Matt Dillahunty Weighs In on Edwina Rogers


Matt Dillahunty weighs in on the hiring of longtime Republican operative Edwina Rogers as Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America.

What the community needs is someone we can rally behind, someone who inspires people to participate in the process, someone who we have confidence in, and someone who is a passionate representative of the issues we value. It’s possible that Edwina could have been that person, with the right introduction, but it’s going to be virtually impossible for her to achieve that, after having been unceremoniously dumped in the laps of people who don’t know her and don’t trust her. Quite frankly, what I’ve seen and heard from her doesn’t fill me with confidence in either Edwina or the SCA.

Go read the entire piece.

You might also want to read the AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Edwina Rogers on Reddit.

Other worthwhile pieces on this topic:
Secular Coalition For… The Right Wing GOP?, Al Stefanelli
Attempting the Impossible?, Almost Diamonds
What I would like to hear from Edwina Rogers, Ashley F. Miller
Controversy comes with the new Secular Coalition for America Executive Director, BlagHag
So far so not good, Butterflies and Wheels
That interview, Butterflies and Wheels
A Republican to Head the Secular Coalition for America?, Camels With Hammers
Edwina Rogers vs. Michael J. Fox, Camels With Hammers
The Pros and Cons of Hiring A Republican to Represent Secularists, Camels With Hammers
Despicable Right-Wing Political Hack New Director of the Secular Coalition for America, Comradde PhysioProffe
Edwina Rogers: the unanswered questions, The Crommunist Manifesto
Can a Republican Lobbyist Represent Secular Americans?, Daylight Atheism
The SCA’s New Leader, Dispatches from the Culture Wars
The Atheist Lobby’s New Executive Director is a Female Republican Strategist Who Used to Work for George W. Bush, Friendly Atheist (interview with Hemant Mehta)
Cautiously Pessimistic: Greta Christina’s Interview with Edwina Rogers, Friendly Atheist (guest post by Amanda)
Who is going to be our spokesperson on Capitol Hill?, Pharyngula
Good questions, ____________ answers, Pharyngula
Introducing Edwina Rogers (updated slightly), The X Blog
Edwina Rogers and the Secular Coalition of America, The X Blog

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself says

    This is the Dillahunty quote that I think is most germane:

    It’s entirely possible that the SCA has done a brilliant job of selecting our new lobbyist – but they’ve done a horrible job of convincing anyone of this. If the decision-making process to hire her was anything like the decision-making process surrounding her debut, that’s a problem. The most enthusiastic response I’ve seen is, ‘give her time’. I agree that we should give her time (I’m not sure that we have a choice). Let’s see what she can do for us. I hope it’s not too late. I hope that we ultimately find out that she’s great…but I’m not holding my breath.

    The SCA seems to have concentrated on finding a political lobbyist and forgotten that they represent us, the secularists of America. Rogers doesn’t appear to have an understanding of how secularists think and what we care about. Okay, there are conservative secularists (Rogers appears to be one) and even (gag) libertarian secularists. But the majority of us are progressive about issues like separation of church and state, same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, stem cell research, sex education and science education. In other words, we’re not alined with the Republican party or its candidates on social issues.

    The SCA appears to have picked Rogers to be their Executive Director and dumped her in our laps with no explanation of why they selected her. Since then, Rogers had a couple of interviews which, quite frankly, were completely unimpressive. She may be used to the Fox News approach, where if something is said in an authoritative manner then it automatically becomes a fact. Most secularists don’t operate that way. She made a couple of misstatements about Republican positions which a minute or two with google have corrected.

    Roy Speckhardt made an equally unimpressive showing on his interview. Essentially he told us to suck it up and stop whining.

    I’ll continue to support various secular organizations under the SCA umbrella. I will not be sending any checks to SCA in the foreseeable future.

  2. godlesspanther says

    ‘Zactly! We do not buy into the garbage that something is true because it’s what we like to hear. Rogers does not appear to understand that she is speaking to people who do need things to be backed up with solid evidence before they can be accepted. Reality based thinking. Of course we are suspicious of her. Of course she knew that would be the case. She attempted to appease us with the same kind of happy faces and puppy dogs rhetoric that appeases those whose thinking is not based on reality.

    She flunked SCA board knows that they flunked.

  3. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    What the community needs is someone we can rally behind, someone who inspires people to participate in the process, someone who we have confidence in, and someone who is a passionate representative of the issues we value. It’s possible that Edwina could have been that person, with the right introduction

    She’s on record attempting to gaslight the atheist community about the Republican party’s stances on the issues of concern to us. There’s no conceivable introduction that could ever make that okay.

  4. R Johnston says

    She’s on record attempting to gaslight the atheist community about the Republican party’s stances on the issues of concern to us. There’s no conceivable introduction that could ever make that okay.

    Well, that was part of her introduction.

    It was a really bad introduction.

    After the Greta Christina interview there were a couple of reasonable responses the SCA could have made. They could have admitted error. They could have said that they believe that Rogers is a fully committed secularist with a background and connections that will be helpful to the cause, that they understand why her evasiveness and dissembling raised concerns in the secular community, but that there’s a learning curve when you move from Republican advocacy to secular advocacy and Rogers is moving up the curve and will be an excellent advocate once she adjusts to the community she’s now representing. I don’t think think I would have bought that latter response, but it would have at least been reasonable, presenting a plausible if unlikely scenario under which a little patience would see things work out well.

    Dismissing fully warranted concerns of the secular community out of hand and doubling down on their decisions without any explanation worthy of the name, however, is not a reasonable course of action for the SCA to take.

  5. 'Tis Himself says

    Christina,

    Thank you for your efforts in this affair. The interviews and links to other blogs have given us a lot of information and opinions which would have been difficult to find otherwise.

  6. llewelly says

    Interesting. But Roy Speckhardt’s interview convinced me the SCA’s entire board needs to resign. Nothing in Matt’s article changes that.

  7. AYY says

    Maybe someone can explain this to me. The left complains about the role of religion in Republican politics but God forbid there should be someone appointed to a secular organization who could relate to Republican atheists and maybe do something about this influence, the atheist blogosphere goes absolutely bonkers.

    Supporting leftist causes has nothing to do with being an atheist.

  8. Mesenchymal says

    Maybe someone can explain this to me. The left complains about the role of religion in Republican politics but God forbid there should be someone appointed to a secular organization who could relate to Republican atheists and maybe do something about this influence, the atheist blogosphere goes absolutely bonkers.

    Supporting leftist causes has nothing to do with being an atheist.

    The Republican party is decidedly anti-secular. This is the current political reality and no denial by you or Rogers will change that. To support the Republican party is to support the erosion of the separation of church and state, as well as anti-choice and LGTB oppressive policies.

    Opposing politicians who support religious influence in government and opposing policies that hurt oppress others because of religious concerns is an atheistic position. It is not a coincident that most of us are liberal.

  9. AYY says

    “The Republican party is decidedly anti-secular. This is the current political reality and no denial by you or Rogers will change that. To support the Republican party is to support the erosion of the separation of church and state, as well as anti-choice and LGTB oppressive policies.”

    You didn’t answer my question.

    If the Republican party is so anti-secular then how do you explain why there are so many conservative secularists/atheists. (Millions of them from the last estimate I’ve read, although I don’t have the link.) Just do a search for “secular right” if you don’t believe me.

    The Episopalians, Unitarians, Reform Jews, Liberation theology Catholics are all on the left, and they’re very politically active. So why is it okay for an atheist to be a Democrats and not okay to be a Reupublican.

    As for oppressive policies, the Democrat nanny state, anti free speech, federal control over everything approach is far more intrusive on our freedoms than what the Republicans stand for. Anyway, the political difference between the Republicans and Democrats has nothing to do with atheism.

  10. jamessweet says

    AYY: While there are certainly some people who immediately wrote Rogers off when they found out she was a Republican, I don’t think you can say that represents the majority of people in this community. The dominant response, at least initially, seemed to be, “I dunno about this, but let’s give her a chance.” It wasn’t until the disastrous interview with Greta that the community turned predominantly against.

    So I think very few people are saying you can’t be a Republican and an atheist. Rather, a lot of people wanted Rogers to explain exactly how she personally makes sense of that (because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to most of us, but we know there are Republican atheists, so we know it’s not impossible) and the answers she gave were highly problematic.

    One more side issue: It is easy for me to understand how someone could be a conservative atheist (being pretty progressive myself, I’d think they were wrong, but it’s easy for me to understand). But I have a much more difficult time understanding how someone could be a Republican atheist. In my personal anecdotal experience, virtually all of the people I know who are conservative-but-not-culture-warriors disavowed the GOP sometime after 2000.

    Almost nobody is denying that there is a potential upside to having a Republican on our time… but we also think there are big potential downsides too. A Republican as executive director of the SCA was going to be a tough sell no matter what, but I think most people initially thought they could be sold on that. I think you are strawmanning a bit.

  11. eNeMeE says

    I think you are strawmanning a bit.

    More than a bit, I think:

    …the Democrat nanny state, anti free speech, federal control over everything approach is far more intrusive on our freedoms than what the Republicans stand for.

    I think one of the larger problems may be that there is a significant overlap between secular and skeptical groups – and many Republican positions are contrary to available evidence. If you support a reality-is-tangentially-related-to-policy group, your credibility has to be called into question – and answers so far have done little to nothing to shore up that credibility.

  12. jamessweet says

    Yeah, heh, I hadn’t read AYY’s anti-Democrat screed when I wrote my comment. That might explain some stuff.

    Still, remaining agnostic for the moment about whether conservatives or progressives have got it right, as well as whether Republicans or Democrats are a better choice for secularists, the following facts seem undeniable:

    1) Right or wrong, the vast majority of the secularist community leans progressive.
    2) Right or wrong, a slightly smaller majority leans Democrat.
    3) When the Rogers announcement was made, the reactions from the secularist community could be lumped in to three major categories:
    –a) “This is great! What an opportunity for bridge-building!” This was a relatively small minority.
    –b) “This is terrible! She’s a Republican, so she probably eats babies!” My impression is that this was an even smaller minority.
    –c) “A Republican? What the fuck? Well, huh. I guess reaching across the aisle and all that.. but still… Not sure what to think.” In my experience, this was the dominant response.
    4) The Greta Christina interview represented Rogers’ first opportunity to answer the question, “So… what’s up with you being a Republican?”
    5) In that interview, she strongly implied that the majority of Republican voters are pro-choice (strongly contradicted by current polling data) and that the GOP has no official position regarding reproductive or LGBTQ rights (strongly contradicted by the party’s explicitly anti-choice and anti-gay platform document)
    6) Thousands of skeptics reacted as if she had just served them a shit sandwich.

    I’ve said it in a million other places, I’ll say it again: One thing you can’t do when dealing with skeptics is tell a lie that is debunked by five minutes of Googling. It’s a cardinal error. Truth be told, we maybe even tend to be a little over-reactive about that sort of thing. But there it is: Rogers was going to be a tough sell to this community no matter what, and she made a crucial error coming out of the gate.

  13. godlesspanther says

    Jamessweet, you have done a great job of summing things up here.

    I have a few things that I would like to add. This is a bit of history — and I really don’t mean to sound like a broken record but…

    The history of the atheist movement is that it has gone from zero to what it is now in a short time. It has been very cohesive and focused — surprisingly so, much more than I could have ever imagined. We have been successful in creating awareness, addressing the issues of secularism, being inclusive in our movement, and expanding our base.

    We can see our success in the degree of reaction from the other side. The fundies are jumping all over trying to out-crazy the other fundies. It’s like there is some sort of prize for the most deranged lunatic (maybe there is for all I know.) A great example of this has been posted on Right Wing Watch — “Anti-Gay Activists Say Obama’s Marriage Equality Stance Seals his Defeat” The article describes these nuts getting so far out there — it’s indescribable.

    Edwina Rogers big first mistake with me is here denial that these people are a threat. (the religious right are a small minority of the repub party.)

    We know that some republicans who hold office in government are members of the xtian right. We know that some are controlled by them like a puppet on a string. The rest have been manipulated into believing that they are under an obligation to appease the fundies because they think they can’t make it without the mega-church voting bloc.

    We can’t afford to minimize the powers that we are up against.

    Trying to convince us that the enemy is really no very dangerous and that most of them agree with us about everything already is a tactic. That is a tactic to weaken the movement.

    What else? Creating a division in a generally cohesive movement. This is exactly what the hiring of ER has done — creates infighting and disagreement within — weakens the movement.

    The next step is to discredit leadership in the movement. Disinformation — lies about strong and uncompromising atheists will be disseminated to create suspicion of these persons. Greta Christian and PZ Myers would be prime targets for this sort of thing. They will start to plant infiltrators. These narcs will do things like promote insane and violent ideas in order to make the entire movement appear to be that way.

    I know that this sounds tin-foil hat but this sort of thing has happened time and time again. Why should this movement be any different?

    I like to keep my paranoid delusions as far from real world evidence as I can — sometimes the two have a disturbing habit of overlapping.

  14. Landon says

    Greta, I’m a long-time reader but infrequent commenter – love your blog! I just wanted to pass along a link I found that informs the whole Edwina Rogers discussion. Now, let me be clear – I still don’t trust her and I still think she’s wrong for the job. HOWEVER… that said… she may have ACCIDENTALLY been on to something about the stance of the average Republican party creature as opposed to the Republican leadership, at least on gay marriage. This party document from a top GOP pollster (http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/top-gop-pollster-to-gop-reverse-on-gay-issues.html) indicates that a “majority” of Republicans (!!) support gay marriage and that the platform/leadership is out of touch with most of it’s own party (and, presumably, speaking primarily to a loud but smaller segment thereof). Again, I don’t think much of Rogers, but this sort of thing DOES cause one to wonder whether a similar disconnect might exist on other issues… like separation of church and state. Anyway, thought you’d appreciate it. Thanks for all your great work!

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