For some odd reason, atheist organizations seem to have this persistent problem with embezzlement.
Back in the 1990s, David Waters was an office manager at American Atheists, hired to run operations in Austin. Madalyn Murray O’Hair caught him embezzling funds and had him arrested. When Waters was released on parole, she then used her atheist publications to further humilate him. This ultimately resulted in a gruesome Fargo-like plot that ended up with O’Hair and her family being kidnapped and murdered.
Then, in 2010, Richard Dawkins accused his former web designer, Josh Timonen of embezzling $375,000 from the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Dawkins filed a a lawsuit, but when Timonen’s lawyers began requesting documents, Dawkins quietly dropped the lawsuit. To date, the truth behind this dispute remains unknown (and science has been unable to help).
That takes us to 2014. About this time last year, the NYT broke the story that Edwina Rogers was fired as head of the Secular Coalition for America (the SCA). The SCA is a group of atheist organizations trying to work together to ensure society is one big atheist Safe Space (recall that many atheists are delicate flowers with anger management problems and are easily traumatized by public displays of religious belief or behavior). And once again, what do we find?
An internal audit, obtained by The New York Times, found that two employees who handled the Secular Coalition’s finances embezzled $78,805, mostly by using the coalition’s credit cards to pay for restaurant meals, travel and plastic surgery.
The Friendly Atheist got his hands on this audit and gave us more details about this secular behavior:
It also explains in detail how the two employees used the company credit card without getting pre-approval for purchases as SCA policy mandated. (Rogers, for reasons only SCA knows, never had access to the group’s finances until recently). In addition to what the NYT article stated, a four-figure check was also issued by Employee 1 for a side company owned by Employee 2.
Perhaps as part of a quid pro quo, Employee 2 gave Employee 1 two raises without approval of the SCA board.
As if that weren’t enough, the two employees conjured up fake donors to keep the finances above water, even forging signatures when necessary.
(I called one of the fired employees to hear her side of the story. When I told her who I was, she went silent for a bit, then told me she didn’t want to speak with me. Awkward.)
Okay. So the embezzlement happened.
Yet Rogers is not responsible in any way for this misconduct:
Rogers realized this when money that should have been going into her retirement account wasn’t getting there. She alerted the SCA. She received access to the financial records to verify her suspicions. An internal audit happened. The two employees were fired. Rogers was cleared of having anything to do with this.
Nevertheless, Rogers was still fired. And so we have another atheist mystery. Why was she fired? No one seems to know.
Last month, Rogers filed a lawsuit against SCA. You can read it all here.
According to the lawsuit, Rogers was given outstanding positive evaluations from the SCA Board and she documents the many successes she had while leading the SCA. So why was she fired? You can read her side of the story in the lawsuit, where she accuses her fellow atheists of engaging in a conspiracy to get her fired and then smear her publicly afterward (reminiscent of the way O’Hair went after Waters).
What makes the whole lawsuit even more interesting is the appearance of…..Richard Dawkins.
First, it clearly appears that Dawkins has deep influence at the SCA, as it appears there is some form of incestuous relationship between the SCA and RDF. According to the lawsuit:
So impressed was the Board with Plaintiff ’s performance that on August 3, 2013 the Board asked her to assume additional responsibilities as the Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
the Board asked Plaintiff to assume the role of Executive Director of the financially ailing Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
So “the Board” had the authority to speak for the RDF even to the point of offering Rogers complete control of it. In fact, she appears to have done a lot of work for Dawkins:
26. Concerning the Richard Dawkins Foundation, within nine months Plaintiff successfully raised sufficient funds to wipe out the organization’s crippling debt, cleaned up pending legal matters, lowered cost of administration, started a newsletter and subscriber base, and installed capable leadership while putting the organization back on track.
Why did the RDF have “crippling debt?” What were the “pending legal matters?”
Then there is Greg Langer, who is also being sued as part of the lawsuit. Langor used to be a trustee for the RDF and was Chairman of the Harvard Humanist Community. According to the lawsuit, Langer was tasked to “publicly discredit Plaintiff and damage her reputation.”
According to the lawsuit, Langer
alleged to the SCA Board, donors and secular leaders, that Plaintiff had “pimped” for Dr. Richard Dawkins, (an Advisory Board member and international secular leader) and Mr. Sean Faircloth (former Executive Director of SCA). Mr. Langer wrote that “…ER told me that a regular part of her job when bringing Richard (and Sean) on tours, etc., was to make sure there were pretty young women seated next to them and available. The implication was unmistakable…”
The lawsuit then quotes an email from an upset Dawkins:
“WHAT? Did you really spread this preposterous lie, that Edwina pimped for me? Or that part of her job was to make sure there were some pretty young women seated next to me, and available. Total and utter lie, Greg. Total, hurtful, damaging, pure, damned lie.”
Langer responded to Dawkins strongly:
I’m tired of all this and I’m tired of your foolishness and incompetence…. I will not allow you to hide behind your privilege, Richard. I will not be afraid to tell the truth. You are not a sacred cow to me…. Unless you are going to apologize to me and behave like a decent person, I request that you leave me alone. I’m tired of cleaning up the messes you create.”
Tired of cleaning up messes?
Just another day in a World Without Religion. I thought such a world was supposed to be so much better.