I have been a fan of the past executive directors of the SCA. Lori Lipman Brown and Sean Faircloth are both smart, friendly, fun-loving people who I enjoyed getting to know. When Sean left the position to be with the Richard Dawkins Foundation, there was the hanging question of who would be chosen to succeed him.
And today we have an answer from Hemant Mehta’s blog. The choice is a former Republican lobbyist named Edwina Rogers. I have never heard of her until today, but let me tell you, based on what I read from Hemant’s interview, why I think that the choice is a good one.
First, her answers to Hemant’s questions are encouraging. She’s a nontheist (her preferred term), secularist, and she seems to be aware of the issues which the SCA is designed to confront. In short, she’s one of us.
Second, the fact that she is a she is a plus in the sense that we do have some issues with gender inequality in the larger community of reason. Not that hiring a man would have been a mistake, but this is an added bonus from an equality point of view.
Third, she has inroads to Republicans. This, I think, is the most important part. For some time there has been an idea that there is a divide in our “culture wars” which divide along the lines of Democrat/liberal/secularist versus Republican/conservative/theocrat. This divide is way too simplistic, and as Edwina Rogers states, its not true in the majority of cases.
Secularism is not a uniquely liberal value or cause. Yes, there are many conservative voices who declare their opposition to the liberal and secularist agendas, but even those conservatives have much to gain, and maintain, in a secular government. With Edwina speaking for us, perhaps some of those voices will be forced to allow their connected ears to get some exercise. Seculaism has much to offer conservatives, especially the religious ones.
Yes, I have stark political and philosophical differences with conservative people (some who are family members) who view me as some crazed, brainwashed, confused elitist who has been fed the liberal lie of separation of church and state. Perhaps Edwina’s voice can carry a little more weight with such people (perhaps not, in many), ot at least be able to frame them in ways those people will understand.
And there may in fact be a majority of conservative contituents who hold similar views about us elitist progressive secularists, but there are paths towards developing political alliances with secular conservatives who hold, or at least are near, levers of power and authority.
I would prefer to see America become more progressive as a whole. I would like to see the Democratic party become truly progressive, fully secular, and deal with real social inequalities such as those brought up by the Occupy movement. I would like to see the Republican party return to leaders such as Barry Goldwater, rather than the theocracy-downed idiocy that so often sways Republican constituents and legislation.
I would like to see real, substantive, argument about policy between people who intelligently disagree, rather than be distracted by Biblical proclamations and religiously-based anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-science ideologies which end up doing damage to the nation we all live in. There is much to love about America, but sometimes those attributes become smudged with too much mud from religious contamination.
Theocratic tendencies in politics harm us all in ways which we often don’t even realize, unless we are paying close attention. Having someone familiar with conservative lobbying circles assisting in our efforts to support secularism in America will be a boon for us all–liberal, conservative, etc–long-term.
I think that the SCA made a smart move in choosing Edwina Rogers. Let’s see if I’m right. In the mean time, let’s all welcome Edwina to her new position.