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May 08 2012

The SCA’s New Leader

As you have probably heard by now, the Secular Coalition for America has hired a new executive director to replace Sean Faircloth. Her name is Edwina Rogers and she is a longtime Republican aide, consultant and political operative. The reaction from the secular community so far seems to run the gamut from hope that she can make inroads with Republicans to absolute outrage.

Dan Fincke points out that she has made some pretty disturbing statements about stem cell research, as in this video:

But she told Hemant Mehta in an interview that stem cell research is one issue she hopes to push as director of the SCA:

I think in the near future, chances are good to make inroads on issues surrounding health and safety (things like stem cell research — because the upside is so tremendous), discrimination (especially in the military), fairness in tax policy, emphasizing a pro-science based education in public schools and tempering religious extremism — these are things the average American can really relate with.

But she has spent her entire career working for a party that is on the wrong side of every one of those issues. One argument in her favor is that she may be able to open some doors in Congress that have long been closed to us because of her experience and connections. I’m skeptical about that, but I am hoping to have the chance to ask her about it directly soon. On Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Rogers for my radio show, to be aired either the 15th or the 22nd.

The other argument in her favor is that she’s just a hired gun that is paid to get results and she will do and say whatever is necessary to get those results. But is that good enough? Is that the person we should want as the face of secularism in Washington? I have my doubts, to say the least. But I’m looking forward to getting her on the record myself soon.

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  1. 1
    Reginald Selkirk

    just a hired gun that is paid to get results and she will do and say whatever is necessary to get those results.

    I hear Newt Gingrich is looking for a new job.

  2. 2
    KathyO

    I had an open mind until I heard Greta Christina’s interview. Here’s the transcript:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/05/08/transcript-of-interview-with-edwina-rogers/

    Did you know the GOP is not anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-separation of church and state? That must be true because Greta hasn’t asked every single Republican if they’re against those things. Apparently, having an anti-choice mission statement and passing anti-choice legislation does not mean that a political party is anti-choice. The things you learn!

  3. 3
    LightningRose

    There will be no inroads with Repuglicans until they quit winning elections.

  4. 4
    Leo Buzalsky

    One argument in her favor is that she may be able to open some doors in Congress that have long been closed to us because of her experience and connections.

    Yeah…yet, I myself am not necessarily concerned about those “doors” at this particular point in time. I think there is plenty of work to be done widening the doors with those who could and/or should be political allies for us (in other words, those who agree with us on most issues) that I don’t find the need to bother opening doors with those we disagree with on nearly everything (or, as you put it, “the wrong side of every one of those issues”).

    I’ll just add that it seems, from the skimming I’ve been doing on other blogs, that she’s been trying to claim that Republicans aren’t as against secularism and that the religious-right isn’t as powerful as we think. Perhaps you’d like to push her on that. Or maybe that would be beating a dead horse.

  5. 5
    Jasper of Maine

    I think she’s a Republican from a Parallel Dimensions where everything is opposite of this reality.

  6. 6
    melody

    FYI: Edwina Rogers has an “Ask me anything” up on Reddit right now: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/tdbbh/iama_republican_from_alabama_who_now_leads_the/

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    Here’s a comment I posted on Greg Laden’s blog about this. Just some things you might want to ask her about…

    …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 (and, yes, religious) 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 us PC-thug secularists are.

  8. 8
    jamessweet

    As I’ve commented on other blogs, the Greta Christina interview is a bad sign. If Rogers had said something along the lines of, “Yes, the Republican party mainstream is badly wrong on issues of gay rights, abortion, etc., and I wish to change that from the inside,” then we might view this as a start to forging an alliance with social progressives/fiscal conservatives. Even that would make a lot of people uneasy, but it’s not entirely ridiculous.

    Instead, she completely denied that the GOP is anti-choice and anti-gay. It’s just incredible — and I mean “incredible” in the most literal sense. Really, she kind of comes off as a reality-denying Republican spin doctor. Go figure…

    I also did not appreciate the nod to anti-choice atheists. Yes, they exist. But fuck them. I do not want them on our team.

  9. 9
    savagemutt

    Having just read the transcript of Greta’s interview, and knowing that Ed will be no pushover when she appears on his show, I don’t think there’s any way she lasts through the end of the month. She’s clearly a disaster.

  10. 10
    abb3w

    Re, Greta Christina’s interview; possibly useful numbers from the GSS:

    On a particular church-state separation issue, PRAYER: “The United States Supreme Court has ruled that no state or local government may require the reading of the Lord’s Prayer or Bible verses in public schools. What are your views on this – do you approve or disapprove of the court ruling?”

    2010, by PARTYID: Strong Republicans, disapprove 71-24; non-Strong Republicans, disapprove 58-40; Independent Near Republican, disapprove 58-39. (Though Democrats also tend to slightly disapprove; but that’s a close tossup.)

    HOMOSEX: “What about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex?” (always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all)

    2010, by PARTYID again: always wrong SR 71, nSR 53, and INR 52%.

    The GSS has too many abortion questions for me to sort through them all, but there’s a similar pronounced lean to the one coded ABANY (74,64,68) for abortion opposition.

    I suspect she may be a usefully deluded sort, but not essentially part of the reality-based community. Alternately, she may prefer a much lower Wall of Separation than the traditional secularist position.

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    Instead, she completely denied that the GOP is anti-choice and anti-gay. It’s just incredible — and I mean “incredible” in the most literal sense. Really, she kind of comes off as a reality-denying Republican spin doctor. Go figure…

    _I_ “figure” this is an attempt to hijack the SCA and use it as a new platform for the pro-business “moderate” Republicans, to put a “secular” and “moderate” face on the Party of God in time for this election. That, at least, is the best reason I can think of for this flat-out denialism. It’s certainly something the PoG would want to do after the promenade of nutcases that was their primary season.

  12. 12
    roggg

    I thought her post may have been a good thing when I first heard about it. Since reading the GC interview I have changed my mind 100%. To deny that the republican party is pro-life and anti-gay, in the face of all evidence shows she is either blatantly dishonest, or completely deluded. Although a dishonest lobbyist may be a useful tool, I dont think it’s worth it to make gains by following an ethically ambiguous path such as this. Full disclosure…I’m a Canadian.

  13. 13
    eric

    James @8:

    If Rogers had said something along the lines of, “Yes, the Republican party mainstream is badly wrong on issues of gay rights, abortion, etc., and I wish to change that from the inside,” then we might view this as a start to forging an alliance with social progressives/fiscal conservatives.

    Heck, she didn’t even have to say they were wrong. Just acknowledge that those are the dominant GOP views and say that, as the SCA lobbyist, she sees part of her job as working to change those views. A good hired gun doesn’t make excuses for or defend their former clients, they defend their past actions by saying they are a hired gun.

    Instead, she completely denied that the GOP is anti-choice and anti-gay.

    What disturbs me most is that, if GOPers are paying attention to this, her denial is going to tick them off. I doubt the mainstream GOP is ashamed of their position on any of these issues – rather, they are proud of it. And I doubt they want some former operative going out there and implying they are insincere about their public positions or claiming that the stated position of the party is actually a minority position.

    IOW, by misrepresenting the GOP, she may be burning those exact bridges the SCA hired her to use.

  14. 14
    harold

    The level of Orwellian efforts to directly contradict reality is at an extreme high.

    In an airport some time ago when Santorum was still in the primary and had polled well, I saw a Fox News panel “prove” that Santorum was “not anti-gay”. A straw man liberal type was set up to argue that Santorum is anti-gay, and more attractive, aggressive anchors were set up to shout down the “unfairness”.

    It’s almost surreal. Why bother to deny that Santorum is anti-gay? Why does the entire Santorum-supporting base, which supports him because he is anti-gay, tacitly prefer that the very trait they support him for be, while simultaneously made obvious, aggressively “officially denied”? I suppose it’s just an extension of the US media efforts to position the Republicans as the permanent default. You say you don’t want “anti-gay”? Well, we’ll deny that the Republicans are anti-gay. Now you have to vote for them. They’re the default unless you can prove otherwise.

    I have often noted that if George Wallace were running for office today, on a platform of segregationist legislation, he would deny being a segregationist, express outrage at the idea that anyone could consider him a racist, expose his opponents as the “real” racists, and so on.

    Whether she is doing it on purpose, or merely unconsciously responding to the trend, this is what is happening here. The SCA will now be an organization that declares the most blatant anti-constitutional religious authoritarianism to be “secular”.

  15. 15
    harold

    Incidentally, has anyone asked her what personal religious beliefs she claims to hold?

  16. 16
    rowanvt

    Questions I would like to see:

    *Why* do you identify as a non-theist? What brought you to this point?

    What do you see as the fundamental difference between an a-theist and a non-theist that you chose the latter label?

    What are the core values that you think atheists do and/or need to subscribe to?

    Here is the 2008 republican party platform, and here are some polls showing how republicans vote/feel. Please take a few minutes to peruse them. When you’re done, please comment on your earlier assertions that republicans are NOT anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-separation of church and state, etc.

    Considering that atheists are trusted less than rapists, how, specifically, are you hoping to help change this attitude/image to better further our goals?

  17. 17
    Raging Bee

    Why bother to deny that Santorum is anti-gay?

    In order to appeal to a large segment of voters who don’t want to give up their Republican identity, and don’t want to admit their party has become as bad as it has; and who want to be reassured that their party is still sane enough that they can vote for it without feeling complicit in its worst insantiy or excesses.

  18. 18
    Doug Little

    James @8,

    If Rogers had said something along the lines of, “Yes, the Republican party mainstream is badly wrong on issues of gay rights, abortion, etc., and I wish to change that from the inside,”

    I think that her big problem is that she has been working within the Republican party for years and the party has been hostile to atheist values over that time, actually it’s probably not a stretch to say that they have become more hostile since the mid 1990′s. So in order to try and explain that away she either has to admit that yes indeed they are hostile and she has been ineffective in changing their minds or that from her experience the majority of the republican party’s values aligns just fine with those in the secular community and it’s the fringe of the party that has differing values.

  19. 19
    harold

    If she HAS identified as a “non-theist”, I’m betting that she is secretly a follower of Ayn Rand. (If so that will not come out, except maybe in coded form in some friendly venue.)

    However, what is relevant is that her role will be to provide Orwellian cover for the Republican party.

    Part of this will inevitably take the form of blaming “radical secularists” who weren’t “bipartisan” enough for authoritarian legislation.

    I’d be surprised not to see two contradictory arguments used at once. 1) This legislation isn’t really religious in nature, and I can prove it because I’m the head of SCA and I am saying so and 2) This legislation would not exist if “radical secularists” had been “bipartisan”, but they insisted on “polarizing” First Amendment/freedom of religion arguments, so Republicans had “no choice” but to enact it.

  20. 20
    harold

    What do you see as the fundamental difference between an a-theist and a non-theist that you chose the latter label?

    I personally self-identify as “non-religious”.

    I am not a member of any “atheist movement” and don’t wish to be confused for one.

    I completely reject all religious and supernatural claims, but I don’t need to be a member of an “atheist movement” for that.

    I strongly support the obvious right of anyone to say anything they want about religion, any time they want, but I don’t need to be a member of any “atheist movement” for that, otherwise.

  21. 21
    rowanvt

    @ 20-

    Congrats: You tell most people “non-religious” and they will assume you still believe in gods of some sort.

    Also, that was not my question.

    An a-theist does not believe in gods/the supernatural. A non-theist, should, technically, believe the same thing, right? Nothing about either word requires one to be part of a ‘movement’.

    For example, my mom is christian. She believes in God. But she is non-religious in that she does not belong to any particular church, and is not part of the ‘christian community’. Thus, one can be christian without being part of a movement, especially one that has negative connotations (she is adamantly for separation of church and state, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, etc)

  22. 22
    godlesspanther

    I understand, in part, the intention behind the choice. There are numerous people who hold positions of power in D.C. who are right-wing conservatives. How can we get through to them? Edwina Rogers can get (already has) a foot in the door. Those conservatives would not give the time of day to any prominent member of the new atheist movement.

    Great idea — political strategy.

    Here is the problem. The available information confirms without a drop of uncertainty that Rogers is a liar. Rogers does not give a fuck about the atheist movement and all the work that we have done to get where we are.

    Sure — she can get in the door. Can we trust her when she is behind those closed doors?

    NO

  23. 23
    eric

    Also, that was not my question.

    An a-theist does not believe in gods/the supernatural. A non-theist, should, technically, believe the same thing, right? Nothing about either word requires one to be part of a ‘movement’.

    If you see them as the same thing, why the frak waste time asking her about it? The person representing secularists to Congressional interests is available for interview, and one of your top questions is why she chose [label A] rather than [label B] when you consider them synonymous?

    My list of questions would be utterly different. I’d start by asking what current, upcoming, or immediately past legislation she thinks is most important for promoting/hurting SCA interests, and for the upcoming legislation, what’s her proposed change and how does she hope to get a congresscritter to accept it.

  24. 24
    Doug Little

    I think the best thing Ed can do is brush up on the current data that the republican faithful have in regards to secular values as this seemed her greatest dodge tactic utilized during the Greta interview.

  25. 25
    harold

    Congrats: You tell most people “non-religious” and they will assume you still believe in gods of some sort.

    No, that is not what most people think “not religious means”.

    Most people do not thing “not religious” means “religious”.

  26. 26
    Pierce R. Butler

    A question or two about Occupy, ongoing class warfare in the US, and Rogers’s position in the 1% would be most timely.

    Not to Please mention the spare change she tossed in Rick Perry’s hat.

  27. 27
    rowanvt

    I ask, because I want to see her answer for why she feels non-theist is so much less antagonizing than atheist and divisive than atheist, when they are the same thing. And if she’s wishy-washy about that, what else will she be wishy-washy on?

    Secondly, about non-religious often seeming to still be believers, a religion is an organised institution with leaders, rituals, etc.
    Many people identify themselves as “not religious, but spiritual”. That’s how many people view the ‘not religious’ aspect. “Oh, you don’t like the organizations, think the pope is evil etc, but still buy into the baloney.”

  28. 28
    harold

    Many people identify themselves as “not religious, but spiritual”.

    Your perseverence in this obsession with label words is silly on at least two levels.

    First, it is factually wrong. “Not religious” means “not religious”. If it meant “not religious but spiritual”, then no-one would have to say “but spiritual”. You persist in arguing that “not X” implies “X”, and sadly, I knew you would. (The term “atheist” does not in any way rule out all anti-rational claims; there are atheists who deny climate change, vaccine efficacy, HIV, etc, and who accept non-credible claims about UFOs, for example.)

    Second, your obsession with the exact term she uses to describe herself reveals poor priorities. The problem is that she is allied with a right wing authoritarian political party that acts against secular values, and against freedom of conscience and expression. If she called herself an atheist, the problem would still be there. A progressive who defends civil rights would be preferable, whether they called themselves an atheist or not.

  29. 29
    felix

    @roggg #12

    I am ‘pro-life’ – I even feel bad when I kill slugs, I am also pro-choice.

    Better to stick to the more appropriate term ‘anti-choice’ and (in many cases) ‘anti-women’.

    @rowanvt

    She probably calls herself a non-theist or non-religious because it has been shown that ‘atheists’ are the least trusted people in the country. Clearly that is not a demographic you want to be seen to be part of.

    BTW, she sounds like a *really* bad choice!

  30. 30
    Ed Brayton

    Doug Little wrote:

    I think the best thing Ed can do is brush up on the current data that the republican faithful have in regards to secular values as this seemed her greatest dodge tactic utilized during the Greta interview.

    No, I’m not going to dispute this based on polling data, which is irrelevant. A party is defined by what it actually does, what the legislators who belong to that party actually say and propose as policy. And by that standard, the idea that the GOP is not really anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-separation is simply delusional.

  31. 31
    David Gerard

    Commenters on Greta’s and PZ’s blogs have been dissecting her political statements and flagging each and every one where she basically just lied.

    Suggestion: compile a list of these, complete with sources, have them to hand, and call her out during the interview each time she lies.

  32. 32
    jamessweet

    No, I’m not going to dispute this based on polling data, which is irrelevant. A party is defined by what it actually does

    Okay, but you should be ready to quote GOP policy platform documents, because she basically flat out said there was no document that said the Republican Party is anti-gay and anti-choice, and this is just factually false.

  33. 33
    Michael Heath

    Republicans pay people to help them lie – that is now a defining attribute of the party and lying is what party members relentlessly do. Secularists instead actually care about truth – with the exception of a few tribalistic liberals. So what in the hell is the SCA thinking hiring a paid liar who is so stupid she thinks she can get away with lying to us?

  34. 34
    Doug Little

    No, I’m not going to dispute this based on polling data, which is irrelevant. A party is defined by what it actually does

    I don’t think that it is irrelevant as it was used as a tactic to deflect questions about the conflict between her supposed secular values and the values that the republican party openly endorses. She kept referring to a study that was 18 years old and anecdotal evidence that is not born out by reality. Data that actually reflects reality could be used to pry a definitive answer from her. The problem that I have is that we never really got a definitive answer as to how she could work within a party that is diametrically opposed to her supposed secular values.

  35. 35
    Doug Little

    That was really frustrating along with the whole you can’t label the republican party anti ….. Because I know a republican that is pro ….. Argh

  36. 36
    Dan J

    harold @28 says:

    First, it is factually wrong. “Not religious” means “not religious”. If it meant “not religious but spiritual”, then no-one would have to say “but spiritual”.

    Sorry, but I’m going to vehemently disagree with your statement. Not religious means that you are not a member of, or do not follow the teachings of, any particular religious group. It says absolutely nothing about your belief in a supernatural deity.

    If you do not believe in a deity of any kind, you are an atheist. If you don’t particularly like that label, then I might suggest starting out with an easy-to-believe-in god to get you off on the right foot.

  37. 37
    sc_b54b439b9b19823618d4c895b28a116b

    The answer to this is simple. I know where my money *won’t* be going.

  38. 38
    Raging Bee

    So what in the hell is the SCA thinking hiring a paid liar who is so stupid she thinks she can get away with lying to us?

    Well, we gotta give her this: she was pretty damn successful in lobbying the SCA folks to hire her.

    Getting entrenched Republicans to stop equating secularism and freedom of religion with the Antichrist…that’ll probably be a bit harder.

    Right now, though, I don’t think she has any intention of doing anything that radical. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find she’s using this as an opportunity to divide, discredit, and demoralize the SCA. At this point, I don’t see any realistic outcome that doesn’t include this.

  39. 39
    TxSkeptic

    Maybe the SCA could have simply hired Edwina as a lobbyist first to see how it went, but she is waaaaayyyy too questionable for the director job. She seems to believe in a republican world of 20 years ago, a world that no longer exists. She seems totally oblivious to the current state of the political world relative to secular concerns.

    The choice seems so bad that it really makes you question the SCA board. I think they owe us a major explanation at the least, and probably an apology.

  40. 40
    eigenperson

    I agree with abb3w, above, that Rogers has made it clear she is not part of the reality-based community, which is what is so disappointing/infuriating about her appointment.

    Now, I understand the SCA may be taking the position that we should not be looking for “reality-based” in a lobbyist. However, if that is the SCA’s position, then I cannot support the SCA.

  41. 41
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    harold #25:

    Most people do not thing “not religious” means “religious”.

    Since when does belief in a god or gods automatically include constructing a system of tenets and values predicated solely on the existence and authority of said god(s)?

  42. 42
    umlud

    She seems to believe in a republican world of 20 years ago, a world that no longer exists. She seems totally oblivious to the current state of the political world relative to secular concerns.

    It seems like she hasn’t read the SCA’s own congressional scorecards:
    http://secular.org/content/scorecards/Congress/2011/summary
    Republicans scoring an A: 0
    Republicans scoring a B: 0
    Republicans scoring a C: 6
    Republicans scoring a D: 5
    Republicans scoring an F: 230

    Reading through her responses to Greta Christina’s interview as well as her responses on Reddit, it seems like she’s in denial about the reality of her own party and she hasn’t stated any critical thinking as to why she remains a self-acclaimed Conservative Republican (who is so entrenched in its mindset that she has trouble getting over the automatic referral to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party”).

  43. 43
    ildi

    Not religious means that you are not a member of, or do not follow the teachings of, any particular religious group. It says absolutely nothing about your belief in a supernatural deity.

    ARIS 2008 supports this. From a March 13, 2009 U.S. News article:

    According to a comprehensive national survey released this week by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College, those identifying with no religious tradition, or as atheists or agnostics, account for 15 percent of the population, up from about 8 percent in 1990. [snip] Only a small minority of the nonreligious call themselves atheists or agnostics, but just 21 percent believe in a personal God, compared with 70 percent of all Americans.

  44. 44
    llewelly

    I would urge people here to compare the interviews with Edwina Rogers to the interview Ed Brayton did with Fred Karger, a gay Republican, and the first openly gay man ever to run for a Republican party nomination. You’ll have to find culture wars radio on the public reality radio website, since I can’t seem to make a comment with a link appear here.

    The contrast between his portrayal of the Republican party – of which he is still a member – and Edwina Rogers’ portrayal of the Republican party is striking. I do think he engages in a certain amount of amount of nostalgia – much of it not plausible – and expresses much more hope for the future of gay rights in the Republican party than I think is justifiable. But he is very clear that the Republican party is presently profoundly anti-gay. He shows quite clearly that it is possible to hold and work values the Republican party strongly opposes, and yet not engage in the kind of dishonesty Edwina Rogers engaged in.

  45. 45
    Silentbob

    @ 26 Pierce R. Butler

    A question or two about Occupy, ongoing class warfare in the US, and Rogers’s position in the 1% would be most timely irrelevant.

    FTFY

    SCA stands for Secular Coalition for America, not Socialist Coalition of America.

  46. 46
    valhar2000

    SCA stands for Secular Coalition for America, not Socialist Coalition of America.

    Such incisive wit! A Nobel prize must be coming your way!

  47. 47
    dingojack

    DanJ (#36) – With respect*, ‘religious’ can mean
    a) belonging or pertaining to a religious cult
    b) a belief in supernatural being or beings

    To be ‘religious’ a belief in supernatural being(s) is necessary.

    So** ‘not religious’ can mean ‘I am not into a) and b)’ OR ‘I have no truck with a) (I may or may not be interested in b))’

    ‘not religious, but spirtual’ means ‘I am in to b), but I don’t really like a)’

    Just my $0.02
    Dingo
    —–
    * I’m a big fan of Yes Minister
    ** Imagine a Venn Diagram of two over lapping sets:
    A = Member of a religious cult; B = belief in supernaural being(s)
    A ∩ B ≠ 0; NOT(A U B) ≠ 0
    NOT(B) ∩ A = 0; NOT(A) ∩ B ≥ 0

    i.e. (A implies B) but (B does not imply A)
    i.e. set A is entirely contained within B

    ‘Relgious’ = A ∩ B
    ‘Not Relgious’ = NOT(A) [at least, athough possibly NOT (A U B)]
    ‘Atheist’ = NOT(A U B)
    ‘Not religious, but spirtual’ = NOT(A) ∩ B

  48. 48
    Nick Gotts

    Secularists instead actually care about truth – with the exception of a few tribalistic liberals. – Michael Heath

    Riiiight. All the “libertarian” secularists who deny the reality of climate change because it conflicts with their free market ideology are all “tribalistic liberals”, are they?

  49. 49
    democommie

    “On Wednesday, I’ll be interviewing Rogers for my radio show, to be aired either the 15th or the 22nd.”

    Not if she sees this, first.

  50. 50
    Raging Bee

    I agree with TxSkeptic: someone (Ed maybe?) needs to find out who signed off on this hiring decision and ask them what the Hell they were thinking. Was a large amount of money involved? Did some Republican millionaire say to them “I’ll support you if you hire this friend of mine?”

  51. 51
    Raging Bee

    SCA stands for Secular Coalition for America, not Socialist Coalition of America.

    …or Rich Randroid Coalition of America. Your point…?

  52. 52
    harold

    Dan J –

    If you do not believe in a deity of any kind, you are an atheist. If you don’t particularly like that label, then I might suggest starting out with an easy-to-believe-in god to get you off on the right foot.

    This sneer, with its authoritarian overtones, actually illustrates what I currently dislike about the term “atheist”.

    The actual reason I don’t call myself an atheist is largely my age and history. When I was young, “atheist” meant a person who ideologically actually denied even the possibility of god. This type of atheism was quite common then, as it was adopted by people who claimed to be ideological communists. People like me, who just didn’t believe in gods or the supernatural, were referred to as “agnostics”.

    I realize that right wing Christians attempt to create straw man versions of what “atheists” believe, but nevertheless, it is true that very dogmatic forms of atheism did and perhaps do exist, typically associated with authoritarian command economy ideologies.

    In recent years, no-one can much agree on the definition of “atheist” or “agnostic” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist

    However, let’s get back to your sneer. I find it obnoxious, only mildly so, but on many levels.

    First of all, it assumes that you control the language and that you get to tell other people what they can call themselves. I am not religious at all, I don’t believe in any gods or miracles, but I prefer to call myself “not religious”. Of course, “not religious” can have ambiguity, as has been correctly pointed out here, but I deal with that by explaining exactly what I mean by “not religious”. I don’t play word games with definitions, I say outright that I don’t believe in gods, miracles, the supernatural, etc.

    Second of all, it implies a feeling of superiority to all people who have any religious beliefs. I simply don’t share that attitude. I am vehemently opposed to right wing religious authoritarians, but it’s the “right wing” and “authoritarian” parts that I have a problem with. Incidentally, I am sick of liars who falsely accuse other people in the name of either defending or attacking religion. Anyone who mis-represents my statement here, and implies in any way that I fail to oppose evil behavior by religious people or done with ostensible religious justification is a liar. Of course I oppose torturing, murdering, raping, child molesting, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. I oppose those behaviors whether connected to religion or not. However, some religious people don’t behave that way or condone those behaviors. Yes, I know you may claim that the Dalai Lama condones or justifies the Spanish Inquisition just by being “religious”, but to me, that is no more logical than claiming that you condone Stalinist purges, simply because Stalin was also an atheist.

    Thirdly, your statement reeks of “movement hijacking”, that is, of claiming that a commonly supported position is the “property” of one specific group. You openly state that I must label myself as you label yourself, or else I must take up believing in gods. Do you realize how stupid, negative, and pointless that is?

    Lastly, but related to the third point, you make no sincere effort to persuade. Your comment was designed to aggressively insult, confront, and antagonize me. You may or may not deny this, but choice of words speaks as loudly as literal meaning of words (also flawed in this case). Rather than an effort at persuading me that it is a good idea to start calling myself an atheist, you pounced with a defensive jeer toward people who don’t call themselves atheists. This reinforces my impression that your actual goal is to identify with a tribalistic ingroup. Within the ingroup, approval is desperately sought, disapproval is perceived as terribly crushing, and purity tests are routinely imposed, with the implied threat that whoever does not obsessively defend the latest ambivalent, obnoxious-sounding slogan from some recognized “leader atheist” will be socially excluded from the ranks of “true atheists” (I may be wrong here but base this impression on my observations). That’s fine for you, if you want it. It’s all perfectly legal and ethical. But it’s not for me.

  53. 53
    harold

    Dan J –

    Much shorter version of my comment above –

    If you want to persuade me that it would make more sense for me to use the term “atheist”, rather than the term “not religious”, feel free to make a persuasive argument.

    Take into account that I explain exactly what I mean when I say “not religious”, and that “atheist” is not perfectly free from ambivalence http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist (this observation not intended to argue against the use of the term “atheist”).

    Techniques like sneering or patently illogical arguments (“if you don’t use the word ‘atheist’ you are obliged to believe in gods”) are deliberately non-persuasive, as we both know.

    Also note that I am not trying to stop you from calling yourself anything you want; you are the one who seems to feel an urge to tell my what I am “allowed” to call myself.

  54. 54
    Raging Bee

    The actual reason I don’t call myself an atheist is largely my age and history. When I was young, “atheist” meant a person who ideologically actually denied even the possibility of god. This type of atheism was quite common then, as it was adopted by people who claimed to be ideological communists. People like me, who just didn’t believe in gods or the supernatural, were referred to as “agnostics”.

    In other words, you avoid the word “atheist” because it was made into an epithet by right-wing propaganda. Understandable, but not very helpful.

    I realize that right wing Christians attempt to create straw man versions of what “atheists” believe, but nevertheless, it is true that very dogmatic forms of atheism did and perhaps do exist, typically associated with authoritarian command economy ideologies.

    “Perhaps?” Don’t you think you should try to fact-check the propaganda you’ve been fed? That’s kind of an important matter to be hazy on, don’t you think?

    I am not religious at all, I don’t believe in any gods or miracles, but I prefer to call myself “not religious”. Of course, “not religious” can have ambiguity, as has been correctly pointed out here, but I deal with that by explaining exactly what I mean by “not religious”.

    If you have to keep on explaining what the label you’ve taken means, maybe you should find a less ambiguous label.

  55. 55
    dingojack

    Harold – really? To me it’s seems kinda of simple*:

    Atheist – one who does not believe in god(s)
    Agnostic – one who is unsure about the existence of god(s)

    Dingo
    —–
    *maybe because I am kinda simple myself

  56. 56
    democommie

    I’m an atheist for two reasons.

    A.) I don’t believe in the supernatural “deities” of ANY religion.

    7a//Z;sub-part ∜∞.) I like sleeping in on Sundays.

    BTW, small quibble; being a christian does not mean that one believes in “GOD”. Being christian means that one believes in the divinity of JESUS and accepts his teachings as necessary to live a proper sort of live–or at least it used to.

  57. 57
    John Morales

    [OT]

    democommie:

    BTW, small quibble; being a christian does not mean that one believes in “GOD”. Being christian means that one believes in the divinity of JESUS

    You apparently don’t know the meaning of ‘divinity’.

  58. 58
    d cwilson

    Well, it could have been worse.

    At least they didn’t hire S. E. Cupp.

  59. 59
    democommie

    “You apparently don’t know the meaning of ‘divinity’.”

    Really? WTF are you talking about?

  60. 60
    dingojack

    So one can be a christian and only believe in a third of god then.
    Good to know.
    Dingo

  61. 61
    lofgren

    If you don’t believe in any gods, you’re an atheist. You can call yourself whatever you want, but you’re an atheist. You might as well own it.

    As for myself, when I hear “not religious,” in an environment where atheism would not be viewed as a combative stance, I hear “don’t subscribe to a particular religion, but still believe in some supernatural intelligence responsible for the initiation of or continued sustenance of natural phenomena,” because otherwise I assume that the person would identify themselves as an atheist.

    However in some situations an expression of overt atheism would create certain complications, and in those cases I do not read further into it.

    I do not see the value of a label whose primary purpose is to obscure your true beliefs in situations where honesty is a viable option. If you’re going to go ahead and explain that you are an atheist after identifying as not religious, why bother with the first step?

  62. 62
    slc1

    Re dingojack @ #60

    It is my information that not all Christian sects believe in the Trinity.

  63. 63
    harold

    Raging Bee –

    In other words, you avoid the word “atheist” because it was made into an epithet by right-wing propaganda. Understandable, but not very helpful.

    NO, I despise and reject the right wing propaganda. The right wing propaganda actually makes me more likely to start calling myself an atheist. However, for the other reasons that I explained very clearly, I find the term “atheist” to be even more ambiguous than the term I prefer.

    I notice that you indulge in cherry-picking and mis-representation, which is unusual for you. The claim you made about me is falsified in other parts of my comment, AND it was clear in my original comment that I disagree with the right wing propaganda and that I am not influenced by it.

    It is odd that people object so strongly to the fact that some guy on the internet isn’t religious but also doesn’t usually call himself an “atheist” . It seems to be provoking a lot of hostility.

    For the record, I have never denied that I fit into the category of “atheist” as some people define it. It’s just usually not the term I use to describe myself.

    Out of curiosity, and not that it is logically relevant here, did’t you used to be a Wiccan a few years ago?

    In closing, my final comment to Dan J applies here. If you have a persuasive logical argument that I should call myself an atheist, I am open to it; feel free to present it. Cherry-picking and mis-representation are never part of a persuasive argument. How could they be? Confrontational hostility does not rule out an underlying persuasive argument, but is inefficient where persuasion is the goal.

    Dingo –

    Look, I linked the most standard dictionary, and what you find there is a definition that is somewhat ambivalent in and of itself, followed by a long, contentious comment section, in which people dispute both that definition, and each others’ definitions.

    That’s ambiguous enough for me, but I have no problem if you feel otherwise.

  64. 64
    harold

    I do not see the value of a label whose primary purpose is to obscure your true beliefs in situations where honesty is a viable option. If you’re going to go ahead and explain that you are an atheist after identifying as not religious, why bother with the first step?

    I do not find the term “atheist” to be more precise than the terminology I already use. You say it is, but I see arguments about what it means all the time.

    It might be mildly dishonest for me to use the term “atheist”. It might carry implications that I share attitudes and social preferences with members of the “gnu atheist movement”. That would not be perfectly honest, or at least, would not be precise. While I do agree with them on some core issues – lack of belief in the supernatural, general preference for progressive policies, extremely strong support for total separation of church and state and extremely strong hostility toward enforced religious observation – there is a key difference. I like “nice” liberal religious people. I think Reverend Barry Lynn has done a great deal of good work against religious authoritarians, for example, even though he is religious. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_W._Lynn

    I do agree that I fit the definition of atheist that this writer uses.

    While this comment came the closest to being persuasive, it still boils down to “call yourself atheist or I will apply a subjective or inaccurate insult to you” (in this case, the wholly unjustified accusation of dishonesty).

    That’s at least three or four “call yourself an ‘atheist’ or I will inaccurately or subjectively insult you” comments now.

  65. 65
    harold

    Unilateral declaration of peace –

    I don’t have the habit of calling myself an “atheist”, because over my lifetime I have found the word to be ambivalent.

    However, yes, in the sense of not believing in gods, miracles, or the supernatural, I am a total atheist.

    If and when I am comfortable that it is generally understood in conversation that “atheist” means precisely that and no more, I will begin routinely describing myself as an atheist. For the time being, I’ll stick with a longer but less ambivalent self-description.

  66. 66
    Dan J

    harold;

    I apologize for the tone of my earlier comment. I hadn’t intended to come off so condescending, but realize now that’s exactly how it looks. I also violated one of my own rules: We are what we self-identify as. For that, I also apologize. [I think I had been reading too many comments about the North Carolina situation last night, causing my blood pressure to rise.]

    As ildi pointed out above @43, the ARIS report includes a category for “none”, or those who would use the term “not religious.” While I realize that this term is accurate in describing your position on religion (as it is in describing mine), I feel that it is a woefully inadequate term.

    Many different groups refer to themselves as “not religious,” and (from the ARIS reports) it seems that many of them do believe in a deity of some sort. It’s my personal preference to not have my stance on religion be associated with those who might be described “just spiritual,” “new-age,” or something similar.

    The term atheist certainly does carry a lot of “baggage” with it from the past, and applying that label to ourselves can have grave consequences, depending on where we call home.

    The term “agnostic,” as seen from just the comments here, has a lot of ambiguity associated with it. I consider myself to be an “agnostic atheist,” while there are those who feel that position is impossible.

    Our use of written language consistently traps us, and hinders our communications. I hate that, especially when we’re (most of us here in the comments) all on the “same side” (if you want to call it that) in this situation.

  67. 67
    Michael Heath

    Me earlier:

    Secularists instead actually care about truth – with the exception of a few tribalistic liberals.

    KG responds:

    Riiiight. All the “libertarian” secularists who deny the reality of climate change because it conflicts with their free market ideology are all “tribalistic liberals”, are they?

    I can’t respond for two reasons. One I don’t know whom you are referring to since you’re scare-quoting libertarians and not providing the actual group referenced. So who are you actually referencing? If I remove the scare-quotes, then I must request a cite since I’m not aware of any statistically significant or influential group of effectively secular libertarians. The only significant or influential groups I perceive are wedded to either Christianism while denying it and/or wedded to it at the state rather than federal level.

    I know of some conservative secularists, but their fealty to secularism is so weak it doesn’t move their voting patterns in general elections – they vote Republican or for the more conservative candidate even if that candidate is a Christianist. Perhaps they are influential within the Republican party, they certainly weren’t in the 2000s, but might have helped bring down Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum though I’ve seen no exit polling data that’s true. So when it comes to what moves secularism, they’re effectively non-existent.

  68. 68
    Michael Heath

    Pierce Butler:

    A question or two about Occupy, ongoing class warfare in the US, and Rogers’s position in the 1% would be most timely.

    Silentbob responds:

    SCA stands for Secular Coalition for America, not Socialist Coalition of America.

    Raging Bee:

    …or Rich Randroid Coalition of America. Your point…?

    The point seems obvious, but Silentbob also directly answered your question, such questions are irrelevant to secularism when interviewing a new director. OWS isn’t about or even representative of secularism, in fact that movement’s vague meanderings appears to demonstrate they have more in common with the populist tea baggers who wanted Wall Street to implode than anything to do with secularism.

    We all know some business sectors and plutocrats are exploiting social conservatives’ favoring a more theocratic state; but OWS isn’t effectively working that angle. Instead they appear to be following Michael Moore’s incoherent argument that we should replace capitalism with democracy. [And I consider myself a big, long-term Moore fan, but that argument which he promoted in his latest movie was his worst argument ever.]

  69. 69
    mudskipper

    If and when I am comfortable that it is generally understood in conversation that “atheist” means precisely that and no more, I will begin routinely describing myself as an atheist.

    I can’t speak for other people, but that is precisely why I call myself an atheist–to help normalize the term and strip it of the negative extraneous meanings that have accrued to it. As more and more “normal” people call themselves atheist in a matter-of-fact and routine way, the term will gradually being less loaded.

  70. 70
    harold

    Dan J –

    Thanks very much for the comment, and my apologies for making a big deal out this, as well.

    There is very little disagreement here.

    As I noted above, the important aspect is not the exact term that she uses to describe herself, but her contradictory affiliation with a party that openly supports authoritarian theocratic policies in the spheres of reproductive rights, gay rights, science education, and arguably environmental policy.

    It’s also true that if she called herself an “atheist”, it might at least imply a strong stance on purely religious issues. It’s trivial relative to the major issue of her being a right winger affiliated with authoritarians, but if people are taking it as a sign of intention to dissemble and provide “secular” fig leaf cover for authoritarian policy, in her case they may be right.

  71. 71
    Ed Brayton

    Michael-

    There’s a fairly sizable contingent of libertarians in the secular community; I’ve heard estimates of about 10-20%, which seem reasonable to me (I don’t know if they’re based on actual survey data). Michael Shermer and Penn Gillette are prominent secularists who are also libertarians. Of course, being a libertarian does not necessarily mean one rejects AGW (Ronald Bailey, for example, famously changed positions on that issue a few years ago but remains a libertarian). But yes, there are many secularists who are libertarians.

  72. 72
    Raging Bee

    …such questions are irrelevant to secularism when interviewing a new director.

    Are you sure about that? Given that the economic policies the new director supports include defunding and destroying secular institutions such as public schools and Planned Parenthood, and thus forcing people to depend on sectarian alternatives, I’d say there’s some real connection between economic ideology and a secular movement’s agenda. Especially since many Republicans support their cripple-our-democracy agenda because they want to destroy liberal secular institutions.

  73. 73
    abb3w

    @30, Ed Brayton:

    No, I’m not going to dispute this based on polling data, which is irrelevant. A party is defined by what it actually does, what the legislators who belong to that party actually say and propose as policy.

    It’s certainly a valid approach to highlight patterns in policy. As jamessweet suggests, the official platforms are probably a good tool for this. EG, 2008:

    The public display of the Ten Commandments does not violate the U.S. Constitution and accurately reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country.

    Contrariwise, the policies pushed go rather further than the platform.

    I’d say “irrelevant” overstates matters. Certainly, what legislation and policies actually get pushed and enacted, and the consequences of them, are more important. However, the belief of the people who comprise the party is fundamental to the nature of the party; as the nominal leadership get out of sync, they tend to lose their “leader” role.

    I’d strongly recommend having some of the polling data handy, because otherwise she can just claim the policy positions are simply a few misguided leaders listening to a tiny faction.

  74. 74
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    There’s a fairly sizable contingent of libertarians in the secular community; I’ve heard estimates of about 10-20%, which seem reasonable to me (I don’t know if they’re based on actual survey data). Michael Shermer and Penn Gillette are prominent secularists who are also libertarians. Of course, being a libertarian does not necessarily mean one rejects AGW (Ronald Bailey, for example, famously changed positions on that issue a few years ago but remains a libertarian). But yes, there are many secularists who are libertarians.

    I’d be interested in seeing that data. I also wonder if it’s a way for young people raised conservative to migrate to liberalism and therefore the population is predominately young possessing a still- developing political ideology. It was for me though I never became a member of the Libertarian party. This is one reason I was generally glad about Ron Paul’s recent popularity with young people while recognizing what a repugnant person he actually is, especially since young supporters seem mundanely ignorant of his past or positions he holds close to his vest.

    Over the past four years now I’ve become increasingly skeptical the liberal libertarians have any influence or significant numbers – they don’t seem to have any in the public square at large or within either political party. Instead I observe conservative-libertarians as the sole predominant force within the libertarian movement, backed by money and now enjoying some formal power through elected office. Especially when the younger ones like Will Wilkinson and Dave Weigel seem to moving more towards what Ezra Klein and Matt Ygelisias espouse than the economic illiterateness of what Nick Gillespie promotes – which is equivalent to a conservative viral email.

  75. 75
    slc1

    Re Ed Brayton @ #71

    According to an interview with Shermer on Think Atheist Radio, he accepts the notion of global warming but with the proviso that the impacts may not be as serious as some of the scientists claim and that caution should be used before committing to costly remedial actions.

    However, that interview was some time ago and John Kwok claimed over at Panda’s Thumb,k in response to a comment I made, that he was informed by Donald Prothero that Shermer was concerned about the emails brouhaha and was reconsidering his position (yes, I know that Mr. Kwok is not the most reliable of sources so take it with a grain of salt).

  76. 76
    lofgren

    I do not find the term “atheist” to be more precise than the terminology I already use. You say it is, but I see arguments about what it means all the time.

    I don’t. It means you don’t believe in gods. It’s right there on the tin. I’ve never seen anybody who wasn’t disingenuously attempting to conflate atheism with something like Satan-worshiping disagree on that. Your own dictionary link explained its definition in eight words, and it’s the only definition I have ever known.

    Atheist is more precise than “not relgious” because it describes what you are rather than what you are not. It’s more precise in the same way that “bicycle” is more precise than “not a car.”

    It might be mildly dishonest for me to use the term “atheist”. It might carry implications that I share attitudes and social preferences with members of the “gnu atheist movement”.

    Somebody might infer that, but that does not mean that atheist implies it. Personally I would wonder what the social preferences and attitudes of gnu atheists are supposed to be, because I’ve never seen any evidence that atheists are cohesive enough to be able to specify such things with any accuracy. I understand your desire to avoid the stereotypes and prejudices of others but you do yourself no favors by trying to pass with evasive language. (Again, depending on the situation. I certainly identify as not religious when my atheism would be a pointless distraction, for example at church on Christmas morning with my in-laws.)

    …there is a key difference. I like “nice” liberal religious people. I think Reverend Barry Lynn has done a great deal of good work against religious authoritarians, for example, even though he is religious.

    I don’t know who you have been talking to – possibly the same people who convinced you that “atheist” is some kind of negative term associated only with a tiny batch of polemicists on the internet rather than a broad term for people who don’t believe in gods – but hating religious people is not a trait of “gnu” atheists. Atheism is a trait of “gnu” atheists, to the extent that “gnu” atheism even exists as a thing rather than as a bogeyman in the nightmares of those who prefer quiet acquiescence to outspoken advocacy. Your “key difference” isn’t a difference at all.

    While this comment came the closest to being persuasive, it still boils down to “call yourself atheist or I will apply a subjective or inaccurate insult to you” (in this case, the wholly unjustified accusation of dishonesty).

    Well I didn’t actually subjectively insult you or call you dishonest, but with this bullshit claim I am going to outright call you dishonest. I did say that “not religious” obscures your actual stance, a statement I can back up with demonstrable statistical fact and clear logic. It’s not a lie and it’s not dishonest, but if you ask a man at a party if he is drinking alcohol tonight and he says “not beer,” most people would tend to assume that means “Yes, but something besides beer,” because it evades the more direct answer, “No.” Of course you say that you go on to explain yourself, but again that just makes me wonder why not just state the simple truth the first time around?

  77. 77
    Raging Bee

    I’d strongly recommend having some of the polling data handy, because otherwise she can just claim the policy positions are simply a few misguided leaders listening to a tiny faction.

    She’ll probably stick with such claims no matter what data any of us has handy. I’ve been following her “answers” in the Reddit Q&A, and she’s totally impervious to reality, and really doesn’t seem to give a shit how implausible her statements are. No “why I became a non-theist” story of her own? And she grew up in a dirt-poor community in the Deep South that didn’t care about religion, and never suffered any religious prejudice? Puh. Lease.

  78. 78
    Area Man

    One argument in her favor is that she may be able to open some doors in Congress that have long been closed to us because of her experience and connections.

    Yeah, because Republicans are such reasonable people, readily swayed by empirical evidence, eager to give the other side’s arguments a fair hearing, open to compromise and seeking out mutual understanding. And they’re getting more reasonable all the time!

  79. 79
    dontpanic

    Oh, so not http://www.sca.org. Sounds like more in line with her reality.

  80. 80
    dontpanic

    Ack, borked the link: SCA.

  81. 81
    Nick Gotts

    Michael Heath,

    Well your claim that there are no secularist “libertarians”* having been demolished by others, try going here for example, and entering the search terms “separation of church and state”, and “climate change”.

    *It was quite clear what I meant, and no-one else had the slightest difficulty in understanding it. I use the scare-quotes because I object to the hijacking of a word that until recently referred to social libertarianism, with no implication of the extreme markets-solve-everything ideology the term now connotes.

  82. 82
    John Morales

    democommie:

    BTW, small quibble; being a christian does not mean that one believes in “GOD”. Being christian means that one believes in the divinity of JESUS

    You apparently don’t know the meaning of ‘divinity’.

    Really? WTF are you talking about?

    Yes, really.

    I am referring to the fact that your quibble has little merit and evinces your ignorance; in particular, that you apparently don’t know to what divinity refers.

    It is true that one can be a cultural Christian, or even a philosophical Christian, but believing in “the divinity of JESUS” means to believe in the godhood of Jesus — the terms are synonymous.

  83. 83
    Michael Heath

    KG writes:

    Well your claim that there are no secularist “libertarians”* having been demolished by others

    Please blockquote what I asserted. You continually misrepresent what I write by creating your own version which you then rebut. In addition please cite the evidence in the above thread which “demolishes” what I claimed.

  84. 84
    harold

    Iogren –

    Well I didn’t actually subjectively insult you or call you dishonest,

    This is bitterly ironic considering what follows.

    Here are your exact words – “I do not see the value of a label whose primary purpose is to obscure your true beliefs in situations where honesty is a viable option”.

    but with this bullshit claim I am going to outright call you dishonest.

    An extreme example of projection.

    Now, in fairness, I don’t mean that you’re necessarily a routinely dishonest person. Probably not.

    However, in this thread, you are unable to admit a mistake, and lapse into illogical argumentation when a mistake is pointed out.

    Therefore, if this behavior is common for you, although you don’t necessarily mean to be dishonest, each time you make an error which others detect, you are doomed into at least mild dishonesty by your subsequent inability to acknowledge it.

    I did say that “not religious” obscures your actual stance, a statement I can back up with demonstrable statistical fact and clear logic. It’s not a lie and it’s not dishonest, but if you ask a man at a party if he is drinking alcohol tonight and he says “not beer,” most people would tend to assume that means “Yes, but something besides beer,” because it evades the more direct answer, “No.” Of course you say that you go on to explain yourself, but again that just makes me wonder why not just state the simple truth the first time around?

    Did you consciously think this was a valid analogy? If so, that is an extreme example of emotional bias derailing logical thought.

    “Beer” is a specific term which only encompasses a subset of alcoholic beverages, but “religion” is a general term which covers all religion.

    Your analogy would be the equivalent of me saying “I’m not Presbyterian”, and implying that I hold some other belief.

    If I say “not religious, I don’t believe in gods, miracles, or the supernatural”, that is not analogous to the situation you present. In fact, it is the opposite.

    Under no circumstances does “not X” imply “X”.

    I can call myself whatever I want to call myself. I can call myself something illogical if I wish, but as it happens, I do not do that.

    “Not X” does not imply “X”, and even though you demand that the nasty man on the internet won’t always call himself an atheist the way you want him to, you’ll have to live with it.

    You can live with it by saying “Oh, wait, I like to call myself and ‘atheist’ but I see your point”.

    Or you can live with it by petulantly raging and compromising your own honesty in a cycle of insult/deny insulting/false analogy/say anything to insist that “not religious implies religious” because your ego won’t allow you to retreat from an earlier statement.

    But either way you will have to live with it.

  85. 85
    democommie

    “It is true that one can be a cultural Christian, or even a philosophical Christian, but believing in “the divinity of JESUS” means to believe in the godhood of Jesus — the terms are synonymous.”

    In other words, belief in the divinity of JESUS is a christian meme. Lots of folks believe in GOD–jews and muslims are two such groups–who are very definitely NOT christians. Not believing in the divinity of CHRIST is hardly the same thing as not believing in GOD, unless of course you’re a christian who HAS to do so in order to hold your belief system together. It’s all bullshit.

  86. 86
    Pierce R. Butler

    Michael Heath @ # 68: … such questions are irrelevant to secularism when interviewing a new director.

    No. The SCA is/aspires to be a highly visible organization. Anything likely to come up in public discussion matters in such a context: If Rogers had had four divorces, or dual citizenship, or (a kid with) a history of drug charges, or explicit hostility against vegetarians, or just about anything related to modern controversies, that topic should have been explored in detail.

    The only way in which her blatant flaunting of wealth (a silver Jaguar, for crysake) can be seen as irrelevant is to take the side in our present class warfare which holds that no such thing exists, it’s all ginned up by the Democommies*, and we should all obediently ignore anything even slightly related to same.

    *generically, as contrasted with the paragon and exemplar who posts comments here.

    For many (though not the full 99%) of us, unrepentant 1%ers are, and must be, subject to the full actinic glare of the spotlight at all times.

  87. 87
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Pierce R. Butler #88:

    For many (though not the full 99%) of us, unrepentant 1%ers are, and must be, subject to the full actinic glare of the spotlight at all times.

    Last time I checked, she’s a 10%er, not a 1%er.

    And IMO we need to keep a bit more of an eye on the 10%ers, and indeed on those in the $250k-$1M income range (, because they’re the ones who act as guard dogs/deterrents for criticism towards the 1%. I’m talking about people like Jonathan Haidt, CNN, local news reporters that are decidedly both unskeptical about the intent of “black blocs” and other violent actors at leftist (and, seemingly, only leftist; never heard of a Tea Party or ‘tax fairness’ rally where a black bloc showed up) protests and unwilling to take the greater body at their word with “peaceful protest”…y’know, that sort of thing.

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