A woman in secularism

Lots of erm discussion of the new executive director of the Secular Coalition for America (replacing Sean Faircloth who left to go to work for the RDF). She’s a Republican, and not just a Republican, but an insider, an operative.

From 2001-2002, Rogers served as an Economic Advisor for President George W. Bush at the White House, at the National Economic Council, where she focused on health and social security policy. She also worked on International Trade matters for President George H. W. Bush at the Department of Commerce from 1989 until 1991.

Rogers served as General Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 1994. She worked for Senator Lott while he was Majority Leader in 1999 and she handled health policy for Senator Sessions in 2003 and 2004.


Hemant did an interview with her.

Why should we trust you now to work for us after a career spent working for people who seem to be actively against us?

I think it’s a misconception that the majority of Republicans are lined up against the secular movement. As someone who has been an insider within the Republican Party, I’m certain it’s not the consensus of the majority of Republicans to have an [overt] influence of religion on our laws. Having said that, no one agrees with everyone they work with on every single issue. In these roles I never worked on anything having to do with issues of religion — I worked primarily on economic issues.

It’s not the consensus of the majority of Republicans to have an overt influence of religion on our laws? Well I can’t believe that, said Alice.

I do think that for the vast majority of conservatives and Republicans, they are true believers of secularism — the majority of Republicans believe in the separation of church and state.

Yeah I don’t believe that, either. If that were true they would have done something about it by now.

One of the issues the atheist community has struggled with, especially lately, has been getting more women involved in our movement.  Do you think your role with the SCA can help change that?

Of course, I think me being female will help recruit women and I am going to make it a priority to get more women involved. I will be speaking at the Women in Secularism conference on the 19th of this month.

Oh – I didn’t know that. Interesting.


  1. astrosmash says

    It may be for sale, but I ain’t buying it. Who were the deciders here? That’s much more interesting than the decision…

  2. says

    I will be speaking at the Women in Secularism conference on the 19th of this month.

    Oh – I didn’t know that. Interesting.

    Quite. Please let those of us who can’t go know the details about things she says in her speech and in interactions with her if you can. Her recorded media presence that I’ve seen so far does not speak well of her. I mean, there is the possibility that she pulls a Ted Olson and starts making some sense after all these years, I suppose.

  3. says

    I read the interview on Friendly Atheist. I want so much to believe what she is saying about “the majority of Republicans” is true, but dammit, the evidence does not support that!

  4. Sastra says

    My first thought was that she knows her audience — meaning, the Republicans. She’s got to sell secularism to them. And, from experience, she knows that their minds are weak:

    “Hello, Senator. I’m here from the Secular Coalition for America. Republicans have never had a problem with secularism. You have never wanted an overt influence of religion on our laws. As a Republican, you will be happy to vote for this bill. We are not the enemy you are looking for. We can go about our business. Move along.”

    Old Jedi mind trick. Very savvy.

  5. astrosmash says

    Sastra @ 5

    How can you be a secularist and a republican? Like I said before, I want to know who the deciders were. Maybe it’s not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but this is like being a devout Catholic in favor of women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage. (i,e, ‘not’ Catholic) Pick a side slacker. It’s HER responsibility to unfetter that barge before attending this task…Not ours!

  6. astrosmash says

    Wait. were Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight, Maryam Namazie, Ophelia Benson, Amanda Marcotte, Greta Christina, Taslima Nasreen, Natalie Reed, Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Maddow, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jessica
    Alquist (don’t tell me SHE can’t handle it), etc etc not under serious consideration? I rhetorically ask…Who were the deciders!? These peeps got the creds out the wazoo…Whadup?

  7. astrosmash says

    kevs says

    “Give her a chance.”

    Yeah, but if she is here, why is she a Republican? or vice-versa

    At best, she should be a registered independent. ANY willful association with that party at this juncture is untenable at this point.

  8. astrosmash says

    There are two ostensibly mutually exclusive conservative positions

    1 retroactive social conservatism

    2 fiscal conservatism

    The latter is nothing more than lip service at this point. The only issues driving conservatism now are social ones.

    My take: She’s a Randian libertarian. Let’s ask her about her take on vaccinations and corporate regulation…Dollars to donuts we’ll suss her out there.

    There will be no easy ride for them here…

  9. Jeff D says

    Edwina Rogers: “The Religious Right is a vocal part of the Republican Party, but it’s also a minority.” Where I live, in the Midwest, I don’t believe that the Religious Right is a minority within the GOP, by any measure.

    As I survey what has happened to the Republican party over the past 20+ years, I admit that I am not optimistic about how effective Ms. Rogers can or will be.

    But political party affiliation is only a mediocre predictor of any individual’s commitment to secular principles and to the defense of the Establishment Clause. In 1993, it was President Clinton who signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which had Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Chuck Schumer as two of its major sponsors. The RFRA was definitely a mixed bag before the Supreme Court found it to be unconstitutionally overbroad in 1997.

    And although the Charitable Choice initiative (allowing federal tax revenues to be paid to churches and religious organizations in order to deliver social services) was a pet project of then-Senator John Ashcroft, when it was inserted the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, President Clinton signed the Act, and attempted to limit the scope of Charitable Choice (and potential discrimination in those programs) through a presidential signing statement. Without “Charitable Choice,” we would not have had the vast expansion of it into “Superstition-Based Initiatives” by Bush II, and the continuing taxpayer funding of employment discrimination by religious organiations, which the cowardly Obama Administration, to its lasting shame, has allowed to continue.

    I would feel almost as pessimistic if a national-level Democratic Party “operative” or “insider” had been hired by the SCA.

  10. sailor1031 says

    Maybe some republicans are for separation of church and State but where are they? who are they? Can you think of one? were any running for the presidential nomination? have any spoken in congress? Are any of them in the Family? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’ then secular republicans are merely cynically exploiting their religious voters in order to gain and keep power. Kind of like G W Bush and his cronies who let the fundies into the white house but laughed at them behind their backs. Trouble was that despite the laughter, the fundies were, and are, heavily influencing policy – apparently because republicans are so deceitful that they will implement fundie policies even though they are, because of being secularists don’cha know, against them.

    In any case the republicans are wrong on all the issues – economic, defence, monetary & fiscal policy, social policy, foreign policy, you name it – so I don’t care if they’re closet atheists or secularists because, if true, it doesn’t matter a flying fuck!

  11. Godless Heathen says

    I can’t speak for other women, but I, for one, am never inspired to become involved in anything that a republican woman is in charge of.

    It generally has the opposite effect.

  12. John Horstman says

    Polling data do not bear out her claims about the majority of Republicans being pro-secular, unless one adopts an extremely disingenuous definition of ‘secularism’. For example, most Republicans do not support marriage equality and most Republicans oppose legal abortion. These are religious views enacted as laws – the exact opposite of secularism. While I’ll reserve judgement of Rogers as the executive director of the Secular Coalition for America until I can measure her performance in that position, her interview responses make me MORE concerned – she’s either flatly ignorant of something that’s a core concern of her new position and about which she ought to know better, does not understand what “secularism” means, or she’s intentionally lying. These are all deeply concerning possibilities.

  13. says

    I’m not reserving judgment. I can always change my judgment in response to new information, but I don’t think I have to reserve it for now. I don’t think a Republican operative makes sense at the head of a secularist organization, given that the current existing Republican party is rabidly hostile to secularism and works to undermine it in every way possible.

    It’s like Catholics who disagree with the Vatican but stay in the church. If you disagree with the Vatican why the hell do you stay in? If you stay in you’re just giving the Vatican your vote. Same with Rogers and the Republican party.

    Mind you, the Democratic party is not much of an alternative when it comes to secularism.

  14. says

    And, frankly, I’m not happy to learn that she’ll be speaking at the Women in Secularism conference. That was our conference – ours as feminists, liberals (in the broadest sense), atheists, shit-stirrers, out-speakers, up-standers. As people who take heat. Outsiders. Spies. Rebels. Not…Republican lobbyists.

    I wouldn’t want Margaret Thatcher there. I wouldn’t want Sarah Palin there. I wouldn’t want Michelle Bachmann there. Why should I want Edwina Rogers there?

  15. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I can’t speak for other women, but I, for one, am never inspired to become involved in anything that a republican woman is in charge of.

    It generally has the opposite effect.

    10000% cosigned.

  16. julian says

    I think it’s a misconception that the majority of Republicans are lined up against the secular movement.

    My skepticism is tingling…

    I can’t speak for other women, but I, for one, am never inspired to become involved in anything that a republican woman is in charge of.

    It generally has the opposite effect.

    Most definitely. Most prominent (or at least most visible) women in the Republican party have less than positive attitudes towards women or women’s rights.

    That said…

    I’m not going to hold her political affiliation against her. There are atheist, skeptic and secularist Republicans out there and it might be in our best interest to bring them to light. They can help break down a lot of the artificial barriers that separate the political parties (here in the U.S. at least.)

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