by Kimberly Winston
(RNS) It’s like a royal wedding in the small world of atheist organizations: The Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science are merging to form the largest reason-based organization in the U.S.
The new organization will retain the Center for Inquiry name, while giving a seat on its board to Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist who is a superstar in the atheist community for his best-selling books on atheism and science and his outspoken talks against religion.
As part of the merger, Ron Lindsay, a lawyer who has headed CFI since 2008 — and shepherded the Amherst, N.Y.-based organization through a difficult and controversial transition from its founder, humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz — will step down. Taking his spot will be Robyn Blumner, the Dawkins Foundation’s executive director for the past two years.
“I hope and I believe that this merger will significantly enhance the impact of CFI’s work, and, as a result, will also further some of the common goals of the secular movement, such as keeping religion out of public policy and reducing the stigma associated with being an atheist or humanist, which is still all too prevalent in the United States,” Lindsay said in an email interview.
Blumner, who is based in Washington, D.C., said in a statement: “Secularism is on the ascendency in the United States and beyond. Science has proven to be the engine of human progress. Bringing more resources and ambition to promoting these forces of reason is what this merger is about.”
It is not clear yet how the merger will affect the British branch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which operates a separate entity, Lindsay said. CFI, meanwhile, has 21 international branches or representatives, from Canada to Pakistan to Zambia, giving the Dawkins Foundation a more international scope.
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