An open letter to Melody Hensley, the former Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. Center for Inquiry. Melody gave an interview to BuzzFeed in which she reported about the alleged sexual misconduct by atheist celebrity Lawrence Krauss. As the atheist movement is dealing with misogyny The Wondering Eagle wants to commend Melody for her bravery and wants to let her know that it stands firmly in her corner.
“To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators: blaming the victims only masks the evil within, making you as guilty as those who abuse. Stand up for the innocent or go down with the rest. “
“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”
Center for Inquiry at the Reason Rally
The Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. by Center for Inquiry in 2010. Melody starts at 1:47
Background Information: Lawrence Krauss is an American-Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a Foundation Professor of the School and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Furthermore he is the director of the Origins Project. He is a well known atheist who speaks frequently about science and desires to reduce the influence of religious dogma. He has published several books to include “The Physics of Star Trek” , “A Universe From Nothing” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far.” Lawrence is facing credible allegations about sexual misconduct, and that is what this open letter is about.
You do not know me but I definitely remember meeting you. Up above I have a You Tube clip from the Robert Ingersoll event at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. I attended one of the Ingersoll events and stood in the background and listened to several speeches. After the event I spoke with you for a few minutes. You explained that the Center for Inquiry can help a former evangelical and get him connected with other former evangelicals. After the event a group of people went out to lunch and you invited me and I respectfully declined. I walked away from that event impressed with the Center for Inquiry. I went to another event in time and enjoyed it. As I reflect back and research for this post I think the Center for Inquiry was incredibly fortunate to have you as their D.C. Executive Director. You were incredibly professional, organized and you were innovative. The Women in Secularism Conference is your brainchild if I remember correctly and you have done a good job with that.
Its with that in mind that I read about something dark that you were tragically subjected to. I want you to know Melody when I use the word “allegedly” I do so for legal reasons. But I want you to know that I believe you and support you 110%. I read in BuzzFeed about how Lawrence Krauss, a celebrity atheist and popular in the movement allegedly came close to sexually assaulting you. In the BuzzFeed article I read about how you were thrilled to have Lawrence Krauss take interest in you. After all you were committed to skepticism and to have one of the well known personalities take interest impressed you. When you met Lawrence Krauss for dinner you expected to go out and instead he brought you up to his hotel room where he ordered champagne and cheese. He then allegedly forced himself on you and lifted you and placed you on the bed. He then allegedly moved to remove your clothing and pulled out a condom. Then you broke free and bolted from the room. When I read that Melody I felt sick and nauseated. I found that very disturbing and I thought about it a lot over the next week. Violence against women is not something one should take casually. Misconduct like this deserves to be called out.
So I am here to tell you that I believe you Melody. I believe you and when it comes to this situation I am standing in your corner.
These are some of the problems that you are going to face. And as I write this I want to be clear that this is not your fault. If people are pissed about this they should take their anger out at the man who allegedly tried to sexually assault you. The problem that you are going to face is that people like Lawrence Krauss have power and influence. In the tribalist community that parts of atheism have become some people will discount you and rush to defend Lawrence Krauss. Why? They like him, they love his intellect but its also inconvenient to deal with the fact that he is also an alleged predator. He preys on people who are vulnerable and he uses his influence, status and more to pull it off. For the couple of stories like this that exist I wonder how many people stand in the shadows scared, afraid and nervous thinking to themself, “Who would believe me?”
And that is another reason why I am writing this open letter to you. I can identify with some of this through personal experience in my own way. Melody this kind of misconduct and abuse is widespread from Hollywood to the White House. In my life Melody years ago I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the military. I learned this from an Air Force Captain who was 32 or so at the time. He was proselytizing me and trying to get me into a corrupt fundamentalist church in the Washington, D.C. area called Redeemer Arlington (Formerly of Sovereign Grace Ministries, which Rachel Denhollander has taken on, this is the same Rachel who spoke out against Larry Nassar) Anyhow, this Air Force Captain who was proselytizing me turned around and gave birth to a false accusation. The false accusation dealt with stalking and that I was a threat to his family. It took aim at my name, ability to earn income, and more. This was the darkest season of my life and this all happened after a year and a half of proselytizing, lunches, some dinners and more. After this false accusation he moved on to proselytize another co-worker and I was left having to put together the pieces of my life. I developed a form of PTSD and psychologically I am stuck. I write about fundamentalist churches with the goal of closing some of these places. But one of the many issues I learned is that some people would not believe me. The situation was like a bomb going off in my life. It affected friendships, life, sleeping and more. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night in tears wanting the false accusation to end. The mess dragged on for 14 months and was never resolved. When a couple of people learned about it some believed me. And to be believed felt good. So I myself have been through something psychologically traumatic, and that is the reason why I am writing this open letter to you.
You have gone through a lot in your life. You have had some people believe you and you have others who do not believe you. It has affected your life and years later you are still processing what Lawrence Krauss allegedly did. In addition to all this I know you are dealing with PTSD and online stalking and abuse. I heard about that a couple of years ago and grieved that it happened. The Center for Inquiry of Washington, D.C. was fortunate to have you. What you endured is uncalled for and wrong. Sexual misconduct, bullying, sexual harassment and more has no place in our society. That is why the #MeToo movement is so important. From what I have read its also time for some of these issues in the atheist movement to also be addressed. From Lawrence Krauss alleged misconduct, to Elevator Gate, Michael Shermer and more. In the course of time I would like to do a comprehensive post about the allegations of misogyny in the atheist movement. The atheist movement is deeply needed, but these other issues are threatening it. Its undermining its credibility and creating problems. These issues need to be addressed for the strength and health of the movement. If these issues cannot be addressed then I fear that the movement will falter and have problems. So now is the time for the atheist movement to address these issues and move forward.
But as I wind this open letter to you down I want you to know that there are people in your corner. They stand with and alongside you and your husband Simon. They reject what Lawrence Krauss allegedly tried to do. And they are opposed to sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, rape and more. Your courage Melody shines in what you stood up and spoke out about. And in this situation I am impressed by your determination to stand up and tell people what happened. You are not only giving a voice to yourself, but you are giving a voice to others who are afraid. So its with that in mind that I ask you to keep speaking up. Keep calling out in appropriate conduct. Keep pressing ahead. I have the deepest respect for you and I wish you and your husband well. Please take care of yourself.