This hilariously awkward run-in made my Reason Rally trip worthwhile

I was sitting in the Indianapolis airport waiting for my flight to DC when I ran into Reba Wooden, director of the Center for Inquiry Indy (where I just spoke on Monday). In a funny coincidence, she was on my flight! We started talking about the rally, and the couple sitting next to me said they were going to the rally too, and were really excited other people from Indiana were going.

As we were chatting about the rally, another woman sitting by us chimed in. She apologized to Reba for butting in and said she’s from the Indiana Family Institute and has been meaning to talk with CFI about teaming up about the recent creationist legislation in Indiana.

I thought to myself… an organization with the word “Family” in their title isn’t some crazy right wing religious institution?

Reba recognized her because apparently they’ve testified in front of the Indiana congress before for similar bills. The woman kept talking about how that creationist law was so poorly written, and that IFI and CFI should team up to write a law that can actually pass. It’s getting a little awkward until Reba points out that CFI is against the creationist legislation.

Her: Oh, I must be confused…maybe it was another organization we wanted to team up with.
Me: …Are you thinking of the Discovery Institute?
Her: Yeah, that’s it!
Me: …They’re in Seattle.
Reba: Yeah, we’re on opposite sides. In Congress I was always testifying on the side that disagreed with you.
Her: Yeah, I’m pro-creationism and pro-life…whoops.

And then we all laughed and continued to have a congenial (though slightly awkward) conversation about random stuff.


  1. says

    But you’re a firebrand. How can you be nice in person? Weren’t you supposed to eat her baby or something? Er, what I mean is, maybe this encounter helped humanize atheists for that lady.

  2. mcbender says

    I’m tempted to be rather uncharitable here, and assume this implies the creationists are so out-of-touch with reality they can’t even remember who their allies are…

  3. Greg says

    Once after I arrived in DC from Wisconsin for a NARAL conference, I ended up waiting for a train with, and asking for directions from, a guy who was on my same flight, but coming to DC for Operation Rescue. It was a weirdly pleasant chat about how we hoped the other would utterly fail at their goals.

  4. TC says

    Tangentially related: Reba Wooden was the officiant at my wedding a few years ago. My Baptist grandmother was very concerned that I “wouldn’t really be married ” because a preacher didn’t make us say the I do’s. Yes, my grandmother actually asked me about that at my wedding. But in a cute, grandmother-looking-out-for-me sort of way, not a judgmental-jerktastic sort of way.

  5. DaveL says

    You could have pointed out that if Reba had been from the Discovery Institute, you wouldn’t find her talking to a scientist without making her sign a statement of faith first.

  6. Matt says

    Here in North Carolina the main opposition group to the state constitutional ammendment that would ban gay marriage (despite the fact that it is already forbidden…but that’s another topic) that is coming up for a vote in May is called the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. Like you, when I hear the word “Family” in an organization’s name I assume it is an anti-gay, pro-religious code word. The first three times this organization called me I hung up. Turns out they are for “all” NC families…they should really put that word in their name to clear up the confusion.

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