Friday, November 7, 2008

Elizabeth Dole, Kay Hagan - and God

Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina was defeated by Democratic challenger Kay Hagan in her bid for a second term Tuesday night. The campaign took a bad turn when, at the eleventh hour, Dole ran an ad she believed would be a sure hit. In the ad she claimed Hagan secretly attended a fundraiser hosted by a Political Action Committee known as Godless Americans.

In North Carolina - and throughout much of the country - being associated with an atheist organization is considered harmful to your political health. Perhaps times are changing. Don't misunderstand. Ms. Hagan repudiated any notion that she might be a "godless" person by quickly and publicly avowing her faith in God and good standing as a Christian. What is noteworthy here is the fact that Senator Dole was roundly criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for running the ad in the first place.

Why exactly did so many people find the ad offensive? Were they upset because the implications presented were untrue, i.e., Ms. Hagan does believe in God, or was it the notion that even if a candidate is godless, it should have no bearing on the election?

One can readily understand why Ms. Hagan would want to set the record straight, but would it have been too much to expect that she take the high road and publicly state that one's religious - or non-religious - beliefs are not pertinent in an election to public office?

Guilt by association has always been in bad taste, but rest assured we are a long way from a place where being godless makes no difference at all. Why else would Ms. Hagan move so decisively to correct the record? Precisely because she wanted there to be no misunderstanding with her constituents as to her religious faith, lest she be vilified as a non-believer.

It seems for the time being at least, especially in the Republican Party, God remains right up there with baseball, motherhood, and apple pie, while atheists remains right down there with the dregs of society.


  1. I think there probably are a lot of politicians out there who see it as too politically risky to say what they really feel about spirituality. Too afraid of insulting the base, right? America will really be America when a person is totally unafraid to say what they think and feel.

    I think it is important that as human beings we are as honest as we can be with each other and not pretend anything, because "the truth will set you free."

    Will a politician 100 years from now be able to admit that he/she is uncertain about the God concept and not be pummeled by the electorate?

    What do you think?

  2. hopefully times are changing. i know kay hagan would have loved to say what she really thought. she is a very "reason" able woman. yes, i think a politician 100 years from now will be able to freely admit their uncertainty about the god concept without fear of punishment. i think it will be much sooner than that! interesting that you capitalized god. not a negative, just interesting. we certainly are conditioned! have a great day!

  3. Good point about capitalizing "God." We certainly are conditioned. I wrote about this conditioning in a post I Wish My Brain Had A Delete Button. You might enjoy it.

    A few years ago, I started capitalizing the word "Love" whenever I used it as a noun - sort of my way of replacing "God" as the ultimate force in the universe. I should get back to doing that.

  4. Hi WC,
    i did enjoy "wish my brain had a delete button" and i love your idea of Love as the ultimate force in the universe! so i will recondition myself right along with you and Love will be out there flying around and sinking in to all who will allow it! and i will allow it!

  5. What gets me and I may have my history lessons wrong, but isn't there, or at least wasn't there a thing called separation of church and state?

    Hear me out. You have all these Christians sitting in public office trying to get prayer back in school and tons of other things done relating to god, but if an atheist would even dare get elected to office I cold only imagine the upheaval it would cause, but of the things we could think.

  6. yup, of the things we could think - and likely accomplish if there weren't so many tags put on people. how about "reasonable" or "toxic". i sure hope i fall into the reasonable category. i do in my own mind.

  7. Don't we all think we're reasonable in our own minds? Forget that. I'm even worse! I think of myself as enlightened! Now there's chutzpa!!

  8. did you hear him yesterday? he included us in the inaugural address!! i forget his exact wording, but he included those who don't believe (in god) - although we do believe in reason, that goes without saying.

  9. Yes, I caught President Obama's inclusion of non-believers among the citizens of our nation. It's a small but critical step. Supposedly, H. W. made the assertion that atheists should not be considered as citizens or patriots at all! So this is progress!

  10. WC. I am so excited! i am trying to be more reasonable than ever, but... but yes, he included us!