Paul Kurtz Resigns from Center For Inquiry May 19, 2010

Paul Kurtz Resigns from Center For Inquiry

***Update***: Many current CFI staffers and local advisory board members (independent from CFI management and Board of Directors) have signed a “Letter of Gratitude,” thanking Paul Kurtz for all he has done.

We, the undersigned CFI staff and local advisory board members, wish to express our profound gratitude to Paul Kurtz for his many decades of service to the causes of secular humanism and skepticism. Through his tireless efforts, Dr. Kurtz has been an inspiration for the entire secular and skeptic community. We thank Dr. Kurtz for founding and leading the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry, all organizations that we look forward to continuing to serve. Without a doubt, Dr. Kurtz will forever be known as the Father of Secular Humanism.

We would also like to take this opportunity to voice our support for the CFI Board of Directors and management. In the past two years, under the sound guidance of CEO Ronald Lindsay, they have successfully demonstrated both the desire and the ability to advance Paul Kurtz’s vision well into the twenty-first century. More than ever, we are confident that CFI will continue to prosper and grow while maintaining its founder’s dedication to fostering a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

After all the jabs back-and-forth, I’m frankly surprised this didn’t happen sooner. But I doubt either side is really celebrating this as a victory.

Paul Kurtz, the man who founded the Center for Inquiry, has resigned.

If you’re looking for a reason as to why Kurtz left the organization, you might find some explanation in this post by Ron Lindsay, current CEO of CFI.

The Board of Directors of the Center for Inquiry, the world’s leading and largest organization promoting humanism and skepticism, issued the following statement today: The board will accept Dr. Paul Kurtz’s resignation as chairman emeritus and as a member of the board:

The board sincerely thanks Paul Kurtz for his decades of service to the Center for Inquiry and its affiliates. The board deeply respects Dr. Kurtz and his work and knows that this organization will always be associated with his efforts on its behalf. Dr. Kurtz founded and led our organization and helped it thrive. Much of CFI’s success is due to Paul Kurtz’s inspiration and leadership.

Our success is also due in no small part to the efforts of CFI’s dedicated staff, its many skilled volunteers, and its generous financial supporters. CFI has never been a one-person operation.

At Paul Kurtz’s behest, CFI began years ago to organize a leadership transition. Moreover, in recent years the board had concerns about Dr. Kurtz’s day-to-day management of the organization. In June 2008, the board appointed Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay president and CEO; in June 2009, the board elected Richard Schroeder chairman, with Dr. Kurtz moving to chairman emeritus. During this two-year transition, CFI continued to hold a rigorous schedule of more than 110 national and international events, to develop its grassroots network, and to advocate effectively for humanism and skepticism.

As a result of this transition, CFI is well-prepared to move forward into the next phase of its institutional life, confident that the organization will remain at the forefront of secular humanism and skepticism.

CFI still has vocal critics, including former leader R. Joseph Hoffman (previously mentioned here and here), who wants to see one more resignation.

With or without Kurtz, CFI is an important organization and if this is what’s necessary for them to move forward, I hope it helps.


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  • I am sorry to see Kurtz go. I hate to see CFI turn into a Palinesque organization for atheists.

  • gwen

    I’m sorry to see the high school level infighting going on. I’m sure both sides have good points, but it is difficult to see what their points are when they are spending so much time with the diversionary punches and jabs. I have heard that Kutz is autocratic and difficult to work with. I’m not convinced that a change in leadership is not warranted, but I have no idea whether Lindsay is the appropriate leader. Time will tell. At this point both sides should withdraw from the ring gracefully. Kurtz has been throwing wild punches at every opportunity, and Lindsay gets sucked into responding. It is time for every one to grow up and stop!

  • Alex

    I attended the Humanists of Florida conference on building secular coalitions a few weeks ago. Lindsay spoke at this conference and I think his objectives are pretty clear and has some good ideas. HFA should have audios available from this conference on their website soon.

  • Epistaxis

    Kurtz is unfortunate to have Hoffman on his side.

  • R Joseph Hoffmann

    Epistaxis should be outed.

  • Jack Saltonstall

    Where is a list of those who would not think of signing? Matt Cherry, Robert Tielmann, Warren Smith, and on and on. I do not see the names of Robert Worsfeld, Timothy Madigan and quite a few others who left the Council. Cherry must have a list of several dozen. And also the many American Humanists who were happy he left to set up the Council.

  • Dream Theater

    Alex – What do you think Lindsay’s objectives are, as far as you can tell?

    I fear that R. Joseph Hoffmann may be right that the Center for Inquiry will devolve into the Center for the Separation of Church in State.

    Almost all national atheist organizations have become a bit too lawsuit happy. If they aren’t filing suit they are at least endorsing lawsuits. Is there really nothing more to “inquiry” than suing every mention of God in the public square?

    I guess there’s always the Skeptics Society or Richard Dawkins’ foundation for those of us who care about science and reason.

  • Joe

    This whole fight at the CFI gives credence to the detractors of humanism. Face it, atheism is big business for the leaders of these organizations and this public display of visceral hatred between the leadership showcases this very criticism made by humanism’s detractors. Over the years, how much money has been pocketed – not (necessarily) by the center itself but the people behind the organization in books, speaking engagements, events, salaries, etc. Don’t say it’s nothing now because of the deficit – that’s b.s. It’s been a goldmine for years and don’t think people don’t know it, which is why these groups have a hard time being taken seriously by the public.

  • For an detailed interview of Paul Kurtz regarding his departure from CFI, see here: http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/10/02/expelled-founder-paul-kurtz-explains-his-departure-from-the-center-for-inquiry/