This is the third post of three, and it'll be shorter. Some folks who've got caught up in this trainwreck created by John Shook are now saying that it will make them stop donating to the Center for Inquiry. Frankly, I think that's a shortsighted reaction. A poorly-thought-through, badly-worded article should not be enough to outweigh the enormously impressive programs that the CFI conducts, which depend on memberships and donations. The policy and political programs alone are worth every cent that gets donated, and then there are innovations such as Camp Inquiry. We need well-resourced organisations such as the CFI to do this work, and frankly it would be madness to lose its accumulated expertise and experience. The better resourced the organisation becomes, the better in the scheme of things ... especially as it goes through a period of adjustment now that the Paul Kurtz years have come to an end.
But the Shook distraction shows how the good will built up by all the good work can be negated by bad organisational communications. No one sees the totality of what CFI is doing - except, of course, for a few insiders - but a statement at a highly-visible outlet such as the Huffington Post is seen by very many people all over the world, most of whom have no idea what CFI does ... or even what it is.
Individuals associated with the CFI (and other such organisations) would do well to keep this in mind. They have it in their power to do enormous damage very quickly, and to undo an organisation's reputation built up by countless hours of hard work, some it spectacularly successful, by many, many people. That's the kind of responsibility that is on your shoulders when you speak for an organisation - even if you don't think you're speaking for it on that particular occasion.
But this cuts both ways. One badly worded article can have an immense cost in good will, and the managerial staff of advocacy organisations should realise that. However, organisational supporters should also realise it. One prominent, damaging action may be far outweighed by much work and planning elsewhere that should not be allowed to come to nothing. We all get to choose where we spend our money, and the staff of the advocacy organisations that we support need to be mindful of this when promoting their own personal projects. At the same time, we ought to recall the much bigger picture. The struggle for a truly secular society is enormous, potentially all consuming. Let's keep in mind all the folks who are working with professional dedication in that struggle, as well as who might be hurt if we respond prematurely, or simply overreact, when something goes wrong, as will inevitably happen now and then.
Though there are issues to tackle and lessons to learn, an organisation like the CFI is too valuable to jeopardise over an issue like this.