A merger

CFI sent out a press release today:

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science to Merge with Center for Inquiry

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science and the Center for Inquiry, two of the world’s most respected freethought institutions, have announced their intent to merge. The new organization, which will be the largest secularist organization in the United States, will bear the name of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDFRS) becoming a division of CFI.

Robyn Blumner, currently president & CEO of RDFRS, will become CEO of the combined entity on January 25. Ronald A. Lindsay, currently president & CEO of CFI, will retain the title of president until the merger is complete, and will work closely with Blumner during the transition period. Previous to leading RDFRS, Blumner was a syndicated columnist for the Tampa Bay Times and led two statewide affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Richard Dawkins, founder and chair of RDFRS, will become a member of the CFI board of directors along with the other directors of RDFRS once the merger is complete.

CFI and RDFRS plan to begin unified operations immediately, although the merger will not become final until later this spring, after necessary legal filings and regulatory approval.

The merged organization will be the largest in the United States with a mission of promoting secularism and science, with an annual budget in excess of $6 million and a staff of about 45 employees.

I knew about the merger, but I didn’t know Blumner would be the CEO and I didn’t know Dawkins would be on the board.

I’m seeing a lot of hostile responses to the news on Facebook, and not many friendly ones.

I think the merger is unfortunate. Five years ago I wouldn’t have, but now I do. In the interim Dawkins discovered Twitter, and the result has been unpleasant. I think CFI is better than that, and it makes me sad that now CFI is linked to Dawkins and his daily outbursts on Twitter.

“I am very pleased that my foundation is about to join forces with the Center for Inquiry,” said Richard Dawkins. “CFI is the biggest player in the secular / non-religious / skeptical world, and I like to hope that RDFRS will have something to add to its already flourishing enterprise. In turn, among our projects which will benefit from a larger team of professionals are Openly Secular and the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES). I look forward to adding my voice to CFI’s focus on promoting secular humanism and fighting the proliferation of pseudoscience. I am also especially delighted that Robyn Blumner, the present CEO of RDFRS, is to become the President and CEO of the whole organisation. Ron Lindsay is truly (forgive the cliché) a hard act to follow. If anyone can do it, Robyn can.”

I don’t look forward to Dawkins’s adding his voice to CFI’s focus on promoting secular humanism, because I think he’s seriously and damagingly bad at the humanist part. To be specific, I think he’s way too quick to display his contempt for people who get things wrong, and all too often for people who simply say things he dislikes – especially feminists. I think that’s a bad look for CFI.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it will work out well. But I’m not optimistic.

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