Secular Rescue provided assistance for 53 atheists.
TIES certified teachers in 46 states.
CSICon had a record-breaking 650 attendees.
Last year was another banner year for the Center for Inquiry. We worked our secular magic in a vast variety of ways: from saving lives of secular activists around the world who are threatened with violence and persecution to taking the nation’s largest drugstore chain, CVS, to court for marketing homeopathic snake oil as if it’s real medicine.
CFI stands up for reason and science in a way no other organization in the country does, because we promote secular and humanist values as well as scientific skepticism and critical thinking.
But you likely already know that if you are reading this report, as it is designed with our supporters in mind. We want you not only to be informed about where your investment is going; we want you to take pride in what we have achieved together.
When I meet people who are not familiar with CFI, they often ask what it is we do. Our name doesn’t give away a lot of clues. So, this is the 20-second elevator pitch I give, “Through education, litigation, and advocacy, the Center for Inquiry promotes the separation of church and state, the rights of the nonreligious here and abroad, and the end to pseudoscience wherever it arises.”
The longer version of what that means is laid out in this report. Here you will find a compendium of the organization’s incredible work. Take a look at this graphic representation of our work and you’ll see just how broad and varied we are.
CFI keeps the history of the freethought movement alive even as we are making history anew with strategic lawsuits and focused advocacy. We operate at the United Nations, on Capitol Hill, in state houses across the country, in the courts, in classrooms, and in the community, representing the interests of people who embrace reason, science, and humanism–the principles of the Enlightenment.
It is no secret that these powerful ideas like no others have advanced humankind by unlocking human potential, promoting goodness, and exposing the true nature of reality. If you are looking for humanity’s true salvation, look no further.
This past year we sought to export those ideas to places where they have yet to penetrate. The Translations Project has taken the influential evolutionary biology and atheism books of Richard Dawkins and translated them into four languages dominant in the Muslim world: Arabic, Urdu, Indonesian, and Farsi. They are available for free download on a special website. It is just one of many such projects aimed at educating people so they can break free of the stultifying effects of dogma and superstition.
But it is you who make all this work possible. Every CFI member, every supporter, every subscriber to one of our flagship magazines, Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer, makes CFI what it is: a powerhouse for reason and science.
We literally could not do it without you. Thank you so very much.
With warm personal regards,
Robyn E. Blumner
CFI saved the lives of threatened nonbelievers abroad and advocated civil equality for atheists and the nonreligious at home.
CFI’s Secular Rescue program was a lifeline for 53 of the world’s freethinking writers, activists, and everyday citizens whose lives were directly threatened by violent extremists. In a major profile, The Atlantic characterized Secular Rescue as “the Underground Railroad to save atheists.”
Coordinated by Matthew Cravatta, in 2018 Secular Rescue added to its ranks case manager Melissa Krawczyk and academic liaison Phil Zuckerman, professor of secular studies at Pitzer College.
In 2018, CFI began a major initiative to bring books by evolutionary biologist and CFI board member Richard Dawkins targeting readers in Muslim-dominated countries, an audience uniquely hungry for scientific literature.
CFI’s Translations Project is producing professionally translated versions of several of Dawkins’s books, including River out of Eden, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, and The Blind Watchmaker, into languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Indonesian. All will be available as free downloads, with the first finished titles launching early in 2019.
CFI holds special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. This is the highest status given by the United Nations to non-governmental organizations, and it allows CFI to participate in the UN’s ongoing work.
In 2018, CFI submitted four statements to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and CFI’s president and CEO, Robyn Blumner, gave two in-person oral statements, bringing attention to ongoing persecution and violence against secular activists in Egypt, Mauritania, Bangladesh, and other nations.
CFI Websites 2018 Total Pageviews
325,000 Average Monthly Pageviews
RDFRS Website 2018 Total Pageviews
217,500 Average Monthly Pageviews
Total Organization Pageviews in 2018
CFI took on the purveyors of dangerous fake medicine, anti-vaxxers, witchcraft, and conspiracy theories.
The Center for Inquiry filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug retailer, CVS, over its sale and marketing of useless homeopathic treatments. CFI accused CVS of consumer fraud for allowing fake medicine to share shelf space, physical and virtual, with actual evidence-based medicine, with nothing to help consumers distinguish real medicine from pseudoscience.
CFI also produced a short informational video to explain why homeopathy is a sham and how CVS’s disregard for science endangers consumers.
In parts of Africa, belief in witchcraft endangers the lives of children. CFI Kenya has given a new life to children who have been abandoned or threatened by these superstitions through its Humanist Orphans Center and the Ron Lindsay Library (named for CFI’s former president and CEO).
Orphans and children with albinism (whose body parts are sold for their alleged magical properties) get the resources they need to live full and prosperous lives, such as food, shoes, uniforms, educational materials, and of course hope. Simple things such as protecting a threatened little girl with albinism or giving students their first socks and shoes have made an immeasurable difference.
CFI Youtube Subscribers
CFI & Skeptical Inquirer Twitter Followers
CFI & Skeptical Inquirer Facebook Likes
RDFRS Youtube Subscribers
RDFRS Twitter Followers
RDFRS Facebook Likes
Through lobbying, litigation, and education, CFI led the resistance against religious privilege in public policy.
Nonbelievers should have the right to a wedding solemnized by an officiant that shares their deeply held values. Seeking to build on milestone legal victories in Indiana and Illinois, CFI launched lawsuits challenging the marriage laws in two states, Michigan and Texas. If successful, officiants such as CFI-trained Secular Celebrants would be legally authorized to solemnize marriages in those states.
The Texas lawsuit garnered in-depth coverage by the Austin-American Statesman and Deseret News, and CFI Michigan Director Jennifer Beahan appeared on NBC affiliate WOOD in its coverage of the Michigan case.
The religious Right’s relentless campaign to redefine “religious liberty” as an exemption from the law and a license to discriminate has been a primary focus of CFI’s advocacy efforts.
Thanks in no small part to the grassroots support rallied by CFI and its partners, President Trump and his Congressional allies repeatedly failed in their efforts to neutralize the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and nonprofit groups from endorsing candidates for political office, keeping right-wing churches from pouring unaccountable dark money into the election system.
CFI also focused intensive lobbying and advocacy efforts on federal agencies such as Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and most notably the Justice Department and its “Religious Liberty Task Force,” all bent on allowing religious people and organizations to freely discriminate against groups such as LGBTQ Americans.
People assisted by Secular Rescue
Secular Rescue Cases
Action Alerts Sent
Meetings with Lawmakers and Federal Officials
CFI promoted reason, science, and critical thinking with major events, face-to-face training, and a trove of free resources.
The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) has helped middle school science teachers across the country share the wonders of science with their students and navigate opposition to evolution education.
Thousands of teachers in forty-three states have been given the tools they need to succeed through 122 free, in-person workshops and, new in 2018, 14 online sessions, which have included presentations by experts such as our own Richard Dawkins, Grandmother Fish author Jonathan Tweet, and Kathleen McAuliffe, author of This Is Your Brain on Parasites.
A constellation of skeptic stars headlined the biggest and best-attended CSICon ever.
650 members of the reality-based community gathered at the Westgate Resort and Hotel in Las Vegas to see and hear luminaries such as internationally beloved actor and writer Stephen Fry in conversation with Richard Dawkins, psychologist Steven Pinker, “SciBabe” Yvette d’Entremont, everything-ruiner Adam Conover, woo-watcher Kavin Senapathy, Gwyneth Paltrow’s nemeses Dr. Jen Gunter and Timothy Caulfield, and the triumphant return of the amazing James Randi.
CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism marked the twenty-fifth year of its Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum with a special Silver Anniversary Celebration headlined by author and scholar Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers, The Age of Unreason), commemorating the legacy of “the Great Agnostic” and his nineteenth century contemporaries in American freethought.
The conference featured lectures from historians, activists, and performers, as well as a motorcoach tour of key sites on the Freethought Trail in west-central New York State.
TIES states (all time)
Total Events held by CFI Branches
CFI tapped into the talents of the secular and skeptic movements like never before.
Harnessing the power of its unmatched braintrust, CFI called upon its dynamic community of scholars, scientists, activists, and artists to create content specially for the CFI and Skeptical Inquirer websites.
In 2018, CFI welcomed a wealth of new columns such as Kavin Senapathy’s “Woo Watch,” Jim Underdown’s “Ask the Atheist,” cartoonist Celestia Ward’s “Peeling Onions,” and comedian Natalia Reagan’s “She Sells Science” joined an existing lineup that includes Joe Nickell’s “Investigative Briefs,” Harriet Hall’s “SkepDoc’s Corner,” and Paul Fidalgo’s irreverent daily news roundup “The Morning Heresy.” CFI’s websites now boast more than thirty regular columns of original and exclusive content.
Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine for science and reason, continued to build onto its legacy of more than forty years as the flagship journal of the skeptic movement. In 2018, Skeptical Inquirer not only busted myths and shattered illusions, but also deeply explored the scientific and societal factors that contribute to our grandest illusions. Highlights included:
Skeptical Inquirer Circulation
Free Inquiry, the journal of secular humanism, thoughtfully engaged with some of the most pressing and controversial issues surrounding religion, politics, philosophy, and the freedom to question. Highlights included:
Free Inquiry Circulation
CFI’s local branches and campus affiliates were bustling with exciting and enlightening events and activities, from lobbying state representatives to hosting educational lectures and social gatherings, fostering welcoming and engaged communities of freethinkers. 2018 highlights included:
CFI in 2018 saw old friends take on new roles and fresh faces bring new energy and expertise to our community.
Over the summer, CFI’s outreach team was joined by talented interns EJ Sorrell from the University of Texas at Austin and Kayla Bowen from Morehead State University, and former outreach intern London Sneden returned as CFI’s summer legal intern.
David Cowan: Venture capitalist
Richard Dawkins: Evolutionary biologist
Brian Engler: Operations research analyst, nonprofit executive
Kendrick Frazier: Editor, Skeptical Inquirer
Barry Kosmin: Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
Y. Sherry Sheng: Nonprofit executive, educator
Eddie Tabash (Chair, Board of Directors): Attorney, activist
Andy Thomson (Vice Chair, Board of Directors): Psychiatrist
Leonard Tramiel: Physicist, educator
When you give to the Center for Inquiry and its programs, you want your donation to be stewarded with care and attention to the mission. That’s why we report our revenue and expense ratios here. In addition, our Form 990 is available on our website.
In 2018, we generated $5,402,763 in revenues. Seventy-six percent came from individual donors, and the balance came from magazine sales, events, and similar earned income. CFI receives no government funding and very limited corporate support.
We are keenly aware of the responsibility we have to our donors when it comes to expenditures. This commitment is reflected in our expense breakdown:
These figures do not include bequests or support for the CFI Development Fund. Please note that these are not final, audited figures. We save costs by having our audit done later in the year. If you would like to see final, audited figures, please contact the Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org in August.
* denotes member of CSI Executive Council
None of our work would be possible without the steadfast support of our donors and subscribers. We are very grateful for their generosity.
There has never been a greater need for an organization like the Center for Inquiry, championing facts, reason, truth, science, and secularism, all at a time that they are all under threat by the changing tides of national and global events. Everyone who shares these core values will be needed. CFI needs you to be part of the solution, to join the good guys.