Why Was Edwina Rogers Fired from the Secular Coalition for America?

After the news broke on Friday that the Secular Coalition for America had fired Executive Director Edwina Rogers (below), we were left with a lot of unanswered questions, including why exactly she was let go. Was it because she was a Republican (which she said was a factor, though the SCA denies it)? Was it because of embezzlement that occurred under her watch (which the SCA also denies)? Was it because of management issues? It wasn’t very clear, and it didn’t help that Rogers was talking but SCA representatives were not.

The crux of the problem, it seemed, was reported in the New York Times by Laurie Goodstein and Mark Oppenheimer:

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Secular Coalition for America Has Fired Executive Director Edwina Rogers

Just over two years ago, the Secular Coalition for America — the largest lobbying group in Washington, D.C. representing non-religious Americans — announced that its new Executive Director would be a Republican who had worked under President George W. Bush and conservative senators Trent Lott and Jeff Sessions.

Despite Edwina Rogers‘ claim that her focus was always on health and economic issues with those politicians, her GOP background rubbed a lot of atheist activists the wrong way. They wondered if someone who had worked for social conservatives could really be a reliable voice for Secular Americans. Rogers was optimistic that her background wouldn’t hinder her new position — in fact, she believed she could get her foot in the door in places where liberal lobbyists might have been shut out. Still, my initial interview with her provoked a lot of skeptical (and harsh) feedback from readers and other bloggers. (Her more recent interview with me, last month, hardly made any waves at all.)

Today, Laurie Goodstein and Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times broke the news that Rogers was fired by the SCA last week.

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Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) Will Also Speak at Atheist Group’s Lobby Day Event

The Secular Coalition for America’s annual Lobby Day and Secular Summit will take place June 12-14, and they have now announced that Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) will be joining Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as keynote speakers:



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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Will Speak at Atheist Group’s Lobby Day Event

The Secular Coalition for America’s annual Lobby Day and Secular Summit will take place June 12-14, and I just received word that Rhode Island’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has confirmed that he will be the keynote speaker:



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Two Years Ago, a Republican Became Director of the Country’s Largest Atheist Lobbying Group. How Is She Doing?

Two years ago today, the Secular Coalition for America — the largest lobbying group in Washington, D.C. representing non-religious Americans — announced that its new Executive Director would be a Republican who had worked under President George W. Bush and conservative senators Trent Lott and Jeff Sessions.

While Edwina Rogers focused on health and economic issues with those politicians, her GOP background rubbed a lot of atheist activists the wrong way. They wondered if someone who had worked for social conservatives could really be a reliable voice for Secular Americans. Rogers was optimistic that her background wouldn’t hinder her new position — in fact, she believed she could get her foot in the door in places where liberal lobbyists might have been shut out. Still, my initial interview with her provoked a lot of skeptical (and harsh) feedback from readers and other bloggers.

But that was two years ago. Has Rogers changed her mind about the Republican Party’s ability to appeal to atheists and agnostics? Has the backlash died down?

I emailed her a list of questions earlier this week and her responses are posted below.

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