Why Ellen Was Fired

You want drama?

Here’s some drama.

American Atheists’ Manager of Office Improvement Projects Arthur Brenner posted a long comment about why (according to him) Ellen Johnson was fired from her position as President of AA. In doing so, he displayed a lot of animosity toward the AA Board of Directors.

You can read his post here. I’m not re-pasting it.

It should be noted, though, that this comes from one staff member who disagrees with the decision and who has had contact with a presumably upset Ellen.

It doesn’t tell us (except via second-hand accounts) why the AA Board of Directors made their decision. Is it accurate? I don’t know. I wasn’t there.

More enlightening, perhaps, was this response from AA Communications Director Dave Silverman.

Then came Arthur’s rebuttal.

Finally, Bart Meltzer (director of state and regional operations for American Atheists) put it all in perspective:

The pieces of what happened with Ellen are now coming together. I’m not sure whether it was the best decision or not, but it sounds like an inevitable decision that had to be made for AA to progress as an organization.

I’m curious as to what steps the staff and Board will now be taking to “rejuvenate” the once-and-(maybe)-future powerhouse.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Wow, I can’t believe how totally unprofessional that exchange is. All of the employees posting on the blog need to be fired, including Dave for not immediately deleting those posts. Talk about airing your dirty laundry. Sheesh. If they don’t get their shit together on a business level, they are doomed as an organization.

  • http://joshuamcharles.com/blog Josh Charles

    I knew something like this would happen eventually…

    I don’t know who any of the players are, really, but I completely agree with one of the commentators. This was caused by not being open enough.

    Contrary to what another commentator said, shit like this is commonplace in churches.

  • Siamang

    I get the impression that they are indeed doomed as an organization, the board just doesn’t know it yet.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    Dirty laundry! Dirty laundry!

    I don’t care who did what to whom; this doesn’t belong on an American Atheists blog any more than it belongs in their newsletter. Kudos, Hemant, for not copying and pasting it directly – in principle, they can still take it down if they want, though the damage is already done.

  • RobL

    This board needs to get some balls and Arthur should be terminated for cause. I agree with the commenter above about this being common not just in churches but in any kind of volunteer or semi volunteer management group. Something about not being paid makes everyone think they are the boss.

  • Mriana

    UNBELIEVABLE! That’s all I have to say. All those posts were driving me crazy and it did seem like a petty tit for tat ordeal to read them. I’m still not sure what to think about all of this. It still would be nice to hear from Ellen.

  • SarahH

    That’s some major social destruction happening. *cringes*

    I agree with those who’ve pointed out that this sort of thing can happen in almost any organization, especially churches and other groups where people feel very strongly about the issues involved.

    The public airing doesn’t seem to be freshening things up though.

  • http://blackskeptic.wordpress.com blackskeptic

    Perhaps I’m optimistic for the sake of optimism, but I’m hoping that everyone will get some things off their chest, and then start working together to get the group/team together. I’ve never really related to American Atheists, and this fiasco is actually

    At first I thought Ellen should have been fired, but now after reading all those posts it seems like she shouldn’t have been. And no, I had no solid reason for wanting her to be fired except that she seemed a little too atheist for me, and I tend to like

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    Honestly sounds to me a lot like what happens with most non-profits all the time. Boards and executives butt heads about the details, and sometimes one or the other side goes down for it. It’s just the nature of having many many would-be kings and only so many hills.

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    I can tell I’ve been out of the loop when my first thought reading the post title was “What? They fired Ellen DeGeneres?”

    I like RobL’s comment: “Something about not being paid makes everyone think they are the boss.” Very true!

  • Greg

    They’ve been doomed for a long time now, and I think a large part of that is Ellen Johnson’s fault. When I first discovered the group, I saw that one of the items on the agenda was to create a social structure similar to Christian churches. Herding atheists is, as many have said, like herding cats. One of the things I enjoy about my disbelief is the lack of obligation on the weekends and holidays. :) And most recently, the video she produced urging atheists to abstain from voting because no candidate is an atheist – ridiculous. There should be no religious litmus test for public service.

    Granted, between these things that I noticed there could have been many important efforts that I missed. If so, I apologize for the snap judgment. But if these two things indeed be good samples of what AA did under Ellen Johnson’s leadership, then hopefully they’ll put someone with some sense in that role in the future.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » American Atheists Board Member Steps Down

  • marleonetti

    I am not an atheist – but is it any wonder that an organization such as this with a history of gruesome murders and mutilated bodies and thefts of large sums of money- would come to this? Maybe you atheists should wonder if this is the result of what atheism becomes when organized.


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