To Our Friends in the Skepticism and Secular Movements,
The Center for Inquiry’s leadership and board have recently fielded questions regarding our termination of CFI’s association with Kavin Senapathy and the subsequent removal of her contributions from our websites. The feedback we received compelled us to review that action and to repost the material removed. While Ms. Senapathy’s baseless allegations of racism against CFI justified terminating her, we have reconsidered the removal of the archival work. Much of that material includes interviews with people who are valued contributors to scientific skepticism.
Ms. Senapathy’s public denunciations of CFI and its leaders (borne out by her comments that we append to this letter) defy all evidence to the contrary. CFI’s values and practices are in fact consistent with our mission to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values:
- CFI opposes white supremacy and has used our platform to expose the fallacies and dangers of racial prejudice.
- CFI is committed to diversity and to bring more people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds into its community of secular people and skeptics. CFI already works alongside a vast array of paid professionals and lay leaders of all races and ethnicities in the United States and around the world.
- CFI defends the separation of church and state, protects the rights of nonbelievers in the United States and abroad, and confronts challenges to scientific thinking. That means there are many good causes, including racial and social justice, that we leave primarily to other groups that specialize in them. CFI’s resources are dwarfed by those of the religions, corporations, and governments whom we confront. We therefore deploy our scarce resources primarily to advance our core mission.
- CFI rejects the idea that being white, male, and older invalidates the colossally impactful work of scholars and scientists like Richard Dawkins.
- CFI affirms that all religions, Islam included, are subject to criticism, and scholars like Richard Dawkins are doing a public service when they point to the endemic sexism and homophobia within various religious faiths.
In light of Ms. Senapathy’s unfounded denunciations of CFI and its leadership, as well as her unprofessional behavior (the details of which go beyond the scope of this letter), CFI affirms that ending her association with CFI was necessary and consistent with our mission.
As the world confronts an unprecedented health crisis, we need scientific thinking more than ever, not only to develop life-saving treatments, but to engage everyone’s help in isolating the disease. We thank you for your support of skepticism and secularism, and hope that all your families stay safe and healthy.
CFI Board of Directors and CFI CEO.
A Sampling of Public Postings By Kavin Senapathy
February 20, 2020
In promoting a piece Ms. Senapathy wrote for Undark.org in which she denounces CFI, claiming it has ignored racial inequality as an issue, Ms. Senapathy posted: “The Center for Inquiry and I have parted ways over their inability to get it together when it comes to their failure to address white supremacy, in general, and within their own ranks.”
March 20, 2020
Referring to CFI, “The texbook institutional white supremacy is almost surreal.”
October 13, 2019
“My atheist role models growing up were my parents and my uncle. Today, my non-religious role model is, above all others, me. I also have a gaggle of deeply good non-religious friends who, amazingly, found their way to a non-religious belief system without ever reading a sentence by one ridiculous man whose name rhymes with Shmichard Schmawkins or his esteemed colleagues.
Honestly, none of these celebrated mediocre old white atheists are actually necessary. They’re not enlightened. They’re washed the fuck up. Yes, many people *have* found their way out of religion due to their work. But if you think that other brilliant non-religious thinkers who meet and surpass the abilities of these dudes don’t exist, then you live under a racist rock.”
March 19, 2020:
In saying that she stood by the October 13, 2019 statement about Richard Dawkins, Ms. Senapathy posted that the real problem is the “racist, colonialism-tinged drivel that spews forth from Dawkins’ bigoted mouth and social media accounts.”
October 22, 2018
Referring to CFI’s skeptics conference CSICon, Ms. Senapathy, a speaker at the conference, tweeted her objections to an on-stage conversation between Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins. She then posted her tweet on Facebook with the comment: “I walked out. Fuck that.” and tagged #CSICon so anyone following conference postings would see it.
September 13, 2019
Referring to CFI naming Julia Sweeney to its board of directors, Ms. Senapathy posted “This is a shameful day for the Center for Inquiry” due to the fact that Julia is white.
February 20, 2020
Ms. Senapathy posted that Richard Dawkins “has repeatedly come under fire for Islamophobic and misogynistic remarks,” suggesting that she agrees with these epithets.