An open letter to CFI CEO Ronald Lindsay

I have authored and sent a letter to the Center for Inquiry’s CEO Ronald Lindsay concerning my attendance at the upcoming Women in Secularism 2 conference which is being made possible by generous donors contributing to a fundraiser which was recently launched.

Soon after the fundraiser was announced, various discussions painting me in a negative light — seemingly aimed with intentions of having me banned from the conference — commenced leading me and many others into believing that I may be prevented from attending Women in Secularism 2 despite what seemed to be previous assurances from the conference’s organizer Melody Hensley.

Below is the letter sent to Ronald Lindsay. Consider also listening in Soundcloud.

Dr. Lindsay, 

As you may be aware, a fundraiser has recently been launched to allow for my attendance at the upcoming Women in Secularism 2 conference. Damion Reinhardt, soon after launching this fundraiser, noted that he had done so to “promote genuine diversity of thought within skepticism.”

Stating my own reasons for wanting to attend Women in Secularism 2, I wrote that I wanted to “offer critical examination and commentary surrounding material presented at the conference” by engaging attendees and speakers with intentions to record interviews and conversations in addition to reporting on the material presented at the conference.

I believed that there would be no problems associated with my attendance at the conference because the Center For Inquiry states that it wants to “foster a secular society based on […] freedom of inquiry” and resolves that “[n]o topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny.” Additionally, CFI’s conference conduct policy notes, “Critical examination of beliefs, including critical commentary on another person’s views, does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. One of the underlying rationales of this policy is to promote the free exchange of ideas, not to inhibit it.”

Soon after my fundraiser was launched, though, persons commenting in various online spaces have embarked upon creating an unjustified narrative of fear – painting me and my associates as people who inspire others to commit acts of terrorism and violence, alleging that I wish to attend the conference to “generate a scene” and “goad a few people into a rage,” and accusing me of wanting to disrupt the event [by harassing speakers at the conference]. Conference organizer Melody Hensley, rather than confirming whether or not my admittance to the conference would be approved, advised people to send concerns concerning my attendance at Women in Secularism 2 to you.

I have attended numerous conferences and events, some of which I have been invited to speak at, associated with the secular/atheist/skeptic community. I have no history of behavior at these conferences and events which would warrant dismissal.

I look forward to attending the Women in Secularism 2 conference, but am worried that my registration or admittance into the conference would be denied. Before I register for the conference and make other plans, I would appreciate having my concerns addressed.

Thank you.