Revolution #182, November 8, 2009

Sunsara Taylor Speaks in Illinois

Support Grows in the Face of a Shameful “Disinvitation”

Sunsara Taylor rallied support for her challenge to the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) and its shameful disinvitation to speak on “Morality Without Gods” at their Sunday gathering November 1. As reported in Revolution #181 (November 1, 2009), “Sunsara Taylor Challenges... A Shameful ‘Disinvitation,’” this situation erupted when forces with a clear political agenda within EHSC manipulated the Program Committee to reverse its earlier decision to invite her to speak. This decision was then officially sanctioned by their Board of Trustees in a hastily called special meeting. Ms. Taylor was informed in writing that the Board is apologetic for how the situation was handled, but that nevertheless, their decision to prevent her from speaking stands.

In an open letter dated October 29 addressed To Everyone Concerned About Critical Thought and the State of the World, Sunsara Taylor wrote:

“Something very wrong is afoot among those one would expect to be among the greatest champions of critical thought and open exchange. On October 19, 2009, the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) rescinded their long-standing invitation for me to speak to their Society’s weekly gathering on November 1, 2009.”

After explaining how the Program Committee of EHSC had acted completely in opposition to their own stated principles and by gross distortion and misrepresentation of her views to sell this decision to the Board of Trustees and broader membership, her letter goes on to say:

“It matters little whether the broader membership sanctioned this dis-invitation due to blatant anti-communism or ‘merely’ out of the desire to ‘preserve the unity’ of the Society; the effect and the precedent remain the same. All too often these days, great moral wrongs are allowed to sit, and capitulation on matters of principle is excused in the name of ‘not disrupting unity’ or that it is simply ‘too much work’ to go up against the forces arrayed against what is just.

“This calls to mind the line from Yeats, ‘The worst are filled with passionate intensity, but the best lack all conviction.’ Those times when it is most difficult to stand up for principle, those times when standing up for principle requires going against the grain and sometimes even sacrifice, are precisely the times when it is most required and can make the greatest difference. These days, there is all too much self-censorship and acquiescence to the curtailment of unconventional discourse in academic and intellectual life, in political discourse, and on matters of morality and ethics. The decision of the Society must be seen in the context of, and as contributing to, this broader chill and this is why it is unacceptable.” The full text of Sunsara Taylor’s October 29 open letter can be read online at

Statements of strong support for Sunsara Taylor and in opposition to her being disinvited have come in from a number of different people, many of whom have appeared on panels where there was lively dialogue and debate on this very topic, ”Morality Without Gods.” These statements express outrage at this decision and respect for the contribution she is making to opening up the discourse in society. These statements are posted at and should be made broadly available.

The critically acclaimed “The Best Church of God” of Chicago, upon hearing of this disinvitation, immediately invited Taylor to be part of their final performance this year, on Sunday November 8, 1 pm, at the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, Chicago Illinois.

Follow their example, and invite Sunsara Taylor to speak.

Update: On Saturday, October 31, around 50 people came to the EHSC to hear Taylor speak at the previously scheduled workshop on the “The Liberation of Women and the Emancipation of All Humanity.” About half of these were members of the EHSC, the rest interested persons who wanted to hear Sunsara speak on this topic. Before getting into the workshop, she made a statement to those in attendance making clear her views on what is represented by this disinvitation to speak to their Sunday program. These remarks can be seen on YouTube ( Look for a report later this week at on what happens on Sunday, November 1, at EHSC.


Norm R. Allen Jr., Charles W. Belser, Bob Bossie, SCJ, Laura Flanders, Chris Hedges, George Francis Kane, Esther Kaplan, Dennis Loo, Ph.D., Prof. Taigen Dan Leighton, Hemant Mehta, Mark Crispin Miller,
Massimo Pigliucci, Peter Phillips, Jeff Sharlet, Cindy Sheehan,
Darren Stephens, Dr. Michael R. Williams, Laura X.

For the complete list, visit:

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