Center for Inquiry

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Paul Kurtz was the founder of the Center for Inquiry.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit organization. Its main mission is to foster a secular society based on secular humanist values. CFI has headquarters in Amhurst, New York and Washington, DC,[1] and also has number of locations around the world.

The main programs are the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism, along with the Office of Public Policy, CFI On Campus, African Americans for Humanism, and the CFI Institute.[1] The CFI Institute partners with the Graduate School of Education of the State University of New York at Buffalo to offering the accredited Ed.M. program in Science and the Public, available entirely online.[2]

CFI has numerous publications, including: Skeptical Inquirer and the Council for Secular Humanism's Free Inquiry (with a combined readership of nearly 100,000). Additional magazines at CFI are read in the U.S. (The American Rationalist), United Kingdom (The Skeptic), and Perú (New Skepticism, and The Journal of Applied Philosophy).[3] Philo: A Journal of Philosophy is a peer-reviewed academic journal which publishes original articles in all fields of philosophy. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice is a peer-reviewed journal in clinical psychology, psychiatry, social work, and allied disciplines.[2] CFI has a 70,000 volume library.

CFI promotes the celebration of Charles Darwin Day and Carl Sagan Day.[4] Through the Council for Secular Humanism, CFI operates the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum at his first home in Dresden, New York.[5]

For 2015, CFI reported gross income of $5.1 million and assets at the end of that year of $1.6 million. President Ronald Lindsay drew a salary of $99,215.[6]

The founder of the Center for Inquiry was Paul Kurtz.

Infighting and ouster of founder Paul Kurtz

See also: Atheist factions

Currently, there is an ideological struggle within the secular humanism faction of atheism concerning how militant the movement should be which primarily arose post New Atheism movement which is a more militant form of atheism. (see also: Militant atheism and Atheist factions). Paul Kurtz was against the secular humanism movement becoming more militant but some newer followers of secular humanism disagree with Kurtz.[7]

On October 10, 2010, a contentious exchange between members of the Secular Humanism faction of atheism founded by Paul Kurtz and the atheist Ron Lindsay was caught on tape.Video - Part oneVideo - Part 2 During the exchange Ron Lindsay said that infighting has been occurring within the Secular Humanism faction of atheism for years.[8]

A Paul Kurtz supporter said that Kurtz was censored by Ron Lindsay and his supporters and driven out of the organization that he founded (Center for Inquiry).[9]

Lindsay claimed, however, that Kurtz voluntarily resigned from the organization he founded and Kurtz was never censored. Furthermore, Lindsay said that Kurtz's idea of a "planetary federation" was impractical.[9] Kurtz countered that he was never allowed to publish why he resigned from the organization and that he was censored by the organization that he founded.[9]

Sikivu Hutchinson's criticism of Center for Inquiry and RDF merger

During 2016, the Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation merged with the merger completed on December 31, 2016. Richard Dawkins and two of his board members joined the CFI Board.[1]

Sikivu Hutchinson speaking at the Center for Inquiry.

See also: Western atheism and race and Atheism and leadership

Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote:

The recent merger of the secular organization Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Richard Dawkins Foundation (RDF) has been dubbed atheism's supergroup moment. Acknowledging the two organizations' outsized presence in the atheist world, Religion News Service acidly declared it a "royal wedding". The partnership, which gives Richard Dawkins a seat on the CFI board, smacks of a vindication of Dawkins' toxic, reactionary brand of damn-all-them-culturally-backward-Western-values-hating- Muslims New Atheism. As one of the most prominent global secular organizations, CFI's all-white board looks right at home with RDF's lily white board and staff.[10]

The secular humanist document Human Manifesto II, which was written in 1973 by Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson, decried racism and it declared:

The beginnings of police states, even in democratic societies, widespread government espionage, and other abuses of power by military, political, and industrial elites, and the continuance of unyielding racism, all present a different and difficult social outlook. In various societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively challenge our generation.[11]

David Gorski at Scienceblogs criticism of the Center for Inquiry

See also: Atheist nonprofit scandals

David Gorski at Scienceblogs wrote about atheist/skeptic organizations and financial mismanagement:

In any case, this makes me wonder: What is it about rationalist/skeptic groups that make them seemingly have such a hard time running their organizations well from a financial standpoint? After all, just a couple of months ago the Center for Inquiry (CFI) sent out letters desperately begging for more contributions. The reason was that CFI had one large benefactor whose yearly contribution funded approximately 20-25% of the yearly CFI budget. As clueless as I may be about finances, even I know that you don’t use such donations to run the operating expenses of an organization, because you can’t count on them from year to year and it’s too big a chunk. You use this money for special short-term projects and a rainy day fund. Not surprisingly, when this mysterious donor stopped donating earlier this year, suddently CFI was in deep doo-doo from a financial standpoint, prompting the desperate plea for donations and deep budget cuts. I realize that the down economy has played havoc with many nonprofit and charitable organizations, but these issues with skeptical organizations seem to go beyond just that.[12]

Dawkins' Twitter post about a video comparing feminism to radical Islam

Stephanie Zvan is an atheist blogger at Freethought Blogs. She wrote an open letter to the Center for Inquiry about the events surrounding the Dawkins' Twitter post relating to a video comparing feminism to radical Islam that "CFI now has a harassment denialist on its board, a harassment denialist who has tied his denialism to his work at your organization."[13]

For more information, please see: Dawkins' disinvitation to speak at a skeptics conference due to a feminism/Islam controversy

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Two Great Freethought Organizations Are Now One (December 31, 2016). Retrieved on January 10, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Education. Retrieved on January 10, 2017.
  3. Publications and Libraries. Retrieved on January 10, 2017.
  4. "CFI 2014 Annual Report", p. 6. Retrieved on January 10, 2017. 
  5. "CFI 2014 Annual Report", p. 11. Retrieved on January 10, 2017. 
  6. Center for Inquiry IRS Form 990 (PDF). Retrieved on January 10, 2017.
  7. Redirecting a Long Life of Godlessness
  8. Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Kurtz and Ron Lindsay Argument Audio Part Two
  10. #AtheismSoWhite: Atheists of Color Rock Social Justice by Sikivu Hutchinson
  11. Humanist Manifesto II
  12. Richard Dawkins sues Josh Timonen, Posted by David Gorski on October 24, 2010
  13. Dawkins Goes Denialist: An Open Letter to the CFI Board by Stephanie Zvan at Freethought Blogs