After credible allegations of sexual assault, American Atheists President David Silverman has been fired.
David Silverman, a firebrand atheist with a knack for generating publicity for his cause, has been abruptly fired as president of American Atheists, one of the leading secular organizations in the US.
The termination of Silverman was announced in a statement released by American Atheists on Friday:
Last night, the American Atheists Board of Directors voted to terminate David Silverman as President of American Atheists…
On April 10, 2018, the Board of Directors placed President David Silverman on leave pending a review of allegations raised regarding Mr. Silverman’s conduct. The Board of Directors has reviewed internal documents and communications related to the initial complaint as well as evidence relating to the additional allegations brought to the Board’s attention. Today’s announcement is based on these findings, and the Board intends to cooperate with any future investigations.
American Atheists is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is safe and welcoming to all. Based on the allegations made, and the evidence presented, the Board believes it is prudent and necessary to reaffirm that commitment and move forward with new leadership.
The staff of American Atheists will continue our mission to advocate for the absolute separation of religion from government, to elevate the profile of atheism in public discourse, and to build and strengthen communities that fully represent the growing number of atheists in America. We thank our members, supporters, and volunteers for their dedication and support of our mission.
Silverman had been the President of American Atheists since 2010, and is the author of the book Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World.Reporting on the story, BuzzFeed lists three specific complaints against Silverman that led to his firing. Those complaints include appointing a woman he was having a sexual relationship with to a senior position at American Atheists, sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room during American Atheists’ 2015 convention in Memphis, and coercing an intoxicated college student looking for a job at American Atheists into an unwanted sexual encounter.
The allegations against Silverman are disturbing; more important – they are believable, credible, and well sourced.
However, in a statement on his Facebook page, Silverman denies he did anything wrong, declaring:
I want to make this perfectly clear: I categorically deny any wrongdoing, legally or ethically. I have not done what I am being accused of in this article. More than that I cannot say at this time, for reasons I’m sure you can figure out.
Silverman’s denial is disappointing, and adds insult to injury. By refusing to acknowledge his wrongdoing, Silverman only compounds his moral and professional failure.
Bottom line: American Atheists did the right thing. There is no excuse for Silverman’s behavior. As for the survivors, they deserve all the credit in the world for coming forward and sharing their stories.