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.
3 years ago