Transcript of Interview with Edwina Rogers, New Executive Director for the Secular Coalition for America


Here, as promised, is a transcript of my interview with Edwina Rogers, the new Executive Director for the Secular Coalition for America.

The recording of the interview can be found in its entirety here. Here is the URL:

The transcription was done by Kate Donovan, who writes at Teen Skepchick and is the incoming president for the Northwestern SSA. (Many thanks to Donovan for doing this: I absolutely did not have time this week to do it myself.) She has eliminated filler words like “umm,” unless they were particularly long breaks — but as far as I can tell, she has otherwise transcribed the interview verbatim. I haven’t had a chance to check the transcription over to make sure it’s 100% accurate, but the places I have checked look right to me. If anyone spots any transcription errors, please let me know, and I’ll correct them ASAP.

GC: Thank you so much for your time.

ER: Thanks, anytime

GC: Sure, okay
Uh, so yes, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with me, but I’m Greta Christina, I write for a blog called Greta Christina’s Blog. It’s pretty widely read in the atheist community, and you know, my plan is to basically put this interview on the internet, on my blog—a recording of it—and then I’ll also post a transcript of it when I have time to transcribe it. So I just want to make sure that you’re good with that.

ER: Yeah

GC: Okay. Let’s get started. My first question: before accepting this position as Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, ah, how did you participate in the atheist and secular community? I mean, did you belong to atheist or secular organizations? Did you attend conferences? Were you participating in online discussions and forums? And if so, which ones?

ER: Well, I was not an active participant in the movement. I’m, I am now, of course. It was something that I’ve always interested in, but I never had it as part of my portfolio as my position as a lobbyist in any position in the past. I mean, there are a number of issues that I care about that I just haven’t had time to get extremely involved in those particular movements.

GC: Okay, umm [indistinguishable] I’ll follow up with that. If you haven’t been very actively participating in the atheist and secular movement until now, what’s your familiarity with the issues that are important to people in the movement? You know, if you’re going to be representing us and our interests to Congress, to you know, state governments. How, what, is your familiarity with those interests?

ER: Well, I’m very familiar with quite a few of the healthcare issues, because I’ve done a lot of health policy over the last ten years, and more of the international issues. I’ve written about some of the international issues because, ah, worked in foreign countries, I’ve represented foreign governments. And ah, so more on the international side, more in the health side. I;ve ah, worked in tax policy, Ive ah, never unfortunately had the good fortune of handling discrimination issues or education issues. But ah, coming from the international, the health, and the tax side, I’m familiar with the issues.

GC: What do you think that the issues that are most important to the atheist and secularist movement are?

ER: Well, I think they fall in several different categories. We are particularly interested in everything under health and safety, and that ranges from um, the childcare center issue to stem cell research you know death with dignity, substance abuse, concerning matters with ah, Alcoholics Anon associations. We are particularly, interested in education issues, and ah, you know that would have everything to do with public funding of religious schools, school discrimination against nontheistic students, religious influence on public schools curriculum. You know that would ah, get into teaching creationism, etc. And also the whole sex education category. Teaching abstinence versus best practices. And ah, religious coercion of public school students. Things like that. So that would be the public education category. I wasn’t ah, well versed in the military issues with regard to discrimination, but have been recently, and find those extremely interesting, and hoping to work on those. Now with regard, to ah, tax policy, of course we don’t want any kind of privileging to religious institutions that other groups don’t get. The faith based non-profits exempt from non-profit status, where they don’t have to do all the appropriate filing that other non-profit groups do, the tax free housing for clergy would be some examples there.
In the discrimination category, there are two huge categories there. Employment discrimination by religious employers, and you know, sorta general discrimination that happens out in the marketplace, that we’re familiar with but harder to pinpoint, and housing discrimination by religious landlords.

GC: Okay, you said in an interview, I don’t remember offhand where it was, but you said in an interview that you call yourself a nontheist, but that you don’t call yourself an atheist, because you’re not a fan of labels, and you think they’re unnecessarily divisive. Now there are many people in this movement who do call themselves atheists, are you going to be comfortable working with these people and when you are representing them, will you be comfortable using the word atheist to describe them, that is, not to describe yourself?

ER: Well, of course. The reason I said that it is probably best for me not to be labeled to the nth degree in subgroups is that as someone who is trying to represent the whole group, it is better for me not to be coming from one sector within the movement, and that competing groups might feel like they somehow have lost control, or they’ve lost a voice. So just because of that was the main reason that I didn’t want to be, you know, labeled five or six different ways.

GC: Okay. Now you said that you are pro-gay, pro-choice, and pro-separation of church and state. Is that correct?

ER: Yes, I am, and I have always been.

GC: Now the Republican Party—

ER: That isn’t necessarily a position one would need to take to work on these particular issues because ah, with regard to pro-choice, I happen to be personally pro-choice, but I have run across quite a few people who are atheists, agnostics, etc, who are pro-life, and they don’t see that necessarily as a religion, non-religion issue. You’ve got to be a little bit careful there—we can’t label everyone in the movement and just say that if you take religion out of the pro-life, pro-choice issue, then it’s very clear. Now, as I’m finding out—of course, the majority of everyone who are nontheists they do tend to be pro-choice, but we can’t make that an absolute. Now, the others, which, I think is much, you know it’s easier. On the gender issues, with regard to marriage, if you take religion out, I haven’t, personally, run across anyone who happens to be a nontheist who has some kind of valid argument against ah, homosexuals getting married, for example. But, I’m going to save that, because it might be possible. I just haven’t seen it myself, personally.

GC: Well, I guess my question is, well, one of the main conversations about you, and about your appointment to this, is that you’re a Republican, and the Republican party has been very adamantly opposed to all these positions for very many years. So I have to ask you a question that very many people want to know the answer to. If you’re pro-gay, pro-choice, you know, pro-separation of church and state, why are you a Republican? And why have you worked to promote the Republican Party for so many years.

ER: Well, you know I’ve actually worked in the party, and around the party, and I don’t recall seeing a party line position that says that you have to be pr-life. For example, I remember working at the Republican senatorial committee, that would have been in 1994, and I plainly remember seeing data that showed that people who consider themselves Republican consider themselves, were 70% pro-choice.
Yeah, so that, can’t be a party position. Now there are individual Republicans that have pro-choice positions politically. I have not seen the statistics lately on redshirt republicans with regards to gay rights and with regards to pro life vs pro choice. But I am not aware of it being a blanket party position. I think it lies with each Republican elected official, whether they’re in the Senate or in the House, or at the local level, just like the Democratic party is a big tent party—

GC: –I need to interrupt you for a second. So are you saying the Republican Party is not overwhelmingly anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-separation of church and state?

ER: Well, I don’t have the statistics, but I would certainly, and I haven’t done the research, but I did explain to you that I did see research in the 90’s on just Republicans , people who vote as Republican and the far majority, the vast majority, with pro-choice vs pro life. I haven’t seen the research on people who consider themselves Republican and if they think that the government, religion should be controlling government. I would think that also, the vast majority, probably, I would hate to guess, but I think it would be a very high number, would think that there should be separation between religion and government. Now with regard to Republican opinions, people who consider themselves Republicans and their position on gay rights, I haven’t seen that data, because I haven’t actually been in more of a party role since 94.

GC: Lets talk specifically about gay rights. I mean, I assume you understand that gay rights are actually a very high priority for the atheist and the secularist movement. You know, issues like adoption rights and same sex marriage and so on. You know, gays in the military and so on, these are very high priority for the atheist movement. You know, politicians and elected officials in the Republican party, have been adamantly opposing gay rights for many decades, so exceptions there are pretty rare. And for the most part, the Republican party and the Republican party elected officials have been putting their opposition to gay rights very much front and center, and using hostility about gay people and fear mongering about gay people to promote their agenda. So I guess the question I want to ask you, the question a lot of people want to know, is why should people in the atheist movement support a leader for the SCA who’s frankly, worked for years for a party that has consistently opposed on of our core values?

ER: Well, because they need to be educated, that’s why. And I’m going to go educate them

GC: But I think that’s not the question. The question is why have you been a member of this party. And why have you supported them, given that they are opposed, and very consistently opposed to these positions?

ER: Well, I can tell you, it’s not a party position. It’s an individual position by some members. And it really varies by the member. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are Republicans, the majority of them, it’s not their position. It’s really hard to stereotype…millions of people: they’re all opposed to gay rights, and everybody in the Republican party is opposed to gay rights, because that’s not true. It’s not true for me; it’s not true for other people I know. Its not true for every republican elected official. It’s not an official Republican Party position. And then you have the Republican Party at the state level and the local level, and you have the national party, the platform of the party that is written and controlled by whoever the president is or the person who is running for president at that time. So I would beg to differ. I don’t think that people should stereotype, everyone affiliated with that party. I have plenty of friends in the Democratic Party and they don’t agree with every position of every democrat who is elected, and I know people in the Democratic Party who are opposed to gay rights and who are pro-life, and who are, not pretty not so friendly to separation of religion and state. And then there’s the Libertarian part, etc, and ah, so we have to get out and educate all the decision makers whether they’re in the Executive Branch, or in the Legislative Branch, in the federal level, and also at the state level, in all 50 states. And at the state level, the majority of them, I believe that there are about 24 states that the state legislature and the governor positions are controlled by Republicans. We shouldn’t write them off. And there are about 12 states that are controlled by a Democratic Party legislature and at the governor’s side. So we’ve got 24 vs 12. So we need to go and get those 24 Republican states and work with them closely and educate them one by one, all members of the legislature and the governors office, and I don’t have the exact number in front of me, but I know that more than half of the current sitting governors are Republicans and there’s room there to work with them, but also the Democratic members that are governors, we need to work with them too.

GC: Okay. I just want to clarify. What you’re stating is that opposition to gay rights isn’t really a Republican issue, that they haven’t been making this front and center, that Republican elected officials, Republican candidates running for office, have not on the whole, overwhelmingly been opposed to gay rights, that this is not a party strategy? Is that what you’re saying?

ER: Well, that’s not exactly what I said. I said—

GC: Well, then clarify.

ER: –stereotype on party on one particular position when it’s not written down anywhere. I mean, I haven’t done a poll of every elected Republican official at the local level, the state level, and the federal level, to see exactly what their position is with regard to gay rights. And then when you get into gay rights, some people are for some issues, within gay rights, and not for others, and then you start splitting at that level also. I would, I certainly agree, and I know that generally there’s a good number of elected officials that are not friendly to the majority of gay rights issues. I mean, I’ll certainly give you that, I agree with that. But, it doesn’t, I don’t think that that means that we should just write all those people off, and not go and try to work with them and educate them and see if there is some kind of common ground that we can carve out with them.

GC: You therefore, think that the reason that a Republican elected official running for office, and people running for the republican party, have so overwhelming been opposed to so many gay rights issues, you think that that’s simply a lack of education on these issues, and if they understood these issues better, they would change their minds?

ER: Well, I think that that is something that we should try to do with every elected official on every issue. Not just on the gay rights issue, but certainly that one also.

GC: Right. I guess my question is, do you think that the reason they have been so opposed to these issues is simply lack of education on the facts about the issues?
That all we need to do is educate, and then they’ll change their minds?

ER: Well, part of it. I’m not sitting here saying that if we just go and educate people who are opposed to every position, that we’re going to simply win them over. Of course, I want to be optimistic, and I want to at least try, versus not trying at all, but I think there’s going to be a lot of factors involved. It’s going to be educating, it’s going to be also changing the opinions of the culture. There’s going to be some time involved. There’s going to be quite a few changes that are going to be needed. It’s not going to be something that we’re going to do overnight.

GC: Okay, let’s move on from that. I might want to come back to gay rights in a bit, but let’s move on from that. In the interview with Hemant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist blog, you said that you think the majority of Republicans believe in the separation of church and state. Now this seems very much contrary to what most atheists have experienced. When we’ve pushed for state/church separation on a national level, and also on a local and state level, we almost always get very serious pushback. And this pushback normally comes, primarily, though not entirely, from conservatives and Republicans. So when you say that you think the majority of Republicans support separation of church and state, what makes you think that that’s the case?

ER: Okay, well I’m just, I’m drawing that, and we don’t have research, until we have better research, then we’ll all know, what the answer is. But I’m drawing that on my 20 years of experience being in and around Republican officials, elected Republicans, and I have not, I have not seen, to the degree that I’m hearing some people state, that there is some type of interest to comingle religion and government. I mean, this is basically my personal experience. Now I would love to have, I would love to have the research, because the research we have, then we can target exactly where the issues are with regard to the opposition. But I simply do not buy into the theory that every single Republican does not like the separation of church and state. I totally disagree with that. Cuz it’s just not true

GC: But I didn’t say every single republican. I said the majority of Republicans. You had said that you thought the majority—

ER: I totally disagree with that. I don’t think it’s the majority. I think that some people, who are more fundamentalist on the Christian side, who are active in the Republican party, might not want to see such separation of church and state, but outside of that, I just, I haven’t seen it.

GC: So what you’re saying is that the, that it’s primarily just the Religious Right that’s advocating for the mingling of church—of religion and government—and that outside of that, most Republicans are, or support a more secular government. Is that an accurate statement of what you’re saying?

ER: That’s my opinion. You know, without scientific, without proper scientific research, to back it up, I do believe that, for sure, yes

GC: Okay, well, assuming, for the sake of argument that that is so, I mean, that certainly contradicts the experience of a lot of atheists, who have a lot of experience with this, but assuming for the sake of argument that this is the case, why have so many ah, elected officials inthe Republican party been so openly hostile to separation of church and state issues, and why have they promoted things like you know, teaching intelligent design in the schools, and school prayer, and having In God We Trust on the money, you know, and so on? If it is the case that most Republicans support separation of state and church, why has the republican party been working hand in glove so closely with the Religious Right for so many years?

ER: Well, once again I disagree. I don’t think the Republican Party is working side by side with the Religious Right, with regard to teaching intelligent design or creationism. Some of those issues are happeing at the state level. It’s certainly not happening at the federal level, that would be unconstitutional. So we just need to track down where it’s happening and ah, bring it to the light of day. You know, if it takes litigation through the courts, then we need to do that. You know, I;m sitting here, trying to find the best, most egregious examples around the country of some of the things we’re talking about, and to highlight them, so we need those tools. We need that information. And I do agree. It’s happening. But it’s definitely not the majority of Republicans that want that to happen. Since it is already, generally unconstitutional to teach creationism, I think that is something that we just need to go and sorta take care of, take care of these fires that are coming up, kinda state by state, would be the plan there with regard to that.

GC: Okay, let’s move on from that for the moment. I wanna move on to Another topic that’s been raised a lot regarding your position as Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, and that has to do with the donation that you made to Rick Perry. Perry has supported state-sponsored prayer. He’s opposed same sex marriage and gays serving in the military. He;s supported anti-sodomy laws and that has been counter to the agenda of atheists and secular Americans. And a lot of people are wondering how you could donate $1,000 to a candidate with these positions. So what’s your comment about that?

ER: Okay, well what I would say about Rick Perry is that one, he was a Democrat, and now he’s a Republican. So it’s probably not so much a party issue. He was the chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. Governors, are you know, a large block of people and very important, very important in coalition building, and I did not contribute money to him based on his votes with regard to separation of church and state. It was more because I was particularly interested in working with the Republican Governor Association, which I was doing some work with them at the time. Also, getting healthcare reform programs implemented in all 50 Medicaid programs, along with Medicare. And I’m really embarrassed that I haven’t contributed money to every governor, every Republican governor, everywhere I’ve worked and all the issues I’ve worked on. Now everywhere I’ve worked and every issue I’ve worked on, we also have plenty of Democrats who are sitting side by side with me, who are also working on implementation. Whether it be healthcare reform or secular issues, they’re doing what it takes in order for us to be able to be visible and be included on the Democratic side. And you know, yes, people do look to me to be responsible for looking after the Republican side. The Secular Coalition for America is also looking for me to do that. Now, if you look at the staff, if you look at the board members, the advisory board, it would be 90-98 percent Democratic leaning, and we’ve got that side pretty covered. And so now we’re hoping to also do the best we can on the Republican side.

GC: Okay, well I guess the question that is, that is on, that all these questions are leading up to, and that is a question that a lot of people are asking, a lot of people are concerned that you don’t, a lot of people in the atheist and secularist community are concerned that you don’t share our values. Either that you don’t share them, or that you don’t place a very high priority on them. That you know, either you don’t share our values of prioritizing things like gay rights, you know, pro-choice, pro birth control, pro separation of church and state or so on, which aren’t universal values in the atheist community, but are largely our values. And so, people are concerned that either you don’t support these values, or that you don’t place a very high priority on them, that you prioritize other things, and that only when you got this job, have you decided that theses issues are a priority. Um, I guess the question I keep coming back to is, why should we a follow leader who has not been, until this week, apparently prioritizing our values?

ER: Well, I have plenty of values that are a priority to me. Some of them are priorities to some of your members. Some are not priorities to some of your members. Like, you mentioned pro-choice. Well, I;ve been extremely pro-choice. I’ve given money to pro-choice groups for 20 years. You know, that’s not a new issues for me. You know it’s not, it’s not top-of-the-list in the secular movement either, as we discussed previously. And in the past, I have mainly focused on, and worked on, economic issues. I have done a lot of work in the healthcare arena, and I have always been promoting comparative effectiveness and best practices, which would take care of a lot of the separation of church and state issues with regard to healthcare. You know, as I mentioned, I just haven’t worked in education arena or the military arena in the past, but certainly on tax policy. So, I mean, it’s not that I don’t care about these issues. I mean, yes it is true, it has not been a full time position of mine, but the Board was certainly convinced that I have, in my path, everywhere possible—Like, for example, I wrote articles about the HPV vaccine, and how a number of conservatives were particularly wrong on that issue. And the Board looked at those articles. And then also, I’ve written quite a few articles about the treatment of women, and women’s rights in other countries, everything from Tunisia to Yemen, to Myanmar, and they have access to those. So I have been strong on women’s rights, on healthcare issues, everything from AIDS and contraception to prochoice. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a pro-gay march, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel strongly about those issues. Now if I looked for only decision makers in the Republican or the Democratic Party, that believed everything that I believe, everything that I cared about, well there probably wouldn’t be anybody that I would vote for, speak to, or have anything to do with, which is kinda a problem. If I only had clients, as an attorney, and a government affairs expert, if I only had clients that aligned perfectly with all my personal values and opinions, then I would be self employed and I would never have a client. So I don’t look at it that way. Like for example, I’ve done work for foreign governments. I’ve done work for India. Does that mean that I promote Hinduism? I’ve done work for Turkey. Does that mean that I’m a big adovacate for Islam? I’ve done work for Korea, where many people there are Buddhists. So I would hope that the people in the secular movement would understand that as a government affairs expert, and as a lobbyist, I have my personal views, and I stay true to those, but I cant take them so far as I can only work with or speak to people who completely align with everything that I care about. As I, like I mentioned to you, I would just be talking to myself.

GC: Right. And I think that people certainly understand that. People understand that when you’re working in politics, you can’t, that you can support somebody even if you don’t support them 100%, you don’t support every single one of their issues. It’s just that these particular issues, that the Republican Party has been, many of the issues the Republican Party is so adamantly opposed to, commonly, not uniformly, but overwhelmingly, are very high priorities, for most atheists and most secularists. There;s a question of, you know, yes we understand that you can’t agree with everybody about everything, but that there’s a point at which you say ‘these values are my priority’. For instance, I’m gay. Bisexual, actually. I could never support a party that was adamantly oppose to gay rights. And for a lot of people, then again in the atheist and secular movement, gay rights are a very important, and you know, a primary issue for a lot of people in this movement. And they would have a very hard time aligning themselves with somebody who was opposed to that issue, because it’s a high priority for them. And I guess, this comes back to the question, things like gay rights, being pro choice, pro birth control, separation of church and state, you say you support them, but you supported the republican party for other reasons… Well, what are those reasons? Why are those issues more important to you than these issues that are of primary interest to the secularist movement?

ER: I know, but we, the problem is that I don’t agree that the Republican party is pro-life. I don’t agree. And we’ve been over that, and we can go over it again. But I don’t agree that the position of every Republican in the Republican Party to be pro life, to be against gay rights, and I–

GC: And I’m just going to interrupt for a second. I’m not saying that every single Republican, I’m saying overwhelmingly, I’m saying–

ER: –but

GC: –I’m saying overwhelmingly the party and the positions of most Republicans who are elected officials. That’s what I’m saying. I’m not saying all Republicans, and Republicans who are elected officials I’m saying that as a body, the primary, you know. So are you in fact, claiming that on the whole, most republican politicians are not pro-life, are not anti-gay, you know, is that your position?

ER: I’m not saying that. What I said to you is that I have seen research when I actually, within more of a party position, I saw research that talked more about the position of registered Republicans. I remember seeing it clearly that the majority of registered Republicans were pro-choice.

GC: Okay, well that just kinda begs the question, which is—

[both talking, indistinguishable]

ER: –research that—you know I’m sure it’s out there, and I can try to dig it up. So okay. So let’s say that what you’re saying is true, that the majority of every elected Republican, state, federal, local level, are all pro-life, anti-gay. So, well, what about the ones that aren’t? They only ten percent—should we go

[interrupted by battery]

ER: So say that there’s only ten percent left. I haven’t seen these numbers, but say that someone has done the research, and there’s ten percent, in theory, which I totally disagree with. Then we need to go and work with those ten percent, and then the 90 percent that perhaps might be, which I totally also disagree with, why not go and educate them, and try to see if there’s some kind of common ground and work together?

GC: The question that people are asking is, why support that party? And why put years of your life and work into supporting that party, rather than supporting a party that supports you on the issues?

ER: Well, I was a Democrat, because I was born and raised in Alabama. At one point, in the 80’s, when Reagan came through, the majority of Alabama switched and became Republicans because the idea of working hard, and getting ahead, and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps really resonated with people in Alabama. And I am a Republican. I’m a conservative Republican, and I definitely don’t have any plans to change parties, and I don’t think that the Secular Coalition for America would be as interested in me if I was another person who was closely affiliated with the Democratic Party. They’ve got that covered. They’ve got that covered very well. So the plan is not for me to try to go and be, operate in a party that I have not been. The plan is for me to try to work with Republicans and also with Democrats, and build common ground. Now the coalitions I’ve worked with in the past, they were bipartisan, and this one actually is bipartisan. And you know, that’s what the leadership thinks, that’s what the leadership wants, and they had no problem with the fact that I happen to be a Republican, and we’ve been over my personal position. But for people to think that there are people with in the Republican party that are the opposition and they have opinions that are different from my opinion and that that is somehow my fault. I totally disagree with that. Because I don’t think that it is. I think I’m just going to go out and do what it takes to win over any groups and as many decision makers as possible to the movement, and make them allies, and I’m not planning on sitting here and writing everybody up. I’m going to go and work hard and educate and persuade and have the best advocacy positions that we have hand have the best written materials and be tenacious and get our foot in the door and get a seat at the table and move beyond our traditional reach, is what I’m planning on doing.

–end of questions–

Comments

  1. says

    Data collected by the American Secular Census may be a useful reference point in evaluating this interview. Please see our just released secular voter analysis at http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/2012-05-07 and our most recent viewpoints analysis at http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/2012-03-30.

    A few highlights from these snapshots:
    1. Secular voters are decidedly Democratic, despite oft-repeated claims of political diversity among atheists. The overwhelming majority of us vote for, register as, and donate to Democrats.
    2. Secular voters say that separation of religion and government, science policy, gay rights, education, and reproductive rights (as well as some other issues not central to the secular movement) will take priority when they look at presidential candidates. All of these rated in the 70%’s and above.
    3. Secular Americans aren’t just casually in favor of gay rights and reproductive rights — we are almost unanimous in our support of a) gay marriage as a national standard and b) abortion rights. (Two more likely reasons for seculars’ preference for the Democratic party.)

  2. godlesspanther says

    Over and over again Rogers keeps doing the “we actually agree on so many things,and it’s just a misconception on your part that we don’t” — insert happy face here.

    She appears to be completely ignorant of that fact that most of us outside here circle do not find that reassuring, we find it condescending and offensive.

    She does not know how to talk to us. She is used to talking to people who are satisfied with being told what they want to hear. She is not used to talking to people who will hold her accountable to what she says, look it up to confirm or reject based on research. She does not know how to talk to people who want the truth, even though it may hurt or be really
    depressing.

    Let’s take a look at this:

    ER: I totally disagree with that. I don’t think it’s the majority. I think that some people, who are more fundamentalist on the Christian side, who are active in the Republican party, might not want to see such separation of church and state, but outside of that, I just, I haven’t seen it.

    [,,,]

    GC: […]If it is the case that most Republicans support separation of state and church, why has the republican party been working hand in glove so closely with the Religious Right for so many years?

    ER: Well, once again I disagree. I don’t think the Republican Party is working side by side with the Religious Right, with regard to teaching intelligent design or creationism. […]

    First of all, that sounds just dandy, but we are, as Rogers ought to be reminded,on the planet Earth.

    If it is true that the republican party is in no way associated with the religious right then why is it that the xtian right has had so many of their pet issues (anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-everything-except-money-donated-to-their-churches) brought to the forefront as primary issues by so many republicans in political office?

    Why is she so intent on trying to downplay the threat of the religious right and the power that they do actually have? This is a well-organized, well-funded, politically-connected terrorist organization. They are a threat and their political connections are mostly within the republican party.

    Brush that threat off? NO.

    No.

    And no.

    She seems to thing that we, of the atheist movement, are just some dogs that she can throw a bone to so that we will shut up.

    She seems to have no idea that this is a significant socio-political movement. One that did not exist at all just a decade ago. We have become large and getting larger. That is the result of a lot of people doing a lot of hard work and coming together(wouldn’t Reagan be so pleased?)

    Does she realize that we are doing the work we are doing despite being hated — actively publicly despised — by a large portion of society? Does she understand how some of us have been rejected by parts of our culture, even family and friends to embrace rational truth? Does she understand the emotional impact that has on a person? Does she know about the threats of violence and actual violence that we have to deal with? Does she know what it is like to live your life never having a collective voice and then being given a real platform to voice your thoughts and ideas in such a way that you can actually see the progress happening? Does she know that we have absolutely zero representation in the entire political system of the US government?

    We exist. We are pissed. We will persist.

    She thinks that we can just sit back and trust her while she goes and chats with her buddies in government, assure them that they can support some of these issues without having to be associated with those — atheists, over some tea and fucking crumpets?

    I object.

  3. Drivebyposter says

    “I don’t hate the Rebels, but god damn, Darth Vader is such a cool looking leader. And lasers! He has lasers everywhere! I don’t like his blowing up of planets, choking of people just trying to do their job, the attempted murder and kidnapping of his children and friends, and that his army discriminates against non-humans, but he has TIE Fighters!

    The Empire might be led by a bunch of people that aren’t too friendly and they constantly commit genocide, but there’s some Stormtroopers I know that are just the nicest guys and aren’t like that at all.”

  4. says

    She just doesn’t strike me as very bright. A bright conservative could muster a more intellectually interesting explanation of her switch to Reagan than “bootstraps.”

    Also putting her in the “not-bright” category is basically thinking she can lie to the target constituency and get away with it.

    I guess that’s what happens after years of working with conservatives, though.

    Tough break.

    I don’t think she’s the right person for the job. Not because she’s a Republican, but because she’s dim-witted and dishonest.

  5. oddboyout says

    Wow. As a Republican insider she was either completely blind to how everyone else views the GOP or is good at talking her way out of that association. She needs to own up to the fact that while she was buddy-buddy with the party and they were shmoozing with her on economic and foreign issues the rest of us have been seeing a very different party agenda. If she is actually blind to the GOP’s social conservative politics then she is simply naive.

    I also have a suspicion that she doesn’t understand separation of church and state. Next time ask her straight-forward: “What is the separation of church and state?”

  6. says

    When Rogers says that Republicans aren’t really opposed to gay rights, abortion, etc, the charitable interpretation is that she is grossly ignorant of political realities.
    The unkind interpretation is that she’s a goddamn blatant liar.
    The charitable interpretation does not mesh well with her multi-year track record at the highest levels of political power.
    The unkind interpretation is 1000% consistent with her multi-year track record at the highest levels of political power.

  7. Zengaze says

    I love transcripts, audio is great for getting a feel for a persons ability to communicate their message, but transcripts reveal the bullshit like no other medium.

    From the republican party platform 1996, which I assume was constructed to reflect the views of the majority of republicans at that time, you know the kind of thing that’s constructed from 1994 polling data:

    “Because a good society rests on an ethical foundation, we believe families, communities, and religious institutions can best teach the American values of honesty, responsibility, hard work, compassion, and mutual respect.”

    “As we strive to forge a national consensus on the divisive issues of our time, we call on all Republicans and all Americans to reject the forces of hatred and bigotry. Accordingly, we denounce all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. We condemn attempts by the EEOC or any other arm of government to regulate or ban religious symbols from the work place, and we assert the right of religious leaders to speak out on public issues. We condemn the desecration of places of worship and are proud

    that congressional Republicans led the fight against church arsons. We believe religious institutions and schools should not be taxed. When government funds privately operated social, welfare, or educational programs, it must not discriminate against religious institutions, whose record in providing services to those in need far exceeds that of the public sector.”

    “The sole source of equal opportunity for all is equality before the law. Therefore, we oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, creed, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We reject the distortion of those laws to cover sexual preference, and we endorse the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent states from being forced to recognize same-sex unions”

    “The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children”

    “We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion.”

    Okay I think that is about enough to be getting on with. I submit that the supposed 1994 polling data which supports Edwina’s assertion doesn’t exist. I demand that edwina provides this data, or supports her assertion with corroborating evidence, or resign, as she has blatantly mislead us with regards to the republican party position in the mid nineties.

    For those of you prepares to suffer the full platform;
    http://edition.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/san.diego/facts/gop.platform/platform.all.shtml

  8. says

    Great work on this Greta.

    I was going to write a blog reaction to this, but on careful reading I don’t even know what Rogers is trying to say. Which itself is a very bad sign.

  9. John Morales says

    Gah!

    Just read the transcript.

    First question and response: Participation in the atheist movement was contingent on it being part of her portfolio.

    Second question and response: She claims to be familiar with the issues, but does not care to name even a single one of them.

    Third: The most important issues are that they’re particularly interested in everything under health and safety, as well being in many other things.

    I gave up then.

  10. John Morales says

    PS It was the locution “particularly interested in everything” that really tripped the meters.

  11. Leo says

    Most Republicans are pro-choice and pro-gay? She lies like a rug. Which makes her pretty qualified as a lobbyist, actually.

  12. says

    Agreeing with the other commenters. This interview looks like either a lot of naivete or a lot of, at best, bending the truth.

    Maybe her connections and skills would be useful, but I’m certainly not feeling that comfortable. If she’s trying to sugarcoat the truth, do we really want someone who will present our positions to republicans in a way that is so sanitized it’s dishonest? If she’s just misinformed, do we think that someone that misinformed can benefit our movement?

    I’d really like people who work at the top levels of our movement to actually believe in our movement. And I’d like them to have a sufficiently sophisticated grasp of the issues to be able to hold that belief for the right reasons. And I’d like them to be able to be direct and honest about that. There’s being diplomatic and then there’s just misrepresenting the facts. This is way to close to the latter for comfort.

  13. KG says

    As a non-American this doesn’t affect me directly, but I’m completely puzzled as to how the SCA selected someone who is clearly not in a position to represent the constituency she is supposed to represent, is clearly a liar, and is not even a very good one.

  14. lcaution says

    How on earth did she pass the job interview? Or, perhaps more to the point, what idiot(s) conducted the interview?

    The key part of the interview is the section where she talks about her work in/for Korea, Turkey, etc. In short, my interpretation, she has been hired to lobby and her skills as a lobbyist are what matter (I.e. a lawyer doesn’t need to believe in a client to do a good job.

    But, on the basis of this interview, she fails two tests.. First, she doesn’t seem to have taken the time to learn about the goals of the organization she wants to work for (rule one in getting a job, usually)

  15. says

    I find the term non-theist a little baffling, although I understand why you’d want to avoid identifying as an atheist in the USA. It just seems a bit like calling yourself non-heterosexual, if you were a lesbian, since lesbian is too ‘divisive’. (?)

  16. lcaution says

    (cont.)
    Sorry, about that. I really shouldn’t try to comment using the Fire’s virtual keyboard …

    Anyways, as I was saying, she seems to have gotten the job in spite of her complete ignorance of the organization’s goals.

    Which means, I assume, that she got the job because of
    1. her demonstrated skills as a lobbyist
    2. she was the best of a bad bunch.

    I can’t speak to #1 but, quite frankly, given that a lobbyist’s effectiveness depends in part on communication skills (the other part being the financial interests being represented which I suspect in this case are minimal), the interview with Greta is not encouraging.

    Which leads me to assume the correct answer is #2.

  17. andrea says

    “ER: Well, because they need to be educated, that’s why. And I’m going to go educate them.”

    but she never evidently saw the need for standing up for others before.

    ‘Okay, well I’m just, I’m drawing that, and we don’t have research, until we have better research, then we’ll all know, what the answer is.” classic retreat, delaying the inevitable.

    Ms. Rogers seems to have also avoided seeing the entire GOP primary presidential race with her insistence that the GOP isn’t in bed with the religous right.

    does this woman have one shred of real commitment or is she simply a mercenary? She donates to get work, no matter what someone stands for. Yes, many many people do this, but I would hope that we could stand for something better.

  18. andrea says

    this may be where Ms. Rogers gets her claim that the GOP majority pro-choice: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1490254/posts “Republicans who support abortion rights should take back their party, the grandson of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger told a Peoria audience Thursday. Alex Sanger, 57, spoke at the 40th anniversary celebration and awards dinner of Planned Parenthood Heart of Illinois at the Hotel Pere Marquette.

    “Reproductive freedom is in the hands of the Republican Party,” he said. “No freedom, no right is safe if one party platform opposes it.”

    Sanger said polls show 73 percent of registered Republicans support abortion rights in at least some circumstances.

    “The Republican Party is pro-choice,” he said. This group must be encouraged to “show up in primaries and precinct meetings and vote that way.”

    To claim that since the GOP might allow abortions in “some” instances does not make them “pro-choice”.

    GOP 2008 Platform: http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm

  19. Zengaze says

    Sanger is grossly misreading and misrepresenting any data I have seen, he can get to those figures of republicans who support termination in very very limited cases if he includes democrats and independents in his republican grouping. But still I would love someone to link me to the data!

    I’m going to assert that the latest polling data I have studied suggests the majority of nuns support the bdsm lifestyle with around 70 per cent partaking in it. Please don’t ask you to provide raw data, my assertion should be enough.

  20. penn says

    This interview makes clear that Rogers does not understand her audience. It’s also apparent that even after the initial dust-up over her hiring, she didn’t put the work in to actually learn about the secular community, its values and political priorities. She’s also blatantly lying about the Republican party’s position on gay rights, women’s rights, and separation of church and state or she is willfully ignorant to the point that it’s almost worse that dishonesty. She’d be hard pressed to find a community that despises ignorance and dishonesty more than we do. This interview raises serious questions about her integrity and credibility. I don’t see how this works out well.

  21. KG says

    Sanger said polls show 73 percent of registered Republicans support abortion rights in at least some circumstances. – andrea

    Tight: if they or a member of their family needs one.

  22. gbjames says

    Honestly, the Board of the SCA could not have acted less responsibly. Rogers is dishonest, uninformed, and doesn’t seem very bright. The Board should resign.

  23. says

    You know…

    The ONLY reasonable apologia for the hiring of Rogers was that she’s a slick operator with no ethics or morals who can be bought and will stay bought, and she’s use her natural evil skills towards a good cause. The transcript shows that she’s a clumsy liar and/or unprofessionally ignorant, and lacks skill in basic communication.

    Great choice. Does SCA know what they did, and was it intentional? Did the board want someone to represent secular interests, or someone to get the board invited to the cool D.C. parties? I’ll bet Rogers is really good at the latter.

  24. ash says

    Yep. the jury is out on this one. She had her chance and blew it. Also the SCA blew it. I predict that many of the organizations under that umbrella will be disassociating themselves shortly

  25. JohnW says

    Improbable Joe, #28, nailed it. The SCA has got itself a lobbyist-for-hire, who would be just as willing to work for the American Family Association if they were signing the paychecks.

    Looking at the frantic babbling in response to the question “What do you think that the issues that are most important to the atheist and secularist movement are?”, I don’t think the SCA has got itself a good lobbyist-for-hire.

  26. Mutsumi says

    If you guys wanted to hire a liar, couldn’t you at least have gotten a good one?

  27. daenyx says

    So…. exactly how did she get this job, again?

    I’m spectacularly unimpressed.

  28. says

    Thank you for this, Greta. I was initially inclined to give Ms. Rogers the benefit of the doubt. Her responses to your questions, however, are shocking in their lack of candor, naivete, or both (and I’ll add: lack of clear communication skills). The whole thing reads like someone bullshitting their way through an interview for a job they know they aren’t qualified for. Hell, I remember doing the same thing myself back in law school (why yes, I’ve always been interested in Subject X even though I never took a class on it).

    Perhaps hiring her as a lobbyist alone would have been OK. Hiring her to be the face of the organization seems ill advised.

  29. says

    The sad thing is that I could understand trying to diversify by having someone with a background in Republican Party politics who hailed from what was once called the Rockefeller wing of the party, pro-business but not caring much for the culture war bullshit.

    Rogers, instead of trying to bob and weave, could have come right out and said “Yes, I understand that an influential segment of the Republican Party base is radically anti-abortion, anti-gay rights and so forth, but we can try to change that by getting more people to join and become involved in the party to steer it away from these extremists positions while still offering voters a clear choice on how best to create jobs, make government more efficient, etc.”

    Perhaps hiring her as a lobbyist alone would have been OK. Hiring her to be the face of the organization seems ill advised.

    I guess it could have been worse. Imagine if they had hired SE Cupp.

  30. fastlane says

    Hey, SCA: What does that position pay? Cuz, you know, I think I could actually represent the Secular part of the organization a little better.

  31. says

    FAIL. This is a massive fail, comparable to James Randi signing on with the AGW doubters.

    Probably the only way out of this is for all SCA members to put the pressure on those behind this decision to resign or, if they don’t, resign themselves.

  32. jamessweet says

    Well, I dunno about the 90s, but a Gallup poll from last year showed Republican voters at 68% anti-choice:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2011/06/06/republicans-strongly-pro-life-democrats-strongly-pro-abortion/

    In any case, she didn’t really answer the question as to why she is a Republican. She many far-less-than-satisfactory answers as to why she could be a Republican just because she is pro-gay, pro-choice, etc., but she didn’t say what the upside is, other than a few mumblings in the final answer about “Reagan” and “bootstraps” and “fuck the poor” (oh wait, that last part might have only been implied).

    I’ve been trying to keep on open mind, but I am not impressed here. Even if she was just like, “Yes, and the Republican party has been very very wrong on those issues, and I would like to change that from the inside,” that would have put at least some concerns to rest. This recalcitrant denial that the GOP is anti-gay and anti-choice is just… well, it’s fucked up, that’s what it is. She sounds like a reality-hating GOP spin doctor, and that’s not encouraging.

  33. jamessweet says

    I find the term non-theist a little baffling, although I understand why you’d want to avoid identifying as an atheist in the USA. It just seems a bit like calling yourself non-heterosexual, if you were a lesbian, since lesbian is too ‘divisive’.

    I actually understand it a little bit. It positions oneself as “abstaining” rather than “opposing”. A non-smoker may or may not give a shit if you smoke a cigarette; the label only means that she herself does not smoke. “Nontheist” carries a similarly benign connotation, and in a different world, it might be my preferred term.

    I do, of course, prefer “atheist,” though largely it is to “take back the word”, i.e. I don’t think “atheist” should be a dirty word, and it is, so I go by it even though — all other things being equal — I like nontheist a little bit better.

    Of course, for myself, I’m also a bit of an anti-theist… ;)

  34. says

    I guess I see why this woman is a Republican, because she’s living in a fantasy world.

    And it’s supposed to make us feel better than she was a Democrat in Alabama – a “Dixiecrat” – until the Republicans’ “Southern strategy” of deliberately wooing white racists won her – and the rest of the South – to the GOP?

    That’s supposed to make us feel better??? What in the world was the SCA thinking? Astonishing, isn’t it?

  35. Richard Hudson says

    A quick google search on the GOP Party platform lists opposition to any type of abortion, supports legislation opposing gay marriage rights, and supports religion in our schools. I knew these things to be facts but thought I would look them up to be sure. What planet has this woman lived on the last 30 years?
    I think she is bad bad bad!
    

  36. John Kruger says

    One has to wonder where all the pro-life rhetoric has to be coming from, since both parties seem to be majority pro-choice. Perhaps aliens are behind it? When Perry gets the chance to put up a YouTube ad he deliberately calls out gays in the military in order to go against the majority of his political base? There is no such thing as a written down party platform for the Republican party? The jury is still out on what the Republicans are in favor of?

    She must think we are complete idiots that will believe anything, or she has no clue about what is going on politically in this country. I am inclined to think the former.

    Not going to be able to support the SCA now.

  37. Carlie says

    Oh dear. I was trying to keep an open mind on it, but either she has no idea what the official Republican Party platform is, making her entirely inept at her previous job, or she thinks she can get away with lying about it, which means all sorts of other bad things. And she really doesn’t seem to understand what the organization she’s working for now stands for either.

  38. says

    Well, I can tell you, it’s not a party position. It’s an individual position by some members. And it really varies by the member. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are Republicans, the majority of them, it’s not their position. It’s really hard to stereotype…millions of people: they’re all opposed to gay rights, and everybody in the Republican party is opposed to gay rights, because that’s not true.

    I don’t understand how someone could pretend to be so ignorant of the fact of party platforms and explicit endorsement of oppressive policies. It doesn’t matter that individuals who vote Republican might not hate all gays or want to oppress women. They are voting for lawmakers whose positions are often more extreme than their own, and you don’t get to pretend the way Republicans legislate isn’t a reality. My own state legislature in Utah is significantly more conservative leaning than the overall population, and that’s not unusual.

    Here are excepts from just one state Republican Party Platform (Montana’s in this case).

    Under the heading “Crime:”

    Homosexual Acts

    We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.

    Under the heading “Education:”

    Local Control
    We support:

    Allow school boards greater flexibility with accreditation standards.
    Public school trustees to provide daily opportunity for students to have voluntary prayer and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Educational Choice
    We Support:
    The right of parents to choose the way in which their children shall be educated.
    Freedom of choice for public, private, church, charter, or home schooling.
    Educational tax credit scholarship for school choice.

    Under the heading “Human Services:”

    Welfare

    We urge fiscal control of social services programs and support continuing efforts to reduce administrative costs and eliminate fraud in health and welfare programs

    Human Life

    We affirm our belief in traditional family values and support the preservation of innocent human life at every stage of life beginning at conception. In concert with this belief:

    1) We support efforts to provide parental notification and consent, and informed consent in all cases involving abortion;
    2) We support those individuals and organizations seeking to provide positive alternatives to abortion, such as streamlined adoption; 3) We oppose assisted suicide;
    4) We oppose partial birth abortion;
    5) We support a moratorium on human cloning for any purpose;
    6) We support non-embryonic stem cell research;
    7) We support abstinence education.

    Services to Children and Youth
    We support social policies and services that preserve and strengthen the traditional family unit. We support interagency planning, collaboration, and coordination of family-based, faith-based, and community-based services tailored to the needs of children, adolescents and their families.

    Under the heading “Personal Rights and Liberties:”

    We affirm the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all individuals. We affirm the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of each human being from conception to death. Again, we recognize that life begins at conception and must be protected. We oppose cloning complete human beings. We support the private development of adult stem cell research and we support all efforts to stop human trafficking. We support the definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman.

    It really isn’t hard to understand what a party wants to do when they give you a roadmap to their goals. Those goals are anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-chuch/state separation. What part of this is so hard to understand?

  39. lcaution says

    That she is a Republican should not be the focus of criticism. There are Dems who are bigots and theists. The issue is competence. Can she be a good advocate?

    On the basis of this interview, the answer is no. She doesn’t understand what matters and lacks basic communication skills.

  40. Kagehi says

    Sigh.. What we have here is the Republican version of being Catholic, I think. I would, for the most part, agree with her assessment. I think the people being elected are getting elected not on the basis of the majority actually wanting all the crap that gets passed, but purely on how spectacularly good the far right has gotten at lying to people about all the threats they will face, if someone that isn’t a right wing nutjob gets elected. Its not about if religion is forced on schools. No, its about if its “banned from them”. Its not about whether or not health care, or birth control, in reasonable cases, is provided, its the lie that those things are being “pushed” for non-reasonable reasons. Its not about whether or not abstinence works better than sex ed, its about the lie that real sex education is promoting teen sex, instead of curtailing it. And on and on.

    So, presuming what she is saying is correct, she, towards the Republican party is exactly like every bloody Catholic out there, which defends membership in that church, despite agreeing with almost nothing at all coming out of the mouth of the “leadership” of that party. Beyond that, I think she might have been in a few too many meetings with them, and has drank a bit of the, “Conservatives believe in X, while those liberals don’t!”, bullshit, which is why she seems to think that its not a similar minority that is actually so far of their rocker that they wouldn’t agree with what little “conservative” ideas are not verifiably faulty. Her failure to present any coherent answer to just what sort of conservative views she does value, along side her failure to understand that the terms “Republican” and “Conservative”, or at least what they mean, in politics, change, based on policy, is a bit disturbing. It leaves too many open questions that I want answers for. But her actual position on the issues she does say something about… well, we can always use the Republican version of a Catholic Bishop, apposed to the current Pope’s views on condom, for example. But, she shouldn’t expect our reaction to stop being, “Why the hell do you insist on staying in the party?”

  41. SpaceGhoti says

    I have long been suspicious of anything and anyone associated with the Bush Administration. Hearing about this appointment made me expect the worst. However, cooler heads reminded us that you can’t judge a book by its cover and that we really need to give this lady a chance before we rake her over the coals.

    After reading this, I submit that she’s had her chance and blew it. Maybe the organization does need someone with experience lobbying politicians on Capitol Hill, but it doesn’t need THIS lobbyist or anyone like her. I sincerely hope the SCA will recognize their error and seek a replacement who is representative of our interests rather than try to double down and bull through the controversy.

  42. Carlie says

    The issue is competence. Can she be a good advocate?

    On the basis of this interview, the answer is no. She doesn’t understand what matters and lacks basic communication skills.

    Exactly. It’s the fact that she’s blatantly misrepresenting things that are ridiculously easy to fact-check her on.

  43. Robert B. says

    All right, so, she’s a lying liar who lies about lying. That’s pretty well established. (“Not written down anywhere,” indeed. Thanks, Zengaze!) So what the hell was her objective here? Why would she tell a bunch of atheist skeptics, the sort of people she’s supposed to be representing, that Republicans aren’t really so bad? What does she gain from that? We were never going to believe her – that message is contrary to what we want to hear and contrary to facts that can be checked with five minutes on Google. Those statements couldn’t possibly do anything but make us trust her less. It seems unlikely that she could have made a career in politics, if she was that clumsy a liar as a general rule.

    … is anyone else reminded of liberal religious apologists? They have a strong sense of personal ethics, but they’re committed to thinking their religion is good. So they make up nice things for their god to want, and throw out No True Scotsman fallacies left and right, and are generally in complete denial about what their holy texts say and their coreligionists do. I think we’re looking at exactly the same phenomenon. She has some good positions – gay rights, pro-choice, church/state separation, etc. – but she just can’t admit that those aren’t Republican positions. Republicans can’t be bad – she’s a Republican. (Why is she a Republican? Well, she’s from Alabama and a lot of people there liked Reagan in the eighties because blah blah blah, move to strike as nonresponsive. She doesn’t actually know. It just happened.) Could she have actually made herself believe all that bullshit she said?

  44. John Small Berries says

    lcaution #48: “That she is a Republican should not be the focus of criticism.”

    It isn’t. The fact that she is a Republican and defends her party by making claims which seem wholly inconsistent with their observable actions, however, is a valid topic of criticism.

    Because it means that she is either being willfully dishonest to the people she’s being paid to represent, or does not have a firm grip on reality (which should raise grave doubts about her competence).

  45. jayarrrr says

    She’s gonna do the SCA like Karen Handel did Susan G. Komen.
    Is that how the Authoritarian/Dominionist Right is going to do it? Get anti-everything-that’s-right Operatives in positions of power in our organizations, then Yank! pull the plug out of the bottom and sink them?

    I’m beginning to get the feeling that the people in charge of these organizations aren’t all that bright. That, or they’re incredibly naive. Over-paid? Definitely.

  46. says

    The consensus seems to be that there are two theories:

    1. Rogers is either spectacularly uninformed, both about the priorities of the secular community, and most glaringly, of the priorities of the Republican party.

    2. Rogers is being blatantly deceptive, in a bid to downplay concerns about her past work while retaining her connections and credibility as a republican.

    The first possibility would seem to be all but impossible due to her years of working with republicans. As for the second option … WHY on Earth would she lie in such a way; in a way that would indicate to so many secular people that she’s ignorant or lying? And a lie that’s so trivially easy to expose? It’s a very simple matter to look up positions of elected republicans, or the opinions of republican voters.

    On the off chance that she is genuinely trying to see the republican party through the rosiest of all tinted glass; Edwina Rogers, sincerely, take a few minutes and look at the data. Look at polling results for republican voters’ opinion on same-sex marriage and abortion. Look up position statements of the most well-known, successful republican politicians. Then, and this is key, you have to adjust your opinion of the GOP on these issues if you find that republicans are not as progressive on these issues as you seem to believe.

  47. ash says

    john kruger @ 45 said “One has to wonder where all the pro-life rhetoric has to be coming from, since both parties seem to be majority pro-choice.”

    …perfect. I SO want to hear her next interviewer ask that. That one is escape proof.

  48. jamessweet says

    As for the second option … WHY on Earth would she lie in such a way; in a way that would indicate to so many secular people that she’s ignorant or lying? And a lie that’s so trivially easy to expose?

    I have a hypothesis: Because she is trained as a Republican spin doctor, and that’s what Republican spin doctors do. They lie to your face about shit that is absurdly easy to fact-check.

    While many of us, including myself, wanted to give the SCA the benefit of the doubt here, it seems like what is happening is exactly what everyone feared: They hired a Republican spin doctor to head their organization, who is now acting like a Republican spin doctor. Fuck.

  49. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Folks, she doesn’t say things that “seem” inconsistent. She’s not “misrepresenting” stuff.

    She’s flat-out lying and everyone knows it. She knows it. You know it. I can’t believe anyone is willing to even entertain the idea that she simply doesn’t know what Republicans actually do.

    Call a liar a liar. We can’t afford not to.

  50. Goblinman says

    You know, I think I would be ok with her had she been able to, when asked why she’s a Republican, give an actual response. Something as simple as “I’m more of a fiscal conservative than a social conservative” would have cut it. The “most Republicans aren’t that bad, honest!” thing she kept trying to pull left me with the impression that she either won’t give her real reasons or doesn’t actually know herself. Neither of those things fill me with confidence.

    I’m guessing her hiring is an attempt by the SCA to reach out to other, potentially secular Republicans. Problem is, from the answers she’s been giving, I have a feeling she’s not going to be much more appealing to even moderate Republicans than she is to us.

  51. kerfluffle says

    Ms. Rogers comes across as so disingenuous that my brain keeps tossing out ridiculous conspiracy theories to explain it. Like she’s a Republican plant, sent in to take one for the team during and election year. Or she’s the beta-test of Palin-esque political robot with the dials set on “befuddle.”

  52. says

    If she’d just say that she worked for the other side for years, but now she’s been bought and is loyal to us for as long as she’s employed I could have believed that. But only before she started lying to us.

    The only redeeming possibility I can imagine is that she is not lying to us with a purpose. She thinks she’ll have to lie to Republicans in the near future, and that that will be harder if she actually speaks frankly with us now and gets her statements into print. While this is possible, I no longer take it seriously. The atheist community’s opinions are too widely known for her to keep them secret. Either that or she is too used to talking to Republican-aligned news outlets and has ingrained bad habits.

    She seems to think that she can get away with lying to us. Blatantly denying the avowed platform of the party she worked for is an obvious lie. If she won’t speak truthfully to our community, why should we believe that she would serve our interests in private?

    I think it’s still possible for her to straighten up and fly right, though time is short. Failing that the board had best fire her. Failing that, the SCA will find its donations running dry in a hurry.

  53. John says

    It seems to me we have a weird choice.

    We can have a person who is knowledgeable about the secular movement issues and have no political connections or we can have someone who is less than knowledgeable but policially connected.

    Idealistically I would rather have both of course. But pragmatically I can’t decide which is better for the secular movement.

    If I read this interview charitably I say “give her a chance.” If I read it non charitiably she almost speaks like a Sarah Palin during the Katy Couric interview.

    I’m seriously conflicted.

  54. Desert Son, OM says

    I’m seriously conflicted.

    I am seriously less conflicted the more I read.

    As Josh, Official SpokesGay noted up thread:

    Call a liar a liar. We can’t afford not to.

    Yep. Don’t micturate across my corpus posterior and label such action atmospheric precipitation.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  55. godlesspanther says

    There are numerous comments here that confirm my initial reaction — Edwina Rogers does not know who she is talking to.

    The SCA exists because of the new atheist movement. I can’t find stats on how much of their membership and support comes from us.

    They have hired a president who cannot connect and does not understand a major, if not primary component of the organization. I have a hard time coming to a conclusion other than — it’s INSANE.

    Or have they just sold out? Secularism co-opted by the right wing so they can wrap it in plastic, slap a price tag and a happy face on it, and sell it back to us?

  56. RisingApe says

    @ kerfluffulle #63
    ding, ding, ding! You win! One shiny internets! :-)

    “Or she’s the beta-test of Palin-esque political robot with the dials set on befuddle.”

  57. naturalcynic says

    Oh, pooh, pooh. She has good communication skills – for her culture. A culture where bullshit = communication.
    She’s just going to have to have to adjust to a culture where the opposite is true.

  58. Elerena says

    Ugh.

    You know, even IF the stats she quotes were accurate- which is blatantly false to begin with- it doesn’t matter if a voter is pro-choice when THEY VOTE IN AN ANTI-CHOICE REPRESENTATIVE. It isn’t the positions you hold that count, it’s the positions you vote for, and the Republican party votes in anti-choice, religious extremists almost across the board.

  59. jamessweet says

    @naturalcynic: Snark aside, you pretty much nailed it there. I am developing a blog post very much along those lines. Even ignoring the content of what Rogers is saying, the style of argument she employed is basically what the Fox News talking heads do — and it goes over very well with their audience. It goes over terribly with this audience, though.

    I won’t even bother to argue that the style of argumentation our side prefers is superior — I happen to think it is, but that’s beside the point. Even if we refuse to make a judgment, the interview came across as “Atheism, Fox News-style,” which is an approach doomed to failure. That alone makes her a bad choice for this position.

  60. The Secular One says

    Wow, she’s just a liar.

    http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm#8

    Official Republican Platform from 2008. The values section. It is anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion and anti-separation of church and state.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25849#axzz1uJWHpCQm

    They were anti-gay and anti-choice in 2000.

    http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/san.diego/facts/gop.platform/platform.all.shtml

    They were anti-gay and anti-choice in 1996.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25847#axzz1uJWHpCQm

    And they were anti-gay and anti-choice in 1992.

    All of those links are to the official Republican Party platforms. If the majority of people that vote Republican don’t support those positions, they need to leave their “grand ol’ party.”

  61. Grizabella says

    FFS. Maybe her next move will be to announce that these statements were not meant to be factual?

  62. Annie T says

    Greta thank you for a well done interview. You kept at her when she was trying to deflect and evade. Thank you.

    I do not trust Edwina, nor think she understands my concerns regarding politics in this country. I hope she defies expectations and does a good job. I’m certainly not counting on it.

  63. Elerena says

    “I hope she defies expectations and does a good job. I’m certainly not counting on it.”

    No kidding. She’s had multiple interviews giving her a chance to defy expectations already, and has failed miserably.

  64. Gregory in Seattle says

    So I went to the Secular Coalition for America’s Wikipedia page to see the editorial body’s consensus on Ms. Rogers. The only edit since February was a bot who fixed some ISBN numbers. Is the SCA so irrelevant that not even the organization itself is willing to maintain its Wikipedia entry? That might explain the seeming desparation of hiring an evasive Republican operative as their executive director.

  65. pipenta says

    What Gregory said.

    Because at this point I’ve heard enough out of the mouth of Edwina Rogers. It would be much more interesting to hear the SCA explain/defend their decision.

  66. Aquaria says

    I said it at Pharyngula, and I’ll say it here:

    I know that politics makes strange bedfellows, but getting in bed with the Republicans is always a mistake. You not only wake up with your wallet and clothes stolen on the side of the road. Twenty miles from the nearest town. But also you have a nasty taste in your mouth and thoroughly hate yourself for years after it.

    And that’s before you learn you have an STD on top of it all.

    This Republican moron is a liar.

    LIAR

    LIAR

    LIAR

    Pants on fire.

    I will not support any organization that hires lying scumbags like that.

    They should have know that she was a liar, a fraud and a moron.

    What a bunch of idiots. Her and SCA.

  67. says

    Go to secular.org and look at their blog, their communications director has sort of sideways commented on it by talking about the importance of bipartisanship. Oy.

  68. Marmalade says

    ]I think you secularists are onto a winner here but cant see it – she is from the nihilistic reptile-crony-capitalist wing of the Republicans, and is very used to dealing with, manipulating and harnessing the pig-ignorant bornie christian vote etc, and the peculiarities of the american political map to get that crony capitalist agenda flowing! The cronies are most successful and most manipulative and successful (in terms of acquiring power) ideological force of our age. And you are now getting someone who is the very incarnation of that ‘skill set’ to work for you – thats good, isnt it? she will be very efficient at pursuing your cause, you just need to stop expecting her to sign on to all the ‘nudist, fruitjuice drinker, vegetarian’ 19th and 20th century humanist and socialist baggage that often comes packaged with Atheism.
    She is indeed the essence of secularism with no post-religious ‘secularised presbyterian’ trappings – no socialist movement, no humanist movement, and only the mere hedonist basics (prochoice, progay) etc of lifestyle liberation politics.
    Just greed and will to power, and the managerial expertise to make it happen – now for you.
    (the bootstraps fantasy stuff – my God, so much for Atheism’s evidence based beliefs!)
    They’ve got her because of the ruthless managerial/lobbying efficiency, her politics is obviously going to be a retro-fit…
    Here’s a nice way to think of it – this is Sec. Coalit’s version of operation paperclip…

  69. echidna says

    Aquaria:

    This Republican moron is a liar.

    QFT. I’m appalled.

    Just appalled. She’s an evasive, lying corrupt* person, just taking her at her own word. Why did anybody think she should head the SCA?

    *she paid a $1000 bribe (or donation, if you prefer) for access to Rick Perry.

  70. says

    Prediction:

    Within two years, Roger will have taken all of the inside tactics used by the SCA and will be working for a conservative religious lobbyist group, and Atheists will have been fucked over by another Republican.

    Again.

  71. carnerojo says

    There an article titled “Why the Secular Movement Needs Bi-Partisanship” on the SCA site. There were no comments, so I submitted this:

    I agree that one must be pragmatic when trying to gain political influence, but … your organization just appointed as its director someone who within only the past year actively campaigned for & supported with her own money a Presidential candidate (since dropped) who feels that prayer is the answer to all problems, science classes should be required to teach creationist superstitious nonsense in the name of “fairness” (sounds “bi-partisan”, don’t it?), the dominionist historical revisionist David Barton is a great historian, & Planned Parenthood funding should be cut b/c Christians (or at least “True” Christians) don’t like it.

    Remember what happened to the Susan G Komen foundation only mere months ago? Please don’t let it happen to SCA.”

    It’s been “under review” for a while now & I see no other comments have been posted. Oh well.

  72. Happy Camper says

    All this interview did was to reinforce my opinion that all politics lack INTEGRITY!

  73. lupinella says

    Thank you for an incredibly insightful and thorough interview into an… amazing subject.
    [Note: Amazing used as in, “Really am amazed she is in this position.”]

    I cannot imagine she will be effective on any level. She doesn’t know anything about those for whom she is lobbying. She doesn’t admit to past mistakes. She lies through her teeth [am not giving her the faint, damning praise that she is completely ignorant about Republicans.] about her own party.

  74. Suido says

    Edwina Rogers:

    Well, I have plenty of values that are a priority to me.

    Groucho Marx:

    Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

    Facepalm.

  75. says

    All she has to do is look at the GOP platform … Granted, this is 2008, but given the political climate lately, I don’t expect to see a lot of changes except perhaps more of a move to the right:

    http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm

    ABORTION …

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

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

    MARRIAGE EQUALITY …

    Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.

    {…}

    Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.

    RELIGIOUS BULLSHIT …

    Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids any religious test for public office, and it likewise prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored creed. The balance between those two ideals has been distorted by judicial rulings which attempt to drive faith out of the public arena. The public display of the Ten Commandments does not violate the U.S. Constitution and accurately reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country. We support the right of students to engage in student-initiated, student-led prayer in public schools, athletic events, and graduation ceremonies, when done in conformity with constitutional standards.

    We affirm every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious objects or symbols, or becoming subject to government-imposed hiring practices. Forcing religious groups to abandon their beliefs as applied to their hiring practices is religious discrimination. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault, and we call upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reverse its policy of blacklisting religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. Respectful of our nation’s diversity in faith, we urge reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs in the private workplace. We deplore the increasing incidence of attacks against religious symbols, as well as incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

  76. says

    What? A successful Washington lobbyist is venal scum?

    I can’t even work up one half-hearted Claude Rains ‘Shocked!’.

    At the same time, she may well have an ‘in’ with pols on the Republican side of the fence. The SCA knows that there are some twenty-something closeted atheists in Congress. She may have cracked a few brews with some of them and laughed together at the easily led Bible-thumping constituents back home, voting a crypto-atheist into office over and over.
    Anyway, if she can get some meetings with people with (R) after their names — people who would slam the door in the face of a godless granola-eating pinko — it might be a useful thing to get our message to them. What the SCA needs is access, and she’s spent years licking boots and greasing palms to get that access.
    There’s a reason oil companies, tobacco companies, and banks schmooze both Rs and Ds. It works. And if hiring a lobbyist was a popularity contest, no one would ever get the job.

  77. Snoof says

    What? A successful Washington lobbyist is venal scum?

    It’s not the “venal scum” thing we’re shocked about, it’s the “apparently incompetent” angle.

    At least, some of us.

  78. says

    I was pretty well in the “well, a good hired gun could be useful if the SCA wants to get into the political swamp” camp, since honestly a lobbying group is probably going to have to get their hands dirty.

    I did figure it’d be better to have a movement person as President, though, and have someone like Rogers on an advisory committee.

    But as people pointed out here, she really doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about, either in regards to the concerns of the secularist community, or in terms of what the Republican party actually supports.

    If she’d just said “Yeah, the Republican party supports a lot of things I disagree with, but I’m a fiscal conservative” I wouldn’t have liked her, but it wouldn’t stop me from thinking she might be useful. But this is just weird and off-putting.

    I too would like to see what the SCA has to say.

  79. AYY says

    I suppose the answer to why she’s a Republican could be that the Republicans are lack of fiscal sanity, Obamacare, the Fast and Furious scandal, the bogus stimulus plan, the failure to prosecute the New Black Panthers, tolerance for union corruption etc. etc, on the part of the Democrats. Obama has been a failure. Kerry and Gore would have been disasters.
    If she does not see eye to eye with many atheists on gay marriage, or abortion, so what? As for evangelists in the Republican camp, well there’s a lot of leftism being preached from Episcopalians, Unitarians, and Reform Jewish pulpits.

  80. AYY says

    Oops, typos. My 1:48 comment should have read:
    I suppose the answer to why she’s a Republican could be lack of fiscal sanity, Obamacare, the Fast and Furious scandal, the bogus stimulus plan, the failure to prosecute the New Black Panthers, tolerance for union corruption etc. etc, on the part of the Democrats. Obama has been a failure. Kerry and Gore would have been disasters.
    If she does not see eye to eye with many atheists on gay marriage, or abortion, so what? As for evangelists in the Republican camp, well there’s a lot of leftism being preached from Episcopalian, Unitarian, and Reform Jewish pulpits.

  81. R. Johnston says

    re: #98

    Ah, so she’s not just a Republican operative; she’s a fantastically wealthy Republican operative. 18,000 square foot homes in McLean, VA put her squarely in Romney territory. I’ll bet in her circle of Republican friends they have great fun looking down on the fundies that control the party.

    Also, I’m not saying it happened, but maybe she likes to think of herself as secular and decided to buy herself an executive directorship because when you have that kind of money you just do those things on a whim. It would explain how she got the job. People who aren’t fantastically wealthy, even secularists, can lose their senses when they see enough zeros on a check.

  82. carnerojo says

    Per AYY:

    I suppose the answer to why she’s a Republican could be lack of fiscal sanity, Obamacare, the Fast and Furious scandal, the bogus stimulus plan, the failure to prosecute the New Black Panthers, tolerance for union corruption etc. etc, on the part of the Democrats. Obama has been a failure. Kerry and Gore would have been disasters.

    Obamacare, Union Thugs, & New Black Panthers, Oh My!

    It’s enough to make one weep for the folk doing the hard & dirty, but (not really) honest work of lobbying just to keep a roof over their heads in the suburbs. Damn those evil thieving monsters on Capitol Hill! Damn them to HELL! ( er, those other guys, not us)

    If she does not see eye to eye with many atheists on gay marriage, or abortion, so what? As for evangelists in the Republican camp, well there’s a lot of leftism being preached from Episcopalian, Unitarian, and Reform Jewish pulpits.

    Really? So you see “leftism being preached from the pulpit” as the real problem with religion?

  83. The Secular One says

    She’s a liar, and she won’t represent us honestly and she won’t go after the religious right honestly. If she stays with the SCA, my money will go elsewhere.

  84. Vicki says

    The most charitable reading I can see for her waving around of those statistics is “the Republicans weren’t so bad in 1994, and nothing ever changes for the worst,” and I cannot believe that she or anyone in politics believes that.

  85. Robin says

    Steve, #65:

    She thinks she’ll have to lie to Republicans in the near future, and that that will be harder if she actually speaks frankly with us now and gets her statements into print.

    Plausible. Still makes her an idiot – how well will it go down with Republicans to see themselves being represented as pro-gay and pro-choice?

  86. andrea says

    “Oops, typos. My 1:48 comment should have read:
    I suppose the answer to why she’s a Republican could be lack of fiscal sanity, Obamacare, the Fast and Furious scandal, the bogus stimulus plan, the failure to prosecute the New Black Panthers, tolerance for union corruption etc. etc, on the part of the Democrats. Obama has been a failure. Kerry and Gore would have been disasters.”

    My some nice lies there, AYY. Care to support any of them with facts? No, I didn’t think so.

    “If she does not see eye to eye with many atheists on gay marriage, or abortion, so what? As for evangelists in the Republican camp, well there’s a lot of leftism being preached from Episcopalian, Unitarian, and Reform Jewish pulpits.”

    Ah, “so what?” Well, it’s rather stupid to have a liar and someone who doesn’t support secularism and the desire for truth that the secular community has as its main goals. It’s rather having someone like you, AYY, represent any causes based on reality.

  87. Dave says

    Goblinman hit the nail on the head. There are socially liberal and fiscally conservative atheists who swing Republican. I am one of them. If she had taken that line, she could have seemed credible and probably could have pulled this off. But she didn’t, which indicates her ignorance of the movement she is trying to represent.

    I think the general idea of reaching out to more Republican’s is sensible and needed. We need to broaden our support base and there are times things are just too Democratic around here. (Yes, looking at PZ on that one!) But, and this is the critical part, you need some good people who know the issues and can present them well. Ms. Rogers clearly can not do it. If she can not convince the true believers she shares those values, how can she convince someone else to take up those values?

    She should have known she was going to get put on the spot from day one and prepared for it. She should know that first impressions count. When she heard she would be interviewed by Greta, she should have researched Greta’s site and seen the red flags going up. She should have been ready for this. And she clearly wasn’t, or wasn’t able to act on her preparation.

    Regardless of her values, her methodology, preparation and skill as a professional communicator and lobbyist have been shown to be sorely lacking. While she and I may vote the same way, she does not get my vote for her new job.

  88. says

    @Dave in #108: the funny thing is, many commenters all over FtB have been spelling out what sort of answers they could live with, even before Greta’s interview. Most of them were pretty similar to what you describe here. If only she was actually reading FtB (like she claimed on the Reddit AMA), and would’ve bothered to go into the comment sections, she could have done so much better answering Greta’s questions.

  89. Greg B says

    Well, this has convinced me to no longer donate to the SCA as long as this woman is their Executive Director. Every time she said “Well I haven’t done the research” should be taken as a point against why she should have this job.

    She’s the damn Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America and she hasn’t done any research such that she has any idea how much alignment the Republican party has with religious right? How the hell did she get this job?

  90. Eric RoM says

    JFC, why are so many people reluctant to just say, “Lies, lies, and more lies!” ?

  91. Eric RoM says

    And BTW, don’t the R’s PUBLISH a >>platform<< that literally spells out what they stand for? And has this person ever read that platform?

  92. Ruth Walker says

    This is most disturbing!

    “Since it is already, generally unconstitutional to teach creationism, I think that is something that we just need to go and sorta take care of, take care of these fires that are coming up, kinda state by state, would be the plan there with regard to that.” The right to an abortion is constitutional too, but that doesn’t prevent the GOP from the opposite in their national platform.

    I have wondered why FFRF isn’t part of the coalition, as working together toward common goals works best when all work together, but she’s a Republican who doesn’t even know what today’s party stands for! This was from 2008 with McCain who wasnn’t the farthest right of the bunch:

    http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/2008platform.pdf

    • 7 •

    Because the UN has no mandate to promote
    radical social engineering, any effort to address global
    social problems must respect the fundamental
    institutions of marriage and family. We assert the
    rights of families in all international programs and
    will not fund organizations involved in abortion. We
    strongly support the long-held policy of the
    Republican Party known as the .Mexico City policy,.
    which prohibits federal monies from being given to
    non-governmental organizations that provide abortions
    or actively promote abortion as a method of

    • 8 •

    family planning in other countries. We reject any
    treaty or agreement that would violate those values.
    That includes the UN convention on women.s rights,
    signed in the last months of the Carter
    Administration, and the UN convention on the rights
    of the child.

    • 20 •

    We lament that judges have
    denied the people their right to set abortion policies
    in the states and are undermining traditional marriage
    laws from coast to coast.

    • 38 •

    Because the family is our basic unit of society,
    we fully support parental rights to consent to medical
    treatment for their children including mental
    health treatment, drug treatment, alcohol treatment,
    and treatment involving pregnancy, contraceptives
    and abortion.

    • 44 •

    Parents should be able to decide the learning
    environment that is best for their child. We support
    choice in education for all families, especially those
    with children trapped in dangerous and failing
    schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers
    or tax credits for attending faith-based or other nonpublic
    schools, or the option of home schooling. We
    call for the vigilant enforcement of laws designed to
    protect family rights and privacy in education. We

    • 45 •

    will energetically assert the right of students to
    engage in voluntary prayer in schools and to have
    equal access to school facilities for religious purposes.
    We renew our call for replacing .family planning
    . programs for teens with increased funding for
    abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until
    marriage as the responsible and expected standard of
    behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only
    protection that is 100 percent effective against out-ofwedlock
    pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases,
    including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually.
    We oppose school-based clinics that provide
    referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion
    and contraception.

    • 45 •

    We oppose school-based clinics that provide
    referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion
    and contraception.

    • 52 •

    We support a human life
    amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation
    to make clear that the Fourteenth
    Amendment.s protections apply to unborn children.
    We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform
    abortion and will not fund organizations which
    advocate it. We support the appointment of judges
    who respect traditional family values and the sanctity
    and dignity of innocent human life.
    We have made progress. The Supreme Court
    has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice
    of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to
    extend health-care coverage to children before birth.
    And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has
    become law; this law ensures that infants who are
    born alive during an abortion receive all treatment
    and care that is provided to all newborn infants and
    are not neglected and left to die. We must protect
    girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a
    parental notification requirement. We all have a
    moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women
    struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.
    At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault
    on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women
    deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be
    made to work with women considering abortion to
    enable and empower them to choose life. We salute
    those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy
    care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous
    increase in adoptions that has followed
    Republican legislative initiatives.

    • 53 •

    At its core, abortion is a fundamental
    assault on the sanctity of innocent
    human life. Women deserve better than
    abortion. Every effort should be made to
    work with women considering abortion to
    enable and empower them to choose life

    • 53 •
    Preserving Traditional Marriage
    Because our children.s future is best preserved
    within the traditional understanding of marriage, we
    call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects
    marriage as a union of
    a man and a woman, so that
    judges cannot make other
    arrangements equivalent to
    it. In the absence of a
    national amendment, we
    support the right of the people
    of the various states to
    affirm traditional marriage
    through state initiatives.
    Republicans recognize
    the importance of having in the home a father and a
    mother who are married. The two-parent family still
    provides the best environment of stability, discipline,
    responsibility, and character. Children in homes
    without fathers are more likely to commit a crime,
    drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents,
    use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or
    have emotional or behavioral problems. We support
    the courageous efforts of single-parent families to
    provide a stable home for their children. Children
    are our nation.s most precious resource. We also
    salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive
    families.
    Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting
    traditional marriage laws, both in the states
    and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the
    Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states
    not to recognize same-sex .marriages. licensed in
    other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has
    now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,
    which would subject every state to the redefinition of
    marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people
    to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to
    use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist
    federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the
    nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and
    California. We also encourage
    states to review their
    marriage and divorce laws in
    order to strengthen marriage.
    As the family is our
    basic unit of society, we
    oppose initiatives to erode
    Safeguarding Religious
    Liberties
    Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of
    religion and forbids any religious test for public
    office, and it likewise prohibits the establishment of a
    state-sponsored creed. The balance between those
    two ideals has been distorted by judicial rulings
    which attempt to drive faith out of the public arena.
    The public display of the Ten Commandments does
    not violate the U.S. Constitution and accurately
    reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country.
    We support the right of students to engage in stu-

    • 54 •

    dent-initiated, student-led prayer in public schools,
    athletic events, and graduation ceremonies, when
    done in conformity with constitutional standards.
    We affirm every citizen.s right to apply religious
    values to public policy and the right of faith-based
    organizations to participate fully in public programs
    without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious
    objects or symbols, or becoming subject to government-
    imposed hiring practices. Forcing religious
    groups to abandon their beliefs as applied to their
    hiring practices is religious discrimination. We support
    the First Amendment right of freedom of association
    of the Boy Scouts of America and other service
    organizations whose values are under assault, and
    we call upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to
    reverse its policy of blacklisting religious groups
    which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples.
    Respectful of our nation.s diversity in faith, we
    urge reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs
    in the private workplace. We deplore the increasing
    incidence of attacks against religious symbols, as well
    as incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

  93. Marcel Kincaid says

    “I suppose the answer to why she’s a Republican could be lack of fiscal sanity, Obamacare, the Fast and Furious scandal, the bogus stimulus plan, the failure to prosecute the New Black Panthers, tolerance for union corruption etc. etc, on the part of the Democrats. Obama has been a failure. Kerry and Gore would have been disasters.”

    These talking points all demonstrate you to be an intellectually dishonest and ignorant ideologue … just like Ms. Rogers.

  94. says

    ER: Well, I have plenty of values that are a priority to me. Some of them are priorities to some of your members. Some are not priorities to some of your members.

    Surely the Executive Director of an organisation, at least one the identifies with that organisation, would say ‘our members’, not ‘your members’. That’s very telling.

  95. longstreet63 says

    Actually, she said whay she’s a Republican: She’s from Alabama. they used to be Democrats until Reagan, and switched because they liked the idea of bootstraps…

    Holdonasecond.
    I’m pretty sure that it was pretty much only WHITE Alabamans who became Republicans after Reagan started his campaign with a bunch of racist dogwhistles. Could there have been a connection? Or perhaps black Alabamans disliked bootstraps?

    Speaking of these bootstraps so often mentioned by the wealthy and politically connected, I note she touts her expewrience in “Reforming Medicaid.”

    I’m curious exactly what kind of reform that was. Because Republican ideas of reform generally comprise of A) Stop spending money on poor people, B) spend more money on rich people or C) all of the above.

    This person seriously bombed this interview. If she can’t effectively lobby her own constituents, how is she going to help lobby anyone else on our behalf?

  96. moralnihilist says

    This interview can be summed up as: “I don’t like that question, so I’m just going to answer the one I wish you should have asked me instead.”

  97. moralnihilist says

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

  98. Radi says

    OK, as far as all the comments: TL;DR, so please feel free to ignore if I’m reiterating points that others have already spoken to.

    What I DID notice throughout Edwina Rogers’ waffling above, is that all her supposed “data” comes from 25 fucking years ago. Like that was the last time she ever was exposed to the national and international media. Like she’s been living under a rock, but polishing up her word-salad and lying-with-a-straight-face skills.

    There was a commenter (jayarrr @56) above who mentioned the effect that Karen Handel had on the Komen foundation. I agree that this looks far too similar to that, and I am very afraid for the SCA AND all the organizations that are affiliated/associated with it.

  99. says

    I simply want to know how she got the job. She should be a lobbyist. She should be a politician the way she dodged and evaded answering the questions.

  100. Marc says

    Edwina Rogers = FAIL.

    It is almost as if some of her responses are from a completely different interview. Does she somehow think that she can bullshit her way around freethinkers? Something is very fishy here. A Republican who is in open denial of her party’s bigoted socio-political positions appointed as head of an organization whose mission she knows next to nothing about.

    On top of all that, this is a progressive organization; a conservative lobbyist who supports regressive politicians & their policies has no place as its executive director.

  101. PJay says

    I feel that if you had asked her which magazines she read, she would’ve answered “All of them, republicans read magazines, like such as the Iraq and Africa ones.”

  102. plutosdad says

    Sorry Greta, but this whole interview seems to me to be two people saying
    “I have no research, but I think this is what is happening in the Republican party”
    “well I disagree, I have no research, but I think this other thing is what is happening”
    “How can I believe that with all my anecdotal evidence on my side?”
    “Well all my anecdotal evidence is for my position”

    I mean, I learned nothing from this other than she’s a normal secular republican who doesn’t run in the fundie circles. As a former one myself, I can attest that it is quite conceivable that she doesn’t run into people who want to keep gays and women down and want to establish a theocracy. And that she thinks those are a minority.

    Saying “but we run into fundies all the time” is NOT an argument against that, for the same reason. As an advocate, you may likely run into more outspoken christian fundamentalists who seek you out to argue with you. While the “silent majority” sits back. They do not necessarily want to oppress gays, women, and institute a theocracy, but those are not high priority issues for them either.

    The only real argument is what do the surveys say, and in reading those surveys analyzing how were the questions worded and how did they weight populations. I know you didn’t have those stats with you, but it is sad that neither of you did, especially when you knew you were going to ask those questions.

  103. Wilson says

    I just noted when she kept saying “your members” after Greta pushed. Not “our members”?

  104. patrick jlandis says

    Is it not possible this woman is a Republican based on issues other than their pro-life, pro-religion, platforms? There are rational Republicans and I find it disappointing that secular and atheist issues are being associated so strongly with Democrats.

    Obama never hesitates to harp on his faith in Jesus Christ, and the social justice wing of the Democratic part is lousy with Christian’s inspired by some selectively chosen passage from the Bible.

    I honestly think this woman might be effective in advancing the SCA’s position in terms of actual legislation. In such a divided political landscape, even one Republican vote across the aisle, or vice-versa, can mean something gets done legislatively. If Democrat’s are so solidly Secular won’t the greatest dividends come from convincing even a few Republican’s?

  105. blackjesuitsobserver says

    @godlesspanther
    Part 1) (sorry for my bad English) I’m so happy to see that in the USA there are people like you godlesspanther. I joined an atheist association and a political party (party) that have the word atheist in their names and I discovered that in both them probably there are black Jesuits attached (I’d like to clarify that here with “black” I don’t mean the color of the skin). Some of them maybe was involved from when the projects of the association and party were work in progress or they joined both as soon as they discovered that the association and the party could be successful. Their main action is to push fake atheists to join the association and/or party and to use their votes for to reach prominent positions in the management of the party and association. Then they try to apply psychological tricks (kind of hypnosis, many against one isolated atheist) to try to weaken the motivation of the true atheistic activists and they push to erase the word atheist in the denomination of the association and party and/or to reduce them to generic innocuous organizations that treat of human rights in compromise with or in submission to the desire of the catholic majority. And they treat with the atheists, as you said, “as some dogs that they can throw a bone to so that atheists will shut up”.
    To fight the black Jesuits is a very hard issue, especially in Italy: it’s said that they are authorized by the Church to make every sort of things that a normal Catholic person isn’t allowed (under punishment of excommunication), with this type of authorization they entered (and fought from the inside) every sort of organizations, even Satanists.
    The only organization that reached to give a hard stroke to the Catholic Church in Italy (in the far 1860-1870) was the patriots freemasons allied with the kingdom of Savoy.
    Nowadays all Italian political parties (right, center and left) fight each other to try “to buy catholic votes”. This way their game is to “who is the better licker of the priests”. And only in hidden ways, every now and then, some party try to earn the liking of the atheists (because also some atheists do vote) promising that, maybe, after the vote, atheists will receive a bone.
    I don’t know what Edwina Rogers really is. Probably she is a person that have to work for earn her bread.
    The proof of what Edwina Rogers really is will be this: she goes to the table to “instruct them” and to treat with them, then she comes back and offer you a bone but she perhaps asks for something that she has had to pay to snap this bone. If in the middle term you see that this is systematic (small bones against strong renouncements; justified by saying: this is the best that we could get) you will have the proof of what Edwina Rogers is doing. This is: “don’t let democrats monopolize the secular vote, but only if the bones to pay aren’t too big”.
    But maybe the time will say that Edwina Rogers is a honest girl.
    We European atheists were so satisfied with the idea of the Principle of separation between Church and State that we thought to be very rocky in the USA and we thought that it could help us too.
    But then the Catholic Church and, above She, the Vatican, realized that democracy, interpreted in Her own way, is an advantage for Her and She stopped (openly) fighting the democracy and started to force the democratic system at Her own sake.
    The Catholic church realized that a democratic system can be used in every situation.
    Where the Catholic Church is a minority, She shouts for the respect of the minorities and asks for the respect of human rights and asks for the help from “democratic” countries in which the Catholics are a large group or majority.
    Where the Catholic Church is a large group, She tries to find allies to constitute a majority, to enter the Institutions and to try to create the favorable situations to become a majority Herself, forcing the Institutions to give advantages to the people that are or become Catholics.
    Where the Catholic Church is already a majority, She clarifies that in democracy is the majority that takes the decisions and that, the human rights are sacred, but it’s the majority that decides what the human rights are (obviously only where the Catholics have the majority).
    Bertrand Russell, about in the 30s, calculated that, in about a century, the Catholics could become the majority in the USA and USA would have lost the “Protestant Prejudice”. But he couldn’t be aware of the faster growth of the Catholics caused from the immigration by the South.
    So now in the USA you are in the phase in which the Catholics are a large group impatient of becoming majority, they hide their aims under the generic name of “the Christians’ affairs” and they seek political allies for the defense of “the Christians’ affairs” (but later they will probably say “the Catholics’ affairs”). At the same time probably (as observed in other countries, e.g.: in Italy) they place their men in the Institutions. The special characteristic of these men is that they swear to be loyal to the Church before of the State. And so the Principle of separation between Church and State is buggered.
    In fighting the black Jesuits and saving the real democracy and human rights as individual human rights, untouched human rights as established in the 1948 Declaration, we can’t just require their respect because “dad have fought for them”, we have to enter the order of the idea that we have need to fight for many centuries. This because the doctrine of the Catholic Church cannot admit the pluralism (that is the true democracy) and the Catholic Church aspires to a religious absolutism (the same for Moslems etc.).
    Because the black Jesuits are “zombies”, restless fighters, there is nothing good in fighting against them if we don’t succeed in defeating who creates them.
    That is a group of men who know how to transform a man into a “zombie” and to make him continue to appear a normal person to the eyes of the unaware crowd.
    To fight the black Jesuits isn’t an easy job.

Trackbacks

  1. […] But I did have some serious questions about her. I knew that other people in the community had serious questions about her — many of them the same questions I was having. And the materials I’d read about her seemed somewhat dodgy, not addressing any of these questions in any serious way. Ditto the interview she did with Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist. So when I was given the opportunity to interview Rogers and ask her these questions, I took it. […]

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