One of the nice things about being blacklisted by a large segment of the atheist community is that I don’t have to be shy about criticizing…oh, hey, wait a minute, I’ve always been a pain in the ass. OK, I can be even more obnoxious now.
The latest troubling event in the world of atheist leadership is that Edwina Rogers has amended her lawsuit against the Secular Coalition of America. She’s now suing Richard Dawkins directly.
Now I have no brief for Edwina Rogers at all — she was a terrible choice for the job in the first place, she had little awareness of secular issues at all, and I have no idea how she landed the position. Someone seemed to have been enamored of bringing in a Republican lobbyist, and in fact there are way too many atheists trying to reach out to people with a deep ideological contempt for us. So I think her dismissal was righteous, and hope that will emerge in the lawsuit.
Her latest addition, though, points out some dodgy stuff in the Richard Dawkins’ foundation’s charitable work. They collected donations through a branch called Non-Believers Giving Aid, which I thought was a great idea. Only, unfortunately, it turns out that all the money donated may not have gone to the intended destination. There was an initial transfer of a substantial sum to Doctors Without Borders, Rogers say, but after that, she claims additional donations were misappropriated and used for the RDF operating budget. It’s worrisome, because at worst it’s illegal, and at best, it’s terrible record keeping.
If true, this is a disaster. It’s reminding me of the Josh Timonen affair, in which Dawkins had to drop a suit in which he accused Timonen of embezzling.
The fact is that I like Dawkins personally; he’s a brilliant writer and a good scientist; but what he is not is a competent business manager. I don’t think he’s interested in the day-to-day operation of a foundation, and he doesn’t use good professional criteria in hiring his managers. And that leads to situations like this one — I don’t think he’s malicious at all, he’s just lacking in a whole suite of skills you need to manage a large organization.
What it means to me is that I’d never donate to the RDF. I also wouldn’t touch any organization that hires Edwina Rogers with a 100 meter pole. There are serious skills to managing a major organization, and Richard Dawkins lacks them…as do I, I would add. So please don’t ask me to invest or manage your $100,000 donation to Pharyngula. I’d just blow it all on killing all the ads network-wide.