American Atheists board members exit, dogged by misconduct allegations

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Two board members of American Atheists, one of the nation’s best-known atheist advocacy organizations, resigned in the past month after ethical concerns were raised about their actions at conferences for nonbelievers.Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers Inc., gave up her seat on the board of American Atheists on on Jan. 11, weeks after she was accused of violating Black Nonbelievers’ code of conduct during the group’s annual SeaCon cruise and conference held Thanksgiving weekend. 
After the allegations became public, Thomas told Religion News Service that she had mishandled a “personal situation” during the conference and had apologized.
The ethics committee of the American Atheists board said in December it was aware of the matter but the organization made no mention of an ethics inquiry when Thomas resigned from the board.
“After careful thought and consideration, I have informed my colleagues on the American Atheists Board of Directors that I would be taking time to focus on my work at Black Nonbelievers and resigning from my position on the board,” she said in her Jan. 11 statement announcing her resignation.
Days later, P. Andrew Torrez, an attorney and co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, sent an email to his fellow American Atheists board members announcing that he too was stepping down from the board.
Torrez, who has referred to himself as a “lower-case atheist lawyer” who is clear about his identity as a nonbeliever but does not litigate atheist causes, said he would still be involved in the organization but did not have time to commit to the board.
“As you know, I have been unable to attend various calls, and I think the Board woul …

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