Still No Updates from the American Atheists Board May 9, 2008

Still No Updates from the American Atheists Board

Ellen Johnson, former president of American Atheists, hasn’t said anything publicly yet (and hasn’t responded to an email inquiry) about her recent firing.

But others are making their voices heard… and they’re not all too happy with the AA Board’s decision:

I am Gil Gaudia. My wife Jeanne and I have been editorial assistants for the past two years at American Atheists. In doing so, we have worked closely with Ellen Johnson whom we respect and admire greatly. We have also had telephone and email contact with a few of the board members, especially with regard to editing their manuscripts. We were not impressed with their interpersonal skills. I have also contributed several articles to the magazine. We have just concluded an hour long telephone conversation with Ellen.

We are extremely biased in her favor, because we found her to be hard-working, honest, courageous, competent and caring of us and appreciative of our volunteer contributions.

This board’s action, in our opinion, will almost certainly result in the end of the organization and publication as we know it. We say this because, from first-hand experience we are aware of the number of hours, the amount of coordination and the knowledge of the operation that are all required to successfully produce a monthly publication, and we have no evidence that any of the board members are willing and able to invest that degree of commitment. Indeed, we have some reason to believe that the opposite is true. To those members who propose hiring Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris and others for the presidency, first see if they’ll agree to work for 38K, or thereabouts, in addition to doing latrine duty in their spare time.

For the board of directors of the most well-known Atheist group in America to have taken such a suicidal action is incomprehensible, but whatever their reasons, unless the members protest strongly and demand her reinstatement, (which she may not even want) it will only be a matter of time before we no longer have an organization to uphold the civil rights of Atheists.

As a contributor of many articles to this magazine, and as volunteers in editing other journal articles, spending many hours of our time in assisting Ellen in producing this publication, we are no longer interested in writing, editing or assisting in any way a magazine whose board has acted in such an irresponsible, unfair and self-destructive manner.

Gil and Jeanne R. Gaudia

To be fair, there are other groups that will continue to fight for the rights of atheists.

But a strong AA, with a well-respected president and spokesperson, is good for all of us.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • I do not know much about Ellen Johnson’s work with AA. From the comment Hemant cited in this post, it seems like she was quite the workhorse and knew her stuff, and her absence will be felt by the organization – perhaps to a terminal degree.

    From what I have seen of Johnson, though, I really haven’t been particularly impressed. She has not strucken me as a person that conveys the rationality and intellectual honesty that the atheist community holds so dear. She has claimed flat out that there is no God and that when you die, you’re dead and that’s it. Now I’m an agnostic atheist and am strongly committed to rationalism and to having my beliefs match the evidence. Thus, I am perturbed when an atheist – particularly one that is viewed as an atheist representative – goes and flouts these shared values. And this is precisely what she has done when she has asserted, as if she had conclusive evidence, that there is no God (whether it be Christian, Islamic, or otherwise) and that when you die you die in every sense of the word.

    She also seems to have rather poor political tact. In fact, she seems to have flat out terrible political tact. I just watched a video of her on Paula Zahn with a panel that featured a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim, in which she said that we’re really more likely to get an enlightened perspective from a person the less religious they are. Now, there is absolutely some truth to this. I definitely think that religion is corrosive to reason just as reason is corrosive to religion. However, this is absolutely not to say that the atheist candidate (if there were one) would necessarily be the best candidate. Atheists can be dogmatists, while religious people can be very liberal, compassionate, tolerant, broad and open-minded (except for when it comes to their faith), and secular, rational and fair in their ways. In addition to this comment being so easily argued down, it was just amazingly inflamatory. If an atheist who is supposed to be a political/social representative of atheists is going to make an offensive comment while they’re engaging in diplomacy, they could word it a hell of a lot more tactfully, and they better be able to back up what they say in the time given. Otherwise they’re just shooting them self and the rest of us in the foot.

    From what I’ve seen, Ellen Johnson has shot the atheist movement in the foot a number of times.

  • JB

    Ron Brown said

    She has not strucken me as a person that conveys the rationality and intellectual honesty that the atheist community holds so dear. She has claimed flat out that there is no God and that when you die, you’re dead and that’s it.

    How does this “statement” by Ellen fail to suggest anything but a rational and intellectually honest position? She has as much a right to maintain that there is no god, pending evidence to the contrary, as she has that there are no fairies, elves, unicorns or whatever one supposes *might* exist. It seems the most intellectually honest position possible on the subject.

    I find this whole episode very sad. For Ellen, for AA, and for atheists.

    Ellen, if you happen to be reading this, your excellence will be sorely missed.

  • Doug Indeap

    Ron Brown,

    Such pointless tactlessness can, I suppose, be passed off most charitably as youthful indiscretion. Whether your opinions of Ellen Johnson’s work are sound or specious, what’s the point offering them at this juncture?

  • Dirk Ver Steeg

    Would very much like to contact Ellen by Email. Any help would be appreciated

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