Now it’s just getting funny – all the bolts and sprockets flying off the “Secular Policy Institute” and landing in the middle of the banana cream pie.
Last week I was busy getting rid of a whole bunch of assholes so I missed Edwina Rogers’s comment at Almost Diamonds. I wish I’d seen it then, because if I had I would have known about it when I was accidentally introduced to her at the conference. (I did mention that I was accidentally introduced to her, right? I was. Her smile shrank quite a lot when she heard my name. I wasn’t very effusive myself.)
Rogers starts off by saying the post is fiction – which is amusing, given all the references in the post.
The blogger spins a story of the transformation of GSC into the GSI and its eventual emergence as the Secular Policy Institute (SPI). This is a breezy reconstruction of the actual events that almost suggests that the Secular Policy Institute is the latest incarnation of what began as the Global Secular Council, the end stage of a metamorphosis in which the idea took final flight. The account reads as an improbable and serpentine transformation of projects and organizations precisely because it is improbable and, well, untrue, too.
Oh yes? Then why is there so much overlap? So many of the same “experts” and “thought leaders” and “Fellows”? So many of the same photographs of the same people?
SCA participated fully in the development of GSC. Amanda Metskas and the Board participated in, and approved, its development as an SCA project (see March 27 board minutes). Amanda wanted a name without the word Institute, drafted part of the press release for it, and selected the term “expert” for the members of its Think Tank as she thought Fellow as sexist. It is fair to say that Amanda and I were collectively spearheading the implementation of the GSC at the time that she terminated me, assumed my position as Executive Director, and then discontinued working on the project.
The donor, Lloyd Rubin, was understandably incensed that his 50K was going to be squandered in my absence and with the discontinuation of the GSC project. He rattled his sabers and threatened to sue SCA (no surprise there) and in response, SCA gave the Secular Global Council with its Experts to Mr. Rubin, at which point he renamed it the Global Secular Institute. I know because I was a volunteer Fellow of the Global Secular Institute. Mr. Rubin put out a series of newsletters- yes, with pictures of this cats!- and soon tired of the work involved in the running of the Institute and allows it to lie largely fallow to this day. My understanding is that he discontinued its newsletter but that the organization still exits. It is a Think Tank Group. Not a coalition of organizations, but a stand-alone think tank group.
Oh, well then. That’s all very straightforward and respectable. The saber-rattling, the threats to sue, the cats, the getting bored, the convicted felon – nothing to see here folks, move along.
The Secular Policy Institute is not the reincarnation of the Global Secular Institute or GSC. Yes, SPI has a secular think tank of scientists and scholars dedicated to the separation of church and state in public policy making, but it is also a coalition of international groups; the world’s largest coalition, in fact.
Really? How many of those groups are part of the coalition voluntarily? How many of them were simply added without being informed they were being added? How many have asked to be removed with no success?
Also I just plain don’t believe that “world’s largest” claim, on the grounds that it’s Edwina Rogers making it plus it’s absurd.
It is a separate legal entity. It is sponsoring the World Futures Forum and drafting the World Future Guide, and has assisted in the implementation of a wide variety of projects nested within other secular organizations, including a website for UnitedCoR, a table at CPAC for American Atheists, a website for Freethought Film Festival, a website for Hispanic Freethought, a cash grant to the Youth Atheist Conference, a cash grant to the Association for Atheism in Turkey, a website and demonstration campaign for the United Church of Bacon, a website and Congressional visits for the Foundation for Critical Thinking, and a range of others. By contrast, the Global Secular Institute and GSC were never coalition organizations, never had any national or international affiliates, never had any projects or initiatives, and were (and still are) completely separate legal entities (although not actually even legal entities with any nonprofit status under any U.S. or foreign laws). In short, GSC/GSI and SPI are simply different organizations. SPI is a U.S. Charity approved by the IRS and exists legally while GSC and GSI are simply just names.
That’s what I said last year – they’re just names, with lists of people; they’re not doing anything. Nice of Rogers to confirm. But this business about how totally separate they are – don’t make me laugh.
5. The blogger makes all kinds of hay over Mr. Lloyd Rubin’s felonious background and his unsavory involvements with secular start-ups. Actually, Mr. Rubin mostly funded standing groups, not start-ups. He donated to groups like the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, the Secular Coalition for America and Americans United. The blogger is quizzically critical of my bringing Mr. Rubin into the donation scene for SCA without mentioning his donations to a wide variety of other secular groups who relished his support. Of course, other groups, such as Amanda Metskas’ CampQuest organization, were not successful in their efforts to lobby Mr. Rubin for support; he supported only those that he viewed to be worthy secular projects.
Wait. Where’s the part where she explains why “the blogger” is wrong to point out Lloyd Rubin’s felonious background? I completely missed that part, and I can’t find it how hard soever I look. She says nothing at all to explain that. Too busy wrapping party favors in sheets of dollar bills?
6. “Lloyd Rubin was gong to give 2,333 paintings to the Vatican”.
Actually, that was a joke. A cruel joke because he was angry. He was angry because he had given 2,333 pieces of art to SCA and we worked for a year to find a donor to bear the considerable expense associated with cataloging, packing, shipping, housing and building a website for this 1.5 millions dollar’s worth of art so that the proceeds could go to the various member groups of SCA. When SCA terminated me, however, that donor in Ohio who had pledged $250k for these expenses withdrew his support out of protest (as did MANY donors to SCA) killing the project (and the 1.5 million of donations) and leaving Mr. Rubin holding his art work after a year of brokering its liquidation for a suitable cause.
Money. Money, you see. Mr Rubin had lashings of money. That’s really all that matters, don’t you agree?