Join us or else

A blog post from Feminist Freethinkers of New York.

Today I was approached by a highly placed individual in one of the ever-mounting number of secular coalitions. He wished for Reasonable New York and specifically Feminist Freethinkers to join their coalition.

RNY has chosen not to join any national coalitions as we are simply a local group whose main mission is to help promote the local member organizations.

I thought perhaps Feminist Freethinkers might benefit from such a relationship. But I did my research and realized that it was not a good fit for us. I tried to explain this to him and all hell broke loose.

First he insulted FFNY exclaiming that we didn’t really “do anything”. Then he went on to defend his organization ending with this choice line:

“I’m starting to believe that the reason the secular movement doesn’t have more women is the women. Prove me wrong.”

Golly – a highly placed individual in one of the ever-mounting number of secular coalitions turns out to be one of the people who spend all their time verbally attacking (feminist) women? You’d think they would have better filters than that.

I replied: “If you thought this approach would work you are dead wrong. It is offensive and ignorant. And it will be shared I can assure you.” To which he sent me an “Ethical fuck you.”

He spoke frequently of the “rage” and infighting within the movement and was clueless how he was contributing to it!

Good grief. Way to coalition-build.



  1. EigenSprocketUK says

    Wow. And this is in an exchange or emails / written messages too. Not even the faintest glimmer of anything other than thought-through typed words. Sheesh.

  2. Lady Mondegreen says

    We need to know the names of that secular coalition and that highly placed individual.

    They need to be outed and shamed for this behavior. Sunlight, disinfectant, etc.

  3. says

    @4 Yes! I understand why most people don’t want to reveal the identity(ies), and I support them in that decision. But, I really hope it comes out and knocks these “secular coalition luminaries” (where the three defining characteristics of membership seem to be fame, sexism and conservatism) down a few pegs of their self constructed ladder. The faster folks like Dawkins, Harris, Shermer, Pinker stop being the faces and voices of atheism/secularism, the better.

  4. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    I’m also hoping to get names (but I know better than to expect people already on the receiving end of vitriol in private conversation to be okay with doing it).

    What is happening with these secular groups and figures? Have they always just been saying and doing misogynistic shit and I missed it? Or did they only start letting it out once they gained enough of a mainstream presence?

  5. screechymonkey says

    “Sexism exists in the skeptical/atheist movement. I have personally experienced the following…..”
    “Hearsay! Sample size! Anecdotes are not data! I require double-blind peer-reviewed published studies before I will accept your assertion! I’m a skeptic, you know!”
    (Later …)
    “I had a conversation with a woman that annoyed me. Therefore, women are the problem in this movement.”
    “Well, that seems like an extreme conclusion to draw from one unpleasant interaction….”

    Skepticism — you’re doing it wrong.

  6. screechymonkey says

    ZugTheMegasauras @8,

    What is happening with these secular groups and figures? Have they always just been saying and doing misogynistic shit and I missed it? Or did they only start letting it out once they gained enough of a mainstream presence?

    As to the misogyny specifically, I’m pretty sure it’s always been there. It just wasn’t even considered worthy of comment by most people, at least not the People Who Mattered. Look at the stuff Ophelia published recently about Isaac Asimov’s penchant for sexual assault being treated as a charming little quirk rather than a serious issue. Hell, they considered having him give a speech to brag about it! (Which was the sci-fi community, not the skeptical/atheist one, but there’s a decent amount of overlap and it’s a fair point of comparison.)

    I’m pretty cynical about the world of nonprofit organizations generally. I think a lot of the people who rise to power in that world are every bit as egotistical, power-hungry, and greedy as Fortune 500 CEOs, with an extra layer of self-righteousness piled on because they’re “doing good.”

    As it’s grown, the skeptical/atheist community has become a more and more lucrative customer/donor base — which is how many of the Big Names see the rest of us. The plea to avoid “infighting” is an invitation to engage in mutual back-scratching: I won’t criticize your public statements or behavior, and you’ll help publicize my organization’s next conference, and I’ll give a nice blurb for your next book, and you’ll put in a good word for me with that cable show you were just on….

    When someone rejects that invitation and reveals that they’re committed to their ideals rather than self-promotion, well, clearly they weren’t cut out to be a global thought leader after all….

  7. yazikus says

    What gets me is how profoundly unprofessional the organization sounds. I would never send an email on behalf of an employer or organization that sounded like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they accidently cc’d the wrong person ala Tucker & Buckley Carson next.

  8. screechymonkey says


    Well, as one of the SPI’s Thought Leaders once said, “it’s more of a guy thing.” Guess this particular fish rots from the head down.

  9. PatrickG says

    Speaking of unprofessional… their banner has bad styling and doesn’t fill the entire page, links to specific blog posts take you to the blog itself (i.e. most recent at the top, not necessarily the one you wanted), with a poorly styled/truncated title from the link you tried to go to.

    And my word jesus, there’s an ad on the front page that actually says:

    Faith raises $82b / Year. Donate to SPI

    Could they make it any more blatant that they’re only in it for the money?

  10. says

    This reminded me so much of that post where a woman writer was offered a job to write a science column (if I recall correctly) for no pay and when she declined the guy wrote her back with some sexist slurs and saying she should be grateful (I think that’s how that went). Anyway, I did a quick search but didn’t find it.

  11. Radioactive Elephant says


    The guy is Jonathan / Johnny Monsarrat, and the org is our old pal the Secular Policy Institute.

    Wow, them again? How’d you find out?
    On the source blog post you linked to also has someone from Secular Woman saying the same thing happened to her. SPI is super classy.

  12. sezit says

    His name sounded familiar…. Looked him up. Yup, I met this guy a year or two ago. He was full of himself and off-putting after the first 2 minutes. He repeatedly kept trying to invite himself along on my activities while I kept not inviting him, as he become more and more of a bore. Followed me around on and off for several hours throughout the hotel main areas. (Irritated me but didn’t scare me.) He’s one of those guys who thinks that because he wants something from you, thats all that is needed to completely convince you that you want to make it happen for him. Well, at least he didn’t insult me to my face when he didn’t get it.

  13. Dave Ricks says

    I’m trying to imagine how this browbeater got this job. Maybe he had a resume of successful browbeating and the SPI decided he was the best browbeater for the job. Maybe the SPI experts could study Browbeating as a Natural Phenomenon.

    The silver lining for me is I clicked through the links to discover the Feminist Freethinkers of New York and the New York Society for Ethical Culture. They look great.

  14. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Gasp. What a shocker that Dawkins would hire an arrogant, sexist boor with a massive superiority complex! Oh, that’s right, he is one too. These things keep slipping my mind.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    As noted by llewelly on the related Pharyngula thread,

    … let us not forget that Edwina Rogers is CEO of SPI.

    I think of Rogers as Karl Rove’s less intelligent little sister.

  16. says

    The professional response to a refusal — even one you feel to be misguided in some way — is along the lines of a polite: “I regret that you feel unable to formally associate with our organization. I hope that we can remain respectful allies, and that you will possibly reconsider your position in the future”. That the SPI promo-critter instead responds with “Well fuck off, we didn’t want you anyways, asshole!” is bad enough. That they’re still doing it weeks after earlier incidents became public suggest that the Thought Leaders aren’t putting much Thought into their Leadership style — just give the promo job to some random hack and go off to do something important like thinking Leaderly Thoughts.

    The link @25 is most illuminating. This is not someone who should allowed anywhere near a PR effort.

  17. sezit says

    fwiw, just sent this message at:
    Your “Alliance Director” Johnny Monsarrat has behaved in a hostile, anti-alliance manner by attacking a woman representing a group who declined his offer to join your organization. and wheel’s/2015/03/join-us-or-else/
    This is bigoted, sexist, anti-humanist behavior. He is presuming that his desire for her cooperation overrides her autonomy. He then doubles down by showing his ugly side – insulting her for self-determination.
    A public apology is called for here. As a female secularist, I am paying attention to your organization’s bad behavior, and I’m not the only one. We want to be proud of our secular activists, not ashamed and repelled

  18. screechymonkey says


    Do you know whether or not this is the same jackass who was operating the Global Thinky Kings Twitter account last year? I’m not sure which is worse — the possibility that they brought back the same idiot, or that they’ve managed to hire two separate idiots who are plainly unsuited for public relations /outreach positions.

  19. says

    No, I don’t know, but I doubt it. I think at some point it became apparent that they were using interns to handle the Twitter account…? Didn’t it? And Madeleine Schussel was supervising.

  20. says

    Great American Satan, yes this is the same group that responded rudely to Gem Newman. I am in a humanist group in the same city, Winnipeg,and just resigned from my group today over the decision to align with the SPI.

  21. Great American Satan says

    I gathered it was the same group, but I was curious if it was the same asshole in communication with them. He’d certainly have been in the right position to be that asshole, but it’s equally believable the thinkthankthunk leaders have a plenitude of assholes to choose from.

  22. says

    The Secular Policy Institute added one of my groups to their list of endorsers/supporters without contacting me or getting an OK from my group to use our name. I found out last night. I asked to be removed from their list.

  23. Hj Hornbeck says

    This is worth cross-posting:

    [Richard] Dawkins, via changerofbits@65:

    @changerofbits If, by RDF, you mean the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Monsarrat has no connection with it.

    Interesting, because he certainly did at some point.

    Hemant Mehta must be the coolest high school math teacher around, because he’s also one of the most popular atheist bloggers in the secular community, and the author of The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide. When he says that he won’t harm a fly, he really means it. He spoke with Johnny Monsarrat for this Richard Dawkins Foundation interview about not harming bugs, his personal life, and his books exploring belief and non-belief.

    Those Secular VIP interviews end around June of 2014, I note; maybe there was a falling out around then.

  24. Hj Hornbeck says

    Another cross-post:

    Patrick G @79:

    However, I’m shocked that Dawkins would tweet that Monsarrat has no affiliation with RDF, given that both RDF’s website and the SPI site list Monsarrat as being affiliated with RDF (or at least previously affiliated). That’s simply dishonest.

    Yeah, it’s a half-truth at minimum. Monsarrat himself claims to have been with the RDF for two years, and some light Googling brings up all sorts of evidence for a connection. He wasn’t an obscure, low-ranking figure either.

    His current project is the soon to be launched Secular Connect, a $1 million joint project of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and Michael Lewis Foundation, which will list all the world’s secular groups and events, and do a whole lot more. Johnny will give us a sneak peek of the system. See

    Hmm, doesn’t seem like it got very far.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *