Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter

Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - Issue 1

March 7, 2014

Welcome to the first edition of Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter!

From lobbying on Capitol Hill, to hosting Darwin Day parties, to exposing charlatans on national media, the staff and volunteers of CFI work hard every day to deliver on our promise to you to advance science, reason, and secular values.

This important cause—a cause we all share and support—has a lasting effect both in your neighborhood and around the globe, and we wanted to let you know how much we are accomplishing together.

Cause & Effect, our new CFI e-newsletter, will keep you informed and up to date on the wide range of CFI’s work. Every two weeks, we’ll release a new issue to email inboxes and on the CFI website to let you know about upcoming CFI events, report on our activities and their impacts, and highlight new articles and media.

Bonus: With Cause & Effect we’ll be covering not only CFI’s work, but the work of our sister organizations as well, so read   Cause & Effect for updates about the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, too.

Because of your generosity and dedication, we’re able to cover many issues across a wide variety of platforms, so there’ll be lots to cover in these newsletters. We hope they will prove informative and inspiring!


The Main Events

We Can Do It! — Women in Secularism III Conference
May 16-18, 2014, in Washington, DC 

WIS3 Speakers_Register no bottom.pngWomen in Secularism III is approaching, and excitement is building for the fantastic lineup of brave and brilliant women speakers, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Susan Jacoby, Taslima Nasreen, Lindy West, Katha Pollitt, and many others. Some news on the conference.

       •  If you’re a student, we have a list of six reasons why you particularly need to be there.

       •  Conference speaker Ophelia Benson recently wrote on her blog     what she’s looking forward to at Women in Secularism.

       •  Early-bird rates end March 14! The conference kicks off May 16, so stop what you’re doing and register right now.

Billions and Billions

COSMOS Neil deGrasse Tyson - March 9, 9PM on FOXThe only thing that could possibly rival Women in Secularism III is the cosmos itself. And of course, we’re talking about   Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which launches this Sunday at 9:00 PM E/T on FOX as the largest global launch ever for a television series. We’re just as excited about it as you are, and CFI branches are getting into the spirit with viewing parties for the big premiere. CFI Cosmos events include:

       •  A CFI–Indiana viewing party, with our CEO Ron Lindsay and ice cream;

       •  Events throughout Michigan (see CFI–Michigan’s calendar for the event nearest you);

       •  CFI–Portland will screen the premiere at McMenamin’s Mission Theater—which includes “full bar and menu”;

       •  A viewing party with CFI–Austin at Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub (how appropriate!)

       •  CFI–Western New York will be gathering with the public at Central Park Grill in Buffalo, NY

Also, Religion News Service took a look at Sagan’s impact on humanism, and CFI’s Paul Fidalgo is among the notable seculars interviewed.

Camp Inquiry 2014: This year CI is DIY!
August 3–9, Camp Seven Hills, Holland, NY

grownupcamp2014.jpgWith curiosity and imagination in spades, young skeptics already have the essential foundation for discovery and DIY-inquiry. Combine this with hands-on learning experiences and guidance from some of today’s brightest minds, and they’ll have the tools they’ll need to apply rationality, creativity, and critical thinking to the wider world. 

Visit for details.

Action Alerts


Public funds for religious schools? No!

CFI Office of Public Policy

Our Office of Public Policy has just sent out an important action alert about the growing threat to secular public education in Congress, as several bills on the horizon aim to use taxpayer dollars to fund private and sectarian religious schools.

Speak out now and tell your representative to oppose these voucher proposals.


News from Headquarters

The State of Our Union is Strong

A couple of weeks ago, we released our annual report for 2013, Progress Report: Advances in Advocacy, Community, and Inquiry. It documents the inspiring achievements of last year, which of course were made possible because of you and your support. Take a few moments to check it out; we think you’ll take away from it a strong feeling of purpose and hope for what we’ll accomplish together in 2014 and beyond.

Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum

We’re happy to report that the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum (lovingly referred to around here as the “Ingerhut”) has exceeded its fundraising target and will see a big internal renovation and a “mini-conference” in August of this year.

Save the date! Ingersoll Conference in Buffalo, NY, August 16-17, 2014

Stay tuned to Cause & Effect as more details emerge.


CFI Community News & Events

Brother Sam

Speaking of secular history, Margaret Downey, founder and president of The Freethought Society, enthusiastically promoted the Freethought Trail at the CFI–Los Angeles monthly Café Inquiry. Attendees learned about the many freethinkers, such as Ingersoll, Mark Twain, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, who inhabited the Finger Lakes Region in West Central New York.

Also at CFI–LA, this past Sunday they welcomed writer-actor Roger Scott Jackson, who performed his satirical theater piece as the comedic character Brother Sam, the Atheist Evangelist, performing his show “Cats, Sheep, and Goats: The Taxonomy of Atheists, Believers and Preachers.” Many rousing “God damns!” were shouted, and collection baskets were passed around that collected money, a newspaper, condoms, and Chapstick. Very spiritual, indeed.

AAH DC 2014On February 23, CFI–Washington, DC welcomed the Fourth Annual Day of Solidarity Lunch for Black Nonbelievers hosted by the African Americans for Humanism DC group. Click here to learn more about African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism.

There’s been a lot of clamor of late to know more about CFI’s International Program (and for good reason), so we’ve managed to get   Bill Cooke, director of our international programs, to pause occasionally in his globetrotting and adventuring to write to us during his travels and contribute to the CFI blog. Bill’s given us some updates on developments in Poland and Uganda.

Skeptical Inquirer: The Burzynski Battles (Cover)The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer is out, uncovering the truth behind the dubious cancer-cure claims of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and detailing the efforts by activists to rein him in and contain his damage. Here’s our press release.

CFI’s own Lauren Becker gave a great talk at our headquarters in Amherst on the last day of February, “The Trouble with Darwin: Guilt by Association in a Revolutionary World,” and we’ll have video of it soon. At the same event, CFI–Western New York held a successful food drive for the local Friends of the Night People food pantry. 

CFI in the Media

CFI’s outreach director Debbie Goddard represented the atheistic viewpoint in a   Huffington Post piece on the wide range of beliefs among African Americans, which led to her telling her story on   NPR’s Tell Me More program, and it’s quite moving.

CFI–Indiana chief Reba Boyd Wooden, who heads up CFI’s Secular Celebrant training program, was interviewed for a piece on secular marriage officiants in Australia’s The Age.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, warning about the dangers of an “Old Testament army” in   The American Conservative, heavily cited CFI’s position paper on proselytizing in the military by James E. Parco.


Highlights from CFI on the Web

LoxtonOn CFI’s flagship podcast Point of Inquiry, Lindsay Beyerstein has just interviewed Daniel Loxton of   Junior Skeptic magazine and coauthor of Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids.

Speaking of abominable, Josh Zepps got the low-down on what goes on within the dark underbelly of Fox News, in   a chat with Gabriel Sherman, author of a new biography of the network’s impresario Roger Ailes.

At the Skeptical Inquirer website, Carrie Poppy dares online psychics to claim to cure cancer, Rebecca Watson   goes “squatchin’” at a Bigfoot conference, Kylie Sturgess interviews the Discovery Channel’s Billy Kidd on teaching science through magic, and Sharon Hill explores the desire by many to believe that prehistoric species are still among us.

At our Free Thinking blog, CFI’s Lauren Becker shared a very moving essay of hers for Darwin Day last month, expounding on the enormous impact Darwin’s grand idea has had on humanity’s view of itself.

Meanwhile, CFI On Campus tapped the American University Rationalists and Atheists (AURA) as its Affiliate of the Week.


Save the Date — CFI Community Events

Michele NorrisMarch 8: CFI’s legal director Nick Little will be visiting with the folks at CFI–Tampa Bay this Saturday with a talk entitled “Enshrining Religious Privilege: How the Religious Right is Undermining Secular Society with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

March 9: Anthony Pinn will visit CFI–DC   to discuss his new memoir, Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist.

(See above for Cosmos-related events on the 9th.)

March 12: For you All Things Considered-listening Michiganders, NPR’s   Michele Norris will speak at a CFI–Michigan event in Grand Rapids on March 12, “Eavesdropping on America’s Conversation on Race.”

March 14: Peter Boghossian will discuss his book A Manual for Creating Atheists with CFI-Tallahassee.

March 16: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson   discusses what we can learn about good and evil from animals with CFI–Los Angeles.


Thank You!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!


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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI’s web address is