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Edwina Rogers

Can a Republican be an atheist?

Of course.

Can a long-time operative in the Republican party be an effective executive director of a national atheist/ secularist organization?

That’s a different question.

And can a long-time operative in the Republican party be an effective executive director of a national atheist/ secularist organization… when they respond to serious questions about whether their values are in alignment with the atheist community by evading, spinning, telling flat-out falsehoods, and generally treating with contempt the very community they were hired to represent?

That’s a very different question indeed.

When I first heard that the Secular Coalition for America had named a long-time Republican political operative, Edwina Rogers, as their new Executive Director, my first reaction was extreme skepticism. To put it mildly. Actually, my first reaction was the top of my head blowing off. But then I thought, “Calm down. Maybe this is one of those ‘only Nixon can go to China’ things. Maybe a Republican could be uniquely effective at pitching secularism to Congress, and to America. The people who hired her aren’t idiots. This is worth considering. Keep an open mind.”

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.

And I have come to the conclusion that this is a disaster.

There are two problems here. There’s the fact that Edwina Rogers is a long-time operative in the Republican party. And there’s the fact that she responded to questions about this history with evasion, spin, and outright falsehoods about obvious, easily-checked facts.

The fact that Edwina Rogers is a long-time operative in the Republican party is a real problem. If she’d been running some other advocacy organization and happened to vote Republican every four years, that would be different. But for over twenty years, she has made a career of advancing a political party whose agenda and core values are diametrically opposed to those of the atheist and secular community. She has made a career out of advancing a political party that’s been systematically working — among other things — to dismantle women’s right to control our reproduction, to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens, and to advance the political agenda of the Religious Right. That is a big problem.

The fact that Edwina Rogers responded to questions about this history with evasion, spin, and outright falsehoods? That is much more than a big problem. That is unacceptable.

She was talking to her own community here. She was talking to the people she was hired to represent. And she treated us with contempt. She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. She treated us, not like members of a community who she was hired to represent, but like targets of a PR campaign who she was hired to dupe.

The most glaringly obvious example of this: Her repeated insistence that the Republican party isn’t really anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-church-state-separation. Anyone who’s paid even half-hearted attention to politics in the last few decades knows what a laughable claim this is. And anyone with an Internet connection can Google “Republican platform 2008″ and show irrefutable evidence for how laughable it is. As many people in the conversations about her have been pointing out: Either she believes this absurd claim — in which case she’s so delusionally out of touch with the reality of her own party that she’s grossly unqualified for this job on that basis alone — or she doesn’t believe it for a second. In which case, she’s lying to us.

But the problem isn’t just her denial of the political reality of the Republican Party. The problem is also with the way she denied it. The problem is with the slippery tack she took on these questions: the whole “some individuals in the Republican Party are pro-gay/pro-choice/ pro-church-state-separation… so it’s not fair to say that the Republican Party on the whole opposes those positions” line that she kept repeating throughout the interview. That’s not just an evasion. It’s an evasion that insults the intelligence of anyone listening to her. And when asked direct questions about her own values, and how they could be consistent with both her participation in Republican politics and her position as Executive Director of the SCA, she consistently dodged them — even when these questions were asked again, and again, and again.

And this didn’t just happen in this one interview. It happened in the interview she did with Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist (although to a lesser extent, since that was apparently an email interview, without the opportunity for back-and-forth and for pressing her when she evaded direct questions). It happened big time in the “Ask Me Anything” she did on Reddit. In her first week of introducing herself to the atheist and secular community, this same pattern appeared with disturbing consistency.

All this shows two things — both of which are entirely damning. Edwina Rogers does not share our core values. And she does not understand us in the slightest.

I’ve been saying throughout this piece that the atheist community places a high value on LGBT rights, the right to birth control, the right to abortion, separation of church and state. That is generally the case (although of course there are exceptions). But more than that: The atheist community, on the whole, places a high value on truth. The atheist community is a community of people who are willing to risk alienating friends and family, risk losing jobs and homes and custody battles, in some cases even risk our physical safety… because we’re not willing to pretend that we believe in God when we don’t.

Edwina Rogers does not seem to understand how highly we value the truth. And she does not seem to share those values.

What’s more, the atheist community is, on the whole, very skilled at seeing through bullshit. I’m not saying we can never be manipulated or deceived: we’re human beings, of course we can. But on the whole, we’re very well-versed in non-sequiturs, moving goalposts, self-serving re-definitions, changes of subject, emotional manipulations, “Shut up, that’s why” arguments, and other evasive maneuvers of discussion and debate. We deal with them all the time. There was no way we were going to be pacified by the obvious spin tactics Rogers used on us in this interview. There was no way these tactics were going to do anything other than enrage us.

Edwina Rogers clearly understands neither of these things. She doesn’t understand that we won’t fall for the ridiculously transparent spin tactics she tried to use on us. And she doesn’t understand that we give a damn about the truth.

If the SCA had hired her as a lobbyist, I might be reacting differently. I don’t expect a lobbyist to share my values. It’s like hiring a lawyer: I don’t much care if they agree with me, I just care if they effectively represent me. But an Executive Director is different. An Executive Director is more than just a hired gun. An Executive Director is, among other things, the public face of an organization. When it’s an umbrella organization, as the SCA is, the Executive Director is the public face of a movement. They’re who we trot out when we want the public to see who we are… and they’re who we trot out when we want the community itself to be inspired by who we are. The Executive Director of an organization has to share the vision of the community they’re representing. They cannot be someone who’s devoted their career for over twenty years to undermining that vision.

And I am entirely baffled that the SCA board didn’t see this.

It makes me intensely sad to write this. I’ve worked closely with many of the member organizations of the SCA, and with many members of the SCA board of directors. Some of the latter I even consider good friends. I respect their intelligence, and I know they care passionately about this movement. So I’m willing to chalk this one up to a rookie mistake. I know the SCA board aren’t rookies to organizing and activism — but I think all of us are new to atheism being a major national movement with real clout, and mistakes like this are going to happen. Hell, I can even see why they would make it. I can see how they’d be excited at the prospect of pulling up a seat to the big table. I can see how they’d be excited at what a bold, dramatic, unexpected move it was. (Has anyone else seen “Game Change?”)

But this hire was a disaster. The preparation for it was a disaster; the roll-out was a disaster — and the decision itself was a blunder of epic proportions.

The SCA board should have realized what a huge problem this would be in the community. They should have realized that at best — at best — this hire would be hugely divisive, and would likely create the “deep rifts” in the community that we’re regularly accused of having and that we so often joke about. They should have realized that, at worst, the community would overwhelmingly reject her — and be furious at the SCA for insulting us by hiring her.

And the timing of it was dreadful. In recent weeks, we have been riding a huge wave of excitement and inspiration from the Reason Rally. Now, this excitement and inspiration have been seriously dampened. People are angry, disappointed, disillusioned. They’re losing interest: not necessarily in atheism, but in the organized atheist movement. They’re withdrawing donations — not only from the SCA, but from its member organizations as well.* They feel like they’ve been lied to, insulted, manipulated, treated with contempt: not just by Rogers, but by the SCA board, and its own attempts to pretend that the obvious isn’t true, and to spin bullshit into gold.

They feel that way because it is that way.

And they deserve better.

I have been underwhelmed by the choices of the SCA board of directors: in making this decision, in announcing it, and in managing the responses to it. But I have been deeply impressed and inspired by the response of the community. The conversations about this matter have, on the whole, been informed, insightful, passionate, thoughtful, perceptive: not just on this blog, but everywhere I’ve seen this matter discussed. The people chewing this over in public have shown a strong sense of investment in this community and its future. They deserve better than to be represented by leaders who treat them like fools.

In the conversations about Rogers, some people have been saying, “I’m really angry about this, I’m really pessimistic about it, I just hope it works.” I’m going to be honest: I do not want this to work. I do not want this woman representing me. I do not want her representing the atheist movement.

I want the public faces of atheism to represent the values of the atheist community. I want the public faces of atheism to freaking well share the values of the atheist community. Including, above all else, the values of honesty and truth. I do not want the public image of atheism to be a series of Machiavellian plays for power at the expense of the things we actually care about. I do not want atheism represented by someone who is so transparently willing to deceive, dodge, and flat-out lie.

This is a disaster. The SCA board needs to bail.

My personal best-case scenario is that soon — very soon — the SCA board makes an announcement saying, “We goofed. We made a mistake. It was a well-intentioned mistake, based on our sincere desire to do well by the atheist community — but we seriously misjudged the priorities of that community. We have let Edwina Rogers go/ asked for her resignation, and have begun a new search for a new Executive Director. We wish her the best of luck.” This is a community that values honesty… and it’s a community that respects the ability to admit mistakes, the willingness to change your mind when confronted with new evidence that contradicts it. If the SCA board takes this step, I think it would go a long way towards mitigating the bad feeling they’ve created with this move, and towards quickly re-gaining the momentum that this disaster has been squelching.

My next-best-case scenario is that they hide her under a rock for a few months, declare that it isn’t working, and let her go/ ask for her resignation.

My worst-case scenario is that they double down: refuse to admit that they made a mistake, entrench themselves in rationalizing this decision, and continue to convince themselves that we’ll all really like Rogers if we just give her a chance. We gave her a chance. The community’s reaction to this announcement was, in my opinion, entirely appropriate. People on the whole were highly wary at first — with varying degrees of wariness of course — but generally willing to give it a shot and see what she had up her sleeve. It wasn’t until they heard and read my interview with her – and Hemant’s interview with her, and the AMA she did on Reddit — that they became enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

We gave her a chance. We gave her multiple chances.

She blew it.

*****

* (For the record: I can see why people would withdraw membership from the SCA. Ingrid and I have done so ourselves [although I'm not in any way asking anyone else to do so]. But I implore you to not withdraw support from the member organizations. I’ll quote Matt Dillahunty on this, since he said exactly what I want to say: “Even if your objections to this appointment are strong and sound, it’s not the fault of the member organizations and we need people to work together toward solutions. The students who benefit from the SSA, had no part in this and the same is true for people who benefit from all of the other member organizations — withdrawing support is the wrong way to react to this situation.”)

Comments

  1. LeftSidePositive says

    Greta, that was so righteous and so just plain honest and direct that I can just sit here and applaud at my computer screen.

    That, and I’m having a serious case of “I’m-totally-reading-Greta-saying-exactly-all-those-raw-feelings-that-I-couldn’t-put-into-words-and-somehow-my-limbic-system-is-saying-THAT’S-IT!-THAT’S-WHAT’S-BEEN-RUMBLING-AROUND-BETWEEN-YOUR-EARS-ALL-THIS-TIME!!-but-on-Greta’s-blog-there’s-actually-syntax” again, but that seems to happen quite a lot with your writing.

  2. Sean Boyd says

    I’m not a member of the SCA, but I feel like joining, just so I can withdraw my membership. I confess I didn’t know her name before her appointment, but hearing the magic words “Bush administration” gave me a super-sized case of the creeps.

  3. 'Tis Himself says

    I’m no longer sending donations to SCA. I will be sending that money to several of the member organizations. Here’s the list of those organizations:

    American Atheists
    American Ethical Union
    American Humanist Association
    Atheist Alliance of America
    Camp Quest
    Council for Secular Humanism
    HUUmanists
    Institute for Humanist Studies
    Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
    Secular Student Alliance
    Society for Humanistic Judaism

  4. 'Tis Himself says

    I was quite upset when I read Greta’s interview with Edwina Rogers. It was obvious that Rogers thought she could hoodwink some intelligent and politically knowledgeable people. A slightly paraphrased biblical quotation kept coming to me: “The truth is not in her.” (1 John 2:4)

    As some of you may know, I’m an executive for a middle sized company. In the past five years, I’ve only fired one person. That person made a mistake and then lied to me about it. I didn’t fire her for the mistake (I wouldn’t even have chewed her out but would have just told her to fix it) but for the lies. I think that’s an appropriate response to Rogers’ lies to us.

  5. says

    I’m sure this was difficult to write, but it’s right.

    The atheist community, on the whole, places a high value on truth….

    Edwina Rogers does not seem to understand how highly we value the truth. And she does not seem to share those values.

    A thousand times this.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    … she treated us with contempt. She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. … non-sequiturs, moving goalposts, self-serving re-definitions, changes of subject, emotional manipulations, “Shut up, that’s why” arguments, and other evasive maneuvers of discussion and debate. … obvious spin tactics …

    If these are the daily tools of the lobbying trade, what does that tell us about the acuity/acumen/self-respect of our elected/appointed government officials?

  7. quantheory says

    “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.”

    I cringed here. What I saw was this:

    A) Not being really familiar with this conversation to know how to sell a non-Republican line. “Homosexuals”? Besides not being the only group affected by these issues, it’s also a word that polls terribly for us compared to, say, “gays and lesbians”.

    B) Leaving an “out” for herself to avoid treating gay rights as an atheist issue, either because she thinks there might be value in keeping anti-gay atheists on board, or because she thought she could dodge the question this way. How on earth can you hold up right-to-die or sex ed questions as atheist issues, and respond to the same-sex marriage question with sone hemming and hawing. “I guess every nontheist I know is pro-gay-rights, but maybe someone out there isn’t, so I’ll leave it open I guess.” Really?

    C) A lack of recognition that questions about sexuality are part of how people become atheists in the first place, perhaps especially for queer people, but also for anyone who sees injustice or pettiness in religious attitudes toward sex.

    D) An inability to distinguish “these views could theoretically be compatible” from “it’s common for one person to hold these views at the same time” from “it seems reasonable to hold both of these views at once”. Science and religion could theoretically be compatible, maybe, but most religion is not compatible with all of science, and it’s not credible by itself, much less to someone who is willing to take the implications of science seriously, without trying to deflect science from making implications about religion.

    Similarly, anti-gay policy may be compatible with atheism, but the vast majority of atheists oppose it, and it seems irrational in and of itself, even less rational in light of a humanist moral code. (And we are mostly humanists, not Objectivists that use some pseudophilosophical poppycock to rationalize doing whatever we want and calling it moral.)

    And that’s the core problem with the suggestion that the Republican party isn’t opposed to atheism. It doesn’t matter if you can weasel your way into talking about some theoretical compatibility. The Republican party explicitly asserts values that are opposed to our rights and values. For many of us, I hope most of us, it is a non-negotiable condition for them to stop doing that, absolutely imperative before we even consider taking the Republican party off our shit list and making nice.

    And I’m fine with a lobbyist having different values and wanting to be a diplomat, make compromises that are better than nothing. But a lobbyist that knows how to talk to Republicans, but not how to talk to us? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. I don’t think she’s anywhere near an S.E. Cupp, but we don’t need a tenth of that suspicious cluelessness, a hundredth of it, in an actual representative of the community. And I see the same flavor of disingenuous obfuscation here. If this is really happening, I hope she learns fast, because she’s clearly got a lot of homework to do if she wants to represent nontheists of any kind.

  8. quantheory says

    Er, as I forgot to note but hope was obvious, the quote was from the interview, not this post.

  9. Jim Christensen says

    How can her work be opposed to the “core values” of the “atheist community”?

    Atheism implies no core values.

    There is no “community”, although there are some elitist activists getting a lot of attention for now.

  10. says

    The bare fact of atheism requires no core values, any more than the bare fact of theistic belief does. There is, however, an atheistic community, one which is becoming increasingly vocal and organized, and we do have common core values. A respect for truth and a disdain for hypocrisy are very strongly held among them.

  11. says

    Oh, and the reason that matters in context… Read Greta’s post. I’d say re-read, but the evidence suggests you didn’t really read it, just skimmed looking for phrases to quibble about.

  12. sqlrob says

    @Jim

    Yeah, it does imply core values. Does it require them? No. (see: Dictionary Atheism).

    Anybody who’s reached atheism through rational means is going to have a very similar set of values.

  13. says

    Jim, such an ideal would be nice, except for the fact that to be a part of an organization that is literally about supporting secular values means that you must admit to some common values. Reason being a major way of making decisions is one of them, and from this there have been a variety of arguments that have happened time and time again which then influenced and decided on certain issues which atheists have issues with.

    Atheism isn’t anarchism.

  14. Rupert McClanahan says

    Ah yes, what a wonderful way to have a “community” that grows and flourishes–ideological litmus tests!

    Brilliant! Apparently, no person to the right of Noam Chomsky is welcome in Greta’s narrow little world. How comforting it must be to live surrounded by sycophants and fellow travelers who praise every word of fatuous humbug that erupts from your keyboard.

    Apparently, if you don’t agree with Greta on all points and on each and every jot and tittle of the platform of the Democratic National Committee, you are not welcome in whatever Greta perceives the “movement” to be.

    Yes, that’s what atheism needs–ideological purity uber alles!

    Don’t like gay marriage–out!

    Want lower taxes–out!

    Want less government waste–out!

    Don’t like corrupt labor unions–out!

    Want less government regulation on business–out!

    Don’t like illegal aliens–out!

    Don’t like affirmative action, or reverse racism, or whatever you want to call it–out!

    Yes, that’s the answer. Make atheism about accepting an overarching political ideology, and if you refuse to accept all aspects of it–you are out!

    Or–wait a minute, I know I am a heretic (and who would have ever thought we would have heretics in the atheist movement), but how about we accept a few core beliefs, like a rational world view, lack of belief in any deities, separation of religion and government, and work with that?

    Like I said, I know that it is a heretical idea. I am a heretic for not marching in ideological lockstep with Greta on each and every “progressive” pet belief she might have.

    Like Nietzsche said, when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back.

  15. echidna says

    Jim,
    What you have said is true, but trivially true. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, which does not, in itself, define more than that.

    Having said that, there are also no core values of Christianity. I cannot think of a single value that is not contra-indicated in the bible: Sanctity of life; love of family; caring for the poor; even obedience.

    The atheist community, though, as represented by freethoughtblogs, does indeed have a core value, which is honesty, or if you prefer, truth.

    Truth is the single value that sets atheists apart from those who claim to believe in non-existent beings. The religious in our society have either been lied to, or are liars themselves. We don’t need lies; we don’t want lies. And we certainly don’t want our representatives to be blatant liars.

    Who is this “we” that I am claiming? Those who attended Reason Rally, and/or the GAC would be a very good start.

  16. says

    I guess my HUGE confusion here is the idea that we wouldn’t be able to do our own research or work. This whole movement built itself up by learning how to do things ourselves. Don’t like a law? Run for a local government position. Want separation of church and state? Start talking to others. Start blogging. Look at all the student activists! This is a grassroots movement of people who got upset and then did something. Say something about not knowing the research? Someone, and probably a lot of someones, are going to go find the research. You can’t get away with pleading ignorance.

  17. quantheory says

    Er, clarification #2: what the last paragraph of my post was meant to say is that *even if* she was just a lobbyist, she wouldn’t be qualified to do that. Lost a segue somewhere in there.

    “There is no “community”, although there are some elitist activists getting a lot of attention for now.”

    Really? Someone wants to do this now? You do realize that this sentence conveys no real information, except that you feel bitter and resentful about something? Just because you don’t feel like you belong in something doesn’t mean it’s fake. It might feel better to think that, in a sour grapes-y kind of way, but it’s a non sequitir.

    As I noted above, I don’t like Objectivism. I don’t even know how many Objectivists would even use the word community about *themselves*. The idea of an Objectivist community almost seems oxymoronic. But the fact remains that there are Objectivist communities, and a sort of meta-community containing them, and I don’t go pretending they don’t exist.

  18. KirikaSena says

    Well said, Greta. I’m of the opinion that everyone should essentially boycott the SCA until the board fixes their major fuck up. As Greta and Matt have said, however, everyone should continue to support the sub-organizations, as they aren’t to blame for this incredible stupidity. I was concerned (ok, I was pissed) about Rogers from the beginning, and her manipulative and deceptive tactics have merely reinforced my feelings.

  19. Rupert McClanahan says

    Apparently Greta’s sycophantic followers want to give PZ’s minions a run for their money. Bravo!

  20. KirikaSena says

    Haha. You’re quite adorable, hon. At most, I’ve read five of Greta’s posts. I’m perfectly willing, however, to call out stupidity whenever I see it.

  21. Godlesspanther says

    “There is no shortage of opportunistic assholes out there who would be more than happy to wrap the revolution up in plastic, slap a price tag on it, and sell it back to you.”

    — Godlesspanther, 2004 or 5.

    I said that in a YT video that I made when I started to envision the atheist movement really turning into something big.

    And to quote the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads — “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

    When I saw the news about Obama being in support of same-sex marriage i thought it would be a good opportunity for Edwina Rogers to go and prove her story to be true. Go and remind Mitt Romney that he also supports same-sex marriage, reproductive freedom, and separation of church and state — you know like most republicans do — they just keep forgetting.

    After Mitt realized what his true stand on these issues are he would no doubt refuse to give a speech at Liberty University (or would ER claim that he didn’t really do that because some of the members of the audience were not enrolled students?)

    Edwina Rogers does not understand that we have a zero tolerance for lies. Edwina Rogers has worked for people who are never held accountable for anything that they say. She thinks that she doesn’t have to be held to anything that she says.

    I totally agree that ER has to go. She’s good at representing liars — she appears to have no intention of changing that.

    I read a comment in which someone had speculated how Rogers would get the boot, show up on Faux News and whine about how mean, intolerant, and bigoted the secularist community is. I suspect that’s right on — they paint us with that brush as it is — so nothing is going to change there.

    The alternative is to be represented by a shameless liar who cares nothing about the issues that we consider the most important.

  22. quantheory says

    “Ah yes, what a wonderful way to have a “community” that grows and flourishes–ideological litmus tests!”

    Ooh, overdramatic buzz words like “litmus test”. You know what? There sure as hell are a lot of reasonable deal-breaking actions someone could take. I would not support someone who claimed they had been abducted by aliens, had tried to reintroduce segregation, or thrown a baby off a 5 story building. Those aren’t “litmus tests”, they are reasonable minimum standards of behavior. So cut the “fascist Greta is going to burn conservatives at the stake” bit and make a serious effort to say something sensible, not just melodramatic rhetoric.

    The accusation here is one of evasiveness and dishonesty, not just being a Republican. Did you notice?

  23. MV says

    Greta:

    How exactly are the member organizations blameless for this? I realize their members may be, but the hiring of Rogers was a unanimous decision by the search committee and the board of SCA. If I read the previous post correctly, each member organization was represented between these two groups. Therefore, based on this information, it seems to me that each member organization approved of this hire.

    On a practical level, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to punish the member organizations. But to pretend they didn’t support the hire on some level isn’t exactly correct. It’s difficult to fix errors until they are acknowledged and understood.

  24. quantheory says

    “Apparently Greta’s sycophantic followers want to give PZ’s minions a run for their money. Bravo!”

    Ooh! Any more ammo in your bag of dismissive cliches? You’re doing well with the “You agree with Greta and not me so you’re syncophants.” bit. Call us “sheep” next! Or you know, mindless drones. Way more productive than, I dunno, giving an actual argument, or deciding you don’t want to defend your position so you might as well do something else. “Call them synchophants! That will show them how much more rationsl I am! Don’t need anything else!”

  25. John Ullman says

    More important to me than her stand on issues per se is that she was part of a group that cynically manipulated religion to gain wealth and power. I have no doubt the Republican elite is atheist. They certainly have no interest in true religious values like the golden rule. Believing in the dysfunctional superstitions of religion is sad and unfortunate, and one can only hope that education will eventually prevail. But purposefully advocating for these beliefs to take advantage of the very people who hold them is despicable. Edwina Rogers has no place even holding a membership in an organization that is opposed to the superstitions she has spent a lifetime exploiting.

  26. says

    There do, in fact, appear to be core social and political positions shared widely by Secular Americans of any label. Please see the American Secular Census’s first analysis of viewpoint data recorded directly by Census registrants (who affirm upon registration that they are over 18 and skeptical of supernatural claims, including those normally associated with religion): Our first ever viewpoint analysis of the American Secular Census (Mar. 29, 2012) In particular, we are almost unanimously in favor of marriage equality as a national standard, abortion rights, mandatory sex ed in public schools, keeping religious theories out of science class, and taxing religious organizations equally with other non-profits.

    The fact that these values have steered a stunningly large majority of us to the Democratic Party (see Actually, we ARE mostly Democrats (May 7, 2012)) shows that secular voters reject the GOP’s positions and legislative record on issues that matter to us.

    Specifically, >92% of registrants who’ve made political contributions this election season gave to Democratic candidates or PACs (only 7.8% to the GOP). Of those who are registered with a specific party affiliation, >72% are registered as Democrats (only 10.2% as Republicans). And more than 80% usually vote Democratic or lean that way (only 4.2% go Republican).

    If losing our votes and donations so overwhelmingly has not driven change in the GOP, how will any one person or organization?

  27. Godlesspanther says

    Kate Donovan — Edwina Rogers really did assume that we would buy into what she was saying without doing our own research. It just demonstrates the people she has been dealing with. People who wont do research.

    Look at the rhetoric of the right wing and particularly religious right. They spout out lie after lie and most of those can be identified as lies, if not by just the knowledge that we have, a minimal Google search and a few minutes of reading. The audience is those who don’t care about the truth — just tell them what they want to hear.

    ER tried to present a scenario in which the core values of the atheists movement are identical to the core values of a majority of republicans and that it would be easy for her to go to DC and get those repubs on board with secular issues. Then the fundies would end up being shut out of both major political parties and subsequently their influence shut out of government altogether.

    Great story — it would be peachy if that were true. The problem is that it’s not. She can’t get away with that with us.

    —–

    And Rupert — go bite a fart.

  28. Eliott says

    Greta…Bravo. An absolutely wonderful and insightful piece as usual. You not only raise the bar you are the standard. However, even though I love what you wrote I am confused about some issues you raise. You think all the people involved in this decision are brite and I concede that point. Additionally, you and Matt both agree to continue donations to the member groups and I understand that but…A) this smart group of people, the search committee and the SCA board both voted unanimously and I repeat unanimously to make this woman the ED of th SCA. B) The SCA board is comprised of the member organizations of the SCA if I understand the hierchy based on the note you got from Eliza. My inclination is to withdraw all support from everyone involved in this because how can I allow them to be the stewards of my donations and make good decisions based on this travesty, but I do want to hear from the board in aggregate. Greta, I have been in business forever and my sense is someone Influential drove this decision through the board. I’m old and have become a cynical prick but this whole thing has smelled from the beginning. Your interview with Roy was interesting and illuminating but I think there is more. I’d love for you to do and in depth sit down with the entire board of SCA. Depending on that outcome would determine my level of giving and what groups. For now, I am not inclined to help out any of the national organizations and just stay local. Thanks for what you do and looking out for us.

  29. F says

    and generally treating with contempt the very community they were hired to represent?

    She was talking to her own community here. She was talking to the people she was hired to represent. And she treated us with contempt. She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. She treated us, not like members of a community who she was hired to represent, but like targets of a PR campaign who she was hired to dupe.

    Authoritarian parenting. These sorts of conservatives don’t understand what you’re saying here. They do top-down, not representation. Only when they need something (like votes) do they trade representation for the resource, as long as it fits into their worldview somehow.

  30. says

    There is no “community”, although there are some elitist activists getting a lot of attention for now.

    Jim Christensen @ #9: If there’s no atheist community, then why do you care about any of this? Why are you bothering to comment on how the organizations representing this non-existent community are functioning?

    For that matter, why are you reading this blog, and participating in conversations commenting in it?

    Sometimes I think we should have a New Rule, a la Bill Maher. “New rule: People who don’t think there’s any such thing as an atheist community don’t get to contribute to discussions of how it should be run.”

    Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  31. says

    Thanks Gretta, for an well written and insightful analysis. I am in complete agreement with you and hope the remedies you suggest will be enacted immediately.

    Just an FYI to other comentors, be aware that one (maybe two) of the people commenting are Christian trolls. Jim Christiansen being the one I am sure of. Ignore him, he gets off on baiting atheists.

  32. says

    I’ll be surprised if the worst case doesn’t come about. I expect them to come to the whole thing with a model that treats Republican identity like LGBT identity, as a category that should be protected from discrimination. So they’ll see people’s initial wariness as unfair, and they’ll see the process by which people like yourself investigated whether their initial fears were grounded as rigged, and they’ll double down and accuse everyone of being blinded by their prejudices.

    If there’s any hope of them seeing the light on this, it is only by getting them to really see in full technicolour that when hiring an executive director of a campaigning organisation, it is not only OK but absolutely necessary and central to discriminate on the basis of a candidate’s ideas and allegiences!

  33. nails88 says

    Why would the board members of the SCA appoint this partisan hack?
    I have such a great deal of respect for everyone on the advisory board, so this move has me completely baffled.
    Can anyone explain who exactly supported her appointment and why?

  34. says

    That suggests a good approach, actually. Greta, how about looking into some follow-up interviews with the people who made the hiring decision, and asking them their reasoning for the decision and whether their view has evolved?

  35. yiab says

    Excellent post, Greta. A lot of this is exactly what I was thinking as I was listening to your interview. There are many issues (even ones I think are very important) which, if I were to disagree with ER, would not cause me to think less of her selection, but the willingness to give direct answers to direct questions is something which I think should be a minimum qualification for any leadership position in this community.

  36. says

    I could wet myself over the lucidity of this post, Greta. The worst part of it is that a great deal of what you describe about Edwina – about insincerity, evasion, and trying to dupe us with PR-speak – also applies to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and by extension its Executive Director in particular – Elisabeth Cornwell (who just so happens to be Richard Dawkins’ mistress). Uncannily applicable.

    We need more people leading our rationalist/secularist community, who are genuinely more interested in advancing the movement, and our values, than they are about advancing their careers, wanking their own self-importance, embedding themselves in Richard Dawkins’ coat-tails, and coddling and protecting their cronies, friends and fuckbuddies.

    Someone drive it home to them that with this crowd – you shouldn’t be aiming towards having ‘good PR’. You should be aiming towards having credibility.

    Thanks again, Greta.

  37. Roxane Paczensky says

    I may be displaying symptoms of paranoia, but what the heck….. I have been following someone on Face book who runs a page “Dominionism is destroying America”. It has been an amazing source of information for what the religious right are up to, particularly those who are Dominionists – who also go by other names. I have asked the administrator if they can help me with any information. They have responded they’ll get back to me after conferring with their “sources”, but it may take a couple of days.
    Into the abyss I go……..

  38. 1000 Needles says

    New rule: People who don’t think there’s any such thing as an atheist community don’t get to contribute to discussions of how it should be run.

    I feel a disturbance… as if millions of dictionary atheists cried out at once, and were suddenly silenced.

  39. Bruce Gorton says

    @Rupert

    Your entire list sounds fair enough to me. Lets go through that list shall we?

    Don’t like gay marriage–out!

    You know I have never yet met a homophobe who wasn’t otherwise horrible to be around.

    Want lower taxes–out!

    Yeah, I could live without the free loading whiners who complain about the taxes they don’t actually pay.

    Want less government waste–out!

    Funny how ‘waste’ is often things like making sure your food doesn’t have poo in it, and that your kids can read…

    Don’t like corrupt labor unions–out!

    How terrible it is that workers get the right to utilise the mechanisms of capitalism in order to demand higher wages. Don’t they know that captialism is only supposed to work for rich people?

    Want less government regulation on business–out!

    Because Dickensian England had it right damnit! Oh, and see government waste. Also isn’t it strange how conservatives don’t want government telling them not to give the local kiddies cancer with their factories, but would love the government telling them who they can and cannot marry?

    Don’t like illegal aliens–out!

    Sounds good to me – xenophobia is simply the excuse of those incompetent to compete with someone who doesn’t speak their prospective bosses language for a minimum wage job.

    Don’t like affirmative action, or reverse racism, or whatever you want to call it–out!

    Yeah, we aren’t too keen on racist idiots either.

    So, umm, cheerio, don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out, and please, be a stranger.

  40. John Morales says

    Rupert:

    Yes, that’s the answer. Make atheism about accepting an overarching political ideology, and if you refuse to accept all aspects of it–you are out!

    It’s not about being an atheist, it’s about leading and representing the SCA. From their website: The Secular Coalition for America is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization whose purpose is to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States.

    Like I said, I know that it is a heretical idea. I am a heretic for not marching in ideological lockstep with Greta on each and every “progressive” pet belief she might have.

    Nah, what you seem to be is an opinionated ignoramus who doesn’t appear to realise that to lead and represent an advocacy group, one should at minimum pretend to share that group’s values*.

    (If there are no such values, whence the need to represent them?)

    * Perhaps she really did try to do so. If so, she utterly failed.

  41. Bruce Gorton says

    @Greta

    Can you delete my previous post? The personal insults go against your TOS, it was wrong of me to post it and I appologise.

    Thanks hey.

  42. jamessweet says

    I think you’ve got it just about right. I especially like the way you have clearly delineated the three levels here: Atheist + Republican? No big deal. (I don’t think anyone should be a Republican, of course, but that’s another story…) Atheist leadership position + long-time Republican operative? Cause for concern. Atheist leadership position + long-time Republican operative + blatant spin and lies? Disaster.

    Now. All that said, over the last several days I’ve been starting to feel like if the secular community could just hold their noses and go along with it, it might be a win — but I just don’t see any way of that happening, so it’s probably a moot point by now. If nothing else, this seems to be alienating a lot of potential conservative allies who, despite clear explanation like Greta’s here, are misinterpreting the reasons for the community’s rejection of Rogers. And beyond that, I’m starting to feel she could probably do quite well at 90+% of the job, and her connections with the Dark Side could prove valuable, as some have suggested.

    But all of that’s not really going to matter, I don’t think. As I’ve written in two blog posts and numerous comments, the one thing you can’t do with skeptics is tell them a bald-faced lie that can be debunked with five minutes of Googling. In a sense, she hit a spot where skeptics can be distinctively irrational: When it comes to matters of accuracy, we can sometimes tend to blow things out of proportion a bit. At least I know I can.

    It’s sort of like she was appointed to be the head of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in one of her first public appearances in the position she went on a bizarre diatribe about how the steel guitar was a lousy instrument that required no skill whatsoever to play. A lot of audiences might be like, “Woah, that was weird,” and shrug it off, but country music fans are going to be pissed.

    The analogy’s not perfect, because, well, accuracy and truth does matter for its own sake. But she pretty much pushed the worst possible button, right out of the gate. Even if she’d be great for the job (and I’m starting to wonder now if she might), it doesn’t really matter anymore…

  43. Jack Rawlinson says

    Wasn’t there a post here a while back saying that personal abuse in the comments wouldn’t be tolerated? Has that changed? Please don’t let the comments here go the way they’ve gone at Pharyngula. I’m sad enough about that as it is.

  44. carlie says

    I have one small ray of hope, still. It may be that she’s talking that way primarily because she’s spent so many years talking that way that she doesn’t know how to communicate in any other way yet. A few months of intense…therapy, if you will, may get her to eradicate that. No, I’m not talking about brainwashing, I’m talking about actual argumentative style and public speaking coaching. Get her to read and understand and even memorize a list of fallacies. Show her how to avoid making them. Do a lot of verbal sparring practice with other leaders in the movement who are good at it. Stop her every time she starts to dissemble or prevaricate or spin and make her start over.

    I don’t have much hope that this will happen, but if she really is interested in representing the SCA, and if they’re really invested in having her, that’s what I think they need to do.

  45. says

    In recent weeks, we have been riding a huge wave of excitement and inspiration from the Reason Rally. Now, this excitement and inspiration have been seriously dampened.

    That, I think, was her intention, and the intention of whoever else conspired to bamboozle the SCA leadership into hiring her: punk a movement, O’Keefe style, the minute it is identified as a potential threat to the Republicans.

  46. Simon says

    @heatherdalgleish:

    also applies to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and by extension its Executive Director in particular – Elisabeth Cornwell (who just so happens to be Richard Dawkins’ mistress). Uncannily applicable.

    Source for this allegation?

  47. GBJames says

    @ carlie: Seems to me that the SCA should be able to find an Executive Director who doesn’t need to be taught how to tie her own shoes.

  48. carlie says

    GBJames – well, yes. But given the amount of money they’ve already spent on the search, and the amount of publicity it’s gotten, and how it might have impacted her life already, it would be a way to salvage something.

  49. GBJames says

    carlie: We can’t honestly worry about how this has affected her. The SCA needs an effective Executive Director. They bungled their choice and there is no benefit in “throwing good money after bad”. At this point they need to worry about salvaging the SCA. This hiring is a complete failure.

  50. hexidecima says

    It seems that Rupert and his ilk seem to miss the part where it’s stated that atheists are awfully good at picking out strawmen, fallacies, etc, the same as Ms. Rogers and evidently the board of the SCA. That similarity doesn’t surprise me at all unfortunately.

    As for the claim that the member organizations should not be held accountable for the actions of the SCA board, that is a claim with a very short lifespan. They will have to take a stand one way or the other soon and accept responsiblity for their actions.

    On a tangential note, I watched the video about Ms. Rogers on the SCA website and she just raises my hackles.

  51. Zengaze says

    I second Simon’ call for a source to this allegation from heather that ms cornwell was appointed as a result of nepotism. Plus it smacks awfully of the the old sexist dismissal of women. I.e that no female could ever achieve a position of authority in any organisation based on their merits, and therefore must have fucked her way to the top.

    It feeds into the stereotypical characterisation of “eve” the corrupter of men. And is usually perpetuated by males with under achievement complexe.

    Therefore you must provide evidence, or do not make the claim.

  52. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Ah yes, what a wonderful way to have a “community” that grows and flourishes–ideological litmus tests!

    “Don’t be overtly dishonest” is not an ideological litmus test. It’s a very basic test of character. I’m sorry you’ve also failed it.

  53. Mr. Mattir, MQ MRA Chick says

    Thank you for saying everything I think about Edwina Rogers. I live in DC, know a lot of people who work as lobbyists and in various non-profit organizations, and trust me, she’s about the bottom of that particular barrel. There are people who were senior political appointees in the Bush2 administration who have a better grasp of the political realities of the Republican party than her and can actually articulate these realities honestly in a conversation.

    Also, am I the only one who’s a bit tired of the “don’t let this become Pharyngula” meme? Pharyngula has a certain tone, but it’s also formed an actual meatspace community. Strangely enough, I trust people who are honest enough to call something a crap argument and then show up for meatspace activism (often with the very people who they excoriated for making crap arguments) a whole lot more than I trust people who whine about tone and don’t seem to show up much for those meatspace efforts.

    I really don’t care much for whether people can take the rough and tumble atmosphere at Pharyngula – I have plenty of friends, online and in meatspace, who hate it. But they generally don’t whine about it, they just stay away and work elsewhere.

  54. says

    Ah yes, what a wonderful way to have a “community” that grows and flourishes–ideological litmus tests!

    Well, yeah, when people find themselves coming together because of shared values, and forming a community based on said shared values, they’re gonna tend to be suspicious of party-crashers who don’t seem to share the said shared values. I don’t know why you’d have a problem with that…unless, maybe, you don’t share the values in question?

    Notice how Rogers’ sympathizers seem to be saying atheists shouldn’t have values, or shouldn’t expect each other to have any shared set of values? I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised at that, since they’re the same people calling critics of racism “racist.”

  55. says

    Well said. All the straw-manning about not giving her a chance really bugs me, as if we saw that she worked for Bush and immediately called for her to be fired and none of this other stuff happened.

  56. MudPuddles says

    She has made a career out of advancing a political party that’s been systematically working — among other things — to dismantle women’s right to control our reproduction, to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens, and to advance the political agenda of the Religious Right. That is a big problem.

    You missed a huge one (the main one for me)… the Republican Party’s ingrained anti-science bias, and related efforts to sideline scientific evidence when they believe it threatens someone’s profit line. Particularly in respect of environmental issues such as climate change, air pollution, and biodiversity loss which have significant implications for human health and well-being. As people who by definition value truth and policies based on rational thought and evidence, denial of overwhelming volumes of scientific evidence is not something we can ignore, nor is the fact that Ms. Rogers was happy to work within that framework. I wonder what has been her position on Republicans’ climate-denialism? Sure, the RNC platform for 2008 spoke of dealing with climate change based on sound science, but the rhetoric and action of the GOP has remained anti-science and anti-climate change mitigation, and the party continues to push environmentally-harmful policies that advance private profit to the detriment of public good.

  57. crayzz says

    And she treated us with contempt. She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. She treated us, not like members of a community who she was hired to represent, but like targets of a PR campaign who she was hired to dupe.

    She treated us the way republicans treat their base, which is not surprising.

  58. jrel says

    Thanks Greta. Your writing is so succinct it is refreshing.

    I do hope you keep pressing this issue, just as I am sure they hope (and assume) you will stop pressing it.

  59. says

    @Simon says, and @Zengaze

    @heatherdalgleish:

    also applies to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and by extension its Executive Director in particular – Elisabeth Cornwell (who just so happens to be Richard Dawkins’ mistress). Uncannily applicable.

    Source for this allegation?

    Source for what? That she has been responsible for some dire and disingenuous management of RDFRS – or that she happens to be Richard’s mistress? Or both?

    I’ll tackle the allegation regarding her being his mistress straight off the bat just now, even though it’s tangential to the more important matter of her poor and disingenuous management – by first conceding that at this moment I can offer nothing more than what has been laid down in a particular court document, and what I’ve been told by an ex-employee of RDFRS, who has assured me that it’s common knowledge on the inside – and that she is not particularly subtle about it. 

    The court document in question is here:  http://dawkinssuestimonen.com/documents/terminatingSanctions/Exhibit%20%20E%20Declaration%20Of%20Karen%20Owens.pdf

    It pertains to the failed lawsuit of RDFRS against Josh Timonen, if you were wondering – but that’s incidental. It’s a simple legal statement made by Karen Owens, an ex-Trustee of RDFRS, stating essentially what she did while she was involved with the organisation. (Note that Elisabeth Cornwell’s full name is Robin Elisabeth Cornwell – and she uses both ‘Robin’ and ‘Elisabeth’ alternately.)

    There are two particular points of note here. One where she states, seemingly somewhat euphemistically, that “Robin Cornwell… became Executive Director of RDFRS on or about December 2009, but prior to this time, Ms. Cornwell enjoyed a personal relationship with Mr. Dawkins…

    Of course, ‘personal relationship’ could mean a lot of things here – and isn’t necessarily suggestive of nepotism or conflict of interest – but read on to the email addresses and “secret email accounts” she states were used to conduct RDFRS affairs. There’s a number of them – with some pretty whacky and cheesy pseudonyms in there. This is quite suggestive of the level of professionalism within RDFRS. But stay with me…

    This isn’t explicitly noted in the document – but I’ve been informed – and it makes coherent sense, that the two “secret accounts” of Richard and Elisabeth noted in the document were created explicitly for the two to converse with each other. That Richard had a fake email account under the pseudonym ‘Roger Derwen’, which he used to correspond with Elisabeth – who herself was operating under the not-at-all-suggestive pseudonym ‘Marion Mistress’.

    So – going by this affidavit, and what I have been informed to clarify it: Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of RDFRS, Cornwell enjoyed a personal relationship with Dawkins – and part of this personal relationship involved corresponding with him somewhat surreptitiously through secret email accounts and pseudonyms – where at least one of her chosen pseudonyms was ‘Marion Mistress’…

    I’m told that more unambiguous evidence is there and will be forthcoming – and I’m pestering people for it at the minute. But I do at least invite you to find my allegations credible in light of what I’ve just presented. That there was a relationship, some of it was surreptitious, the suggestion is there of a sexual affair – and that all of this may just have had some relation to Cornwell’s later appointment as Executive Director of RDFRS…

    I’ll try to get on to discussing various failings of hers in managing RDFRS, later today, or later this week. I am kinda busy. Got exams on. But I’ll try. Thanks for reading.

  60. GBJames says

    It rather seems that this comment thread is being hijacked to assault RDFRS. Perhaps RDFRS deserves an attack, I really don’t know. But it sure seems like off-topic to me. How is RD having an alleged affair remotely equivalent to the disaster of the SCA appointment? Even if true these are orders of magnitude different in relevance to the secular/atheist movement.

  61. says

    GBJames – I made a nod to RDFRS in my initial comment and included an allegation that The ED of RDFRS is Richard Dawkins’ mistress (and that this was a nepotistic selection and is a substantial conflict of interest). I was quite rightly asked for evidence – and to be quite frank, I’d rather go off-topic to share that evidence, than just disappear.

    I also think that though this is specifically about Edwina Rogers and the SCA – it is at least worth noting parallels in other rationalist/secular organisations where they are manifestly [b]DOING IT WRONG[/b] – in a similar fashion, if less blatantly and publicly than Rogers.

  62. GBJames says

    heatherdalgleish: Conflict of interest? Is RDFRS being mis-represented in some way? In what way is this remotely similar? On one hand there is a person who is clearly unrepresentative of the constancy in a “public face of the movement” role. On the other hand there is (allegedly) having an affair with someone they work with. These things are not alike.

    Are you saying I should stop supporting FFRF because Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor are married?

  63. says

    Honestly, I’m just as concerned/furious at the moment over Roy Speckhardt’s defense of Rogers’ interview performance. He twice stated that he wished she had put even more spin on her responses, as dodging questions and repeatedly inserting talking points is exactly the sort of thing we want from an Executive Director. It’s not what *I* want in either an ED or a secular coalition. All the more reason to withdraw our support from the SCA and its hopelessly out-of-touch board.

  64. says

    @heatherdalgleish

    Overruled. “I have been informed…” = Circumstantial evidence and hearsay.

    Everyone, please proceed with more relevant comments.

  65. Dalillama says

    As I’ve noted elsewhere in discussions of Rogers’ appointment, while it is possible to be a Republican and an atheist, it is not possible to be a Republican and a secularist. Voting for and otherwise supporting Republican politicians is voting for faith-based governance on every level. There is no part of the Republican platform which is based on evidence or facts. Supporting faith-based governance is directly contrary to the definition of secularism, and thus the two are incompatible. No one who is a member of the Republican party can honestly be described as secular or secularist.

  66. says

    GBJames – I did quite explicitly note that the fact that they were/are in an affair is tangential to the more salient matter of Elisabeth Cornwell’s poor management of RDFRS – which I hope to cover later. (Go on – check it – I did write exactly that. I wasn’t abstruse or anything about it.)

    And yes – you would be advised to stop supporting the FFRF if it ever became apparent that one or the other was being incompetent at their job, or clearly manipulating and deceiving people – and it was obvious that the other spouse wasn’t being impartial in addressing the matter.

    More perhaps later…

  67. eigenperson says

    #70 dalillama: I disagree. One can be a member of the Republican party and be a secularist.

    But if one goes further than that and insists on voting for Republicans (except for the nearly non-existent handful who aren’t the lapdogs of the religious right) and donating to their campaigns, then one cannot be honestly called a secularist, no matter what values one professes. Actions speak louder than words.

  68. GBJames says

    heatherdalgleish: I didn’t’ see anything in your lengthly comments that was a serious example of incompetence at RDFRS. And if you provided examples of mismanagement then I missed them. What I saw was a long complaint about sexual infidelity. Suggesting that this is in some way relevant to the discussion of Edwina Rogers and SCA, is preposterous. I suspect you are grinding an ax on the wrong sharpening stone for reasons I don’t know.

  69. says

    @ Thomas Lawson

    Just because I personally do not yet have enough substantive evidence to clinch it with complete certainty – doesn’t mean that there isn’t enough evidence to hand for it to be credible, and doesn’t mean that it ain’t true. You don’t ‘dismiss’ cases with weak but coherent substantive evidence. You either look deeper yourself, or wait for further evidence.

  70. says

    GBJames – perhaps English is not your first language. I said:

    I’ll tackle the allegation regarding her being his mistress straight off the bat just now, even though it’s tangential to the more important matter of her poor and disingenuous management

    I’ll try to get on to discussing various failings of hers in managing RDFRS, later today, or later this week. I am kinda busy. Got exams on. But I’ll try. Thanks for reading.

    My emphasis.

    As for ‘infidelity’ – I don’t care where his cock goes – unless it is arguably impairing his judgement in running a charitable organisation, which I and others have an interest in…

  71. Greta Christina says

    heatherdalgleish: Even if absolutely everything you said about Cornwell, Dawkins, and the RDFRS were true, it’s not comparable. On the one hand, you have people in an organization hiring people they have personal relationships with, sexual or otherwise, who they like and get along with but who might not be the best qualified for the job. On the other hand, you have people in an organization hiring someone who’s vision and values are entirely antithetical to that organization, and who treats the community the organization represents with contempt. The former is disappointing, but also extremely common, and even in some ways understandable. The latter is a blunder of epic proportions.

    This is a derail. And it’s a derail of a discussion on an important topic that many of us care about. Please stop it. Thank you.

  72. GBJames says

    heatherdalgleish: I am quite fluent in English, thank you. Promises to be substantive, in context of lengthly absence of substantiveness, is not much of a defense. My suggestion is that you think before you spew what amounts to character slurs, while pretending that it is equivalent to the subject of this blog. Perhaps you should have withheld comment in the first place, at least until your exams are done, and you could offer something substantive.

  73. says

    I love how you put the emphasis here on truth and honesty, not on specific positions. She was dishonest, and the SCA apparently supports that dishonesty. But, as you say, “[t]his is a community that values honesty… and it’s a community that respects the ability to admit mistakes, the willingness to change your mind when confronted with new evidence that contradicts it.”

    I can only hope that the Board is listening.

  74. John Horstman says

    @MudPuddles (#60): There’s also the problem of other Republican platforms being anti-science, in the sense of rejecting all of the evidence that doesn’t support the ideology. Economic policy is one of these – we have centuries of evidence indicating that unregulated capitalist markets are prone to abuse and decades indicating that the sort of corporatist, neo-Liberal Economic markets we’re pursuing serve primarily or exclusively the interests of the fantastically wealthy. None of that matters to Republican politicians (or it matters very much, and they’re simply lying about their actions being intended to benefit anyone but the top .1%), who continue to suggest that we further dismantle market regulation and the public sector. Ultimately, the problem is that a lot of Right-wing ideology is based in Neoclassical Liberalism (aka neo-Liberalism) which is predicated on the rational actor model of human behavior and an assertion of universal truths (this plays out as a denial that different historical-cultural contexts can, say, result in the same action having different outcomes). These are bad models – they do not accurately represent what they purport to be representing much of the time. They are incompatible with an evidence-based worldview.

    The fact that a whole lot of secularists are Left-leaning (see the links to secularcensus.us in comment #29) on economic issues as well as ‘cultural’ issues (I don’t really like this framing – economics is part of culture and the assertion that it isn’t is one of those universal-truth Right-wing fallacies I mentioned, basically asserting that the principles governing economic exchanges are not cultural constructs but instead laws of nature – but in the interests of not sitting here trying to come up with a better term, I’ll use it) is no accident. As a great person once said, “Reality has a well-know liberal bias.”

    @marcbarnhill (#68): Yeah, I’m very seriously disturbed by Speckhardt’s response to everything. Has doubling-down on a massive screw-up ever worked well for anyone who’s tried it?

  75. says

    @heatherdalgleish

    (yes, I know it’s a derail, this will be my only comment, sorry Greta).

    When making claims like the ones you made about the RDFRS, it’s important to gather your evidence, write it up, very clearly, and post it somewhere before mentioning it in a comment elsewhere. In your original mention, you should have simply linked to a blog post (or pastebin entry, if you don’t have a blog), where you (or someone else) laid out (and quoted, with citations) sufficient and convincing evidence for your accusations. And if anyone asked you about the topic here, you should have just politely referred them to the aformentioned blog (or pastebin) as a place to continue the conversation.

    (And I agree with Greta’s explanation of why the situations are not comparable, at least not on the evidence shown so far.)

  76. says

    Greta – my own main point, which I have been derailed from – is that under Cornwell’s Executive Directorship, RDFRS has treated the atheist community with contempt, and been disingenuous and dishonest. 

    I appreciate that these are complex allegations that I’m making, that may be immediately familiar to me – but alien to all here – and that I’d need to go through a rigmarole to tell the narrative and present the substantive evidence I have. 

    But if you wish at least one salient example of them doing exactly this, so that you at least know that I’m not talking out of my ass, and latching onto this because it suits me – then there was the great fuck-up of two years ago – to which this was part of the atheist community’s response: 

    http://realityismyreligion.me/2010/02/25/update-on-dawkins-forum-closure/

    http://www.rationalskepticism.org/general-chat/when-will-the-new-forum-appear-t4011.html

    In a sentence: they fucked us over. The situation was appallingly handled. We were lied to, tossed aside, rick-rolled and outright censored – in the name of the ‘vision’ that those at the top of RDFRS had. Professionally, much, much worse than the SCA. At least you have managed to squeeze some straight answers out of the SCA, even if you don’t particularly like the answers you’re getting. Very little has ever been forthcoming from RDFRS regarding how that situation and similar situations were handled. They are INCREDIBLY shtum about their internal affairs (pardon the pun), and evasive about answering difficult questions, for an organisation supposedly devoted to scepticism and rationalism. I invite you to test this sometime.

    That was two years ago, though – why bang on about it? They’ve never resolved it? They’re still employing the same Executive Director who oversaw that fiasco – even though it has predictably slashed traffic to their site, and charitable donations at least on the UK side? 

    And that two years later, after totally cocking something up – the staff’s response there is this intelligence-insulting PR-speak about just how great they are and how they need our donations?

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644147-rdfrs-innovating-for-a-secular-world-help-us-make-this-the-season-for-reason-and-a-secular-new-year

    And that statement also contains lies and half-truths, too. Elisabeth Cornwell had a very minor role in implementing the Out Campaign, and – even though I don’t really like it, or him – the Scarlet A was ENTIRELY Josh Timonen’s creation. 

    So yeah, we got lies, evasions, censorship, bullshit and insulting the intelligence of the atheist community in the name of their vision. CHECK!

    I do appreciate that this is a tangent, and I apologise for taking it away from the specific issue of Edwina Rogers – but if you care about this issue more generally – about the atheist community, and secular/rationalist organisations being oblivious and going some way to alienating their core constituency – then I hope you will at least register this mentally, and maybe raise a few more eyebrows and ask a few more questions than you might have. 

    That’s all I’m going to say on this now. I have to go concentrate on other things. 

  77. Greta Christina says

    Anybody — and I mean ANYBODY — who continues with this thread derail is going to get their comments put into moderation at best, and will be banned at worst.

    This is a derail of a discussion on an important topic that many of us care about. Please stop it. Now. Everybody. Thank you.

  78. Rory says

    Greta, thank you for the integrity and diligence with which you’ve addressed this issue. I was very disappointed with Hemant’s last post on this topic, where he essentially stated that all the objections to Rogers are nothing more than an ideological purity test, and that we wouldn’t have been happy with anything she said in her interview.

    You were the one who conducted the interview. You have the best sense of how she responded to your questions. And you’re not afraid to call a rat a rat.

    Thanks.

  79. John the Drunkard says

    I guess we need to recognize that some orthodoxies are so similar to religions that atheist/secular groups need to acknowledge that they are fundamentally contrary to our aims.

    I am thinking of the Republican Party, as such, as one example. But Aldous Huxley’s ‘idolatrous pseudo-religions’ qualify as well. Huxley used Freudianism and Bolshevism as examples. I believe that Objectivism (e.g. anarcho-capitalism, Randroidism) and post-bolshevik utopianism (Maoism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ism and some branches of chronically furious political correctness) are so similar to religioun at its worst that the ‘IPR’ tag is appropriate.

    PS: Distractions about Dawkins’ sexual conduct are an embarrasment to Greta’s clear and important note.

  80. 'Tis Himself says

    Has SCA said anything about the backlash over Rogers’ selection as Executive Director? There’s nothing about it on their website.

  81. notafraidoftheskybully says

    This post by Greta makes me incredibly sad. The good standard of journalism she showed in her interviews with Edwina Rogers and Roy Speckhart are lacking here. In fact, in light of the comments here, its clear that she had her mind made up when she interviewed Roy and therefore did a disservice to her readers.

    But for over twenty years, she has made a career of advancing a political party whose agenda and core values are diametrically opposed to those of the atheist and secular community. She has made a career out of advancing a political party that’s been systematically working — among other things — to dismantle women’s right to control our reproduction, to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens, and to advance the political agenda of the Religious Right. That is a big problem.

    I understand why Greta may see the Republican party in this light. As a giant sucking maw whose only goals are the so-called ‘family values’ of anti-abortion and anti-gay rights. After all, these are the most important issues to Greta, so some amount of observation bias is to be expected. Unfortunately, the facts just don’t back this up. This past congressional session, since the Republicans took back the House of Representatives in the midterms, has been far more about taxes, the federal deficet and the federal debt than it has been about social issues. Sure, some of the states with Republican supermajorities (I’m looking at you, Virginia) have gone completely batshit, but at the federal level social issues just aren’t a priority. A recent Pew Research Survey agrees with that assertion. Edwina Rogers is not the Republican Party. She cannot be blamed for their entire platform.

    She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. She treated us, not like members of a community who she was hired to represent, but like targets of a PR campaign who she was hired to dupe.

    The most glaringly obvious example of this: Her repeated insistence that the Republican party isn’t really anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-church-state-separation.

    This is a gross mischaracterization of what she said. From the transcript of your interview, emphasis mine:

    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.

    I think there are enough clarifiers in there to assure even the most skeptical individual that she was speaking about her own personal feel of the party. You can accuse her of being naive or clearly disconnected with reality, but you can’t accuse her of trying to shove some agenda down your throat.
    This much is true: she’s wrong when she says (from earlier in that same interview), ER: Well, I can tell you, it’s not a party position. It’s an individual position by some members. Even back in 94, when she claims she was last in a party role, opposition to gay marriage and abortion were part of the Republican platform (I checked). However, and for anyone who hasn’t already made up their mind (as Greta has), an important however, Edwina goes on to say, 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.

    Ultimately, we’re left with a decision. We can decide, as Greta has, that Edwina is some sort of evil, lying scum who is out the hoodwink the athiest movement into… well I don’t know what, exactly. I’ll address that in a moment. Our other option is to question what could be at the root of Edwina’s facts being wrong. It seems to me that Edwina knows a lot of people around her in the Republican party who either don’t agree with that part of the official party platform or who don’t think it is a high priority. Maybe her associating with those people has led to a warped perception of the party. I don’t know. It seems to me, though, that it would make a lot more sense to try and start courting these Republicans, and let them know the harm that their official platform is causing. Maybe we could see a change in that platform for the better. Its a lot easier to just demonize them, I guess. Anyway, thats all speculation. I just think we should acknowledge that there are some options between “she’s delusionally out of touch” and “she’s outright lying to us.”

    My personal best-case scenario is that soon — very soon — the SCA board makes an announcement saying, “We goofed. We made a mistake. It was a well-intentioned mistake, based on our sincere desire to do well by the atheist community — but we seriously misjudged the priorities of that community. We have let Edwina Rogers go/ asked for her resignation, and have begun a new search for a new Executive Director. We wish her the best of luck.” This is a community that values honesty… and it’s a community that respects the ability to admit mistakes, the willingness to change your mind when confronted with new evidence that contradicts it. If the SCA board takes this step, I think it would go a long way towards mitigating the bad feeling they’ve created with this move, and towards quickly re-gaining the momentum that this disaster has been squelching.

    My next-best-case scenario is that they hide her under a rock for a few months, declare that it isn’t working, and let her go/ ask for her resignation.

    Based on no more than ten days on the job and a handful of interviews, none of which were more than a dozen questions, Greta wants her canned? We have no where near enough data to make an informed decision on whether or not she can be an effective leader or lobbyist. She hasn’t even had the opportunity to /do/ anything yet. This kind of belief based on scanty evidence is disturbingly familiar, but not from anyone who calls themself an athiest, agnostic or free thinker.

  82. GBJames says

    ‘Tis Himself: I don’t know of any public statement other than Greta’s interview with Roy Speckhardt. I got a personal response from Eliza Kashinsky, SCA’s Chief of Staff, to an email I sent them when I first learned of the Rogers appointment. It amounted to a “we knew it would be controversial and hope you come around” sort of message. I imagine others who sent email directly got a similar (or identical?) response. But SCA seems to be pretty mum on the subject.

  83. GBJames says

    @notafraidoftheskybully: What was the very first bill on the floor of the House in February, 2011? HR1: A bill to defund Planned Parenthood. What was the bottom-line for Republicans in the House in the fight over the debt ceiling? Defunding Planned Parenthood.

    I think you are not living on same planet that I am on. Arguing that Congressional Republicans are not driven by the right wing social values agenda is delusional.

  84. notafraidoftheskybully says

    @GBJames

    Not delusional, just seen through a different lens. You are looking at it as if athiest issues are the most important ones to the legislature. Thats understandable, because presumably they are the most important ones to you.

    I invite you to check the Pew study I linked to. 51% of Republicans think that Abortion is “Very Important” to their vote. Thats a big number, sure. But only 40% of Democrats think it is “Very Important”. Democratic voters care less about this issue than Republicans do, it seems. Voter-wide, social issues rank at the absolute bottom of issues respondants were asked about, averaging just barely over a third.

    I think its more likely that some wack-ass Republican from the bible belt tacked the Planned Parenthood thing on there and the rest of them went along with it because they don’t care either way. There’s an opportunity here to change their mind about that.

    After all, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. That flies in the face of your assertion that Republicans are only driven by a social agenda.

  85. says

    This is a derail of a discussion on an important topic that many of us care about. Please stop it. Now. Everybody. Thank you.

    I apologise, Greta – and appreciate your patience. I believe the issues I raised were pertinent, and relevant generally – but now isn’t the time and this isn’t the place.

    I agree with everything you’ve said about Edwina Rogers – about her obliviousness, disingenuousness and evasiveness. If she doesn’t change her mindset quickly and drastically – it will be a countdown to see how long it takes for her to leave or be pushed. The longer – the more bitter and exasperating. Still can’t quite fathom what was going on in the minds of those who voted her in. Perhaps they thought that it wouldn’t be bad if it seriously pissed people off, since no publicity is bad publicity, or something. The guy from the SCA that you interviewed sounded really nice – but also incredibly naive, and a bit oblivious and out-of-touch himself.

    It’s exasperating – but I suppose it’s mostly a game of wait and see now… Or watch and facepalm…

  86. GBJames says

    notafraidoftheskybully: DADT did not get repealed at the behest of the Republican Party. No, I don’t think atheist issues are the _most_ important issues, but I do think they are very important. I think rational thought is the most important attribute of any legislator. And I don’t see much of that from the Republicans in Congress. I still think you are delusional.

  87. GBJames says

    @heatherdalgleish: At the risk of being called agreeable, I completely agree with your comment at #91.

  88. Dalillama says

    @Notafraidoftheskybully
    The problem that I have pointed out is that even if you focus only on the economic issues (which you are wrong to do, as these have not in fact been the focus of Republican rhetoric or policy) they are still factually wrong in their positions on these issues. Your defense of the allegedly nontheist (many Republicans justify their economic policies by referring to their faith) portion of the Republican policymaking sphere has failed to account for the contra-evidentiary nature of the tax and trade policies advocated by the Republican party.

  89. 'Tis Himself says

    notafraidoftheskybully,

    I think you’re missing an important point. It’s not that she didn’t do the research, it’s that she lied that about Republican positions on various topics. If she had said “I don’t know, I’ll find out and get back to you” then she would have seemed ignorant about her own political party. But when asked about the Republican anti-abortion position, she said, “Well, I can tell you, it’s not a party position.”

    It didn’t take more than one minute with google to find the 2008 Republican Party Platform which says:

    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. [emphasis added]

    It appears the Republican Party disagrees with Rogers.

    I cannot believe a senior party operative doesn’t know this. I knew about it in 2008 and I’m not even a Republican. So there appears to be two choices, either Rogers is incredibly ignorant about her own political party or she’s a liar. Neither of these choices put her in a good light.

  90. 'Tis Himself says

    I just wrote a post with a link to the 2008 Republican Party Platform. Apparently that put it in moderation.

    In short, I said that contrary to what Rogers said, the Republican Party has an official position on abortion and it ain’t pro-choice. So either Rogers is quite ignorant about her party or she’s a liar. Neither of these choices put her in a good light.

    (Don’t know why said comment got marked as spam, but it’s been posted now. -GC)

  91. Tony says

    Rupert:

    Apparently Greta’s sycophantic followers want to give PZ’s minions a run for their money. Bravo!

    I’ve only read the first 22 or so responses, so perhaps you address this later on, but I’m going to ask anyway: do you have something to say that’s relevant to the discussion at hand? You’ve said nothing that indicates that you’ve read and comprehend Greta’s post. There *is* an atheist community. Perhaps it’s not as widespread as other communities.
    Perhaps it’s not as well known as other communities.
    Perhaps there’s divisiveness within the atheist community, similar to other communities.
    Perhaps there are “sycophants” (though I’m doubting this one, given the number of atheists who value intellectual honesty, reason, logic and the pursuit of truth; I find religion brings the sycophants in far more than pretty much any other group…and that, by orders of magnitude).
    I read Greta’s post. She said what a great many other atheists have said following Edwina Rogers’ appointment. Greta presented the argument against Edwina. She explained the reasons. She used logic. Pretty much anything you need to know to reach an informed conclusion about Edwina Rogers’ appointment was included in Greta’s post (either by her words, or in the multiple links she provided). If someone came in blind to this entire craptastic situation, and read Greta’s post, as well as the links therein, it’s highly probable they could reach the same conclusion she did on their own.
    Given that, what are your reasons for not agreeing with her?
    Why do you reach a different conclusion than she does?
    Why do you disagree when others agree with Greta?
    Why do you feel Greta (and PZ for that matter) has ‘sycophants’? For that matter, do you know what ‘sycophant’ means?
    If you do, can you explain how the word would apply to anyone that’s agreed with Greta (and again, PZ for that matter)?
    If you disagree with Greta, does that mean you support Edwina’s appointment?
    If you support her appointment, why?
    The tactics you’ve engaged in are exactly the deplorable tactics utilized by many people to create a smokescreen from the actual issues at hand. You haven’t addressed anything of substance related to the argument at hand. You haven’t even effectively refuted anything Greta has said. You present no argument against her (or any of the other atheists that have already interviewed Edwina).
    What you have done is make statements like:

    Like I said, I know that it is a heretical idea. I am a heretic for not marching in ideological lockstep with Greta on each and every “progressive” pet belief she might have.

    What is this supposed to mean? That you don’t follow Greta like a blind sheep? I’m reasonably sure she wouldn’t want you (or anyone else) to do that.
    How do you know that people haven’t come to the same conclusion Greta has, on their own, and posted in agreement with her?
    How do you know anyone is actually *following* her?
    No one said you have to believe everything Greta says. But if you’re going to come to her blog and post a response, perhaps indicating what you *do* believe in would be helpful.
    In addition, actually responding to the post itself, instead of knocking down poor little strawmen would be a far more effective manner of conveying your disappointment in her.
    Moreover, what justification do you have for accusing anyone of being her sycophant?
    What evidence do you have that anyone marches lockstep with her progressive ideals?
    In essence: What are you doing here?

  92. Tony says

    quantheory:

    You’re doing well with the “You agree with Greta and not me so you’re syncophants.” bit.

    To be honest, I’m not even sure hen (I think I’m going to start trying to use the Swedish non gender pronoun I read about last week http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_sweden_s_new_gender_neutral_pronoun_causes_controversy_.html)
    has done well with that. Where is the counter-argument that presents an opposing viewpoint? Rupert McClanahan hasn’t presented anything of substance for anyone to agree with. Should we blindly follow hen’s undefined position on this situation vs Greta’s well defined position?
    Ironically, this person is similar to Edwina Rogers: they both try and *fail* to sidestep the core issues at hand.

    Carlie:

    It may be that she’s talking that way primarily because she’s spent so many years talking that way that she doesn’t know how to communicate in any other way yet.

    If that were the case though, wouldn’t it be more prudent for her to be quiet for a while? At least until she learns how to open her mouth and say things that reflect the values of the organization that she was hired to represent? On top of that, did she set up and give the interviews completely on her own, or were other higher ups in the SCA involved? If they were, was no one around to tell her that some of the things she says and believes are in direct opposition to the mission statement of the SCA? I could see your point if all she did was dodge questions and move the goal posts. But she also flat out lied. The former I can see as being inherent to a form of communication (not one I agree with, mind you) that she *could* conceivably alter in time. The latter is inexcusable.

  93. notafraidoftheskybully says

    GBJanes says:

    notafraidoftheskybully: DADT did not get repealed at the behest of the Republican Party. No, I don’t think atheist issues are the _most_ important issues, but I do think they are very important. I think rational thought is the most important attribute of any legislator. And I don’t see much of that from the Republicans in Congress. I still think you are delusional.

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll317.xml

    And yet, more Democrats voted against the DADT repeal than Republicans voted for it in the House. I agree with you that rational thought is the most import attribute of any legislator. Sadly, I think its a quality lacking from both parties and to heap it all at the Republican doorstep is folly. Athiests make up a much smaller portion of the electorate than the fundies do, so it isn’t any surprise that even President Obama ends his speeches with that hackneyed “God Bless” crap.

    And again, I’m not defending Edwina’s assertion that this is platform Republican stuff. I just don’t think it consists of the majority of their aims. And I’m afraid that you haven’t provided sufficient evidence to the contrary to convince me that I’m delusional. We can’t accept something as true just because we believe it to be.

    Dalillama says:

    @Notafraidoftheskybully
    The problem that I have pointed out is that even if you focus only on the economic issues (which you are wrong to do, as these have not in fact been the focus of Republican rhetoric or policy) they are still factually wrong in their positions on these issues. Your defense of the allegedly nontheist (many Republicans justify their economic policies by referring to their faith) portion of the Republican policymaking sphere has failed to account for the contra-evidentiary nature of the tax and trade policies advocated by the Republican party.

    Economics is to Science as Alchemy is to Chemistry. Until we can accurately predict the result of economic policies, I won’t believe anyone who claims that there is a ‘factually correct’ position. Do I think that Republican tax policy is ridiculous? Absolutely. But I also don’t think that the spending habits of the Democratic party are sustainable. Any non-partisan or bi-partisan group that has looked at this issue agrees that a combination of spending reductions and tax increases is in order. But neither party has come to the table with that. The Republicans have Grover’s idiot pledge and the Democrats have the sacred cow of entitlement spending.

    I don’t know how to address the idea that the Republican Tax and Trade policies are demonstrably theist in nature. Sounds like conspiracy theory to me.

  94. Eric123 says

    A few comments…

    1. Remember that Rick Perry video? Of course you do. The one in which he declared his good Christian credentials and then uttered some of the most bigoted anti-gay comments of the entire Republican primary? (And that’s saying something.) In case you haven’t seen it:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujmJMp27lcQ

    Imagine if Perry had instead said that African Americans or Jews were not suitable for military service. Perry’s campaign would have effectively declared itself finished with that ad. But, make bigoted remarks against LGBTQ people and it doesn’t cost you politically, at least with most Republicans.

    And it’s no deterrent to Edwina Rogers who contributed to his campaign.

    Is there any public record of her denouncing Perry’s statement? Or, is this just the way it is when you’re a Republican loyalist like Rogers?

    If you’re Edwina Rogers you work for people like former Senator Trent Lott, one of the most retrograde Cro-Magnons of the US Senate, who has given 5 speeches to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. As Rogers knows, in Washington there are fortunes to be made, careers to advance, and ladders to climb.

    But what does her support of Perry mean? I suggest the following:

    a) Human rights for LGBTQ people have not been a priority for Rogers. In fact it’s so low on her scale of priorities and values, or so it appears, that she’s willing to devote her energies to ensuring GOP success at the polls and continued influence over American society. Let’s establish a present context. In the face of a rash of gay teen suicides around the country, marriage discrimination (imagine if we were still battling to legalize interracial marriage), anti-gay violence and attacks, job discrimination, LGBTQ teen homelessness, transgender discrimination, the ongoing fraud of destructive gay “conversion” therapy, and more, despite all of this she’s ok with advancing the interests of a political party, the GOP, that is working hard to ensure that none of this changes.

    b) It also strongly suggests that she’d be fine with a Perry presidency, and therefore fine with adding more right-wingers to the Supreme Court, and therefore fine with a massive retrogression in American law to open anti-secularism, anti-atheism, the outlawing of abortion, attacks on civil liberties and minority rights, overturning of gay marriage laws and consumer protections, etc.

    Rogers may or may not disagree with some of these likely outcomes, but it’s apparent that they don’t trouble her as much as having a more liberal and secular President appoint similarly oriented justices–justices who would likely accelerate LGBTQ equality.

    2. I also find her association with and support of the Republican Party deeply troubling if not outright unacceptable. Please understand where I’m coming from. This is not a partisan party position. Please note, I’m no big fan of the Democrats. So, I’m posting three articles to give you a sense of the background I’m drawing from. They help to fill in the details as well as stitch together a big picture narrative of where we are as a country, and what it really means when someone says that they are a loyal conservative Republican, like Rogers.

    The best piece I’ve seen on this big picture narrative in perhaps the past 5 years was published very recently in Orion magazine. I’d pay you all to read it if I had the money, but I don’t. Here it is anyway:

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6681

    So, if you find that picture accurate and in accord with your own read of the passing scene, if it reads to you like the view you end up with if you actually follow the evidence, and if it reads to you like it did to me like a “finally, someone has with great intelligence put much of my concerns all into one place” type of article, then let’s get clear on where the GOP is at.

    First:
    “Political Scientist: Republicans Most Conservative They’ve Been in 100 Years”
    https://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/04/10/150349438/gops-rightward-shift-higher-polarization-fills-political-scientist-with-dread

    Second:
    And, you may have seen this piece from the Washington Post, co-written by Norman Ornstein, a conservative with the right-wing American Enterprise Institute: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_print.html

    In short, the GOP has become a party of anti-intellectualism, anti-science, Tea Party racism (no, not all tea baggers are racist), anti-immigrant nativism, Christianism, free market fundamentalism, anti-secularism, and is anti-woman and anti-liberal. It’s become an albatross around all of our necks in dealing in any intelligent, future-oriented, science-based, coherent way with the massive converging problems that are now looming over us.

    So, you already know how this shoe drops, but let’s put it plainly: Rogers is an ardent backer of an increasingly extremist political party that is at war with a very wide range of views that the great majority of atheists and humanists support, and thus inspires no confidence in me or any atheist or humanist I know. The more support the GOP gets, at least at this point in its history, the worse things get for the agenda of the SCA.

    “She’s only working on so-called “secularist” issues,” you might say. “Does she need to be aware of or agree with you on these other things? [Like the James Gustave Speth article above in Orion magazine]” Yes, I’d say. And this leads us into a necessary conversation about the future of the SCA, which I’ll only very briefly touch on here.

    3. My two overriding questions about the future of the SCA are: First, how serious will the SCA be about advocating for public policy positions when the science clearly suggests that some positions are better solutions than others?

    Please allow these few examples to demonstrate my point:

    **Valid scientific methods reveal that thousands of Americans die prematurely each year due to air pollution. Rogers’ libertarianism hopes to deregulate air pollution regulations further.
    **The National Academies recently reported [1] that US earth observation satellite capabilities are in dire condition. Fixing this requires government spending. Does Rogers’ libertarianism prevent her from advocating for increased gov. funding for such satellites?
    **Nobel Prize winning physicist and outspoken secular humanist Steven Weinberg recently wrote about the crisis in big science [2]–partly a funding crisis. The question we should all have for Rogers (and the SCA) is whether they will take the necessary policy positions to ensure that science gets funded in the US. But since libertarians like Rogers very often oppose government spending on such things, do we just say no to new big science initiatives? Do we just agree with the libertarians that if it involves taxpayer money, it isn’t worth knowing?
    **What about climate change? Does Rogers accept the science? If so, like many libertarians does she believe we should do nothing about it?

    I’ve essentially stated my second question already, but here it is fully laid out: How much will Roger’s loyalty to the anti-government, anti-regulatory mania of the conservative/libertarian movement interfere with the possible future development of the SCA into an effective lobbying group that champions the pro-science side of secularism?

    This might be an entirely academic question for me at this point because as long as Rogers is involved with the SCA I won’t be sending it financial support, and I encourage everyone reading this to redirect their support elsewhere as well.

    And a huge thank you to Greta for her doggedness and ethical vision.

    [1] National Academies. (May 2, 2012). Report Warns of Rapid Decline in U.S. Earth Observation Capabilities; Next-Generation Missions Hindered by Shortfalls, Launch Failures. Retrieved from http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13405. See also Lacey, S. (May 8, 2012). Report: U.S. Environmental Satellite System ‘Is At Risk Of Collapse’ And Could Decline 75% By 2020. Climate Progress. Retrieved from http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/05/08/480253/report-us-environmental-satellite-system-is-at-risk-of-collapse-and-could-decline-75-by-2020/?mobile=nc
    [2] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/may/10/crisis-big-science/

  95. Egbert says

    Like any other sensible person, I agree with you Greta, this is a disaster for the atheist movement. Can I just add, that the most important value after truth and honestly must surely be ‘equality’ and freedom of speech must surely be a necessary when it comes to how we criticize and communicate.

    Also, I agree with heatherdalgleish, there are some big problems over at RDFRS that need addressing.

  96. Tim Groc says

    Also, I agree with heatherdalgleish, there are some big problems over at RDFRS that need addressing.

    Another troll. At least you didn’t resort to potential libel.

    Instead of parting shots, why don’t you just respect Greta’s wishes.

  97. Greta Christina says

    Egbert @ #101: Nice try. But the right to free speech does not mean the right to hijack the conversation in someone else’s blog. This principle is discussed at length in my comment policy.

    You have been put into moderation. Any further comments by you must be approved by me before they will be posted. Please do not try to derail this thread again. Thank you.

  98. Greta Christina says

    Tim Groc @ #102, and anyone else: Please do not respond to comment trying to derail the thread. It feeds the derail. Anyone doing so in the future will be put into moderation. Please just ignore them, and let me handle it. Thanks.

  99. says

    And yet, more Democrats voted against the DADT repeal than Republicans voted for it in the House.

    So 95% of Republicans opposed the measure and 88% of Democrats supported. If you are trying to draw some sort of equivalence, I’m not following.

  100. notafraidoftheskybully says

    @ Eric123

    I like how everytime someone brings up her Rick Perry donation, they make sure to link to Rick Perry’s crazy video and therefore immediately proves that she is just as evil as he is.

    I gave some money to John Edwards in ’08. Am I a sociopath who cheats on his dying wife? I guess so.

  101. says

    @ 106: That’s a blatant false equivalence and you know it. John Edwards’s jerkery was not public knowledge. Rick Perry’s social conservatism was the centerpiece of his campaign. Her explanation, that she was trying to buy a favor and doesn’t really support Perry, makes sense, but that’s the sort of attitude you want from a lobbyist, not a director.

  102. Eric123 says

    notafraidoftheskybully,

    -If you were more attentive to my post you’d realize that I wasn’t accusing her of being just like Perry.
    -It’s not a serious comment on your part to ascribe to me the fallacy of thinking anything has been “proved” by linking to the Perry video.

    Based on what I’ve read so far I’m willing to bet that Rogers does support gay rights. It’s just that her support appears to be a low priority.

  103. Egbert says

    Greta,

    Well, we haven’t spoken before, and already I’m being moderated. Well anyway, I think your interview was great with Edwina Rogers, keep up the good work.

  104. notafraidoftheskybully says

    @ Ace of Sevens

    NPR has covered this sort of lobbying activity. The Planet Money blog did a piece on this, and it even made its way into a full This American Life hour. Quoting from the Planet Money piece:

    [The Congressman] said, “I have put in two calls to your PAC director and I haven’t received any returned phone calls. Now why am I taking this meeting?” And he held up a piece of paper with my PAC director’s name highlighted in yellow on it with the dates and the times that he had called her to ask her for a campaign donation, and she hadn’t returned his call … He has warned me that if I don’t … [contribute] to his campaign, then he’s not going to help my guys.

    source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/11/01/141913370/the-tuesday-podcast-inside-washingtons-money-machine

  105. Lokleo says

    If the SCA had hired her as a lobbyist, I might be reacting differently. I don’t expect a lobbyist to share my values. It’s like hiring a lawyer: I don’t much care if they agree with me, I just care if they effectively represent me. But an Executive Director is different.

    Thank you! This is exactly what it comes down to for me. Hemant in particular made a great case for giving her a chance …as a lobbyist, as an employee, as a consultant, but not as a leader. In addition to being the public face of the organization, wouldn’t she also be prioritizing issues?

    Since the Reason Rally, I’ve been trying to choose one organization to start supporting. I was leaning hard toward the SCA. I was really impressed with Sean Faircloth’s priorities and strategy. Not at all with Edwina Rogers’. So, recalculating.. Maybe FFRF…

  106. Tony says

    Eric123:
    Your post @100 was amazing. Well articulated and supported. I’ve added Orion to the list of blogs I check out. I didn’t have the time to read the entire post yet, but I found the first half to be very informative and I agree with all of what I’ve read there so far.
    Your post paints a broad picture of the problem the SCA faces re: Edwina Rogers. Between Greta’s post and yours, anyone on the fence about her nomination should be able to figure out their position on the issue.

  107. Zengaze says

    Personally I can’t see a good outcome from this.

    Even If the board does internally acknowledge they screwed up (which I highly doubt they will) the legal position may be such that dumping Edwina isn’t an option, and beyond that the professional embarrassment of such may require them to double down.

    The best option, in my opinion for the longterm health of the community is to sink the SCA, it’s absolute disregard and disrespect for those it would seek to represent means that it needs to fall. This action would serve a number of purposes, but mainly it would facilitate a rebalancing of power back to the grass roots, and any successor to it may from that lesson serve the ideals of the community, rather than its own.

    I’ve witnessed similar instances in the past where I was involved in political activism and the committees disdain for the mob it headed was made very clear to me, and in no uncertain terms, as a co opt of myself tried to take place under the guise of the bigger picture.

    A final note of warning to all other plebs is do not underestimate the arrogance that grows out of board seats. “some are more equal than others”

  108. Echidna says

    Her explanation, that she was trying to buy a favor and doesn’t really support Perry, makes sense, but that’s the sort of attitude you want from a lobbyist, not a director.

    It’s also blatant bribery, which she seems to assume is situation normal. Maybe it is. I just get the impression that her sense of normal is too far from honest reality (which science represents so well) for her leadership to work well for us.

    Did anyone else get the sense that her knowledge of the Republican position seemed to be very dated?

  109. GoneApostate says

    Thank you, Gretta, so much for adding that note encouraging people not to withdraw support from member organizations. We just recently got a couple of SSAs up and running here in Northern Arizona and they are already making a real, positive impact. I would also like to specifically include and highlight the two existing state affiliates of Secular Coalition in the groups still needing and deserving support. These affiliates, in Arizona and Alabama, are wholly unsupported financially by the national organization. They choose their own leaders and board members, raise their own money, and lobby on issues important to atheists in their states. They are led by longtime activists for LGBT equality, women’s rights and secularism. They are fighting the real fight, on the issues we care about, against some of the most theocratic state legislatures around.

    It’s been a particularly disheartening year here in Arizona and I am going to be trying to help gather support for the independently operated SC Arizona organization for an even stronger stand next season. If you have any doubts that SC Arizona gets it, check out the page – http://secularaz.org/. This year they have lobbied on 22 different bills, most all of them being attacks on LGBT community and women’s health issues. Our legislature is trying to outright destroy church/state separation, and SC Arizona has worked incredibly hard to stop that destruction. These folks are in it, on the front lines, and they are doing great work and making real progress. I just checked, and no donations to SC Arizona go to the national Coalition.

  110. Eric123 says

    Tony,

    Thank you! I only discovered Orion a few months ago. It’s often a stimulating read.

    Zengaze,

    You make some good points and gave me something to ponder. I’m curious to see how others think we should proceed with the SCA.

  111. ben says

    I second what Eliott said in #31: something is fishy, so hearing from those who actually made the decision seems vital.

    Meanwhile, based on my understanding of the process, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hold member organisations responsible. If something nefarious is going on, then we should be pressuring member organisations to withdraw their membership and set up a new, less-corrupt umbrella group, right?

    But I don’t see how we can make any good decisions until we understand the reason for hiring ER.

  112. Roxane Paczensky says

    My source tells me there is no discoverable information of Edwina being a Dominionist but there are linkages to KNOWN dominionists which raises suspicion considerably – Senator Trent Lott for instance. However associations and suspicion do not evidence make. Make of it what you will…..

  113. 'Tis Himself says

    I’m curious to see how others think we should proceed with the SCA.

    I won’t be supporting them financially as I had in the past.

    I’m particularly disheartened by SCA’s apparent disregard of the atheist backlash regarding Rogers’ appointment. In his interview with Greta, Roy Speckhardt acknowledged that the appointment would be “controversial.” But the SCA board did nothing to prepare us for the appointment and, other than Speckhardt, none of the board members have made any comments about the backlash. He struck me as in denial that anyone would have serious reservations about Rogers.

    It appears to me that the SCA board doesn’t care that the peasantry is unhappy with Rogers as Executive Director. If they don’t give a damn about us then why should we give a damn about them?

  114. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    ER sounds to me more like someone trying (and failing) to win favour for the Republican party amongst secularists than someone trying to advance secularism amongst Republicans…

  115. says

    This is wrong. This is an attack before the women has a chance prove herself. I agree that everything Greta has said refers to Edwinas past. Edwina hasn’t had a chance to do anything yet. People change. Also she said in the interview that she is for womens rights and always has been. And I don’t go for the proof is in the pudding shit. I’d like to see some stats myself. There are 535 members in congress. I don’t know what all of their positions are. I would like to see some stats before I make a judgement. You cannot fault me for that being a skeptic. I would love to propose a bill that every candidate and representative must provide there position on every issue.

  116. Eliott says

    Sam, Sam, Sam…this woman has proven herself over 20 years and then validated that approval with her interviews the last few days. So, you are certainly entitled to your opinion but save the righteous indignation for a worthwhile proposition. This woman lied, got caught, obfuscated, got caught, evaded, got caught. And by the way, the board didn’t hire her to change, they hired her to do exactly what she has done but in the service of the SCA. And if the proof isn’t in the pudding, where the fuck is it. And lastly, she was a Republican political operative for over 20 years. The members you mention got their opinions from her so yes I expect her to know them.

  117. Cry4turtles says

    As a lobbyist ER has one thing going for her-she is in possession of a uterus. Maybe someone will be able to hammer into the thick Republican skulls that what comes out of a woman’s uterus is directly related to her economic status. The GOP is counting on women being oblivious to that fact. I sadly feel that I won’t be able to rely in ER to communicate anything else.

  118. eNeMeE says

    I think there are enough clarifiers* in there to assure even the most skeptical individual that she was speaking about her own personal feel of the party. You can accuse her of being naive or clearly disconnected with reality

    *clarifiers? Those things didn’t clarify anything, except maybe that the bolded part is true – which is, far as I can tell, one of the bigger problems people are having.

  119. eigenperson says

    #122 Sam Salerno:

    You say people change. And of course you are right. If Rogers had justified her past actions by saying that she had changed her mind, I would be willing to accept that (with some skepticism, of course).

    But that is not what she said. Instead, she stood by her past actions and tried to defend them as being consistent with the views she is currently professing, which is simply bullshit.

  120. Anri says

    She was talking to her own community here. She was talking to the people she was hired to represent. And she treated us with contempt. She treated us like children, or fools. She treated us like gullible, easily manipulated sheep, who would swallow whatever she told us without question. She treated us, not like members of a community who she was hired to represent, but like targets of a PR campaign who she was hired to dupe.

    “How did the interviews go?”

    “I don’t understand, they’re all upset!”

    “Well, what did you say?”

    “Everything that’s worked for all of my previous political connections…”

  121. says

    …so some amount of observation bias is to be expected.

    When I read that patronizing brush-off, I was certain it would be followed by lies and obfuscation. And once again, my awesome predictive powers are confirmed:

    Unfortunately, the facts just don’t back this up. This past congressional session, since the Republicans took back the House of Representatives in the midterms, has been far more about taxes, the federal deficet and the federal debt than it has been about social issues.

    Don’t forget birtherism, Michele Bachmann’s loony Christofascist grandstanding, defunding Planned Prenthood, Peter King’s Islamophobic McCarthyism, and Newt Bligrich’s mosqueophobia. Also, do you really think the PoG’s insane fiscal policies have NOTHING to do with social issues? Destroying our national government through defunding is part and parcel of their vindictive war against secular institutions.

    Oh, and do you really think you can pretend the House Republicans are the only show in town? Do you really think we’ve forgotten the sectarian bigotry that waved its balls in our faces during the PoG primaries?

    Sure, some of the states with Republican supermajorities (I’m looking at you, Virginia) have gone completely batshit, but at the federal level social issues just aren’t a priority.

    “Some” states? They’re imposing faux-Christian Sharia everywhere they can. Social issues are THE priority that glues the PoG together. If you think you can convince us otherwise, then you’re just as dishonest as Rogers.

  122. Jeff Sherry says

    Sam Salerno, I have to wonder which definition of womens rights E. Rogers follows? Is it the Schlafly brand or is it the H. Clinton brand?

    As far as having a law that dictates what politicians stand for, is it that difficult to look at voting records?

  123. says

    First, let me join the consensus in saying that that was an excellent and passionate post, Greta.

    I really think that the real issue here is that the SCA thought that they could buy themselves some political cover and power from being smeared by the Religious/Political Right as “leftists” by hiring a conservative Republican, and it blew up in their collective faces. I don’t doubt that there are conservative atheists out there, but from what I’ve seen, most are far more likely to be liberal-left on most issues.

    And that brings up my second point: maybe the atheist community is so diverse in ideology that it can’t be herded into one group. Perhaps more progressive freethinkers should break off and form and nuture their own organizations that can better represent their particular needs and desires. It’s one thing to have diversity of opinion; it’s another thing entirely to have opinions so diverse that they tear the group apart.

    As for Rupert: well, he can just go and form his own Ayn Rand group and STFU.

    Anthony

  124. says

    Great interview, Greta. Some of Rogers’s responses were cringeworthy. Interesting that one of the GOP’s candidate’s backers seems to disagree with her view of what the party intends. What I don’t understand is how an openly gay republican handled the cognitive dissonance in the first place!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/05/14/mitt-romney-gay-marriage_n_1516200.html?ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=051512&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

  125. mutt50 says

    Greta,
    Great post. Clarified a lot of stuff. The republican party leaders throw red meat to the fundies for 4 decades, and now some “moderates” finally notice?
    This woman is a professional grifter/influence peddler who found a new mark. I don’t think she cares what anyone believes, or what our values are.
    Oh, and nothing humans do is “value free”. Hopefully, we value truth, at least.

  126. R. Johnston says

    @ Zengaze #113

    Even If the board does internally acknowledge they screwed up (which I highly doubt they will) the legal position may be such that dumping Edwina isn’t an option

    They may be required to pay Rogers’s salary for the duration of any contract they have with her. They can’t possibly be required to keep her as the face of the organization.

    Any money that has to be paid to Rogers is a sunk cost. It’s lost money that isn’t recovered by compounding mistakes by keeping her on as Executive Director.

  127. says

    Quite a number of people, including Greta, have expressed that they would not object to her being hired as a lobbyist rather than ED.

  128. brucegee1962 says

    Let me take a swing at Rupert too.

    I think everyone knows (but perhaps Edwina Rogers does not) that there are two wings to the Republican party: there is a Libertarian/fiscal conservative wing, and a fundie, “God speaks through me to tell everyone else how they should behave” wing. There is a a reasonable amount of overlap between the former group and atheism, but obviously no overlap at all between the second group and atheism.

    If Ms. Rogers had said in her interviews, “I have supported the Republican party because I’m worried about the deficit and I think the Republicans are most likely to do something about it,” or some other economically-based reason that wasn’t completely nuts, then I think many of us would still have disagreed with her, but taken a step back — particularly if she had coupled that with a vigorous attack on the problems with the religious wing of the party, and copious examples of how she wanted to work to isolate them and combat their agenda.

    But she didn’t do that.

    Heck, I heard conservative David Brooks the other day talking about why he supported gay marriage BECAUSE HE THOUGHT FIDELITY AND COMMITMENT WERE CONSERVATIVE VALUES. She could have talked like that, too. But she didn’t.

  129. R Johnston says

    If Ms. Rogers had said in her interviews, “I have supported the Republican party because I’m worried about the deficit and I think the Republicans are most likely to do something about it,” or some other economically-based reason that wasn’t completely nuts

    What, exactly, isn’t completely nuts about that position? Absolutely no one cares about the deficit per se as opposed to the consequences of the deficit; Republicans lie outrageously about the consequences of the deficit, both good and bad; and the empirical reality is that Republican policies explode the deficit without exploiting any of the possible benefits of deficit spending.

    And what, exactly, isn’t completely nuts about any other Republican economic position? Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, the CRA, and Fannie/Freddie were the cause of the ongoing financial crisis and more government regulation will only hurt? Completely insane. Free trade without an adequate safety net or any kind of a plan for American workers displaced by free trade is an unmitigated good? Completely insane. Distribution of wealth doesn’t matter? Completely insane, even on a strictly utilitarian viewpoint that doesn’t consider fairness or societal stability given the declining marginal nature of all wealth. Tax cuts for the rich solve all problems? Twelve steps of insanity beyond completely insane. Drill, baby, drill? Utterly sociopathic.

  130. karmakin says

    Just to add on to above, if you don’t realize that the end goal of the whole deficit hawk crowd, isn’t to remove the deficit, but to create an economic environment which makes future progressive governments that much more unable to do anything, then you’re simply not paying much attention. If you don’t understand that, for example, the Ryan budget significantly adds to the debt, then you’re not paying attention. You’re not thinking about the issues of the day, you’re only looking at the surface, at what the leaders are telling you what is going on.

    I think you can be a reasonable rationalist, and be a conservative. I don’t think you can be a reasonable rationalist and be a movement conservative. Rogers seems like she’s the latter, and as such that disqualifies her.

  131. Supermental says

    Greta, I love your honesty and dedication. Thank you for everything you do.

  132. says

    Slightly tangential, but the “Only Nixon could go to China” meme is starting to wear on me. While I suppose there is some truth in the idea that it was much easier for a long-time commie-baiter like Nixon to make that sort of approach to China without political fallout, that’s only because Republicans like Nixon and Joe McCarthy had, by 1972, spent roughly a generation poisoning the political atmosphere with respect to communism. No democrat was allowed to show the slightest tendency to compromise with the Chinese or the Soviets or any communist government without getting hammered as “soft on communism.” This did not lead to democratic presidents making good decisions in that area.
    Replace “communism” with “crime” and more currently “terrorism” and you have the basic Republican playbook for the last 65 years.

  133. stevesexauer says

    Welcome to the sneaky world of right-wing politics, and Bravo for the courage to say this. All left-wing movements have “infiltrators” and sabotaging members. It’s been a strategy of the right for decades going back to the cold war at least. The drug legalization movement has the same problem.

    Go Christina! Yeah!

  134. Gonzo says

    Excellent post! I agree 100% (I guess I’m a minion now). Sadly, I expect “It’s not a bug, but a feature.” from the board. More denying, blinders and delusions. You know, that typical critical thinking thingy atheists do /srcsm. I hope I’m wrong.

  135. razzlefrog says

    I suddenly need to know what the SCA’s financial records look like. Where they get their money, how much goes to what, and very importantly, how much they’re forking out to ER.

    Money is corruption. This woman is being opportunistic with this position. It’s a job. She’s just furthering her career.

  136. jrel says

    @notafraidoftheskybully

    Not delusional, just seen through a different lens. You are looking at it as if athiest issues are the most important ones to the legislature.

    It does not matter what the most important issues are to the republican legislature to not approve of Edwina, and to be very upset about her appointment.

    The problem is simple:

    The republican party (as a whole) embraces (or is at least willing to embrace) stances (and legislation) that are directly antithetical to the causes of the organization for which she is the executive director.

    So perhaps Edwina considers other aspects of the republican party more attractive than the side of it which is antithetical to the SCA. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps she has to exercise some amount of ‘compromise’ in being a republican to overlook this side of the party. Perhaps she knows some (many) republicans who aren’t religious but occasionally have to give the impression they are for political reasons.

    But she didn’t admit any of this. It would have been at least defensible to do so. But instead, she went as far as denying reality of the situation entirely. Trying to pretend (yes pretend) that there is nothing wrong with the republican party. That she does not understand why we would be concerned about this.

    This is offensive to me, and obviously many of the others here. It is a very valid reason for being upset with her words and actions and validates our (pre-conceived or not) opinion that she is NOT a good choice.

  137. jrel says

    Also, I know this topic is pretty dead and for all I know the comments are no longer being read, but I just really don’t want this issue to fizzle.

    In fact, I want to see it on the Daily Show. There is real meat here. I can just see John’s grimace (and the following video montage showing the opposite) when she denies the obvious about the republican party. I can see his blank stare when he watches her cut through the money to wrap those presents in the YouTube video (http://youtu.be/xXj-oQm-NbE). That type of publicity might change their minds about their decision.

    Why not just let it go? I feel like this issue is one of the biggest flaws of our current socio-political system. The pandering of the current republican party to the religious in order to obtain a large amount of votes. This is ruining our country, and we need to fix it. We need to fix it by making the republicans see that this may have worked in the past decades, but they are losing votes because if it now, and will continue to do so. We want leadership that coincides with being the most advanced civilization to exist on this planet. But instead, we have this (http://youtu.be/t4Cc8t3Zd5E).

    This may seem far removed from the bad day that Edwina had on the day of this interview. But it really isn’t. It’s a chance to point out that the emperor has no clothes and we know it.

  138. Karl says

    On balance and after a great deal of thought, I don’t buy it. Edwina Rogers was not hired to be a paragon of all you hold near and dear. The SCA mission statement says nothing whatsoever about LGBT, birth-control or abortion rights, and now that she has been selected for the role I for one would like to see her given the benefit of the doubt and given a chance to do her job before being demonised by lobbyists. It’s great to be sceptical and great to argue the issues but it is completely jumping the gun to say she’s blown it already. She’s hardly started.

  139. gbjames says

    Carl, you are missing the point. On purpose?

    The objection is not specifically about LGBT, abortion rights, or birth control, although most of us care deeply about those. The core objection is that she repeatedly dissembles, dodges, and lies when talking to us, her constituency. That is something that one should NEVER do. It doesn’t make a bit of difference that she just started.

  140. Karl says

    @gbjames

    On purpose?

    Hrm, that remark comes across as infuriatingly snide.

    The objection is not specifically about LGBT, abortion rights, or birth control, although most of us care deeply about those. The core objection is that she repeatedly dissembles, dodges, and lies when talking to us, her constituency. That is something that one should NEVER do. It doesn’t make a bit of difference that she just started.

    My issue with that statement is that I don’t think the objection HAS been framed as simply one of honesty, and so IMO the conclusions aren’t fair. To make my point I’ll have to discuss some of this article and go back to the interview transcripts. Here goes.

    Greta says in this article:

    The fact that Edwina Rogers is a long-time operative in the Republican party is a real problem. If she’d been running some other advocacy organization and happened to vote Republican every four years, that would be different. But for over twenty years, she has made a career of advancing a political party whose agenda and core values are diametrically opposed to those of the atheist and secular community. She has made a career out of advancing a political party that’s been systematically working — among other things — to dismantle women’s right to control our reproduction, to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens, and to advance the political agenda of the Religious Right. That is a big problem.

    My first point, of that paragraph, the only point pertinent to Edwina’s appointment is actually “advance the political agenda of the Religious Right”. The rest are lobbyist issues, and my sympathies to the people who are going to be annoyed at me saying this, but they really are beside the point. If we’re talking about the furtherance of the SCA objectives and Edwina’s suitability in the role, then we shouldn’t be discarding her on the basis of her membership of a party that doesn’t measure up on different objectives, unrelated to those of the SCA.

    Now as far as advancing the political agenda of the Religious Right goes, we should take note that the US is effectively a two-party state. The religious fundamentalists lobby both sides, but slot best into whatever party agrees most closely to their objectives. And that just happens to be the republicans, but Greta herself says above, “Can a Republican be an atheist? Of course.” In order for that “Of course” not to ring completely hollow, we have to allow for atheism from a republican point of view. If you want to marginalise the rabidly religious among the republican party you have to stop dwelling on the other subjects that are going to alienate republicans and accept that Edwina wasn’t hired to specifically further the causes of democratic, LGBT friendly, pro-choice atheists.

    Greta says:

    The most glaringly obvious example of this: Her repeated insistence that the Republican party isn’t really anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-church-state-separation.

    The republican party may well be anti-gay, anti-choice, but the unpleasant truth again is that Edwina wasn’t hired to be pro-gay or pro-choice. It’s dissembling to lump those issues in with the other.

    Greta says:

    But the problem isn’t just her denial of the political reality of the “some individuals in the Republican Party are pro-gay/pro-choice/ pro-church-state-separation… so it’s not fair to say that the Republican Party on the whole opposes those position”

    Again, only the pro-church-state-separation issue matters when discussing Edwina’s appointment.

    Greta says:

    I’ve been saying throughout this piece that the atheist community places a high value on LGBT rights, the right to birth control, the right to abortion, separation of church and state.

    Once again, it’s not republican atheists who we want to marginalise, it’s republican fundamentalists. So don’t even mention the rest of the issues if the overwhelming issue for the SCA is the separation of church and state.

    That’s my first point, and if you want to avoid alienating republican atheists and work on raising the profile of atheism across the board then I think it’s a hatchet job to mention those in an article which effectively writes off any possibility of Edwina performing well in the role she’s taken on. Now let’s look at the interviews themselves.

    From the interview between Greta and Edwina:

    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.

    Feel free to enlighten me on this, but that actually doesn’t sound like bullshit. To me, especially off the cuff, that seems a decent answer.

    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.

    You may not like Edwina, and you may not like her ties to the republican party, but you can’t dislike that answer. There’s no hint of dissembling there. After this point on, Greta gives Edwina a very hard time, especially on the issues of gay rights and pro-choice/pro-life, which let’s face it the republican party has a risable record on. But Edwina does make some decent points and I don’t believe she’s full of crap when she says that she has friends among the republicans who have similar views to herself, and hence the attitudes of the party may not be as hard-core as some democrats think, whatever the official party lines may be.

    But what I really don’t like about the whole line of the interview is the tying of atheist ideals to pro-choice and gay rights. The “atheist community” is NOT pro-choice and pro-gay rights, not unless you’re talking about the DEMOCRAT atheist community. It’s completely misleading to take that line, to imply that republicans can’t be atheists unless they go the whole hog and become democrats, and it’s completely at odds with the first couple of lines in this article. You may be very interested in gay rights, in being pro-choice, but they aren’t among the SCA goals, so they simply shouldn’t be part of the discussion about whether or not Edwina is suitable in her role.

    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.

    See, that’s just not true. You’re confusing being a democrat with being an atheist. It may be true for DEMOCRAT atheists, but if you want to raise the profile of atheism among republicans and marginalise the fundamentalists further then you approach things from a republican perspective, from which those issues don’t have to be true!

    Read the interview again if you want plenty more examples of this line of questioning.

    Another point that should be heartening is the one Edwina makes in reply to questioning on gay rights:

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

    Where Greta really takes issue with Edwina is when Edwina makes the claim that its not a republican party position, to be anti-gay. Well clearly the anti-gay faction dominate the republican party, and that does seem to be wishful thinking. But on the other hand when Edwina says

    I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are Republicans, the majority of them, it’s not their position

    you can’t – you shouldn’t – write off her experiences. She’s been a republican for a long time, and Greta hasn’t, and if Edwina is prepared to say out loud that her friends aren’t anti-gay then I am prepared to take her word for it until someone in her own party disowns those comments. Let’s have the argument, and maybe it’s an argument the republican party needs to have, without saying that they all have to be democrats.

    Another point by Edwina worth repeating:

    ER: 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 another point worth discussing:

    ER: 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.

    Small point: Edwina doesn’t say here that it ISN’T the official republican party position. I’m not a republican myself, but IMO that’s all the more reason to take her word for what she says.

    GC: 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.

    Again, I have to offer Edwina some support here. I think the republican party is hugely LOBBIED by the religious right, just as the communist party focus most of their lobbying on the democrats. Does that mean the democrats are communists? Some republicans think so, should they? (These are rhetorical questions, the answers are clearly no and no).

    Moving on, obviously it annoyed Greta that Edwina made a donation to Rick Perry, and it is absolutely right of Greta to raise it. Many democrats are going to be disgusted and/or appalled at that, but once again, can you be a republican and an atheist? The answer was “Of course” – really? Even though you’re going to be, at least in part, supporting Rick Perry? And make no mistake, that’s what you’re doing.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either atheists can be republicans, with all the knock-on consequences of that, or they can’t. And if they can, they can work for and support, monetarily and otherwise, the republican party and republican candidates. I don’t approve of Edwina having donated to Perry but I hope that in being closely tied to the SCA in the course of her role she’ll come to realise that the negatives outweighed the positives there.

    Now another point of interest is that Roy disagreed with Greta that Edwina is unsuitable for the position. That seemed fairly clear to me, so are we agreed that I don’t have to defend that statement? Anyway, some points from Greta’s interview with Roy:

    GC: Do you – were there any concerns raised during the hiring process having to do with the fact that, you know, frankly, for several years, she’s been working for a party that has been working very much against the values of most people in the secular and atheist movement, you know, not just in terms of the separation of church and state, but on issues such as gay rights, issues such as, you know, abortion rights, birth control rights, etc.

    RS: Yeah.

    GC: Were there any concerns that she has been, again, frankly, working for a party, and to advance the agenda of a party, that’s been very directly and very adamantly opposed to our core values?

    Once again, those aren’t atheist core values. As far as I am aware, there is nothing in the SCA about needing to be a democrat. I’m saying too much as it is, but let me just repeat one of Roy’s quotes that is think is quite relevant:

    RS: This Republican Party – I mean, if we want to get both – I mean, think about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, recently successful, right? That would not have been possible without Republican Senator Collins’ efforts to support it. We have to reach across the aisle. There’s really no possibility of success without doing that, on the issues that matter to us. The liberal ones, the church-state separation ones, all of them. So this, so this is not even an option as far as I’m concerned as to whether or not we have to reach across the aisle sometimes in order to get the things that we want accomplished.

    I realise this reply ended up being as much a reply to Greta as to gbjames, sorry about that. Anyway a last point to gbjames, for the record, and just because I’m still seething about your suggestion that I’m some sort of troll (on purpose? on purpose? my reply to that is unprintable), just so you know, I am pro-gay rights and pro-choice, but so what? It SHOULDN’T MATTER, and if you think it does then IMO you need to start over, right from the very start.

  141. GBJames says

    I was going to apologize for a somewhat snide comment, but considering that you are determined to respond by copying and pasting almost the entire exchanged between Greta and Edwina, and to burying your own observations inside the heap of clippings, I’m sticking with snide. Because I don’t think you get the point. And I suspect it is intentional. I’ll just use one little snippet as an example.

    You copy/pasted Greta’s statement: “The most glaringly obvious example of this: Her repeated insistence that the Republican party isn’t really anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-church-state-separation.”

    And inserted this response: “The republican party may well be anti-gay, anti-choice, but the unpleasant truth again is that Edwina wasn’t hired to be pro-gay or pro-choice. It’s dissembling to lump those issues in with the other.”

    I’m sorry to say, but this is a prime example of willfully ignoring the point. It is clear that the critical wording in Greta’s statement have to do with Edwina’s refusal to acknowledge an obvious fact. A fact that you don’t deny, either. It isn’t the fact of anti-gay (etc.) Republicanism itself that is being pointed out in Greta’s sentence. It is Edwina’s dishonest response to the fact.

    I didn’t say that you were a troll. But I have a hard time believing that you can miss such a clear and repeatedly made point without doing so intentionally.

  142. says

    The SCA mission statement says nothing whatsoever about LGBT, birth-control or abortion rights…

    That’s not a good enough reason to hire someone who has been, for a long time, on the wrong side of those important issues.

    …and now that she has been selected for the role I for one would like to see her given the benefit of the doubt…

    Read our comments again, boy genius: she has TWENTY YEARS of previous track record to judge her by, and it doesn’t leave her all that much doubt from which she can benefit. And whatever doubts are left after that, are removed by her blatantly dishonest performance in every interview she’s had so far.

    But then, you Republicans are big on ignoring history and pretending the past doesn’t matter (with the possible exception of Rev. Wright, the new-old monster under every rich crybaby’s bed). That’s why you’re so desperate to support a candidate whose only tool is an etch-a-sketch.

    …and given a chance to do her job before being demonised by lobbyists.

    Wow, how dumb can you get? Rogers isn’t being “demonised by lobbyists,” she’s a lobbyist who’s being criticized by the people she’s pretending to want to lobby FOR.

  143. says

    Greta said:

    …she’s been working for a party that has been working very much against the values of most people in the secular and atheist movement, you know, not just in terms of the separation of church and state, but on issues such as gay rights, issues such as, you know, abortion rights, birth control rights, etc.

    And Karl Replied:

    Once again, those aren’t atheist core values. As far as I am aware, there is nothing in the SCA about needing to be a democrat.

    First, if you’re not an atheist yourself, then you don’t get to dictate what are and are not atheist core values. The atheists I’ve heard from have, as one of their most important priorities, the liberation of individuals from tyrannical rules arising from religious establishments and religious thinking — including rules that unfairly demonize people for being gay and restrict women’s ability to control their own bodies, health and lives.

    And second, it needs to be pointed out here what Karl and other Rogers apologists are trying to do: separate the SCA from practically all other progressive or justice-oriented movements, and make it irrelevant and powerless. That’s the Republican agenda, and Rogers is just another dedicated longtime Republican.

  144. GoneApostate says

    I am no Rodgers “apologist” I just want to point out a couple quick things. My major issue with Ms. Rodgers is how she has “handled” the questions and concerns of her new constituency what is clear is that she is completely out of touch and unprepared. Worse still she treats the concerns with dismissal and transparent spin and disingenuousness that insults us, makes her look pretty incompetent, and shows that she doesn’t want to deal with us honestly. There is no getting around that. I’m not going to even try.

    That having been said, let’s not lose track of the big picture. Can she do the job? What IS the job?

    What is the job? It’s to be the head of an organization that acts as the political advocate for non-theistic communities and secular government. http://secular.org/about/main

    “The Secular Coalition for America is committed to promoting reason and science as the most reliable methods for understanding the universe and improving the human condition. Informed by experience and inspired by compassion, we encourage the pursuit of knowledge, meaning, and responsible ethical codes without reference to supernatural forces. We affirm the secular form of government as a necessary condition for the interdependent rights of religious freedom and religious dissent. We come together as national freethought organizations to cooperate in areas of mutual interest and to support each other in our efforts to uphold separation between government and religion for the benefit of all within the nontheistic community.”

    Karl is right to call to question the idea of Atheistic “core values” – not that I think there aren’t any but I would join him in admitting that one could argue that LGBT equality isn’t necessarily one of them. Here is the list of current action alerts on SCA’s issues list, you will see marriage equality IS on there.

    • End Religious Discrimination in the Military
    • Protect Foreign Women from U.S. Religious Extremist Policies in Foreign Aid
    • Eliminate Religiously-Based Laws Interfering with Contraception Access
    • Eliminate Health and Safety Standard Exemptions for Religious Child Care Centers
    • Protect Teen Students’ Rights to Form Atheist Clubs
    • End Marriage Discrimination and Oppose Theological Definitions of Marriage
    • Revoke Public Funding to the Boy Scouts Due to Religiously-Based Discrimination
    • Eliminate Religious Control of Sex Education in Public Schools
    • Remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance
    • End Public Funding of Religious Schools
    • Eliminate Taxpayer-Funded Housing for ‘Ministers of the Gospel’
    • Tax money used to mislead children for religious reasons
    • End Employment Discrimination by Religious Groups via ‘Faith-Based’ Initiatives

    So… CAN Edwina Rodgers succeed as the figure head (not just a hired gun lobbyist) for an organization that will fight for these issues? I don’t know. I seriously doubt it. I think she has alienated her base, partially because her base are inappropriately unwilling to trust someone with her background but MUCH more so because of how she handled us when we appropriately raised the concerns. Her insider access might be better than anyone else that was available, maybe she’s a great fundraiser but that doesn’t make her the right person for the job. We need someone that will motive and inspire the base and someone that is engaged in the values and concerns of her constituency and capable enough with messaging and research to sound intelligent on matters of import. She has shown she isn’t ready for that, nor has she made it seem like she’s even that interested in being ready for that.

  145. says

    Karl is right to call to question the idea of Atheistic “core values” – not that I think there aren’t any but I would join him in admitting that one could argue that LGBT equality isn’t necessarily one of them.

    If reason and science show there’s no reason to discriminate against LGBT people, then yes, LGBT equality IS one of the core values of those who truly seek to “promote reason and science as the most reliable methods for understanding the universe and improving the human condition.”

    So why are you so determined to insist that LGBT equality are not among the core values of atheists? Are you trying to tell us the atheist/skeptical movement should be more accomodating to bigots? Sorry, but there’s plenty of room for bigots in organized religion; there’s no need to make extra room for them in a movement that explicitly opposes them.

  146. Karl says

    @gbjames

    It isn’t the fact of anti-gay (etc.) Republicanism itself that is being pointed out in Greta’s sentence. It is Edwina’s dishonest response to the fact.

    The point which I was trying to communicate (evidently failing) was that the anti-gay etc. questions about the republican party were asked over and over and over again, and that’s unfair because it’s not relevant. This is nothing I didn’t say above, but then you didn’t write anything new either.

    @Raging Bee

    The problem with resorting to insults, boy genius, is that I get to throw your words back at you.

    Wow, how dumb can you get?

    Well you’re doing extremely well.

    you Republicans

    I’m not a republican, boy genius, nor have I ever been right of centre politically. So what?

    First, if you’re not an atheist yourself, then you don’t get to dictate what are and are not atheist core values

    Actually I am an atheist, boy genius. Again, so what?

    The points in your posts don’t make sense knowing those things, but now you know where I stand you can target your insults accordingly. Just as well I already said that I was pro-gay and pro-choice or you’d really have gone to town.

    Rogers isn’t being “demonised by lobbyists,” she’s a lobbyist who’s being criticized by the people she’s pretending to want to lobby FOR.

    Ok, I withdraw the inflammatory “demonised by lobbyists” remark. I assert that despite ostensibly being criticised for being dissembling and untruthful, much of the criticism levelled against Rogers was issued not because of her personal views, not due to anything that renders her fit or unfit for her position in the SCA, but to a large extent because she claims a different perspective from her time within the republican party to their stated goals. Because of that I assert that the claim that she’s a patronising liar is unfair. Any better?

  147. Karl says

    @GoneApostate

    Here is the list of current action alerts on SCA’s issues list, you will see marriage equality IS on there.

    Good point, I missed that.

  148. GBJames says

    Karl said: “This is nothing I didn’t say above, but then you didn’t write anything new either.”

    Correct. I did not write anything new. And your flood of copy/paste regurgitaion did not indicate that you got the critical point. Dishonesty is probably the greatest offense in the atheist/skeptical community. And that is what is most upsetting about Roger’s responses to her constituency. It was brimming with dishonesty. (Stupidity is the alternative explanation. Either way, it’s not what you would want at the top of SCA.)

    On a slightly different matter: It has been mentioned that a significant part of the job of head of SCA is fundraising. I’d love to know exactly who Rogers is expected to fundraise from, having alienated her constituency so dramatically. I know that I’ll not be sending them any money. Maybe Rick Perry will make up for the loss.

  149. says

    The point which I was trying to communicate (evidently failing) was that the anti-gay etc. questions about the republican party were asked over and over and over again, and that’s unfair because it’s not relevant.

    They’re relevant to the people asking them, they’re relevant to us, and they’re sure as Hell relevant to the people directly affected by the PoG’s bigotred platform. Who are you to tell us otherwise?

    Ok, I withdraw the inflammatory “demonised by lobbyists” remark.

    It’s not “inflammatory,” it’s ignorant and dishonest. What part of WE’RE NOT LOBBYISTS do you not understand?

    I assert that despite ostensibly being criticised for being dissembling and untruthful, much of the criticism levelled against Rogers was issued not because of her personal views, not due to anything that renders her fit or unfit for her position in the SCA, but to a large extent because she claims a different perspective from her time within the republican party to their stated goals.

    Your assertion is plainly false: we are, in fact, explicitly criticizing Rogers because of her track record, and because of the obvious dishonesty she showed in the interviews, and because of what it rather clearly implies about her fitness for the job she’s been given. If you disagree with what we’ve been saying, fine; but blindly asserting we have some nefarious motive totally different from what we’ve actually said, is pure dishonest bullshit.

    Just as well I already said that I was pro-gay and pro-choice…

    You’ve flat-out lied about what we’ve said, so what you say about yourself really isn’t reliable.

  150. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    @Raging Bee . . . boy genius

    LOL. Sometimes, I wonder, do bigot trolls out themselves on purpose, or is it involuntary?

  151. Karl says

    @Raging Bee

    blindly asserting we have some nefarious motive totally different from what we’ve actually said, is pure dishonest bullshit.

    FWIW (not much I suspect) I don’t think anyone’s motives here are nefarious or disingenuous, not even yours. And saying “dishonest” is simply name calling (calling bullshit on the other hand I’m less concerned about, it just means you disagree).

    You’ve flat-out lied about what we’ve said, so what you say about yourself really isn’t reliable.

    Ahem… THAT is a flat-out lie. I don’t think we have anything more to say to one another.

  152. GBJames says

    FWIW, calling “dishonest” is not simply name calling. When someone says something that is knowingly untrue, a dishonest statement has been. It is a statement about reality, not an arbitrary slur.

  153. GoneApostate says

    I was assuming that would be the response. I am a huge supporter of LGBTQ equality. I have actively supported, voting and lobbying campaigns. It was my disgust with LGBTQ discrimination that originally caused me to leave my faith in the first place. I get the natural progression of secular humanism to LGBTQ equality. that doesn’t make it an atheistic “core value” just a cause i have come to thankfully see shared by many of us. I think it’s appropriate that it be a cause listed on the SCA website as well.

    I want those issues to be fought for. I think that Ms. Rogers has committed to fighting them. I have serious doubts, like you, about how effective she will be or how personally passionate she is on the issue. but saying she can’t do it now because of where whe comes from is like saying I can’t do it because I used to be religious.

  154. GoneApostate says

    I only raise the point because I think that while the issues with Edwina or serious and problematic I don’t want that to be the assumption about anyone else that identifies as a republican. I don’t understand the log cabin republicans but I know they exist. I don’t understand the liberal church goer that disagrees with the stance of the pope but still identifies as catholic trying to affect change from within. I don’t understand them but I know they exist and I commend them for trying to make the world a better place, even if I would do it differently.

  155. I'mthegenie!Icandoanything! says

    Gee whiz! I guess I jumped the gun by assuming that any long-time “Republican” insider would be anything other than a disaster in this position!

    Maybe we should CONTINUE to “withold judgement” until some future time! I mean, the Nero (in legend) did such a fine job, as long as you understood the necessity of Rome being burned down.

    You can be an atheist and a “Republican,” but it’s basically impossible to be a sensible, decent human being and be a “Republican” any longer.

    To be “Republican” is to declare oneself stupid, ignorant, insane and/or evil.

  156. says

    …but saying she can’t do it now because of where whe comes from…

    We’re not saying that, and you know it. We’re saying she can’t be trusted, both because of what she’s done in the past (not to mention what she’s failed to do), and because of how she behaved in several recent interviews. This is not about “where she comes from,” it’s about her track record.

  157. GoneApostate says

    As you will note, I was in full agreement with reason people were concerned in the first place AND I stated my own disgust with how she has handled the interviews and questions. I’ll say it again. Her dishonesty and apparent dismissal, if not outright disdain of her new constituency is clear. My reaction is the same as most everyone else, including yours, in regard to that.

    It has been stated several places throughout this thread that being the head of a secular political advocacy organizations, and being a republican are diametrically opposed, in fact it has been said by some that being a Republican and being a decent human being are diametrically opposed.

  158. KG says

    GoneApostate,

    I am no Rodgers “apologist” I just want to point out a couple quick things. My major issue with Ms. Rodgers is how she has “handled” the questions and concerns of her new constituency what is clear is that she is completely out of touch and unprepared. Worse still she treats the concerns with dismissal and transparent spin and disingenuousness that insults us, makes her look pretty incompetent, and shows that she doesn’t want to deal with us honestly. There is no getting around that. I’m not going to even try.

    That having been said, let’s not lose track of the big picture. Can she do the job?

    Well given the preceding paragraph, it’s absolutely gobsmacking that you can’t see that the answer is “No!”.

    in fact it has been said by some that being a Republican and being a decent human being are diametrically opposed. – GoneApostate

    Well what was actually said that comes nearest to that was:

    it’s basically impossible to be a sensible, decent human being and be a “Republican” any longer.

    Why did you leave out “sensible”, GoneApostate? Been taking lessons in spin from Ms. Rogers, perhaps?
    Given the torrent of bigotry and lies we saw from all the candidates in the recent Republican primary campaign (with the possible exception of Huntsman, from whom practically nothing was heard) your problem with the sentence I’ve quoted is what, exactly? After that, how can any “sensible, decent human being” still be a Republican?

  159. dornierpfeil says

    Hell, I can even see why they would make it. I can see how they’d be excited at the prospect of pulling up a seat to the big table. I can see how they’d be excited at what a bold, dramatic, unexpected move it was.

    There is no greater test of an organization, or more particularly the organization’s leaders, then when they gain acceptance by existing power structures.

  160. Karl says

    @gbjames

    FWIW, calling “dishonest” is not simply name calling. When someone says something that is knowingly untrue, a dishonest statement has been. It is a statement about reality, not an arbitrary slur.

    It’s totally outside this discussion, but on reflection I can’t let that remark slide. Calling “dishonest” is a statement about reality in exactly the same way that calling someone a “bigot” is a statement about reality, and IMO an accusation of dishonesty or “knowing untruth” is one of the biggest insults you can throw at an atheist.

    Actually someone I respect very highly, a great writer, said very recently: “The atheist community, on the whole, places a high value on truth.” You may have run across it.

  161. gbjames says

    @Karl: It is “just” an insult unless it is true. Then it is also a statement of fact. One does not refrain from calling a bigot bigotted simply to avoid being insulting.

  162. Karl says

    @gbjames

    I hope you don’t take objection to me calling you an idiot then, because according to you it’s not an insult if it’s true. Just a statement of fact. After all, I shouldn’t refrain from calling an idiot idiotic simply to avoid being insulting.

  163. Silentbob says

    @ 167 I’mthegenie!Icandoanything!(exceptthink!)

    Gee whiz! I guess I jumped the gun by assuming that any long-time “Republican” insider would be anything other than a disaster in this position!
    Maybe we should CONTINUE to “withold judgement” until some future time! I mean, the Nero (in legend) did such a fine job, as long as you understood the necessity of Rome being burned down.

    Indeed, your triumphalism is premature.

    Rome still stands. So far a handful of cynics (oops, sorry… “skeptics”) have declared their prejudice (apparently on the basis that the new emperor once attended the same dinner party as someone who owned a box of matches). But – as of yet – not so much as a puff of smoke has been seen.

    To be “Republican” is to declare oneself stupid, ignorant, insane and/or evil.

    Yes! THIS! This, this, this, a thousand times this! Why we are not rounding up these people into concentration camps or lunatic asylums is beyond me! I mean… can you believe these people! They act almost as though they’re entitled to their own political opinions! Almost as if… as if… (Hah!)… there could conceivably be more that one infallible economic ideology! Utter madness! How long are we expected to tolerate people who dare to hold differing opinions? I say it’s well past time we put a stop to this.

    So all that remains is to decide what we shall do with these irredeemable cretins. All those in favor of bringing back the guillotine?

  164. GBJames says

    @Karl: In point of fact, when I used the words “lie” and “dishonestly” in responses to you, I was specifically referring to Edwina Rogers’ repeated dissembling in interviews, not to you. My comment to you was that I have a hard time believing that you aren’t intentionally missing the point, since it was repeatedly made by Greta and many commenters: Rogers was not truthful.

    Apparently you identify with Edwina. So much that you have adopted the label “dishonest” for yourself and now are compelled to mount a defense. Remarkable move, dude. If the shoes fit…

  165. Greta Christina says

    I’ve been at a conference, with limited time and internet connection, and have been unable to moderate this conversation until now.

    So I am now going to remind everyone in this conversation: Please read my comment policy. No personal insults; no namecalling; no deliberate attempts to provoke fights; no consistently being unpleasant, nasty, snide, sarcastic, nitpicky, assuming the worst possible intentions, or otherwise just generally being an asshole. Please express disagreements with ideas while remaining civil towards the people expressing them. This is not Pharyngula: I like Pharyngula, but I strive to maintain a different tone in the conversations on my blog. Please respect that. Thank you.

  166. Karl says

    Apologies Greta, you’re quite right, and sorry to gbjames too. On reflection I’ve left off making points and it’s just tit for tat now. I do have this unpleasant habit of fighting fire with fire. Also the line between irony and sarcasm can be too fine for me to distinguish. I’m not trying to excuse myself, anyone can feel free to suggest things for me to try to overcome these admitted faults.

  167. says

    Grow up, SilentBob, you’re not fooling anyone. Calling a political party and its supporters “stupid” — after decades of consistently supporting stupid and failed policies — is not “persecution,” and it doesn’t mean liberals want to round you all up and put you in re-education camps. Go to bed and come back when you can talk like a grownup.

  168. Mike Check says

    Rupert,

    Seems many people dislike Rogers not for her “Republican” views but for her wishy-washy slick-lobbyiest middle-ground try-to-please everybody bullshit. I doubt she has any views other than those of whoever pays the bills. She just got used to being paid to parrot Repub nonsense, so that’s how her views might seem to lean, however, with a little time and the right amount of cash, she might become the model atheist, whatever that might be.

  169. says

    Thanks you for your thoughtful analysis. I too was alarmed by the choice, but wanted to suspend judgment until I understood more. While I can appreciate the SCA’s attempt to “think out of the box”, they seem to have strayed a little too far from the path with this choice.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] impossibly silly postings. But Greta in particular has been blinded by ideology, as evidenced by a recent post that only highlights one of my major misgivings about the secular movement/atheist [...]

  2. [...] went.  Another one of the big gripes on you was that you dodged questions.  Greta Christina put it perfectly.[Edwina] was talking to her own community here. She was talking to the people she was hired to [...]

  3. [...] I have to rush off – Josh Spokesgay is in town! – but here for your reading enjoyment is Rebecca on the SCA and Vacula. As I was traveling to the conference Friday, a story broke that I found astounding: Men’s Rights Activist Justin Vacula was appointed co-chair of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, the organization that recently came under fire for hiring Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers. [...]

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