Over the last week, a number of people with inside knowledge of Atheist Alliance International (AAI) have spoken out about the legitimacy issues relating to the current self-styled Board. This includes a high-profile resignation from the organisation. From their communications, it is clear that these insiders are motivated by the best interests of AAI and international organised atheism in general. In chronological order of their interactions with the purported AAI Board, the three AAI insiders described below have recently been outspoken about their concerns.
The astrophysicist and data scientist Pranav Mohanty, joined the AAI Advisory Council in order to help promote freethought and secularism. His recent resignation letter with respect to that role, is provided in full at the bottom of this page. It is well worth reading the entire correspondence, since Pranav’s intentions and motivations in seeking the best outcome for AAI and atheist advocacy in general, are absolutely crystal clear. His resignation includes the comments quoted below:
“The allegations and the wrongdoings admitted to are extremely serious, and that reflects on our integrity as an organization. I believe that an overhaul is due, and that outright new elections should be conducted. If indeed there is conviction, and that we believe that we are correct, then we should not be afraid of having new elections. That to me would truly signal a fresh start and extend an olive branch to those who were wronged. A lot of negative outcomes have affected AAI, including our status at the Council of Europe being revoked. This effects our activism, and all that we seek to achieve … If we cannot be accountable to ourselves, how can we ever be trusted to do good work?”Quote from Pranav Mohanty’s Resignation
It is difficult to understand how anyone could disagree with Pranav on these points. If those on the current so-called AAI Board really believe what they have stated publicly, why would they not seek a valid electoral mandate for their plans, from the legitimate members? Why would they instead insist that they alone must continue to control AAI, according to their own self-declared Bylaws, which they now admit are totally anti-democratic?
It was obviously not easy for Pranav to take this step. I am very grateful that he had the honesty and integrity to confront issues like this within his own organisation. His actions reflect very positively on the strength and quality of his character, and I’m certain that they will be seen as a good-faith endeavour to move AAI in the right direction.
As the Chair of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent is quoted repeatedly within the AAI ‘Disclosure Document’. A full copy of that document is available at the bottom of this page. Michael has now written to the self-styled AAI Board, describing how their ‘Disclosure Document’ was knowingly and deliberately constructed in a manner designed to deceive the AAI membership. The sequence of events that has been outlined by Michael is as follows:
- During 2022, Bill Flavell used some of Michael’s previous comments in a deliberately misleading way. Michael had been referring to a former President who had resigned, and so had to be replaced. Michael indicated that this was a real issue and that it was not the fault of Bill Flavell or his colleagues on the AAI Board. However, Bill Flavell used this quote to suggest that Michael was accepting the fake crisis in membership numbers to be a real issue. Michael had done nothing of the sort, since the idea of a crisis in membership numbers was entirely invented in order to justify very serious wrongdoing by the corrupt AAI Board.
- In June 2022, Michael wrote to Bill Flavell explaining why the use of these quotes was misleading, and providing detailed evidence of the real context. Michael stated to Bill that, “there is something I want to clear up quickly before it gains any currency in your mind”. Michael then outlined the true context for the quotes, which demonstrated how they were being used in a deceptive way.
- Shortly after Michael provided this clarification, Bill Flavell and the rest of the dishonest self-styled AAI Board proceeded to repeat the same quotes in the same dishonest manner. Three times within their ‘Disclosure Document’, the corrupt AAI Board used these quotes to falsely suggest that Michael had accepted the validity of their fake crisis in membership numbers. The current self-styled AAI Board knew that these quotes were not being presented honestly, and yet over and over again in their ‘Disclosure Document’ they lied to their members by pretending that Michael Nugent had endorsed their fake crisis.
It is worth reading Michael’s entire article that includes all of the relevant correspondence, not least because Michael provides conclusive proof of his version of events. This proof comes in the form of never-before-published emails with Bill Flavell. The emails prove that this so-called Board are deliberately lying to their members. One short excerpt from Michael’s article can be quoted as follows:
“These quotes create the impression that I endorsed the false analysis that you have been promoting. As you well know, that is not what I was referring to in that quote … Finally, can I point out that even your own ‘Disclosure Document’ shows that you have no authority to convene an EGM on behalf of AAI. It shows that the so-called AGM in 2018 was not properly convened, it excluded member groups who had votes, it gave votes to groups who did not qualify for votes, and it invalidly passed a new set of bylaws that corrupted the very purpose of Atheist Alliance International … Even if the 2018 meeting had been validly convened, which it was not, and even if the new bylaws were valid, which they are not, the Zoom meeting on January 15th does not even meet the requirements of a validly convened EGM under these new invalid bylaws. Whatever happens at this meeting, anyone claiming to act on behalf of AAI after it will remain illegitimate. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away.”Quote from recent Michael Nugent correspondence
For clarity, the question now for every single member on this self-styled AAI Board, does not relate to whether they were right or wrong to publish these intentionally misleading quotes, which knowingly misrepresent a longstanding atheist activist. That much is obvious. The question relates to how these people came to publish this deliberately deceptive information, which was clearly intended to fool their own members. Specifically, Bill Flavell had already been told directly by Michael Nugent that he was using Michael’s words in an entirely misleading way. Even after this had been explained, the dishonest people on the current so-called Board continued to misuse Michael’s comments in a deliberately dishonest manner.
The entire self-styled AAI Board should now explain how they came to publish such a deliberately dishonest document to their members. What was the process by which AAI set out to cheat and swindle everyone outside of their own purported Board? Moreover, if they were willing to defraud their own members in this instance, then how could anyone trust that their next meeting will not be just another artifice of lies? In particular, this illegitimate Board of AAI is intending to arrange a bogus Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) later this month. The entire process of arranging this meeting has now been revealed as another dishonest attempt to cover up serious wrongdoing by those still in control of AAI.
Even according to their own anti-democratic Bylaws, an EGM may only be called if there is a genuine ’emergency’. Their current supposed Bylaw 57 can be quoted in full on this point as follows:
“The Board, or any five Members in collaboration, may request an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held by writing to the Secretary. Petitions for an EGM must state the motion(s) to be discussed and the reasons why they must be treated as an emergency. The Secretary will grant an EGM only if the matters on hand are critical to the Alliance and cannot reasonably await the next AGM.”Current so-called Bylaw 57
When the EGM was announced, the stated ’emergency’ related to the very serious wrongdoing on the current purported AAI Board. As their supposed President Brian Kernick put it, the meeting was to decide “what should be done to make amends”. It was also promised that revisions would be made to the dishonest AAI ‘Disclosure Document’, which contained many other lies in addition to the dishonestly quoted comments from Michael Nugent. However, all of these issues have already been memory-holed by the corrupt people currently in control of AAI. There is no motion that proposes to make amends, there have been no revisions made to the dishonest AAI ‘Disclosure Document’, and there is no longer any reference at all to the ’emergency’ of legitimacy at AAI. As can be seen in the agenda and motions that are available in full at the bottom of this page, the EGM will not deal with any of these emergency issues in any way. Instead, they will debate motions like the one illustrated below, which was submitted by a blog in Brazil.
This is an utter farce. As both Michael Nugent and Pranav Mohanty have described, this EGM will do absolutely nothing to address the very serious issues of legitimacy relating to the current self-styled AAI Board. In fact, the nature of this general meeting just further highlights how bogus and invalid the current so-called AAI Board is.
A general meeting of AAI would previously have involved dozens of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Atheist Ireland, engaging in bilateral and multilateral debates about the most effective strategies for their activism and advocacy. Instead, the meeting later this month will merely involve a few self-appointed charlatans trying to decide whether they should send emails as PDF or in plain text. Anyone who lends their credibility to this pathetic charade, needs to develop a little self respect.
As a current and fully paid-up member of AAI in good standing, Preston Jensen responded to the invitation from the AAI Board to ask questions about their ‘Disclosure Document’. However, after Brian Kernick first asked that any questions be sent to Bill Flavell as Secretary, and then asked that the questions be sent to the local representatives of members (in Preston’s case this was Kristina Hallmeier as ‘Regional Director, Europe’) neither of these people answered any of his questions at all.
In an email sent to every member of the supposed AAI Board, Preston has commented on this situation as follows:
“I see that the agenda for the upcoming EGM includes an item titled “The Disclosure Document and Q&A”. I am not sure what this agenda item is intended to achieve since, regardless of what information is revealed during that session, it is now too late to respond with motions for the EGM. The right time for the Board to answer questions about the ‘Disclosure Document’ was before the deadline for the submission of motions for the EGM. I will be attending the EGM, but as an individual member I will probably not be allowed to speak.”Quote from Preston Jensen as a paid-up member of AAI
Some years ago, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to speak with the late great Richard Sipe. As portrayed in the movie Spotlight, he was the Catholic Church whistleblower explaining to the journalists what the bishops knew about wrongdoing by priests, and the internal issues that they were refusing to address. Just like the Catholic Church, the purported AAI Board will not respond to straightforward questions from their own members about issues of the greatest consequence for their own legitimacy.
The ‘bishops’ on the current so-called AAI Board are making heroic efforts to avoid answering questions about their own dishonest ‘Disclosure Document’ and the very serious wrongdoing that the document describes. These same people would be the first in the queue to rightly complain about lies told by the Catholic Church. However, it turns out that when asked for the same transparency that they would demand of the Church, the ruthlessness of their own cover up would shame the most taciturn cardinal.
This is not to suggest any equivalency between the nature of the original wrongdoing in each case. However just as occurred in the case of the Catholic Church, anyone who offers any credibility to a transparently bogus EGM that is designed to support an ongoing cover up of AAI wrongdoing, will be sullied by their involvement in the process.