Has the American Cancer Society Been Caught Covering Up a Rejection of Atheist Money?
Continued from previous page
To make it very clear -- since some mangled versions of this story have been floating around the Internet -- the American Cancer Society did not turn down the $250,000 from the Todd Stiefel Foundation. They were, and are, perfectly happy to take Stiefel's money as a straightforward donation. They just aren't willing to let that money be connected with the Foundation Beyond Belief having a national team in the Relay for Life. An arrangement that, until this controversy unfolded, many non-profit groups enjoyed... and that under the Youth Affiliate program, many still do.
It's not totally implausible to think that the American Cancer Society really had been phasing out non-profit participation in this program. And it's not totally implausible to think tvhat, at the time Stiefel contacted the ACS with his offer, the word about this policy change simply hadn't yet filtered down to the people he was in contact with.
Why, if this program was really being discontinued for non-profits, did Relay For Life National vice president Reuel Johnson not know about this change, and not tell Stiefel about it when he first contacted the ACS with his offer? It's plausible to think that the word might not have filtered down to the web designers -- but how likely is it that this significant institutional change wasn't known about by the national vice president of the program?
Why -- as this document shows -- did the ACS have other non-profit organizations listed on its website with national teams in the Relay for Life... as recently as October 1? Why, in fact, did the ACS website show it actively soliciting non-commercial organizations to participate in the program -- again, as recently as October 1?
Why did the ACS wait until after the original AlterNet article about the controversy appeared to make the changes on its website, changing nonprofit "National Teams" to "Youth Affiliates"?
Why didn't the ACS notify the nonprofits with existing national Relay for Life teams about this policy change? Why was this change made so abruptly that organizations had to find out about it from the original AlterNet article and the ensuing controversy? Why are there, as of this writing, still non-profit organizations -- including the Jaycees and the National Funeral Directors Association -- publicizing their national Relay for Life teams on their websites? (According to an email from the NFDA, they were only notified about the ACS discontinuing non-profit participation in this program last week.)
Why did the ACS brochure for the 2011 Relay for Life -- revised 4/11, just three months before FBB contacted ACS to join as a national team -- indicate that non-profit clubs and organizations could join as national teams?
And -- very importantly -- why is the Foundation Beyond Belief still being denied participation as a Youth Affiliate with a national team in the Relay for Life? As of this writing, the Youth Affiliate program is very much alive and well, with several national teams in the Relay for Life. And the Foundation Beyond Belief is connected with over 400 student organizations, through connections with the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry. Yet, despite repeated requests to participate with a national Youth Affiliate team in the Relay for Life, they are still being turned down for participation in this program. And the American Cancer Society has yet to explain why.
In many ways, the youth program is the crux of this story. The American Cancer Society keeps repeating that they didn't turn down the $250,000 donation from Stiefel -- they simply turned down the FBB's participation as a national team in the Relay for Life, since they were already discontinuing non-profit participation in this program. But Stiefel and the FBB have repeatedly asked about participation with a national team as a Youth Affiliate. These requests have been met with silence. Specific questions about it from AlterNet were generically directed to the ACS's most recent publicity statement on the controversy -- a statement which did not in any way address this issue. And follow-up questions to the ACS asking for a specific response to this issue were met with a flat refusal to comment further on the matter.