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Controversy comes with the new Secular Coalition for America Executive Director

After Sean Faircloth left the Secular Coalition for America to take a position with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science,  the SCA had to search for a new executive director. Their choice was Edwina Rogers, a Republican strategist who had previously worked with George W. Bush and Trent Lott.

That shuffling sound you hear is thousands of atheists squirming uncomfortably in their seats.

I admit, I’m skeptical. It’s an understatement to say that Republicans don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to secular issues. In most cases they’re the direct cause of much of our religiously motivated problems. It makes me nervous putting one in charge of a lobbying group meant to represent a number of secular organizations, including one that I’m a board member of (the Secular Student Alliance).

But I’m going to give Edwina Rogers the chance to prove herself before I lay down any judgment. From this interview with Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist, Edwina states that she’s a non-theist who’s fully committed to the values of the SCA, and that her previous work with Republicans was mostly on economic issues. She also emphasizes that this gives us a chance to reach across the aisle and utilize allies that we have  previously written off. She insists that there are Republicans out there who agree with secular values.

Again, I’m skeptical. Even if there are secret secular Republicans, they have to answer to a very religious base. But Edwina seems to have exactly the qualifications that the ED of the SCA should have, so I’m going to give her the chance to try… Unlike some commenters who are already talking about automatically pulling their support from all SCA member organizations. I’m going to refrain from a boycott until, you know, she actually does something wrong.

So what do you think about SCA’s decision? A shrewd political move? Something that will be effective in gaining more support for the SCA? A train wreck waiting to happen? Is this going to affect your support for member organizations?

Comments

  1. says

    I’m going to go ahead and call it “terrible idea” right off the bat. It seems like yet another situation where a secular/atheist/freethought/skeptic group makes a decision that guarantees alienating their core constituencies. I guess they figure we have nowhere else to go, so they take us for granted to try to grow their groups to include people who don’t seem to share the values that most of us associate with those groups.

  2. says

    From Wikipedia (an article which needs to be updated, BTW), a list of member organizations:

    Atheist Alliance International
    The Institute for Humanist Studies
    The Secular Student Alliance
    The Secular Web
    The American Humanist Association
    The Society for Humanistic Judaism
    The Freedom From Religion Foundation
    The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
    The American Ethical Union
    Camp Quest
    American Atheists
    The Council for Secular Humanism

    I see lots of FTB-affiliated organizations listed there, and every single one of them is now supporting a person who helped create health and social security policies for W. That’s really unbelievable. Yes, every one of you should get out now.

  3. says

    The point of an executive director is to effectively carry out the mission and vision of the organization and its board of directors. I don’t see anything that says Edwina Rogers isn’t qualified to do this job. I think the secular/skeptic movement really needs to differentiate better when hiring employees between those who have the experience and skills to do a job and those who are ideologically pure enough to fit our own values. Obviously we want both, but our tendency to hire the latter has cost many organizations the talent necessary to advance our cause.

    I would much rather see people with previous leadership experience, and in the case of the SCA public policy experience, take these positions than those who’ve “proved their worth” in blogs or conferences.

    If Rogers tries to take the SCA against its mission, then the board will be responsible for removing her.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    The SCA needs someone who can lobby to both Republicans and Democrats. Is someone so thoroughly imbued with the GOP view that she refers to the latter as members of the “Democrat Party” (see the video posted at Friendly Atheist for verification) going to be able to do that?

  5. says

    If she was selected specifically because she’s a Republican, and the organization is going out of its way to show the Right that we’re not partisan, that’s a terrible idea.

    If she was selected because she will do the best job out of all the candidates and she has the most relevant experience that just happens to be for Republican campaigns, I’m more willing to see what happens.

    I will say that it’s awfully rough for this position to start out with so many members of the organization distrusting you, and she’s going to have to show very, very quickly that she’s the woman for the job. Any “I know this looks bad, but really, it’s twelve-dimensional chess” business is going to result in a rapid departure of the member organizations.

  6. eigenperson says

    Rogers may be good at doing the job. I have no idea. We will undoubtedly find that out.

    However, I strongly object to the idea of giving money — and visibility — to someone like her.

  7. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Seconded. And I strongly object to being associated with someone like her – if “someone like her” is ANYTHING like George W and his ilk.

  8. penn says

    I think it’s a questionable call, but I’d bet it’s a total non-issue. That said, the idea that she’ll be able to reach across the aisle and bring conservatives on-board is patently absurd. Has she actually paid any attention to conservatives recently? Just last week, in 2012, a prominent member of the Romney campaign had to resign because the wingnut brigade flipped out over the fact that he was openly gay. When a “Massachusetts moderate” Republican standard-bearer can’t even employ lifelong Republican operatives who happen to be gay, then I don’t have much hope for their valuing secular values.

  9. says

    I’m also interested to see what happens and I won’t prejudge her, but I am almost ready to judge the act itself. It is not like he CV happen to have the qualifications so they hired her. The appointment of an executive director is a major symbolic act. As part of this act, the SCA chose someone with strong, long term, and deep associations with the largest institutional organization in the world that systematically opposes all the SCA is for. Only a gaggle of idiots would do that by accidents. This was done on purpose.

    What is the purpose?

    Had she already been established as a major turncoat from the Republicans (and maybe she has and I’m just unaware) ready to do battle with many of her fellow colleagues, then this would be a potentially brilliant move. I’m not seeing any evidence that this is the case, however. Am I missing something?

  10. Gus Snarp says

    Is her full resume available somewhere? The simple fact that she worked as a Republican strategist, even for Bush, should not exclude her from the job. I will assume that in hiring her the board selected the best candidate and did proper due diligence on her. If we start saying we can’t hire anyone associated with any politician who has ever done anything evil, then we’re seriously limiting our applicant pool. The argument that she’s tainted from working with an administration that endorsed a war mongering foreign policy guilty of significant human rights abuses just means she worked with an American administration. There’s not much improvement on that front with the current administration. Besides which, she’s not John Yoo, unless, like him, she actually wrote justifications and acvocated for torture and other crimes, I don’t think we should tar her with that brush. Besides, roughly half of America disagrees with me on Bush and his crimes, and at least some of those people are atheists, skeptics, and secularists. I don’t think we should have litmus tests on political issues that are not specifically issues of church/state separation. I’m perfectly willing to give her a chance.

  11. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    So what do you think about SCA’s decision? A shrewd political move? Something that will be effective in gaining more support for the SCA? A train wreck waiting to happen?

    A and C.

    her previous work with Republicans was mostly on economic issues.

    Shiiiiiit.

  12. Gus Snarp says

    I will say that in her interview with Hemant she was either being deceptive or has deluded herself regarding the influence of the religious right on the Republican party. I think any kind of support for secularism is political suicide in today’s Republican party and I don’t see us getting anything at all out of Republican legislators unless it’s something they can completely bury and hide from their constituents, and that’s not the sort of thing I want.

  13. says

    The fact she worked for GWB should certainly be an indicator. This is like when Komen had people like Karen Handel in their midst. It’s basically putting a mole or saboteur in. But hey, go ahead, “give her the chance.” We’ll see.

  14. says

    That’s exactly what I was thinking… along with what Greg Laden said about them knowing what they were getting. Komen hired someone they knew would go against Planned Parenthood. Did SCA hire someone that they knew would go in a certain way that we’re not going to be happy with?

  15. Gus Snarp says

    I get the fear that she might be a double agent of sorts, but what do you think she’s actually going to do?

  16. says

    I’ve been making basically this argument over at Friendly Atheist all day. I’m not opposed to her, per se, but I do think she’s being incredibly naive. I mean, she’s a professional, so I believe she knows what she’s doing, but I remain skeptical about this evidence free silent majority that the few moderate Republicans still able to pass increasingly difficult purity tests claim is just waiting to be asked to do the right thing. It’s also why I have no faith in the “most Republicans are not homophobes” argument, or “most Republicans are not misogynist”, or any of the similar ones. The people they’ve put in office to represent them say otherwise, and Ms. Rogers’s claim about some heretofore invisible portion of the GOP electorate or elected representatives who simply never knew that this wasn’t a Christian nation and it’s illegal to base laws on Biblical values is pretty far-fetched.

  17. says

    While I’m surprised at the choice, it could go ok. I know one thing – Republicans are great at making hard choices and sticking with them. However, she worked for Trent Lott? It’s not so much about her being a republican for me as it is just about her working for him. Yikes.

    However, like you, I will withhold judgement until something goes wrong. If it does, I’m sure she’ll get booted… and who knows, maybe this really WILL make it easier to get some conservative secular folks into the fold.

  18. says

    I am concerned that, like Lieberman was with the democrats, she’s “with us on everything but the war.”

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    and that her previous work with Republicans was mostly on economic issues.

    The issues of most relevance to secularists at present are separation of church and state, women’s reproductive freedom, gay rights and gay marriage in particular, interference with science and science education (especially evolution and global warming).
    .
    That said, while economics might not be top of the secular interest list, conservative economics is as well-evidenced as conservative origin of life positions. Austerity is taking a beating in the UK and Europe.

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    I know one thing – Republicans are great at making hard choices and sticking with them.

    Oh? You mean like how they are so eager to stick with their automatic defence cuts that they insisted on for the big budget deal?

  21. jamessweet says

    I basically feel the same as you: I don’t really like it, but maybe there is something to this whole “I can make connections others can’t” angle.

  22. R. Johnston says

    Indeed. Conservative “economics” is entirely nonsecular and faith based, incompatible with respect for empirical reality. To say that her work with Republicans was on economic matters is to admit the nonsecular nature of her work.

  23. says

    Yeah, but who wants those people as part of the secular movement? Seriously, is it worth getting a few extra (and probably meaningless) church/state wins in exchange for accepting the misogynistic, racist, homophobic, anti-poor, warmongering attitudes of modern “conservatives” into the secular movement? Really? With friends like those…

  24. Zengaze says

    Firstly I’m not American, but I think the secular movement is inherently global, and since I’m western European culturally we are in the same sphere, so what happens with the secular movement in America is of huge significance to me, and not just on an intellectual level.

    Now to the meat. You know what, when I first read it I was taken aback, but then I had to catch myself and say “hey what the fuck! Is it that she’s a republican! Is it because she worked with Bush? Is it because she’s a SHE who is a republican and worked with Bush?”

    I guess the question we have to answer is, does the secular coalition for America have a political agenda outside of secularism? It’s fair to say that most of us atheists are left leaning, but that’s just because we’re smart ;) there is absolutely no reason to doubt this persons capabilities to promote secularism dependant upon their political leanings. It’s great to see that a secular movement is dynamic and embracing.

    Good luck Edwina I think you will push secularism forward into places others of us couldn’t!

  25. Zengaze says

    And I have to clarify the “she” remark I made. Unfortunately now whenever somebody puts she and republican into the same sentence I get instant bias. I see palin or Bachman, And I have to really suppress that, I know it’s absurd and I’m dealing with it, but those two scare the shit out of me.

  26. 'Tis Himself says

    According to this wikipedia article, her economic specialty is ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA establishes standards for corporate pension plans and provides for income tax effects of employee benefit plans, particularly health insurance.

  27. eigenperson says

    Here are some ideas:

    1. Declare that “We’re not all the kind of extremists who want to remove the Mt. Soledad cross.” Good luck getting any public support for removing the cross after she says that — everyone will say “Hey, your own spokesperson said only extremists want to remove the cross.”

    2. Along the same lines, say that Jessica Ahlquist “may have gone a little too far.”

    3. Come to a “grand agreement” in which Republicans agree to pass legislation requiring that evolution be taught in every public school by a competent teacher, alongside creationism. Never mind that our position is that creationism should not be taught in schools — it’s a grand agreement! Are you against agreement???

    4. Decry the idea of preserving fundamental rights through the court system, because it’s important to bring these issues to an up-or-down vote before Congress. Never mind that the vote will be “down”, and that these things shouldn’t be legislative matters in the first place. Sure, some people will try to seek judicial solutions, but they’re obviously pretty radical, while we’re the mainstream.

    etc.

  28. eigenperson says

    I should clarify: I don’t think she is a double agent.

    But, if she were, she could do these things and no one would ever be able to say for sure that she is a double agent, but they would obviously be extremely harmful nevertheless (and critically, the harms would remain even after she left).

  29. Craig McGillivary says

    There are many good options for who to donate to as a secular person. Why should I support a lobbying organization unless I know that it is going to represent my views?

  30. ender says

    Think about it from her perspective for a second…

    She just took a job with an organization that is anathema to the people she has been working with for her whole career. She may well be disqualified from that line of work from now on. She has to have thought about that, and to me it signals a lot of commitment.

    That is one interpretation, anyway.

  31. Annie says

    I worry about nothing! Have you met atheists?? She does something out of line with secularism and we’re a pin-drop brigade of vigilant guard dogs she’s gotta do some major ‘splainin’ to!

  32. says

    What? Am I the only one here to say “Score!”

    This woman is a highly skilled political advisor with inside connections. The door opens when she knocks. She is an outstanding choice for the job. Yah, she could fail, but I don’t think so.

    Count on it, there are plenty of repubs who hate the “holier-than-thou” religious-right bullies.

    Barry Goldwater: “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?”

    Bring it on, Edwina. I’m counting on you to stand up to the bullies and to help bring reason to the political debate.

  33. says

    It will be hard to continue calling it a coalition if people from the “other” side of the aisle are rejected on spec.

  34. Rick Wayne says

    Color me…skeptical. (Heh. I make a funny!) If Ms. Rogers was sincere in working for Lott and GWB, well, she and I wouldn’t agree on much.

    But apparently we agree on something: that promoting a secular American society is important.

    You know what? I am OK with that. She doesn’t have to move here to Madison and wear a beret and ride a bike from her co-op to get a soy latte down at the Farmer’s Market, to be a comrade in this particular endeavor. In fact, I am heartened that we can make common cause with someone from the Republican establishment.

    Yes, I think I’m right about a whole variety of things which all fit together beautifully in my mind. But if I required absolute conformity to my entire worldview from every collaborator I work with, I’d never get anything done.

    So let’s see how we do.

  35. Rick Wayne says

    PS: I am reminded of a reasonably courageous young woman who pointed out to the panel at the Freethought Festival last weekend that, in fact, one did not have to be a social liberal to be a secularist, atheist, or humanist, that in fact not every member of the Tea Party was necessarily a fundgadelical. ‘Cause there she was. And could they please not refer to her and her compatriots as “Teabaggers”?

  36. R. Johnston says

    That’s nonsense. Social conservatism is a faith-based endeavor, whether or not it is a direct result of a traditional religion, and whether or not the social conservative believes in a god. You don’t get to be faith-based and secular.

  37. Dalillama says

    there is absolutely no reason to doubt this persons capabilities to promote secularism dependant upon their political leanings.

    There most certainly is. The Republicans are the party of faith-based governance, and the source and wellspring of the movement to fully Christianize the government at all levels. The mere fact of being a registered Republican at this point is sufficient to destroy any and all confidence on my part that they are able or indeed willing to effectively promote secularism.

  38. Dalillama says

    The Teabaggers chose that name for themselves, and a simple Google search will reveal endless examples of that fact. Furthermore, the policies supported by the Teabaggers, and the Republicans to the extent that the two groups are separate, are blatantly and maliciously anti-human. Thus, I would say that no-one associating themselves with that movement has any room to claim to be a humanist. Further, as R. Johnston has pointed out, the policies espoused by the Teabaggers/Republicans are based on nothing resembling reality or empiricism, and therefore can only be construed as faith-based, thus eliminating their claim to be secular as well. While I don’t deny that one can be an atheist and a teabagger, I acknowledge no common cause with such a person.

  39. says

    “Count on it, there are plenty of repubs who hate the “holier-than-thou” religious-right bullies.”

    Evidence? From a living Republican in office?

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope you’re right, but I have my doubts that there are scads of GOP faithful cowering in their offices, just waiting for somebody to tell them that they don’t have to suffer the tyranny of the religious right. And as for other people she can speak to, her position as a Republican strategist doesn’t translate into access there.

  40. Robert B. says

    Hah! You know what, you’re right. It’s not like we’re inhibited against disagreeing with each other in public – if she did something unsecular, she’d be denounced and disavowed eight ways from Monday. I feel much better now.

    Heck, there’ve been about five FTBlog posts today saying “hey, let’s look at this woman pretty closely and think about all this,” and we all made like a row of suspicious owls, except when we were researching her on wikipedia. And she hasn’t even done anything yet, good or bad.

  41. R Johnston says

    She’s a bad choice, you shouldn’t feel better now, and there’s no way around it. People working with the SCA or donating time or money will have to be extra vigilant with a person like Rogers in this kind of position. They will not merely be able to rely on the reputation of the SCA and presume that ordinary vigilance is enough. Even if Rogers ends up doing nothing wrong, that’s a real problem. The reputation of the SCA should be enough to get people to trust it, and extra vigilance is tiring, costly, and leads to attrition even when nothing goes wrong.

  42. jg29a says

    conservative economics is as well-evidenced as conservative origin of life positions

    That statement is insane. I’m personally very fucking far from being convinced by conservative economic arguments, but really, come on. To make that kind of equation between two extremely different confidence levels is basically to give up the intellectual high ground that we have in opposing religious fairy tales.

  43. R Johnston says

    That statement is dead-on accurate. Where have you been for the past 70 years, especially the past four?

  44. Dalillama says

    Name one conservative economic policy which has failed to bring disaster when enacted. The economic policies of the Right are based on a particularly pernicious form of the Just World Fallacy, admixed with a huge dose of Prosperity Gospel.

  45. says

    I’ll be watching very closely, and I’m as skeptical about this new director as I was when I read that Joel Osteen and his wife were going to just read “The Lorax” and do some gardening at that school.

    One of my major concerns is her lies in the interview that are designed to make her and the right look better.

  46. John D says

    Great choice. There are many Republicans who are not happy that they have to bow to the fundie religious types. The blending of religion into the Republican party happened in the 1980s and it may be time to put a final end to the “Moral Majority”.

    Many people on this blog may not believe it, but Republicans in the Midwest, East, and West often do not chase the religious vote. Look at my Republican Governor in Michigan (Snyder). He has stated many time publicly that he is not interested in legislating social policy. He is a technocrat who is trying to run an efficient government. One may not agree with his politics, but he is definitely not courting the religious voter. Making space for more secular Republicans will be a good thing (for both Democrats, Republicans, and Independents)

    I am so pleased with the addition of Rogers that I am going to get involved with the local chapter (or at least work to get it started). I really liked Faircloth and I felt a bit let down when he joined Dawkins. I am expecting Rogers to be even better in promoting separation (which is the mission of the SCA). She will look awesome on Fox News talking about how many Republicans are actually secular.

  47. penn says

    Please tell me what non-religious vote chasing Rick Snyder’s positions are on abortion and gay marriage? I’ll save you the trouble, he against them both. Are those positions reasonably defensible from a secular viewpoint? Can you name any prominent Republicans that accept the secular position with regard to reproductive rights, gay rights, and climate change?

  48. penn says

    Ugh. Using the term “Democrat Party” is straight-up Limbaugh-Fox News petty bullshit. She could work out, but if she doesn’t want to sound like an ass and alienate our allies, she should knock that shit off.

  49. John D says

    You are assuming that for someone to be secular they must share your position regarding reproductive rights, gay rights, and climate change. This is just plain wrong. You are claiming that secular is the same as liberal progressive. This is not true.

    Governor Snyder does not evoke religion when he governs. You may disagree with his politics, but he governs in a secular way.

  50. R Johnston says

    Secular is, however, the same thing as not-faith-based and not resorting to argument by assertion as a first and last resort. Sadly for you, that means you’re very wrong.

    If you are a climate change denialist or if you think that women or gay people are somehow meaningfully inherently inferior, you’re taking a nonsecular faith-based position that can only be argued by assertion. Sucks to be you.

  51. John D says

    I am quite happy to be me thank you very much. It is very possible to have different opinions on subjects like climate change, abortion etc. and still be secular. There are many people who are atheists and anti-abortion for example.

  52. Eliott says

    I have been all over the blogs reading the interpretations of her lobbying efforts and folks trying to decipher her politics for better or worse. Pros and cons both make compelling arguments and many say wait and see however there is one point I have seen that is indisputable, she gave a donation to Rick Perry’s campaign. Now can someone please explain to me like I am a 5 year old how the board of the SCA can look at that donation as anything less than a commitment of her personal political feelings and thoughts. Rick Perry, seriously. The Rick Perry that had the huge prayer meeting? That Rick Perry. That alone should disqualify her. But maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to hear from the organizational heads from within the SCA telling us how thrilled they are to have his woman representing them and us, how they have complete trust and confidence in her to promote their agenda. After all, if they believe she will be a strong advocate for them and us, let’s see that huge support for her. They should be so happy that we have made such a compelling lobbyist hire that they scream it from everyone of their websites. And one point of disagreement I have with PZ where he says “honesty and truth” are the primary tenants of Atheism, I would argue those tenants are science and reason”. I would like to know the science and reason that the SCA board used in hiring this woman. I think everyone that is looking to donate money to either SCA or other supporting organizations wants to know. Lastly, a blogger I am very fond of when asked for their opinion passed and pushed it off to the communication manager of their organization which is a member of SCA. That act in and of itself has already shown the negative impact this hire has already had and friends, that sucks.

  53. Dalillama says

    Name one nonreligious argument against marriage equality or abortion. One single science based reason will do, so go wild. As for climate change, denying that is an entirely faith-based position. The science is in, AGW is real, that is all.

  54. ash says

    I agree. There should have been a public announcement of the candidate pool LONG before the internal vetting process began. That it was dropped on us this way shows as much bad judgement on the part of the SCA as their decision to go with Rogers in the first place

  55. John D says

    Do your own web search. I don’t have any interest in doing everyone’s homework here. And you are starting to bore my with your silliness. Hopeless.

  56. Rex says

    I thought all of these same things. She certainly has the connections and the background. This is an out of the box, high risk choice, seemingly for both parties. If this experiment is successful, great inroads can be made for the secular in terms of being recognized as a major player on the national stage.

    This move smacks of professional national politics with serious intent, and the message that yes, we really do mean business; something that we as a group have not been very good at thus far.

    Extraordinary potential gain requires extraordinary risk.

  57. ash says

    I wonder if there is a way to find out who else was on the candidate list…

  58. ash says

    Yes! Any willful, continued associations with that party is really all the info you need. Their tacit strategy is to never engage the opposition in good faith. That can’t change it’s inherent in conservatism. And secularism IS a liberal ideology. WTF? Is she claiming to be a liberal republican? What the hell would that even LOOK like?

  59. ash says

    ” If we start saying we can’t hire anyone associated with any politician who has ever done anything evil, then we’re seriously limiting our applicant pool.”

    And that’s a problem how? There is nothing wrong with having basic standards that you won’t compromise on.

  60. ash says

    Exactly. I was going to make that point but you did it better and in fewer words

  61. ash says

    Yeah, the thing is, the republicans ALREADY have a long standing record on these issues and it’s attrocious.

  62. Dalillama says

    I thought so. You’ve got nothing. Are you here with anything substantive, or are you just here to promote faith based positions?

  63. John D says

    pffffrt! So done with you. You just want to continue a debate by changing the subject and not really doing any investigation… go pretend to be a freethinker on your own time.

  64. ash says

    Plus you had to go into the Way-Back machine over forty years to find an example…

  65. ash says

    You nailed it. She proclaimed her commitment to the republican ideology with cash.

  66. Dalillama says

    Things asserted without evidence can be dismissed the same way. At present, the overwhelming evidence is that opposition to abortion and marriage equality is overtly religiously based, including the statements of people supporting the bills opposing same. The alleged ‘nonreligious’ elements amount to “I think it’s icky,” which is still not a basis for secular policy. Thus, your claim is absurd on its face and requires considerable evidence to overcome that, and as the one making the assertion, the burden of proof falls to you.

  67. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    A good, but futile, attempt, Dalillama. True believers will not be dissuaded.

  68. JM says

    Agree.

    If a person is a feminist and an active Republican, it is pretty clear to me that they’re a Republican first, e.g. Elsie Hillman.

    To some extent, that also applies to feminist RC nuns. The Roman Catholic church has enormous talons in their people to the extent that it is very difficult to break away. So some try to “pick and choose” or reform it from within. I don’t think it can be done.

    Groups like this need someone who has resolved these inconsistencies.

  69. Reginald Selkirk says

    You are assuming that for someone to be secular they must share your position regarding reproductive rights, gay rights, and climate change.

    While it is true that atheist != rationalist, atheism removes one major impediment to rationalism. I once met an atheist who believed in reincarnation, so I certainly know that such unusual combinations of views are possible. However, they are improbable.

  70. Reginald Selkirk says

    John D.: Do your own web search. I don’t have any interest in doing everyone’s homework here.

    Translation: “I have no intention of backing up my statements with facts.”

  71. John Horstman says

    Polling data on specific policy issues (e.g. abortion, gay rights) show that Republicans (the voting base – we already know the politicians are asshats) are still majority theocrats. Rogers is just patently wrong when she claims most Republicans support secularism, given the evidence. MY primary worry is that she doesn’t realize that denying gay citizens or women human rights on the basis of religious dogma is anti-secular. Either that, or she’s ignoring evidence right off the bat, which is bad for someone who’s going to be an advocate for evidence-based policy. Still, this could be a highly effective move: I’m in favor of an initial stance of cautious mistrust, to be revised as data on her actual performance in this position become available.

  72. Reginald Selkirk says

    conservative economics is as well-evidenced as conservative origin of life positions
    That statement is insane.

    I am sticking with my original statement. There is not as much evidence against conservative economics as against creationism, but the evidence for is about equal. Show us the successful applications of trickle-down economics. Show us the successes of austerity.

  73. tcsf says

    Actually the republican tone-trolls coming out of the woodwork are what annoy me. Instead of pretending to be all
    baffled by how mean all the liberals are, they need to say, “I understand you liberals have been doing all the heavy
    lifting fighting theocracy against my party all these years, and that you all are worried that if a republican wins
    a high office they’ll owe favors and offices to the religious right, and even that a lot of secular sounding
    conservatives are good at coming up with non-religious sounding rationalizations to do what the religious want. But
    please give us a chance–we can help!” I could respect that. I can’t speak for any other liberals or
    moderates but I’d appreciate a saner republican party. But, speaking again only for myself, don’t expect the
    ‘prodigal son’ treatment. “Yay! We’re so lucky! A conservative is going to help us! Wow! Let’s be nice and not
    say anything about climate change or abortion! Otherwise they’ll call us socialists again! O Noes!” Makes me
    sick. Not going to happen.

  74. R Johnston says

    I can’t speak for any other liberals or moderates but I’d appreciate a saner republican party.

    You know what they call a saner Republican party?

    The Democratic party.

    The democrats are pretty close to what you want in a center-right to right party of a two party system that’s actually functional.

  75. says

    I know one thing – Republicans are great at making hard choices and sticking with them.

    No they’re great at making hard choices and making OTHERS stick with them.

    They seem to find it much easier to make decisions that cost the weakest members of society the most and benefit the most powerful. “You pay for my meal” is not a hard choice.

  76. Tom Singer says

    Wait, what’s wrong with the term “Democrat party”? I recognize that their official name for themselves is “Democratic”, but the party made up of Republicans is the Republican party. The party made up of Democrats is the Democrat party. I don’t see anything offensive or marginalizing about that. “Rush Limbaugh says it too!” is pretty thin. She’s apparently from Alabama. It sounds to me more like a regional variation in speech.

  77. R Johnston says

    Lay down the crack pipe, Tom. You know full well that the term “Democrat party” originated and is used exclusively as a derisive term intended by wingnuts to deny that there was anything democratic about the party and its goals. It is not regional. It is not accidental. Stop lying.

  78. says

    You are assuming that for someone to be secular they must share your position regarding reproductive rights, gay rights, and climate change.

    And you are assuming that disagreement on any of these issues, on two of which disagreement with the “liberal, progressive view” (nice dog whistle) means denying basic human rights to humans and on the third disagreement with the “liberal, progressive” view means denying science, is in any way reasonable or justified.

    Your conservatism is showing. Big time.

  79. Zengaze says

    Okay, I’m defining my position. She should in no way have been hired. It seems she supported rick perry for president. No person interested in preventing religious nuts creating a theocracy would back perry. Simple. How the fuck can she define herself as a secularist?

    Secondly I don’t give a shit if she would lobby well, I don’t want a juke box that will sing whatever song i pay it to.

  80. Tom Singer says

    I don’t know that at all. Or, at least, I didn’t. I don’t listen too closely to Limbaugh and company, so apparently I’ve missed it. And in all the discussion I’ve seen about the appropriateness of “teabaggers”, some of which is occurring on this post, I haven’t seen it referenced.

    Wikipedia cites use of “Democrat Party” by Democrats as a regional variation (although not for a long time) in an interesting article about the derogatory use of the term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Party_(phrase)

    Next time, don’t accuse me of lying for asking a question.

  81. Sarah says

    I’m not familiar with the inside baseball of secular organizations, and the Republican party has done some pretty heinous things, but I just wanted to mention that there are plenty of atheists who aren’t liberals.

    I am one.

    I think that the present level of government spending is unsustainable and we’re going to have to change our ways or suffer some real economic hardship. That doesn’t mean I believe in God, and it definitely doesn’t mean I want the government playing clergyman. Republican politicians are embarrassing because they’re politicians, but there’s still a lot to be said for a belief in limited government, and a lot of people are conservatives (or libertarians) because of principles and pragmatism, not because they hold any brief for theocrats with silly hair and microphones.

  82. Dalillama says

    Principles, perhaps, but they are misguided ones. Pragmatism never, though. Your belief that the present level of spending is excessive rather than poorly target is one which has no evidence to back it up, particularly given that countries with significantly higher ratios of government spending to GDP than that of the U.S routinely have better outcomes in measures of population health, economic wellbeing, and general happiness. Limited government is a buzzword for opposing regulations, particularly environmental and labor regulations, i.e. the reason that workers now regularly live long enough to retire and that our rivers no longer catch fire. These and the other outcomes of such regulations are good things, and in countries that have, e.g. single payer health care more good outcomes occur. Thus, if skeptical means “Making decisions based on the best available evidence”, advocates of libertarianism fail at skepticism when it comes to economic and social policy.

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