I’m not a member of the Center for Inquiry, and until recently haven’t followed their doings, but readers might be interested in this piece in yesterday’s New York Times: “Closer look at rift between humanists reveals deeper divisions.”
It’s largely about the problems at CfI that led to Kurtz’s ouster. Here’s a snippet:
In June 2009, at odds with Mr. Lindsay, Mr. Kurtz was voted out as the center’s chairman. In May, he resigned from the board altogether.
According to Mr. Kurtz, there were two areas of conflict. First, he says, Mr. Lindsay changed the work culture. Whereas Mr. Kurtz had managed “in the spirit of a think tank,” Mr. Lindsay brought his legal background to bear.
“I am used to the academic life, where we don’t impose rules on employees,” Mr. Kurtz said, sitting in his living room. But Mr. Lindsay, he said, “set up a command system, said these are the rules and laws, and anyone who deviates from that will be investigated.”
Employees were interrogated for minor infractions, Mr. Kurtz said, and several were let go. “That is like Stalinism or the Inquisition,” Mr. Kurtz said.
By phone and by e-mail, Mr. Lindsay said that the “investigations” were due-process inquiries into complaints, and that he had not fired anyone for questioning his authority. He said that four employees were laid off for economic reasons, one resigned, and one freelance employee did not have his contract renewed. Only the center’s spokesman, Nathan Bupp, who left last week, may have been fired; Mr. Lindsay, in an e-mail, would only say, “This was not a layoff.”
More generally, he said that Mr. Kurtz, after 30 years of leadership, simply found it too difficult to cede responsibility; in particular, Mr. Lindsay mentioned fund-raising, saying that Mr. Kurtz was reluctant to introduce him to donors he had known for years.
Most of you CfI followers probably know this stuff. The piece also describes other juicy shenanigans, like Ronald Lindsay recently changing the locks at the Amherst CfI center so that Kurtz couldn’t get in. Of more interest to me is Kurtz’s assertion that he left CfI because of its infusion of “angry atheism.” Could that accusation explain why CfI has recently been so vociferous in its attacks on the Gnu Atheists?
Donations to CfI have also fallen.