CFI Chairman Richard Schroeder Delivers an Important Message to CFI Supporters.

June 14, 2010


The Center for Inquiry sent out an important message today from Richard Schroeder, Chair of the CFI Board of Directors. The message aims to clarify the situation at CFI for our readers and supporters and respond to some charges that have been swirling around the Blogosphere, most notably recent criticism directed at CFI from its founder Paul Kurtz.
The message is frank and honest but overall positive and hopeful in its assessment of CFI’s current and upcoming projects and future prospects.   
I encourage you to read the message in its entirety , and in the interest of fostering dialogue and an open exchange of ideas, comments are welcome.

In my (admittedly biased) view, CFI continues to be the preeminent organization promoting and defending reason, science, and humanism, both in the cultural marketplace of ideas and at the grassroots level.  


#1 asanta on Monday June 14, 2010 at 4:07pm

CFI leadership and vision has MY full support, for what little it’s worth. I’ve read the message and I’m so sorry that with it’s growing pains there has been such a painful transfer of leaders. It looked to be overdue.

#2 Lyndon (Guest) on Monday June 14, 2010 at 9:16pm

I think such a letter, and this whole situation, is unacceptable for “the preeminent organization promoting and defending reason, science, and humanism.”

I was very distraught reading that letter today. It is something that should not be coming down from the leaders of any reputable organization. The tone, the calling out of a cherished founder/friend/ally (not that he is blameless), and the empty defense of leaders who have let the situation disintegrate without acknowledging (at least in this letter) any serious mistakes and faults, is unacceptable. The lack of unity and coherence from humanists, secularists, atheists, academians, etc., is appalling, and CFI typifies that problem, or worse. 

I have only become interested in this organization over the last 9 months so maybe it is just bad timing, but this whole situation, from an organization that I hope can lead America away from the present quagmire, is deeply disturbing. What CFI stands for and is working towards is crucially important and I hope they can get there act together, but right now new vision, energy, and professionalism is needed.

#3 Venom on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 6:41am


All that is really sad. I think that, at his age, it’s time for Paul Kurtz to retire. The way it’s happening is really a bad way to go for him. He could have left CFI knowing that the organisation was going strong, but now because he still wants to have powers over the organisation he created he’s acting against it. I must say I just don’t get it…

With skepticality,

#4 Reba Boyd Wooden on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 1:11pm

The dedicated staff of CFI is working hard everyday to move forward in a positive direction.  Please support us and help us continue to advance the cause of science, reason, free inquiry, and humanist ethics.  The work has gone on and continues to go on.  We need your support.

#5 Catzilla on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 2:03pm

I don’t see CFI as ever having been the preeminent organization in anything under Paul Kurtz.  The more it can change away from what it was under Kurtz, the better.
FFRF does more for the cause of secularism in one day than CFI does in a year.

#6 Josh Slocum (Guest) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 2:56pm

Lyndon wrote:

“I’d love to see De Dora provide a short list of these “reasons to believe”, but somehow I don’t think that’ll be forthcoming.”

What would you have them do? Paul Kurtz continually attacks them, impugns the credibility of the current staff, and appears to be damaging their fundraising efforts? Should they just not respond? What would *you* do?

#7 Josh Slocum (Guest) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 2:58pm

Whoops! The quote I attributed to Lyndon was a copy/paste error (coincidentally having to do with a different CFI issue). Mea culpa.

I meant to question this statement from Lyndon:

“I think such a letter, and this whole situation, is unacceptable. . . ”

#8 Lyndon (Guest) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 5:52pm


They have to stand above it.

And they cannot use it as an excuse for the present problems the organization is facing. 

I recognize a few things: On the first, Kurtz brings up emotions. On the second, losing a single, massive donation in the midst of all this is a difficult problem, and that loss could be attributed to many factors.

“Both the Board and CFI’s Management Committee recognized there was a possibility that the anonymous donor would not make a large gift this year, especially when it became clear in March that Paul Kurtz would make no effort to assist the organization in securing the donation.”

“[Ron Lindsay] was deeply troubled by the need to make the layoffs, as indicated by his offer to resign if Paul Kurtz succeeded in securing the donation, thereby obviating the need for layoffs.”

This is a direct attempt to paint Paul Kurtz in a negative light. They are hinting, “We have an incredible donation and this petty man [Paul Kurtz] is risking the health of CFI and directly causing many people to be laid off. Blame him. Don’t blame the board.” There is absolutely no other reason to explain Kurtz’s refusal to secure the large donation other than to blame him and take responsibility off of themselves. The first part of the letter is fine, and even explaining minimally the fall out with Paul Kurtz is fine, but the letter then crosses a line in directing blame onto others. Then Schroeder says, oh Ron Lindsay is a saint, he is willing to sacrifice himself [unlike Mr. Kurtz]. The disturbing idea, and this is probably true, is that this one donation is more important than having self-control of who is leading CFI. Anyways, I recognize it is a crummy situation for all, but there are better ways to handle it.

The letter ends by saying that CFI is above these personal attacks and just focused on there mission. Blind aggrandizement is unprofessional.

“While others are consumed with personal grievances, we are focused on the threats posed by pseudoscience and dogmatic religion; while others . . . ”

#9 J. (Guest) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 7:55pm

Acrimonious language coming from the Chair of the Board of Directors such as “standard propaganda technique” and “bluster and rhetoric” strikes me at least lacking in tact, unseemly and suggests perhaps at least some of the reasons for the misgivings expressed by Dr. Kurtz and some Friends of CFI. Are courtesy, respect, empathy and kindness not enlightenment values?

#10 Randy Pelton on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 9:50pm

I am truly saddened by this whole affair and the way it has unfolded, and continues to play out. I have no doubt that errors in judgement in handling this affair have been made on both sides. The departure of Paul Kurtz is a tragic turn of events. But it is done. Let’s move on. I have great respect for Paul and his writings have been both inspirational to me personally and a source of clarification for my own lifestance. But I did not join CFI because of the personality of one person. To me the cause and the mission are paramount. My support of CFI as an institution and its mission are firm and unwavering. I implore all CFI members to not get caught up in the trappings of a personality cult and remember that the mission is far more important than any one individual. This continued public exchange of recriminations is not in the best interest of our mission. Please let us put this war of words to rest and lets get on with the business of “fostering a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values.”

#11 asanta on Tuesday June 15, 2010 at 11:28pm

Lyndon, Paul Kurtz has done more to paint himself in a negative light. He has haunted the CFI boards sniping at the organization for months now. He is ruining his legacy.

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