In May of 2018, a small cabal of dishonest people perpetrated a coup at Atheist Alliance International (AAI). They deliberately misled several of the national atheist groups who had built the alliance, in order to arrange a bogus Annual General Meeting (AGM) in secret. At this meeting, they purported to change the Bylaws to unlawfully remove democratic control of AAI from the Affiliate Member groups, and instead award themselves full personal control of all the assets. Despite their subsequent financial mismanagement causing the nonprofit status of AAI to be revoked, the same dishonest people still control the alliance today.
On 2nd April 2021, a formal internal investigation was announced into this very serious wrongdoing. The investigation was to be carried out by Jason Sylvester, and he promoted his forthcoming inquiry as including an examination of the documentary record within AAI:
“As of this writing, I have requested access to records related to the 2018 AGM so that I may directly investigate John’s claim ‘that the Board illegitimately excluded at least 25 of the 36 national member organisations’. This is a substantial allegation and one I take seriously, and why I have undertaken to investigate it properly. I do so with the objective and neutral approach that such a serious allegation requires …”Jason Sylvester, 2nd April 2021
Since then, Jason Sylvester has joined the self-styled AAI Board, following an anti-democratic process that was every bit as bogus as the AGM he was supposedly investigating. During this entire period, up to and including the recent resignation of key Officers due to what they described as the “disastrous legal status” of AAI, he remained utterly silent about his investigation. However on Sunday 18th September 2022, Jason Sylvester (who uses the ‘Diogenes Of Mayberry‘ sobriquet on social media) for the first time responded to a question about his investigation, by announcing that he has already reported findings.
Jason Sylvester has now announced that his investigation has reported findings to Michael Nugent. The specific issue that Jason Sylvester had committed to investigate, was the unlawful exclusion from AAI of valid Affiliate Member groups. The Bylaws required that all Affiliate Member groups must be given formal notification of any AGM, at least twelve weeks prior to the meeting date. Notwithstanding the fact that the dishonest cabal previously claimed to have made best efforts to adhere to these AAI Bylaws, in fact they made significant efforts to keep their bogus meeting secret from the majority of Affiliate Member groups. Jason Sylvester summarised this remit for his investigation as follows:
“My investigation will look at what emails went out, to which affiliates, and when, as bylaw #79 indicates notice must go out at least twelve weeks prior … The AAI vice-president [Bill Flavell] checked the records for the AGM and all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws; claims which I will verify in my investigation, for which John has no evidence to claim otherwise as he has done repeatedly.”Jason Sylvester, 2nd April 2021
It seemed incongruent that Jason Sylvester announced even before his investigation began, that “all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws”, when this was the very issue that his investigation was established to resolve. It is not clear how this could be consistent with the promised “objective and neutral approach”. Jason Sylvester also asserted that the veracity of this statement had already been checked by Bill Flavell using the documentary record, when in fact Bill Flavell has since admitted that at least 14 Affiliate Member groups were improperly excluded.
“We did take responsibility for failing to send invitations to 14 organisations …Email from Bill Flavell on 29th June 2022
In fact the number of improperly excluded Affiliate Member groups was larger than Bill Flavell admitted. Irrespective of the numbers involved though, the suggestion that the documentary record had been checked and that, “all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws”, could only be based on deliberate dishonesty on the part of either Bill Flavell, or Jason Sylvester, both. This deliberate dishonesty remains on the AAI web site today.
In fact, Bill Flavell has lied repeatedly to cover up his wrongdoing with respect to the coup that he helped perpetrate at AAI, and Jason Sylvester has also lied about other important issues relating to his investigation. When he wrote on the AAI website that, “all were invited in accordance with the timetable” and that, “John has no evidence to claim otherwise”, Jason Sylvester was deliberately lying. This is easily demonstrated as just four days before he published these statements, he told me directly how convincing he found all the evidence for the improper exclusion of Affiliate Member groups.
In February of 2021, I had a video call with Jason Sylvester during which the evidence for the coup was explained to him over multiple hours. In the weeks that followed, the same evidence had to be explained to him again several times in a long email thread. For example, I sent the email below to Jason on 28th March 2021:
Of course, those national atheist groups that built the alliance were often in contact with each other about a wide range of topics. When many of these Affiliate Member groups were unlawfully excluded from AAI, they discussed among each other which groups were invited and when. Several of their experiences had already been published by this stage, demonstrating conclusively that all valid Affiliate Member groups were not invited to the AGM. During this period, Jason Sylvester was claiming never to have taken the time to look at any of this evidence, while also insisting that no group was improperly excluded. He also maintained that anyone who suggested the Bylaws were not strictly adhered to, was being dishonest. He responded to my email as follows:
Jason Sylvester was refusing to look at any of the evidence demonstrating that Bill Flavell was clearly lying, while basing his confidence in the honesty of Bill Flavell on the efficacy of his “finely honed bullshit detector”. Since Bill Flavell has since admitted that what he was then claiming was absolutely false, it seems a shame that Jason Sylvester’s “finely honed bullshit detector” did not have an introspection mode. Bill Flavell has now accepted that at least 14 Affiliate Member groups were unlawfully expelled from AAI in secret, by excluding them from this meeting. In contrast, the “finely honed bullshit detector” of Jason Sylvester was fully convinced that the cabal had made “many efforts … to contact the affiliates” and that “all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws”. The email thread with Jason Sylvester continued:
Happily, I was eventually able to convince Jason Sylvester that he should look at the extensive documentary evidence that had been published, rather than relying exclusively on his “finely honed bullshit detector”. The next day, he emailed me to explain that he had by then finally looked at the detailed evidence that I had published. In fact, he indicated that having considered this detailed evidence, he believed that it raised “valid points”.
On 29th March 2021, Jason Sylvester told me that “your evidence does add up to a lot of reasonable suspicions”. However, he went on to explain that he thought the evidence did not demonstrate “motive” or “intent”. That is, Jason Sylvester accepted that the detailed evidence demonstrated that many Affiliate Member groups were improperly excluded from AAI, but he wasn’t ready to conclude that this was done deliberately. However just four days later, the same Jason Sylvester wrote a statement on the AAI web site announcing that:
“all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws; claims which I will verify in my investigation, for which John has no evidence to claim otherwise as he has done repeatedly.”Jason Sylvester, 2nd April 2021
This was a deliberate and calculated lie. Just four days earlier, Jason Sylvester had explicitly accepted the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the cabal improperly excluded many Affiliate member groups from AAI, by carefully keeping the bogus AGM secret from them. In fact, he had indicated that the only question in his mind was whether the motivation for this exclusion had involved deliberate intent or not. Having accepted this in private, he then immediately announced in public what he knew to be absolutely false.
- On 29th March, Jason Sylvester admitted in private that multiple Affiliate Member groups had been improperly excluded from AAI, by keeping a bogus AGM secret from them. His only doubt was the “motive” or “intent” for the exclusion. On 2nd April, Jason Sylvester then published a statement on the AAI website claiming that, “all were invited in accordance with the timetable established in the bylaws”. This was an intentional and calculated lie, published by Jason Sylvester on behalf of AAI, after discussing the matter with Bill Flavell.
- On 29th March, Jason Sylvester admitted in private that my detailed evidence had established that my descriptions of serious wrongdoing included “valid points”. He further admitted that the “evidence does add up to a lot of reasonable suspicions”. On 2nd April, Jason Sylvester then published a statement on the AAI website claiming that, “John has no evidence”. He knew this was a lie. He has been reminded that this is false many times since then. The lie remains on the AAI web site today.
This is the person who AAI appointed to carry out their formal internal investigation into the coup on the AAI Board. This is how Jason Sylvester went about announcing his investigation. Perhaps it should not have been a surprise then when Jason Sylvester joined the so-called AAI Board, as a colleague of those he was supposed to be investigating at the time, before his investigation had published any findings whatsoever.
Jason Sylvester also claimed that he had been able to imagine some reasonable doubt in relation to the motives of those who unlawfully expelled the majority of AAI Affiliate Member groups in secret. In fact at that time, there was already plenty of evidence as to the motives of the cabal. Even then, it was perfectly clear that the improper exclusion of the majority of Affiliate Member groups was entirely deliberate and intentional.
It is now more than 18 months since Jason Sylvester began his “investigation”. He has just this week stated for the first time that he has reported findings to Michael Nugent, and “to him alone”. It seems utterly bizarre that Michael Nugent should be the only person informed about the findings of this important inquiry, which included examination of the documentary record within AAI. Nevertheless, we must now wait with bated breath to learn the position of Michael Nugent, as to whether he will tell us what findings that Jason Sylvester reported to him.
Perhaps we will discover how Jason Sylvester’s “finely honed bullshit detector” was transformed into a prolific bullshit generator?