Edwina Rogers has just been announced as the executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, the national lobby on behalf of secularism in politics. She has a long career of service to the Republican party:
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. She practiced law in the Washington office of Balch and Bingham from 1991 until 1994.
In 1996, she was a Fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Rogers received her B.S. in Corporate Finance from the University of Alabama and a J.D. from Catholic University in Washington D.C
The SCA posted an interview with Rogers yesterday:
Have you always been a secularist? How do you describe yourself and your beliefs?
I am a nontheist, but tend to shy away from labels, because I think they have a way of creating division within the movement. I have always been a firm secularist and an ardent supporter of the separation of religion and government. I am passionate about increasing the respect for nontheists in the United States and protecting the secular character of our government. I think that America is a place where there should be no religious test for participation in political life. I certainly feel that theists should be fully able to participate in public life—but no more than nontheists. I am not here to end religion.
How do you think your Republican background will play into your role here at the Secular Coalition?
My Republican background will help open certain doors that may have been closed to the secular movement before. It’s a misnomer that the majority of Republicans believe in the comingling of religion and government. The Religious Right is a vocal part of the Republican Party, but it’s also a minority. Most Republicans don’t necessarily agree with them, but may simply take a laissez faire attitude on that particular topic because they haven’t been engaged on the issues. If we aim to combat the political influence of those who want to see religion inserted in our secular government we will have to work with decision makers on both sides of the aisle—and I am uniquely qualified to help the Secular Coalition do that.
Hemant Mehta also has a long interview with Rogers:
Can Republicans in Congress ever be receptive to our cause? Do you think your own background can help in that matter?
The answers are yes and yes. Last month I participated in SCA’s Lobby Day for Reason and was received very warmly by the offices of several high profile Republican U.S. Representatives. There have been times in my past as a lobbyist, where I was thrown out of politicians’ offices when they didn’t like my message — this wasn’t one of them. There is definitely an opening there, and we are going to work to make our issues known and widely accepted by those on both sides.
My Republican background will help open certain doors. The sky is really the limit. Good work has been done but it’s only a foundation, and now we’re going to build a skyscraper. On the top of my agenda for this year will be meeting with every U.S. House and Senate office, as well as the appropriate committees. We are going to educate them on the downside of allowing laws to be based on religion and faith and not reason and science…We need to strive to have an absolute division between religion and government, but keep in mind that we need to be respectful and open to people of all faiths and none. No one — religious or non-religious — should be excluded from the conversation. But ultimately, the laws shouldn’t be based on a religious perspective.
I have to chew this over a bit. Help me out. Your Thoughts?
My follow up posts: The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Republican To Represent Secularists and Edwina Rogers vs. Michael J. Fox
Elsewhere on Freethought Blogs:
A Republican to Head the Secular Coalition for America?
Who is going to be our spokesperson on Capitol Hill?
Despicable Right-Wing Political Hack New Director of the Secular Coalition for America
Secular Coalition For… The Right Wing GOP?
Edwina Rogers: the unanswered questions