The Truth About IAA (International Association of Atheists)

The Truth About IAA (International Association of Atheists)

IAA was formed by the former Co-Executive Directors of AAI (Atheist Alliance International), Courtney Heard and Bridget Gaudette, along with former AAI board member Gail Miller in February 2020. What is the truth about this breakaway organization? Their foundations rest almost entirely upon data stolen from Atheist Alliance International. When Courtney Heard was ready to leave AAI as Co-Executive Director, she illegally downloaded confidential AAI data containing personal information and private mailing lists so that she could launch her own money-making atheist organisation, IAA. She did not, however, act alone. Gail Miller also created a backdoor into the private AAI board email address to keep tabs on the board’s discussions and for close to a year had access to the confidential correspondences between AAI board members, with emails being quietly forwarded to her own personal email address. This potentially explains why a week or so after the board of AAI were discussing FBI involvement with respect to the data theft, IAA de-registered in the USA and quickly re-registered in Canada, beyond the jurisdiction of the FBI, and it may also explain why one of the co-founders, Bridget, publicly resigned and deliberately distanced herself from IAA at around this same time. Having had numerous interactions with Bridget, I do not believe that she was aware of Courtney and Gail’s criminal and unethical machinations.

The stolen data plus the backdoor hack into private AAI board emails were discovered in an audit ran by AAI’s Vice President, Bill Flavell. From memory, given I no longer have access to AAI’s Executive Director email inbox (because I don’t set up illegal backdoors into email accounts) this discovery was made sometime between March and May of 2020. It was around this time that former IAA board member and longtime friend of Courtney’s, Donovan Badrock (AKA Mr Oz Atheist) tried to harpoon a vital AAI fundraiser for an atheist in serious need in Africa by accusing AAI of misappropriation of donor funds, a rumour being spread by Courtney Heard to hurt AAI for the profit of IAA. But how do I know that she was the source of this salacious and immoral libel against AAI’s Vice President, Bill Flavell? When Courtney got wind that I was being interviewed for the position of Executive Director of AAI in March of 2020, she reached out to me for an “urgent meeting” about AAI. In that meeting, she told me directly that the Vice President of AAI had “embezzled 60K USD of donors’ money”. She added, “this money could have been used to help support the Humanist school in Uganda” that AAI is still supporting financially. I should also note here that just prior to this meeting, a former board member of IAA offered me the presidency of this new atheist organization, but I refused and ended up bringing this person back to AAI. Having no reason to distrust Courtney’s word at the time, I confronted the Vice President of AAI in my own job interview for the position of Executive Director and the truth of the matter was explained and evidence for the innocent nature of Bill’s actions was provided before I agreed to take on the position. Bill had not embezzled any money. He was required to spend Google Ad credits to maintain AAI’s Google ad account, so he directed those ad credits to the area of the AAI website that received the most traffic to maximize the impact for AAI’s website’s visibility, which happened to be material he had written on AAI’s website. This was all proven beyond any reasonable doubt to the board of AAI and it was all fully explained to Courtney well before she left AAI and well before she lied to me about Bill “embezzling $60K USD”. Donovan was not the only atheist in bed with IAA and spreading their lies about AAI. Hemant Mehta was also enthusiastically harpooning vital AAI fundraisers and directing people to support IAA. Sadly, Seth Andrews, whom I still admire, has also supported this highly unethical organization and neither he nor Hemant has spoken a word about their data theft since the press releases launched by AAI. There is much more to this story, and I have screenshots of Courtney admitting to me that she was not being truthful about her accusations made against Bill, and those screenshots also reveal her begging me not to publish our private chats.  Anyway, back to the data theft.

When AAI confronted IAA about the data theft, IAA tried to get out in front of their crime by publicly announcing that they had “accidentally” stolen and used AAI data to form their own organization. Let’s break that lie down into steps.:

1. You accidentally download AAI’s mailing list containing over 20K personal email addresses.

2. You accidentally open this file.

3. You accidentally copy the email addresses.

4 You accidentally paste these email addresses into the address bar.

5. You compose your email and accidentally send out emails to people who have not given you permission to email them, and who have no idea you are in possession of their personal information.

Humanist International actually contacted AAI when one of their outdated email addresses was sent an email by IAA, wondering how Courtney had gotten this old email address that was in the AAI database. So did the wife of AAI’s President and AAI’s ASN Director, Tina Hamilton. Anyway, following this, AAI contacted IAA and gently asked that they publish an honest admission and also prove to AAI that they had deleted the stolen data. IAA responded by hiring a lawyer who, at the behest of IAA, sent AAI an offer to donate 5K to an AAI campaign for a Nigerian on death row so long as AAI sign a gag order preventing them from publishing anything about the gag order or the data theft. The board roundly rejected this offer to be gagged, especially considering that transparency for a public charity in the face of a data breach was essential. Here is where we arrive at one of the main reasons for my resignation from AAI. From the very moment we discovered the data theft, I pushed to publish the incident and inform subscribers and those who had had their data stolen. I was met with resistance from the President, Howard Burman, who, motivated by his personal friendship with Gail Miller and his charitable heart, did not want to expose IAA and “hurt another atheist organization”. I explained ad nauseum that it wasn’t about hurting another atheist organization, it was about being transparent and doing the right thing. From early 2020 until my resignation in January of 2021, I pushed on an almost daily basis to have this data breach exposed, but time was passing, no action was being taken, I was losing hope, and board members were becoming increasingly concerned that AAI board members could be legally liable in some way. I did not care about personal liability, I just wanted the truth to be told, but, again, I was met with resistance and wall after wall kept being erected to prevent me from telling the truth about the theft committed by IAA.

The consensus of the board became focused on getting a lawyer to ensure that AAI board members would be protected legally should this be published, but the President kept stalling and saying that he could not find an attorney. I eventually grew so impatient that I ignored the directive given to me by the board to step back and let the President handle it and I reached out to a friend who got me an attorney within a week. This attorney assured the board via email that, on the balance of probabilities, no board member would be liable for the theft of their organization’s data, yet this lawyer’s cautious caveat, that he wasn’t 100% sure, gave another reason for AAI to stall in exposing this data breach. This breach of AAI’s value of transparency grew heavier and heavier for me to carry and it coalesced with other pressures that were motivating me to leave the atheist movement. Seeing that the atheist movement was never going to be anything more than a Monty Python sketch from the Life of Brian, with The People’s Front of Judea zealously pitted against the Judean People’s Front, despite their aligned goals, I sent in my resignation and withdrew from atheist activism. A week or so after resigning, I sent an email to the board of AAI giving them a deadline to publish the data breach before I would expose it myself. I am happy to see that the truth has finally come to light and IAA have now been exposed as the dishonest and fraudulent charlatans they truly are.

Given all you now know about this extremely unethical atheist charity, IAA, would you trust them with your money? If the answer is no, then do not let others fall prey to their dishonest money-making agenda. Report them to the Canadian authorities and sign the petition to have IAA deregistered.

Thanks for reading.


Michael Sherlock