So here’s why I don’t get to talk to GSC people until Monday (or part of the reason, weekend conferences probably being another). Edwina Rogers has been fired from the SCA. Laurie Goodstein and Mark Oppenheimer report in the NY Times.
Atheists and nonbelievers from across the country will muster on Capitol Hill next week for a summit meeting organized by the Secular Coalition for America, a growing alliance of groups that has been giving the religious right an intensifying case of heartburn by lobbying for the separation of government and religion.
But what the Secular Coalition has not made public is that last week it fired its executive director, Edwina Rogers, an experienced Republican lobbyist whose conservative pedigree elevated the profile of the secular movement when she was hired just over two years ago.
Ms. Rogers said in an interview that she was given no warning and no reason for her termination, but suspects that she is being blamed for organization funds discovered to be missing and allegedly embezzled by two of her subordinates. An internal audit, obtained by The New York Times, found that two employees who handled the Secular Coalition’s finances embezzled $78,805, mostly by using the coalition’s credit cards to pay for restaurant meals, travel and plastic surgery. Ms. Rogers said she discovered the misuse of funds, reported it to the police, fired the two employees and commissioned the audit with the approval of the board.
I can’t help finding the plastic surgery item funny.
Ms. Rogers, a Republican lobbyist and economic adviser to the White House during the George W. Bush administration, who has appeared on Fox News and “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” was to many in the predominantly left-leaning Secular Coalition an odd fit for executive director. An agnostic who grew up in Alabama, Ms. Rogers said that during her time heading the coalition, fellow nonbelievers sent her hate mail and made derogatory comments about Republicans and Southerners. She said in an interview that such animus was a “big factor” in her dismissal.
But several coalition board members and organizers, who said they were not authorized to speak for attribution, insisted that Ms. Rogers’ politics and Southern roots had been a big selling point in her hiring, and had nothing to do with her dismissal. They said the reasons were far more pedestrian: that she and board members differed over priorities, and that she initiated projects and raised money for endeavors that competed with member organizations.
I wonder if the Global Secular Council is one of those projects that competed with member organizations – like CFI for example. It did seem to me that some of the plans mentioned on their site sounded like things CFI is already doing, and I wondered why the GSC was all “me too me too.”
So I guess the GSC will be needing a new photo for the front page? Or will they just photoshop someone else in under Michael Shermer’s left arm?