Edited: I made a couple errors in my original post. I’ve edited it accordingly below.
First off, I want to say that am posting this because I think it’s important news about the secular community in Vancouver. I really want to avoid hearsay, rumours, and any other gossip, especially directed at any of the groups involved. Everyone involved in this situation is still friends (as far as I know).
A couple months ago, CFI Vancouver created a discussion group for secular women in Vancouver. Their goal was to provide a safe place for women in skepticism to gather and talk.
Whether or not you agree with segregated meetups is irrelevant to this story.
Yesterday the organizer of the group, tentatively called Reasonable Women (RW) Vancouver, posted this to her Facebook page:
We are no longer affiliated with CFI Canada, as of today. This changes some things for us when it come to financial support, organization of future events, recruitment of new members, etc. I think this is both a small set back and a great opportunity to help us redefine our goals, aims and procedures. As I stated at our previous meeting, we need to create something like a board of directors or a committee to help us manage Reasonable Women better. I would be in favour of an egalitarian, vote-based system, where all members participate.
I’m not sure the exact specifics that precipitated this change, but I think it had to do with a desire for greater autonomy for RW.
CFI has always had a corporate top-down structure. This helped it expand quickly, since a national strategy can be implemented, but it can be less responsive to local concerns. While CFI Vancouver has recently been very effective at promoting local community initiatives (with a number of successful meetups and events), those initiatives still fall within CFI’s branding and are expected to conform to the national vision. This can obviously lead to conflicts among freethinkers who each have their own goals and visions. The herding cats analogy comes quickly to mind.
While schisms like this can leave hurt feelings and frustrations, this may be a case where each group is better off focussing on their own goals. In some cases it makes sense for skeptics, humanists, atheists, etc. to pool our resources and work together, but in other cases it may be better to stick with what we’re each passionate about and try to not compete with one another.
There is also the chance that RW Vancouver can seek out support from other sources, or alternatively they can build their own membership base.