Moderate Republicans have been going the way of the Dodo bird since 1964 when Evangelical Christians began their effort to take control of the party. Well all know what happens to moderate Republicans. We even know what happens to conservative Republicans who aren’t conservative enough (Dick Lugar being a case in point).
So that makes the selection of a Republican to lead the Secular Coalition for America – a nontheistic advocacy organization (read: atheist) – all the more surprising. And not only is Rogers a Republican who has appeared on FOX News in defense of Republican policies but the Alabama native is a graduate of Catholic University in Washington DC.
Doesn’t she care that they will spank her and take away her elephant pin? They will probably tell her to give back her American flag pin as well. An atheist Republican is almost as difficult to imagine as a gay Republican and we know how poorly they fare in today’s culture war atmosphere (Richard Grenell being a case in point).
However, Rogers has some serious conservative street cred. As MediaMatters reported in 2007, she showed she was apparently willing to spin a lie with the best of them:
In a discussion of the House committee testimony of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame on the March 16 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Republican strategist Edwina Rogers falsely claimed that Plame “had been in Vanity Fair before any of this came out, sitting in a Jaguar, and she did not get permission from the CIA, which is required.” Rogers said that posing in such a photo “was unacceptable for the CIA.” Rogers also claimed that Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who went to Niger to discover whether or not Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium there, “had come back and didn’t give the report to the CIA, but he turned it over in an op-ed toThe New York Times.” According to Rogers, because of these alleged transgressions, Plame “was already in the hot seat with the CIA.” In fact, Plame’s photos appeared in Vanity Fair several monthsafter syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak’s July 14, 2003, column disclosed her identity, and Wilson’s July 6, 2003, Times op-ed appeared long after he delivered his report on Niger to the CIA. Host Neil Cavuto asked: “But she was in the hot seat — she was in the hot seat after she was in the hot seat, right? I mean, after this stuff came out, right?” But he did not otherwise attempt to correct Rogers’ timeline.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for this cred to be irreparably tarnished. The Secular Coalition says that they are “committed to promoting reason and science as the most reliable methods for understanding the universe and improving the human condition.” The Republican Party (and FOX News) says this is not reason and science but the Bible.
Edwina Rogers was named executive director of the organization on May 3. The press release announcing her appointment touts her two decades of experience on Capitol Hill “as a lobbyist and attorney” as well as her roles as general counsel “for several high profile politicians.” She certainly has the qualifications:
Rogers has been a public policy expert for over 20 years and has worked for two U.S. Presidents and four U.S. Senators. She has served as an advisor to the George H.W. Bush administration and the George W. Bush White House, as well as General Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. She worked for Senator Trent Lott while he was Majority Leader in 1999 and handled health policy for Senator Jeff Sessions in 2003 and 2004.
Rogers said, “For too long, the 50 million secular Americans have been ignored, underappreciated and undervalued—that’s what drew me to the Secular Coalition for America. It’s time to change that. Secular Americans are increasingly pulling together as a voting bloc that demands attention—a constituency that is due formidable representation in Washington, D.C.”
This constituency is all the more important because so many religious Americans are also part of it, not only atheists, myself, a polytheist, among them. Secular after all, is not synonymous with atheist, however conservatives interpret it. Secular means only the absence of religion, not its elimination. Religion has its role, just not in government.
“Secular issues are not partisan issues,” Rogers said. “All Americans should be concerned about protecting our most basic rights and I want to bring that message to politicians of all stripes.”
Even so, the atheist issue is an important one as the press release makes clear:
The Secular Coalition continues to move forward implementing its own 50-state plan, as well as continuing to focus on advocating for nontheists on Capitol Hill, including expanding recognition of nontheists by lawmakers. Rogers is a strong advocate of the separation of government and religion and is in a unique position to push the secular message to those on both sides of the aisle.
Capitol Hill certainly needs nontheists just as it needs a wider diversity of theists, including Muslims and others. A preponderance of Evangelical Christians is not representative of America’s religious landscape in 2012.
According to the press release,
The Secular Coalition represents 11 member organizations and their members on Capitol Hill. Rogers’ hire comes on the heels of the Reason Rally in March—a Secular Coalition for America sponsored event that drew tens of thousands of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nontheistic Americans to Washington, D.C. She will begin her duties as Executive Director on May 3, 2012.
This should lead to some interesting times and it will be fascinating to watch the relationships play out. Will Rogers appear on FOX News again? Will she appear on MediaMatters again? Will she appear on both? Can a woman serve two masters, especially when those masters are at opposite corners where First Amendment issues are concerned? Only time will tell.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.
11 Replies to “Female Republican Strategist to Head Atheist Organization”
Well, let us hope she is not a mole.
…”A preponderance of Evangelical Christians is not representative of America’s religious landscape in 2012″…
Well, smack me up-side the head! No one has said this out loud to the best of my knowledge.
Now, if we could just get the President to utter those words in a speech, make it a sound bit, have it played it over and over in the media (to include false outrage by FOX), “the other” might gain some traction. It would send a message of a little more hope into the old political self-esteem “pockets”, and, get the nations narrative going in the right direction without directly confronting…no wait, persecuting “them”…we all know how “persecuted” they are!
Singh, *anything* is persecuting them.
This just doesn’t compute in my book. Maybe it could happen in years past, when the Republican party wasn’t steeplejacked and crazy like today (but then, in those days atheists tended to stay “in the closet” so to speak, and most people didn’t know).
Like Raynardine, I suspect this person could be acting as a mole. I just don’t trust anyone who is Republican… because for the most part their first allegiance is to their church and party (and the two are pretty much synonymous, although there are several different types of churches involved) and when the Republicans are concerned, things like honesty and fairness go out the window. Plus I’d add that the atheists I know are far more moral and ethical than Rogers seems to be. I guess there could be greedy, selfish, and dishonest atheists, although I haven’t met any (as of yet).
I don’t trust this woman. Seems way to willing to change her colors opportunistically.
thats my take… false flag.. Republicans seem to think they can rebrand everything.. (Sarah Palin being another Hillary).. Log Cabins to court the gay vote..
the falacy is of course that these belief systems happen in a vacuem..they dont realize that most athiests have higher moral standards than their christian brethern..
(dyslexic sans spell checker sorry)
Back in the day an unbeliever or atheist wouldn’t have been that unusual in the Republican party. Today though, it’s just downright bizarre. Doesn’t Edwina know that she is considered the enemy?
A self proclaimed libertarian that I know, is an avowed atheist, and says she doesn’t have a problem with conservatives ( she apparently has a problem with Liberals though ). WTF? I told her, “how can you NOT nave a problem with conservatives? The old Barry Goldwater model just doesn’t exist where we live in Texas. As far as they ( conservatives ) are concerned… YOU are the enemy!” Man, denial can run deep. Same thing with the Log Cabin Republicans….how can you stick up for a party and base that hates your guts?
Sigh…you’re right…it’s like the world is nothing but a game of “no-tag-backs-I-win-ha-ha-you-lose” to “them”; it’s obvious they can only play if cheating and lying are the rules…if not, then anyone who disagrees is bad for saying anything against their rules, their game, their playing field. That’s why normal people don’t want “them” around.
So, by proxy, they are sending in one of their own to do their masters bidding in order to control or do damage control using a secular the government…something smells Trojan Horse-ee.
Maybe a touch of Stockholm Syndrome?
Seriously, the Republicans I’ve met just cannot wrap their heads around the idea of a moral and ethical Atheist. I had such a conversation with a young person in this last month… the young lady could not fathom an atheist NOT being amoral if not immoral. To her, atheist = evil/selfish, with no possible other result. I tried to explain to her that humans have both a drive for cooperation as well as a drive for competition, and that people fall within a spectrum between the two ends, just as people have both a drive towards ethical behavior and towards hedonism. People fall somewhere between the two polar opposites… and the natural structure (without external influences) will be more or less on a bell curve. (Actually, I think people will tend to be more cooperative and ethical – it seems to be hardwired in us.)
The thinking behind the “Good Christian” viewpoint I’ve encountered is that if you don’t have God dictating your every action (so they think), you’re going to be inherently selfish and evil… a view of people that is disproved by science and very negative (and which I totally reject). The idea seems to be that only fear of punishment keeps people from being evil and that all people are inherently evil and selfish.
They cannot seem to conceive of people being “Good” because they want to be, or because it’s part of their nature.
Atheist groups are to some extent apolitical and are looking for a fair treatment of the constitutions seculer foundations but the randin economics and war halking of the GOP since regan are in large part not based in reason and are only there to serve the interest of the wealthy not believing in a god is not a cover for worshiping money.
The modern day GOP even the non theist among them are just worshipers of money and most athiest would rather have no part of such a corrupt world view.
That was my first thought as well.
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