Edwina Rogers and the Secular Coalition of America

As you know, Edwina Rogers, a long term Republican strategist, adviser, and spokesperson, was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America. There has been some concern about this appointment because,in the view of many (myself included) most of the organizations associated with the SCA are liberal or progressive leaning.

There are two conversations I want to tell you about regarding this issue. The first is one I had with SCA Chief of Staff Eliza Kashinsky. I only have a brief comment or two to make related to that conversation. First, I do think it is reasonable to assume that the SCA hired Edwina Rogers because they wanted to hire someone who knew what they were doing in the lobbying game. Personally, I’m very glad if indeed that was their strategy, becuase I don’t assume that rising through the ranks of skepticism, humanism, and atheism in and of itself qualified one to be a great lobbyist. So going to the pros is a good idea. Another thing that came out of that conversation was my specific request for two things, and I eagerly hope these happen.

I asked about the SCA’s plans to include climate change in their move to make real science the basis of policy in Washington and elsewhere, but there was not a clear answer. Pursuant to addressing what might be some ambiguity in this area, I asked Eliza if she would in turn ask Edwina Rogers to have a meeting very soon (by phone or not) with Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, in order to discuss that issue. I let Genie know about this so she could expect the call.

The second thing I asked for was to have Edwina include on her list of items to bring to the various members of congress she would be speaking to a serious request to sign the Science Pledge.

The second conversation I wanted to alert you to is the one Greta Christina just posted on her blog. That is here.

There are some concerns. I think it would be much better if Edwina simply acknowledged that Republicans, as a party, have some of the positions Greta asks her about. Edwina claims that the Republicans don’t really have a “party position” on abortion. That is incorrect, and easily checked. For instance, here is the Republican Party position on abortion as printed on their web site, from the 2008 platform:

Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

Edwina kept insisting that this was not true, though she made that claim clumsily, referring to research that contradicts the party’s official position. She should just admit what is true and move on. That part of the interview was a little disappointing.

Edwina is hired because of her contacts with the members of Congress and others. Maybe we can make a deal: She admits that the Republicans are what they are, and we let her do her job infiltrating the entire Congress (left right and center) on our behalf.

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13 Responses to Edwina Rogers and the Secular Coalition of America

  1. tcsf says:

    The doubletalk suggests she may be more interested in
    defending Republicans than she should be. There is
    NO way to be an effective secularist unless
    you’re prepared to do more to oppose Republicans
    than Democrats. This is because, quite obviously,
    Republicans do more to court the religious vote.

    I do think “conservative”, libertarian, and Republican
    secularists can have a constructive role to play,
    but not if they’re trying to protect Republicans
    from the consequences of their alliance with the religious
    right.

    And coming up with non-religious sounding reasons to
    follow religion’s lead on abortion, climate change,
    and teaching evolution is NOT what I had in
    mind.

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says:

    If she doesn’t use evidence to evaluate republicans, she can’t possibly be effective

    Full stop

  3. kyleharris says:

    Having looked at her record, I can see why people are concerned about this woman, but what I saw at first was just an unthinking knee jerk reaction to the announcement. It was automatically bad that a Republican was heading the SCA.
    Not all of us unbelievers our Democrats, or even liberal. I agree that the GOP has gone off the rails over the past 20 or 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that I should have to support the Democratic party.
    It is clear that the GOP has spent much more effort courting the religious vote than the dems have, but someone tell me what the Democratic party has done for the secular world view. The President himself continues to support things like the National Day of Prayer, and he still refuses to support same sex marriage.
    If I had to pick one or the other I suppose I would go with the Democrats but I refuse to pick either. They are both corrupt to the core.

  4. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:

    If, as this interview suggestions, she doesn’t have the slightest clue about the realities of the current repub party, or she really badly lies about them, there’s no way to trust her. There’s no way to think she’d be good at this job.

    She spent too much time around unquestioning syccophants.

    She should have stayed among the sheep, because the wolves don’t go hungry.

  5. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says:

    Yeah, really. I would be much more comfortable with this if she’d just own the fuck up to what the repigs stand for and what she fought for when she was one of them. Her attempts to whitewash their positions are setting off klaxons in my head.

  6. Setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry says:

    Kyleharris, the evidence shows that the problem is endemic to the Republicans and Rogers is not bucking this trend, merely engaging in the same denial that many self proclaimed “centrists” have engaged in when defending her on FTB.

    Take your “centrist” FUD somewhere else. Your conservatism is showing.

  7. evilDoug says:

    She seems to just make stuff up. I’m not sure if that is pro or con for a lobbyist. Personally, I would regard it as clearly marking her as untrustworthy.

    I’m with Crip Dyke regarding the inability to evaluate evidence. Anyone who actually believes that party policy reflects reality is sadly disconnected from the latter.

  8. KathyO says:

    It’s hard to see how Rogers will be effective at pushing the secular agenda when she seems to think that things are already fine. Apparently, the GOP is not anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-separation of church and state. Great! Mission accomplished!

  9. Raging Bee says:

    …what I saw at first was just an unthinking knee jerk reaction to the announcement. It was automatically bad that a Republican was heading the SCA.

    Either you’re lying, or you weren’t looking. I did not see an “unthinking knee jerk reaction,” I saw copious references to past statements of hers — and links to video of her making said statements — that raised reasonable doubts about her character and priorities.

    I really do think her future loyalty is uncertain; and my doubts are exacerbated by her comments about how the secular movement allegedly needs to be more inclusive of Republicans (thus, presumably, making it less liberal or progressive). Will she relly be lobbying Republicans for secular causes? Or will she be lobbying for more Republican influence in the secular movement?

  10. Raging Bee says:

    tscf: you want doubletalk? Here’s an interview with Rogers where she lays the Republican-apologist doubletalk with a shovel:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/05/03/the-atheist-lobbys-new-executive-director-is-a-female-republican-strategist-who-used-to-work-for-george-w-bush/

    Check out this quote:

    Often times, problems are arising from the conservative side and that’s one reason why it’s important to include both sides. The majority of the gubernatorial positions and state legislatures are controlled by Republicans.

    She seems to be saying that since Republicans are so powerful, the secularist movement has to accomodate them. Isn’t she supposed to be lobbying the Republicans to accomodate secualarists, not vice versa?

    This woman is a lifetime career Republican. How far will she be willing to go to push a cause that many of her “former” colleagues not only disagree with, but hate with unholy hyperpartisan passion? She’s already looking for excuses NOT to be an effective lobbyist for the SCA.

    I think there’s about a 33% chance she’ll drag her feet on anything that threatens to offend those easily-offended wingnuts whose influence she denies, until she gets fired; then she’ll get a gig with Faux News crying about how mean and partisan and us PC-thug secularists are.

  11. Raging Bee says:

    I agree that the GOP has gone off the rails over the past 20 or 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that I should have to support the Democratic party.

    In other words, you know full well your party is dead wrong and bad for America, but you’re not going to do squat to oppose them because you don’t want to question your tribal loyalties. How do you think they get away with going so far off the rails for so long? You’re part of the problem.

  12. Woo_Monster says:

    ER

    Often times, problems are arising from the conservative side and that’s one reason why it’s important to include both sides. The majority of the gubernatorial positions and state legislatures are controlled by Republicans.

    Problems, arising from Republican governors, which she is “embarrassed” that she didn’t donate money to.
    ER from the interview with Greta, in response to a question about Rogers donating $1,000 to Rick Perry.

    And I’m really embarrassed that I haven’t contributed money to every governor, every Republican governor

    Rogers was definitely part of the problem, and by white-washing the Republican party, she continues to be part of the problem.

  13. moralnihilist says:

    Sorry in advance for the Godwin, but…

    “Hey guys, I’ve just been appointed as the Executive Director of AIPAC. I’m a proud, life-long member of the National Socialist German Workers (NAZI) Party. Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. ‘Why is a Nazi working for Jews?’ You see, most Nazi’s actually LOVE Jews! According to these statistics I think I saw 18 years ago, over 70% of Nazis have NO PROBLEM WITH JEWS whatsoever! So, because not every single Nazi in the world has a problem with Jews, it is wrong to stereotype all Nazis as anti-semites based on the actions of the leaders, such as rounding up all Jews and shipping them off to gas chambers. That was just the actions of a few! You needn’t worry about me! How dare you assume I’m that way just because I donated $1,000 to Adolf Hitler’s political campaign!”

    My favorite thing about Edwina in this interview is how when Greta asked her a question she didn’t like, she just answered the question she wished Greta would have asked her instead.

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