Center for Inquiry

Center for Inquiry
CFI 2017 logo.png
Founded1991; 28 years ago (1991)
TypeNonprofit, science education
FocusPublic understanding of science, secular ethics, skepticism
Location
MethodResearch, education, outreach, and advocacy
Key people
Robyn Blumner
Paul Kurtz
Ronald A. Lindsay
centerforinquiry.org
Front entrance of Center For Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, New York

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit advocacy organization. Its primary mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and secular humanist values.[1] CFI has its headquarters in Amherst, New York along with a few international branches.

Center for Inquiry focuses on two primary subject areas:[2]

CFI is also active in promoting a scientific approach to medicine and health. The organization has been described as a think tank[3][4] and as a non-governmental organization.[5][6]

In January 2016, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science announced that it was merging with the Center for Inquiry, with Robyn Blumner as the CEO of the combined organizations.[7][8][9][10][11]

History

Philosopher Paul Kurtz (left) and author Martin Gardner at a CSICOP executive council meeting in 1979

The Center for Inquiry was established in 1991 by atheist philosopher and author Paul Kurtz. It brought together two organizations: the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal[12] (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism[13] (CSH). CSICOP and CSH had previously operated in tandem but were now formally affiliated under one umbrella.

Expansion

CFI Lecture Hall with windows open

By 1995 CFI had expanded into a new headquarters in Amherst, New York, and in 1996 opened its first branch office in Los Angeles, CFI West currently named CFI Los Angeles.[14] In the same year, CFI founded the Campus Freethought Alliance, organizing college students around its areas of interest.

By 1997 CFI had begun expanding its efforts internationally through an association with Moscow State University.

Between 2002 and 2003 CFI opened two new branches in New York City[15] and Tampa, Florida[16] in addition to expanding its west coast branch into a new building in Hollywood, California. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, CFI Los Angeles also became home to the Steve Allen Theater, named after the former Tonight Show host and CFI supporter. This property was sold in 2017 and CFI Los Angeles is now located at 2535 W, Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90026.[17][18]
In 2004, CFI continued to expand into cities across the United States with the creation of a network of community organizations called CFI Communities.[19]

In 2005 CFI once again expanded its Amherst headquarters with a new research wing. Additionally, CFI was granted special consultative status with the United Nations the same year.[20]

Since 2006 CFI has been expanding rapidly with a series of new branches in cities across North America and around the world. These include new Centers for Inquiry in Toronto, London, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Austin, Texas. The branch in Washington is headquarters to CFI's Office of Public Policy, which represents CFI's interests on Capitol Hill.

Their former affiliated organizations, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, ceased to exist as independent organizations, and have become programs of Center for Inquiry, since January 2015.[21]

Logo before its merger with the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

In January 2016, CFI announced that it was merging with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, with Robyn Blumner as the CEO of the combined organizations.[7][8][9][10][22]

Departure of founder

According to Paul Kurtz, in June 2009, being at odds with new CEO Ronald Lindsay, Kurtz was voted out as chairman. Kurtz has described the direction of CFI under Lindsay as "angry atheism" in contrast to his affirmative humanist philosophical approach.[23] According to Ronald Lindsay,"Paul Kurtz voluntarily resigned from his positions with CFI and all its affiliates, including his position as editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry."[24] The Center for Inquiry Board Statement from 2010, thanks Kurtz for his "decades of service" and claims that "Much of CFI's success is due to Paul Kurtz's inspiration and leadership." The release states that with Kurtz's encouragement, new leadership was sought out, with the goal of transitioning Kurtz away from the CEO position. The Board according to CFI prior to 2010 had become concerned with Kurtz's "day-to-day management of the organization. In June 2008, the board appointed Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay president & CEO; in June 2009, the board elected Richard Schroeder chairman, with Dr. Kurtz moving to chairman emeritus." In May 2010, the Board accepted Kurtz's resignation from CFI.[25]