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.