Most of us at Freethought Blogs are wary that the Secular Coalition for America has hired as their executive director Edwina Rogers, a career long Republican aid, lobbyist, and lawyer. The SCA was formed as the lobby which would specifically focus on advocating for secular lawmaking against the influence of theocratically minded legislators who want to base their public policy on their private religious beliefs or on the religious beliefs of politically ascendent religious groups.
There are many things to be said both in her favor and against her. In a follow up post to this one I have spelled out some of the pros and cons I’m seeing in detail. But in this post, I want to point out one disturbing bit of her past work as a Republican operative that I have come across. Just watch the first clip featured in the video below:
The only real glimpse of her views on specifically secularist issues we get in the above video is that snippet right at the start. Right off the bat, in the video’s first clip, we get a red flag comment for those of us secularists who want a strong and passionate advocate for irreligious, science-based public policy about medicine.
First, the background of the clip. Several years ago Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, made a commercial in which he talked about the need for public funding for the sorts of embryonic stem cell research that could help find treatments for people with illnesses like his own. This research was (and is) opposed by right wing forces based on a flagrantly religious view of nature in which embryos have the full humanity of adult humans because they have “souls” already. In the ad, some of Fox’s symptoms were obvious. Rush Limbaugh saw the ad and disgracefully mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s induced jerky body motions and accused him of acting and exaggerating in order to appear like his illness was less under control and more disruptive to his life than it really was.
In steps Edwina Rogers in the clip above. Acting as a Republican party hack, she distances herself from Limbaugh’s specific, politically toxic, remarks but does not stand up for Michael J. Fox and his integrity and the value of his scientifically informed testimony. She does not stand with a man whose health and life itself are on the line. She does not stand with the man conveying the realities of his experience and the realities of the science he has studied because his life depends on it. She did not stand up for evidence-based medicine itself against the influence of distinctly religiously based, anti-stem-cell policy.Rather she condescended to him and patronizingly claimed that “sick people like Michael J. Fox” were being manipulated by “disappointing” people. Presumably, as the executive director of the Secular Coalition for America she is being hired to be one of those “manipulative”, “disappointing” people who argue that medicine policy should be based on science rather than religion.
She claims that she supports the mission of the SCA 100%. She claims she will stand for evidence-based policy. Has she only recently come to believe in evidence-based medicine? Has she only now come to realize that the people trying to manipulate the sick are those who tell them to believe in Christian dogmas at the expense of their own health? Has she only now come to realize the harm that is done by public policies that defer to the will of the people whose bidding she did in the past?
How passionate can she really be about secularism if she attacked Michael J. Fox on behalf of a theocratic stem cell policy?
Elsewhere on Freethought Blogs:
Attempting the Impossible?
Controversy comes with the new Secular Coalition for America Executive Director
I won’t comment
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
The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Republican To Represent Secularists