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An invitation to become a FOC

From: Steve B.
Sent on: Friday, November 11, 2011 12:20 PM

Hello Center For Inquiry Austin Meetup members

A message from Steve Bratteng

Do you want to boost your IQ, improve your love life, and live in eternal bliss? Well, I cannot promise you that CFI Austin will satisfy these or any other fantastic desires; however, it may satisfy your desire to be part of a group that promotes a logical, evidence-based, secular view of life.

The Center For Inquiry Austin is a local branch of an international group that has its headquarters in Amherst, NY:  The Center For Inquiry Transnational; CFI Transnational is an affiliate of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, which publishes The Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and the Council for Secular Humanism, which publishes Free Inquiry magazine.

There are a couple of things I am somewhat good at, and at least one important thing I am pretty awful at. One of the things I do moderately well is to organize lectures and other events that inquiring minds often find worthwhile. The thing I am not at all good at is promoting membership – this is largely because I do not feel comfortable asking other people to spend their money without being able to guarantee they will find it worthwhile.

CFI Austin gets a smallish amount of money from the main office; it is smallish because it is based on how many “Friends of the Center” (FOCs) join and list Austin [or Texas] as their home. We use this money to sponsor various local activities such as our Food For Thought lectures and our various social gatherings such as Saturnalia or Samhain parties. We also have used this to help co-sponsor things such as the Parenting Beyond Belief workshops and Americans United and Texas Freedom Network activities. In 2012 we expect to help sponsor the Texas Freethought Convention that will meet in Austin.

It costs someone (or a household) sixty dollars a year to become an FOC. At one time we had over 100 FOCs; however, that number has dwindled down to fewer than 40. I think part of the problem is that many people have so many things going on in their lives that they overlook things such membership renewals. Also, I suppose, some folks let their memberships lapse because they have not seen enough benefit associated with membership.

Certainly it does not require membership in CFI for folks to get together for things such as our Chips and Chat dinners, Drinking Rationally sessions, book groups, or discussions. But, there is a benefit in supporting a community that promotes secular values, evidence-based explanations for how the world works, and rational approaches to life in general. Additionally, we recently arranged tours to a molecular biology lab at UT; in the future such events and some social gatherings will be available only to FOCs and their guests.

I hope that you agree that supporting our community is a worthwhile thing, and that you will consider becoming a Friend of the Center. Most of the money for the membership comes back for us to use locally; furthermore, CFI Transnational offers discounts on books, on-line courses, magazine subscriptions, and conferences held at various places around the country. Honestly, I rarely take advantage of these, but support for our local group and the overall mission of the transnational organization, are things that I think are worth at least $60 a year.

If everyone that has allowed their FOC membership to lapse in the past two years renewed now, we would about double our membership numbers. If half of the people on the Meetup list were to become FOCs, our membership numbers would increase by factor of five or six. That would allow us to consider expanding our presence in the area, thus amplifying a voice of reason.

To join or renew please visit


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