Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has today published what they have called a ‘Disclosure Document’ to their current membership. One of those current member groups has shared that document with me, and it is absolutely shocking. A full copy of the ‘AAI Disclosure Document’ is available at the bottom of this page. There are three categories of new information in the document, which are:
- staggering admissions of wrongdoing and incompetence over many years, which the current AAI Board has been repeatedly lying about but now openly admits
- overt gaps where the current AAI Board makes heroic efforts to avoid dealing in any way with some of the most serious wrongdoing that they have been responsible for
- brand new lies, where the current Board has offered more demonstrable and deliberately false statements in an effort to cover up their very serious wrongdoing
There is so much mendacity in this document that three separate articles will be required to deal with these three separate categories of dishonesty. Only the first category will be addressed in this article.
Context For The Investigation
The first communication about the ‘Disclosure Document’ from AAI was a notification to members, which is also available in full at the bottom of this page. That communication about the most recent internal AAI investigation states as follows:
“the board conducted a thorough investigation to determine which criticisms were true and which were not. The investigation is now completed, and a Disclosure Document detailing everything relevant has been prepared …”Quote from AAI notification of their Disclosure Document
This is the first ever communication issued on behalf of AAI by the current so-called President, Brian Kernick. In this notification, Brian Kernick’s first act as purported President of AAI is to immediately row back on an important commitment to transparency and ethical governance that his recent predecessor gave. On 29th May 2022, David Orenstein as the then purported President of AAI stated as follows:
“We’re going to have an independent inquiry, without any AAI Board Member interference in that inquiry … There are companies in the USA, where this is their only job. They will look at the history of documents at AAI.”Quote from David Orenstein, the then purported President of AAI
Notwithstanding the wisdom or otherwise of hiring an expensive professional consultancy to carry out the investigation, of course it is crucial that any credible inquiry into serious wrongdoing cannot be carried out by those responsible for the wrongdoing. However, the cover letter that issued the ‘Disclosure Document’ to members is also available in full at the bottom of this page, and it can be seen that this document came from Bill Flavell. Nobody is more closely associated with the wrongdoing being investigated here, than the person who issued the report about that wrongdoing. It is far from an auspicious first act for Brian Kernick, to have removed all semblance of independence from the promised inquiry.
This is reminiscent of the occasion when Bill Flavell was found to have issued no-tender contracts from AAI to his own children. In that case, AAI reported that Bill Flavell had investigated the behaviour of Bill Flavell, who found that Bill Flavell did nothing wrong. In this case, the Illegitimate Board has investigated the legitimacy of the Illegitimate Board, and found that the Illegitimate Board has been lying about their legitimacy for years. Whereas the ‘Disclosure Document’ published by AAI today is intentionally dishonest throughout, and whereas it is fatally flawed from its inception because it has been issued by the perpetrators of the wrongdoing it addresses, there are some facts that the current Illegitimate Board can no longer continue lying about. Those new admissions are described below.
Unlawful Expulsion Of AAI Members
The ‘Disclosure Document’ recently published by AAI states that 8 valid member groups, which should have been invited to vote at an AGM in 2018, were unlawfully excluded from that meeting and improperly expelled from AAI. As the ‘Disclosure Document’ admits, the vote they were excluded from removed all power from the membership and awarded full control of AAI to a small group of individuals on the self-styled AAI Board. The extract from the ‘Disclosure Document’ illustrated below, describes which member groups that AAI now admits were unlawfully excluded.
This entire debacle should be over, based on this admission alone. To pick just two of the excluded groups, Atheist Ireland and the Freedom From Religion Foundation had already publicly advocated for precisely the opposite reforms to AAI, from the anti-democratic new bylaws that the Illegitimate Board unlawfully introduced. If only those two groups had been permitted to cast their valid votes, control of AAI would not have been removed from the members. The only reason why the current Illegitimate Board are in their purported positions today, is because of a bogus vote that is entirely null and void. The current supposed Board are not in any way legitimate, by their own admission.
However, it is informative to compare this admission from Bill Flavell and his colleagues, to the first response offered by Bill Flavell when this wrongdoing was put to him. On 14th March 2021, Bill Flavell consulted the written records relating to the organisation of this AGM vote, and stated as follows:
It is perfectly obvious in this clip that Bill Flavell is choosing his words very carefully. It is also perfectly obvious that he is deliberately lying about how he arranged the crucial AGM vote. He stated that he followed the bylaws and that those he invited to the vote were, “all the affiliates who were paid up members on the date on which we informed them of the AGM”. That’s just not true and Bill Flavell knew it wasn’t true when he announced it. He was lying to cover up his wrongdoing. In his recently published ‘Disclosure Document’ he now admits that his previous statements on this topic were untrue. In fact, he has offered several other false stories before he arrived at his current story of only 8 valid member groups being unlawfully expelled. Just a few months ago he reported quite a different number of excluded groups:
“We did take responsibility for failing to send invitations to 14 organisations … This is not because we were certain all these organisations should have been invited. It was because we could not confirm whether or not these organisations had been invoiced ….”Email from Bill Flavell on 29th June 2022
So in the current ‘Disclosure Document’, Bill Flavell is informing AAI members that Bill Flavell has been repeatedly been lying to them for years about the very serious wrongdoing that has been committed by Bill Flavell. Moreover, Bill Flavell is asking that they now take the word of Bill Flavell about the current version of events, based on an investigation by Bill Flavell.
Improperly Keeping Votes Secret From Members
Within the valid bylaws of AAI, one of the protections that members enjoyed against improper exclusions from important votes, was the detailed set of advance notification requirements. These advance notification requirements were ignored in the case of the vote arranged by the Illegitimate Board, which took control of AAI away from the members. The extract from the ‘Disclosure Document’ illustrated below, describes this important admission.
When all advance notices were properly issued in advance of important votes, it was typical for members to discuss those key agenda items among each other in advance of the meeting. However, in this case the agenda was kept secret and the notifications that were issued were sent out many weeks late. There was no time for the excluded member groups to discover what was going on. This abuse of the democratic process, by improperly keeping crucial votes secret from some members, invalidates the entire voting process. Moreover, we know that the current Illegitimate Board have been aware of how important this breach of the bylaws was, because they’ve been lying about it for years. The following statements remain on the AAI web site today, about the previous internal investigation that the current Illegitimate Board undertook into these same issues:
“As of this writing, I have requested access to records related to the 2018 AGM so that I may directly investigate John’s claim … specifically, I wish to see if emails did not, as John contends without any evidence to prove his assertion, go out to all affiliates. My investigation will look at what emails went out, to which affiliates, and when. 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 writing on the AAI web site on April 2nd 2021
So the last time that that Jason Sylvester and Bill Flavell checked the records, they found that all affiliates “were invited in accordance with the timetable established by the bylaws”. Now Jason Sylvester and Bill Flavell have checked the same records and found that many affiliates were not invited at all, and none were invited “in accordance with the timetable established by the bylaws”. That is, the current Illegitimate Board are informing AAI members that all previous statements by the Illegitimate Board on this topic have been deliberate lies, but that they can now trust the new ‘Disclosure Document’ on the same issues, written by the same Illegitimate Board.
Jason Sylvester and Bill Flavell knew that these were deliberate lies when they were published, because at the time I gave them documentary evidence to demonstrate this. Instead of correcting their lies, they spent years personally attacking the whistleblowers and publicly announcing on the AAI web site that the truth tellers were in fact the liars. Now they admit the wrongdoing that they spent years denying, and expect that their ‘Disclosure Document’ should be considered the authoritative word on the subject.
Unlawful Additions To The Voter Roll
Not only have the Illegitimate Board of AAI admitted that they unlawfully expelled member groups in order to adopt their anti-democratic new bylaws; not only have the Illegitimate Board of AAI admitted that they kept this vote secret from many member groups contrary to the bylaws; but they have also now admitted that they packed the voter roll with invalid voters. This is an absolutely shocking admission, which on its own invalidates everything that took place during that meeting, including transferring control of AAI from the membership to the Illegitimate Board.
Only affiliate members of AAI are entitled to vote, while associate members are not. Notwithstanding this, the extract from the ‘Disclosure Document’ illustrated below, describes how the Illegitimate Board of AAI unlawfully awarded votes to their friends.
The Atheist Union of Greece was given 3 votes. These votes were gathered by contacting Fotis Frangopolous immediately before the meeting took place, and offering him membership for $1. Shortly after the vote, Fotis Frangopoulos was co-opted onto the supposed Board of AAI without election. Subsequently, the Atheist Union of Greece expelled Fotis Frangopolous, but he remains on the purported Board of AAI today. Despite being personally involved in all of these arrangements, Fotis Frangopolous has been lying about these issues for years.
A full copy of an email sent by Fotis Frangopoulos to all members of AAI is available at the bottom of this page. Among other lies, this email states that:
“We migrated from the old membership system to the new one in November 2017. The old system gave a list of affiliates and we invited to the 2018 AGM all the affiliates that were shown as active on the old system and who had paid any fees due since then.”Email from Fotis Frangopoulos to all AAI members on 5th May 2021
When he wrote this email, Fotis Frangopoulos knew that this was not an accurate description of how the Illegitimate Board went about deciding who to invite and who to exclude from the vote. He knew that the reason why the excluded member groups were not invited, did not relate to the membership system. He knew this because the same membership system would have indicated that the Atheist Union of Greece would have been excluded for the same reason as the other disenfranchised groups. However, Fotis Frangopoulos was allowed to cast 3 votes, because when the friends of the Illegitimate Board will support their anti-democratic plans, then the problems with the old membership system are no barrier at all to voting (even for associate members). Those barriers only applied to affiliate members who would not vote for the Illegitimate Board or their anti-democratic new bylaws.
The current Illegitimate Board have been lying about these issues for years, and vilifying anyone who provided evidence of their lying. Now in their new ‘Disclosure Document’ they have admitted that they unlawfully packed the voter roll with their friends, while excluding many of the longstanding affiliate members who built the alliance that they dishonesty took control of. These are the people who have written the present report about their own wrongdoing, and who now want their latest version of events to be accepted as truth.
Failure To Retain Financial Records
Bill Flavell remains a member of the current Illegitimate Board, who was also a member of the AAI Board during 2017. Contrary to the bylaws, he failed to arrange an AGM during that year (despite the affiliate members asking him to do so) and he also failed to retain financial records (despite some of the financial transactions during that year involving payments to his own children). As a member of the current Illegitimate Board of AAI, Bill Flavell now wants members to know that Bill Flavell has only just discovered this information, because Bill Flavell has recently carried out an investigation into the actions of Bill Flavell. This appalling admission is made in the extract from the AAI ‘Disclosure Document’ illustrated below.
According to the behaviour of current members within the Illegitimate Board of AAI, the failure to retain financial records is a feature and not a bug. One of the anti-democratic changes to the bylaws that the Illegitimate Board introduced through their bogus and invalid vote, was to remove the requirement to publish annual accounts to the members. They explicitly decided that they would no longer provide financial reports, and unlawfully changed the bylaws to reflect their desire to keep the financial transactions secret from the members. Subsequently, the nonprofit status of AAI was revoked by the Attorney General of California because they failed to provide financial accounts for three consecutive years.
These are the same people who now propose to continue managing AAI, and wish to collect subscription fees from atheist groups around the world.
The repeated complaints directed at AAI since 2018, have been that their bylaws are invalid and their Board is illegitimate. This has now been admitted in the AAI ‘Disclosure Document’. Their proposed solution is that anyone who wishes to save AAI must first become a member according to the invalid bylaws, under the leadership of the Illegitimate Board. They will then be allowed to attend a meeting in January 2023 to discuss the indues with the Illegitimate Board.
This Illegitimate Board has absolutely no mandate or authority to discuss anything at all with respect to AAI. They should immediately stand aside and allow the valid membership to resume control of AAI. Any atheist group that attends the proposed meeting in January, and seeks to address this appalling wrongdoing under the direction of the current Illegitimate Board, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Continuing to entertain the lies of those who have unlawfully taken over AAI and destroyed it, is part of the problem.
Only the valid members can save AAI and giving the current Illegitimate Board any role whatsoever in that process, merely offers credibility to their outrageously dishonest behaviour.