I met Monette Richards at last year’s Women in Secularism conference, though I’d known her online before that. We’ve since become friends, just as is the case for every CFI volunteer or staff member I’ve spent any significant amount of time interacting with. They are good people, doing excellent work, many of whom are in very tough spots after this year’s conference. Monette wrote this about being in that tough spot.
Early last year, I discovered Center for Inquiry because of an event they were throwing, the first Women in Secularism conference. When doing further research, I found a chapter that met not two blocks from my house. Never one to pass up imbibing beers with like-minded people, especially when I can walk home, my husband and I joined and started attending meetings.
We were immediately made to feel welcome by the entire group. They were personable and interested in talking to us and none of them said “bless you” when I sneezed! It was awesome. Then, we went to Arlington, VA for the conference.
I keep trying to express exactly what that conference did for me, but can never come up with the words. Instead, I will tell you what it inspired me to do.
Since joining CFI, I have organized a charity event with a local battered women’s shelter, a lobby day for our state, a night with Shelley Segal, dinner with Hug an Atheist’s Sylvia Broeckx and, as the VP of Programming for Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio, expanded our monthly events list.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, here. This is to show how active I’ve become in this movement because of Women in Secularism. I found a home in CFI and did the best I could to make it a great one.
This is why I was so thoroughly disappointed in the actions of Ron Lindsay this past weekend at Women in Secularism2. To watch the CEO of the organization I’ve come to love undermine all the work his female employee, Melody Hensley, had done, use his position to belittle a room full of people who paid to attend a conference about women, personally welcome a known harasser, thereby validating all the harassment and abuse women have been getting, and throw a temper tantrum when faced for criticism of it all was maddening.
I cannot keep putting my time and effort into an organization that condones such behavior from its leadership.
I have a board meeting tomorrow. I have asked that an item be placed on the agenda so that we may talk about this past weekend and what it means for my inclusion in this organization. What do I do? Do I leave CFI? Do I write a letter and hope things change? Do I ask the other board members to stand with me against the head of our organization’s actions? How do we show solidarity in the face of the national board?