Are There Any McCarthyites at the Center for Inquiry?
October 28, 2009
I was shocked and dismayed to read Ron Lindsay’s blog posted on October 21, 2009, titled "Have Atheist Fundamentalists taken over CFI?" accompanied by a photo of Senator Joe McCarthy, with the caption "He has a list of 57 card-carrying atheist fundamentalists at CFI."
Presumably this was supposed to describe yours truly, for I have criticized "atheist fundamentalism" and suggested that we need to focus instead on the constructive values and ideals associated with secular humanism. (Indeed, my entire career has been devoted to this task.) This is exactly why the Center for Inquiry was founded: It was not founded to advocate for atheism, or serve as a civil rights organization for atheists. I have never accused CFI’s dedicated staff members of being "atheist fundamentalists," though I have expressed concerns over the future direction of the Center for Inquiry. Yet, the problem of atheist fundamentalism is a very real one and needs to be faced. We are not going to solve the massive problems facing civilization on a global scale by merely attacking and ridiculing religion. Questions about human rights, abuse of power, and the creation of meaning and value for a secular age are as vital today as ever. These and other pressing issues were examined with prescience from a secular and naturalistic perspective by presenters at last weekends CFI sponsored conference here in Amherst, New York (October 22-24) honoring John Dewey on his 150th birthday, as well as his impact on America and the world. All in attendance were united by a single theme: We need to get on with the business of advancing a constructive secular alternative.
I am providing readers of this blog a link where they can read my upcoming editorial "The True Unbeliever," to appear in the next issue of Free Inquiry , to more fully explain what I am concerned about.
I should add that I deeply regret the fact that the Center for Inquiry has been overtaken by negative controversy instead of focusing on its positive contributions.