
If you currently contribute to CFI and you’re trying to figure out what to do about that, feel free to join me. If you want to withdraw your support entirely, I understand that too. Whatever you do, however, tell CFI about it and tell them why you’re doing it. I know it’s easier to just walk quietly away, but it’s also very easy to ignore people walking quietly away. It’s easy to say, “They didn’t really do it for any particular reason. I mean, people come and go, you know.” So if you make a change because of Lindsay’s actions or the board’s, tell them.
*I’ve had a question on what I’m talking about here. Melody gave a speech on Friday night of the confernce that was everything Ron Lindsay”s should have been. It focused on concrete accomplishments in the last year and on the positive potential of the conference. Whether she intended it this way or not, that speech was a stark rebuke to her boss. The comments she left on his posts on the CFI blog also left little doubt that his behavior at the conference did not make her life easier.