Republicans Smear Senate Candidate Kay Hagan for Meeting with Atheists

North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan is running against Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole for a Senate seat, as I’ve mentioned on here before.

Hagan is currently winning. And momentum is on her side.

Much like John McCain‘s campaign, when Republicans saw their candidate sliding in the polls, they decided to organize a smear campaign against the opposition.

How? By finding a loose association between the candidate and someone — anyone — the Republicans can vilify.

In this case, they’ve exploited Hagan’s attendance at a fundraiser last month held by two liberals — both of whom were very active with the ACLU, continue to stand for the rights of the oppressed, work with church/state separation groups… you get the idea).

They also happen to be atheists.

For the North Carolina Republicans, that’s like striking oil.

What does their attack look like?

Take a look. Here’s the mailing that just went out from the North Carolina Republican State Executive Committee (via I’m Important and Smart):







Let’s see what they say… and how they’re lying to you:

Godless Americans Political Action Committee is a left-wing organization based in Washington, DC — dedicated to “Mobilizing America’s Nonbelievers for Political Activism.” They actively support political candidates who are Atheists and who also support their liberal agenda to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and force the Boy Scouts to accept atheists and homosexuals as troop leaders. Their goal is to remove any reference to God in the public arena, including eliminating the Christmas Holiday

Now, once again with commentary:

Godless Americans Political Action Committee is a left-wing organization based in Washington, DC (actually Parsippany, NJ) — dedicated to “Mobilizing America’s Nonbelievers for Political Activism.” They actively support political candidates who are Atheists (There are atheist candidates?! Name one. I dare you. Even Pete Stark, the one Congressperson who doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t call himself an “atheist.”) and who also support their liberal agenda to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance (that would be nice, but if it ever happens, it’ll be through the Courts, not the Legislative Branch) and force the Boy Scouts to accept atheists and homosexuals as troop leaders (The Boy Scouts of America can unfortunately exclude whomever they want. As long as they stay away from taxpayer money. They do not, so the argument against them will continue.). Their goal is to remove any reference to God in the public arena, including eliminating the Christmas Holiday (No one wants to remove God from the public arena. We simply ask our politicians to refrain from promoting any one particular religion over another — or religion over no religion.)

The Republicans march on (the emphasis is theirs):

In North Carolina, Kay Hagan says she shares our values. But, behind our backs she’s the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted by the most vile, radical liberals in America.

Vile? Radical? The fundraising hosts work with groups who want equal rights for everyone. That includes Christians and Muslims and, yes, atheists.

Apparently, to the NC Republicans, the state’s values include intolerance and bigotry.

Oh.

And they quote this website on the last image.

They don’t quote me, the person who actually writes posts for this site.

Instead, they quote a commenter on this site.

What horrible thing did the commenter say?

Nothing evil.

Just that he donated to Hagan’s campaign.

And he said so on this site, a site with the title “Friendly Atheist” (cue creepy music).

I don’t know that I’ve ever been to North Carolina besides driving through, but I just donated [to Hagan's campaign].

Clearly, that’s hate speech…

The Republican Party also quotes from our friend Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism as well:

Hagan ought to be rewarded for inviting nonbelievers onto her platform…

What?! Rewarding a politician who invites more people onto her platform?! People the Republicans have pushed off their own platform?! Blasphemy.

Two other thoughts.

One: Not that it matter a great deal here, but it’s times like these I’m glad my site’s name is “Friendly” Atheist and Ebonmuse’s site is “Daylight” Atheism. It would look much worse if our sites were called “Angry Atheist” or “Dark Atheism”… there’s something to be said for a more positive, optimistic outlook on atheism.

Two: It’s not too late to donate to Kay Hagan.

You can help get these sleazy anti-atheist Republicans out of office.

Thanks to reader Pete for informing me about this. He wrote this in an email to me:

I am an atheist currently living in North Carolina. I have been leaning towards Kay Hagan in the upcoming election for some time now, but I had yet to make up my mind for sure. “The Benefit of Elizabeth Dole Committee, Inc.” changed that today…

I have always known that I would be voting against Elizabeth Dole in this election, but now I know that I will be voting for Kay Hagan.


  • Richard Wade

    So do we know for certain that Kay Hagan actually attended that fundraiser on Sept. 15? Political candidates often have to cancel appearances at the last minute. I emailed the Secular Coalition for America twice asking if she did indeed show up, but weeks have passed and they have not replied. There is nothing mentioned about Kay Hagan on their website nor anything that I can find mentioned by Godless Americans PAC. Not surprisingly, there’s no mention on Kay’s website.

    Because I’m “one of the most vile, radical liberals” I know, I want her to win regardless, but I just would like some kind of confirmation that she actually attended.

  • justin jm

    I tell you, if an atheist ever ran for President (someone with a good chance of winning) the vitriol coming from people like Dole (and probably the Fox News types) would make the anti-Obama smears look like kindergarten gossip by comparison.

  • http://thesciencepundit.blogspot.com/ The Science Pundit

    I shouldn’t be surprised about this. It’s so typical.

  • http://atheistamputee.blogspot.com Jimmy

    Steam shot out of my ears as soon as I read this. Republicans wouldn’t be so bad if they actually were small government fiscal conservatives like they claim to be, instead, they’re big spending bigots with a religious agenda just as serious as Iran’s.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    I see you got wind of this too, Hemant – I was just about to e-mail you. In a weird sort of way, I’m flattered: I would never have guessed I had stung Dole enough to merit a mention in her actual campaign literature. And you just know her campaign is getting desperate when their chief line of attack is, “Kay Hagan associates with evil atheists who want to ban Christmas!” Does anyone really believe that, even in North Carolina?

    And I have to say, that’s an excellent point about the names of our sites. If the Dole campaign wants to make us the official ambassadors for atheism, I say, let them! Anyone who stops by either of our sites because of that flier will soon see for themselves how much resemblance our actual positions have to the ludicrous false stereotypes they spread about us.

  • Kate

    Does anyone really believe that, even in North Carolina?

    You’ve never visited NC…have you? ;)

    I can say for certain that YES, people right here in NC definitely believe that.

  • http://newref.blogspot.com/ James

    The desperation of the Republicans here in NC is very obvious: this former Red state is on the verge of becoming a Blue state, with Obama leading in the polls here (Bush won here by 13% in 2000 and 2004). Before the start of the campaign season, Dole’s Senate seat was considered a virtual lock, but now Hagan is leading in the polls. The Republicans have become so nasty and desperate because they are in serious danger of losing ground in what was once safely considered their home turf.

  • Pamela

    ooh, look! you got free press!

  • Kate

    I wonder if your site will see increased traffic from these mailings…

  • mike

    Wow, they even followed suit from your logo and used a jaunty “A” in “FriendlyAtheist.com”.. It’s not quite the true scarlet A, but it is very close. You have to give them an A (har har) for effort on typesetting the name of your site. It was very considerate… certainly more considerate than I’d be when mentioning the name of a site where the most vile, radical liberal sects of our country hang out.

  • http://perkyskeptic.blogspot.com/ The Perky Skeptic

    Wow. Er, even as an atheist I celebrate Christmas. ‘Cause it’s fun, you get to dress up funny, and you get treats. And Halloween. ‘Cause it’s fun, you get to dress up funny, and you get treats.

    I’m noticing a pattern here.

    Speaking of patterns, yes, the smear machine seems to be working in full swing. I may just donate to Kay Hagan myself.

  • Bill

    I’ve just donated another $50 to Hagan’s campaign in addition to the $50 I sent when this matter came up a few weeks ago.

  • benjdm

    $50 sent in to Hagan’s campaign. I’ll have to call their office tomorrow and let them know why.

    Also, added a link to this blog post here: http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=27070979

  • http://freethinkernation.com Chad

    Live and let live is my Libertarian philosophy!

  • Richard Wade

    On the second image one of the captions on the photos says “Kay Hagan at the Kaplan/Kaminer home in Boston, MA.” Does that mean she was there? Who took the photos?

  • Siamang

    Well, I must say I’m disappointed that I wasn’t quoted.

    But I’m happy at two things. One is that Dole is getting her ass handed to her in this election.

    The other is that this flyer will be a wonderful thing to point to to make our case to a majority blind to this scapegoating that we actually DO face bigotry and an attempt to silence us from meeting with and donating to political candidates. There’s an attempt to make us political untouchables merely because of our beliefs about God and our priorities in the sphere of public policy. And this flyer shows it in all its ugliness.

    Apparently I’m vile because I have different religious beliefs than Elizabeth Dole.

    Keep digging, Republicans. Can I hand you another shovel?

  • Siamang

    Oh and the republicans all sad that Kay Hagan took some out of state money from some atheists? Looks like you might need a ride in this:

    http://robdamanii.com/macros/wahmbulance.jpg

    WAAAAHHHH WE’RE LOOOOSING BECAUSE A HANDFULLA ATHEISTZ ONNA WEBSITE GAVE ALMOST A THOUSAND DOLLARS TO KAY HAGEN!!!! WAAAAAHHHHH!!!! NO FAIRSIES!!!!!

    No wonder they’re losing.

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 benjdm

    Elizabeth Dole’s percentage of out-of-state money is much higher than Kay Hagan’s:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/races/geog.php?cycle=2008&id=NCS1

    Elizabeth Dole – 46% in state, 54% out of state

    Kay Hagan – 77% in state, 23% out of state

  • llewelly

    This may be only the beginning. I think if the Republicans begin to recognize non-believers as a serious voting bloc, they’ll say much nastier things about non-believers in general – and atheists especially.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Can you believe that torn picture of the mom and child at Christmas? That is unreal. Could anyone seriously look at that and go “OMG Kay Hagan is going to try to stop that sweet mom and kid from having a Merry Christmas!”

  • PrimeNumbers

    I always thought christmas was a pagan winter solstice festival that was later hi-jacked by christians.

    However, on all my travels to the USA, many at or near christmas time, it’s practically always referred to as “holidays” and the “holiday season”. Even Wal-mart had big signs up last time I was in telling us to be “bright this season” or words to that effects. I had to laugh….

  • mikespeir

    Oh, but look at those children in the picture! I shudder at what removing “under God” from the Pledge will do to them. It’ll turn the two little boys into axe murders and the little girls into prostitutes; or the other way around; or both.

    And, BTW, I’m another one of those atheists who enjoys Christmas. If we got rid of all holidays with some religious connection, we’d have mighty few left.

    One more thing. Looking at that picture of Kay Hagan, can’t you just see the evil in her eyes? Why, she practically oozes the stuff!

  • http://yunshui.wordpress.com yunshui

    I love the spittle-flecked, hyperbolic grammar on that last page:

    “And, they want to abolish Christmas! And, they want Kay Hagan in the Senate! And, they eat babies! And, they burn crosses! And, they drown kittens! And (comma)… and (comma)… and (comma)…”

    Perhaps Elizabeth Dole should get a better proof-reader…

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Thanks for covering this story. It is clear that the Dole campaign is getting desperate. I’m very sorry that we as nonbelievers are once again getting smeared and being used to smear someone else. But I’m also very happy to see Dole’s people striking out in utter desperation. It shows how scared they are.

    The Republicans are starting to see that appealing to the nuttiest members of their base is not working this year. They’re going to actually have to have some solutions to our economic problems rather than blathering on about god and Christmas if they want to win elections.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com decrepitoldfool

    Bonus! Think of all the people who, on the basis of that ad, will for the first time visit an actual atheist website and read what actual atheists have to say.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    It seems the Republicans, when the chips are down, resort to mud slinging at any cost. Mudslinging on important issues, while frowned upon, is at least staying focused.

    I donated to Kay’s campaign. Hope she wins.

  • J Myers

    I would never have guessed I had stung Dole enough to merit a mention in her actual campaign literature.

    Ebonmuse, I have to think you know that you didn’t. Dole likely couldn’t care less about what you or I or any other atheist says; she thinks so little of us (or at least–and more pertinently–she thinks that the voters in her state think so little of us) that she saw snippets of atheist praise as a liability for Hagan, so she made a point to include them in her smear brochure. I assure you, Dole remains just as un-stung and every bit as bigoted as she was before you wrote the post from which she quoted.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Between the Obama campaign and the No on 8 (saving same- sex marriage in California) campaign, Nurse Ingrid and I have been donating up a storm this election. But I was inspired, and I just made a $25 donation to Hagan’s campaign. I wanted her to know that it came from the atheist community, so I followed it up with this letter. I encourage any other atheists and atheist- positives who donated to write to her as well (myvoice@kayhagan.com). Here’s what I wrote:

    Hello. My name is Greta Christina, and although I don’t live in North Carolina, I just made a donation to your campaign. I wanted to let you know that I did so prompted by recent posts on the Daylight Atheism and Friendly Atheist blogs.
    I am appalled by Elizabeth Dole’s open bigotry and hatred towards atheists — a bigotry and hatred that would not be tolerated towards any other religious group. And I am encouraged by Kay Hagan’s recognition that atheists are citizens, who have a right to have our voices heard in the political arena.

    My funds are limited (especially since I’ve been donating to other political campaigns this year), so my donation was small. But I plan to write about this on my own blog, and encourage my readers (some who are atheists, many others who aren’t but support atheists’ rights) to support your campaign as well. Thank you again for your recognition of our growing community, and please know that we are grateful and will not forget it.

    (cross-posted from Daylight Atheism)

  • sc0tt

    Did anyone else notice that Dole’s name is not mentioned anywhere in those flyers?

    I’d guess it’s either because they wanted to create bad Hagan feelings without directly associating Dole with the smear, or because the money didn’t come from Dole’s campaign fund and so it can’t mention her explicitly.

    The pollster.com site that Hemant linked to also shows Obama and McCain are exactly tied (to 3 sig figs) in NC. They really are having a shakeup.

  • SarahH

    Seems like mudslinging is becoming fashionable across the board for Republicans. In this case (as in many others) they can’t seem to find any real mud to sling, so they’re simply playing to the bigotry and prejudice still present in parts of the population.

    I hope decrepitoldfool is right – I hope more people will visit this blog and (if they get the joke about the lobster baby!) will read what some real atheists have to say. Nobody’s going to take Christmas away – we only want to be seen and treated like normal Americans who care about our communities and want justice.

  • Richard Wade

    scOtt, you asked:

    Did anyone else notice that Dole’s name is not mentioned anywhere in those flyers?

    Yes, her name is on the flier. These four images appear to be the four sides of a card flier folded in half, making four “pages.” It’s hard to see, but if you click on the fourth image it will become enlarged. Just under the return address and the postage paid mark, at the very bottom is a box with light gray text saying:

    Paid for by the North Carolina Republican State Executive Committee. http://www.ncgop.org Authorized by and for the benefit of Elizabeth Dole Committee, Inc.

    That amounts to Dole’s signature on the flier.

  • ash

    a Pharyngulite introduced me to an anagram site by pointing out that ‘Catholicism’ gives a result of ‘comical shit’. boredom inspired me to run ‘Elizabeth Dole’ through – came out as ‘doez libel hate’. nearly perfect ;)

  • http://borutpeterlin.wordpress.com/ B5

    Well, organized superstition is a powerful force!

  • BZ

    Donated a sizable chunk of money myself. A large response donating to her opponents campaign is a good deterrent to such hateful attacks in the future.

  • Ben

    On the bad side:

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1248352.html

    Hagan’s campaign said Hagan does not support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Hagan’s son is an Eagle Scout. Hagan’s campaign said that while Hagan opposes discrimination, she believes the question about who can be troop leaders is a decision for the Boy Scouts, not Washington, to make.

  • http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com Cuttlefish

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/10/i-thought-i-saw-atheist-in-north.html

    I thought I saw an atheist
    Approach a voting booth—
    Her voice was shrill, her eyes were wide
    Her manner quite uncouth;
    She tried to force her views on us
    And exercise control—
    I looked again—I’m wrong once more
    Why, this was Libby Dole.

    I thought I saw an atheist
    Discriminate and hate;
    Deride a weak minority
    Because the hour’s late—
    To try to stir the masses
    She’s been losing in the polls;
    I looked again, and listened well—
    Those words were Libby Dole’s

    I thought I saw an atheist,
    So “radical” and “vile”
    Wage war against America–
    A villain with a smile
    Promoting hate, promoting fear
    For petty, selfish gain—
    I looked again, and clearly saw
    The Libby Dole campaign

    I thought I saw an atheist
    Stand up and say “no more!”
    I will not be your scapegoat
    Like so many times before!
    Americans, stand up as Christian
    Muslim, Jew, and Pagan,
    Or atheist, or anything,
    And cast your vote for Hagan!

  • http://cleverbytch.com Ann

    As an atheist, sometimes I feel like ultra conservative fundamentalists are the greatest terrorist threat to the US.

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  • SarahH

    Hagan’s campaign said Hagan does not support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Hagan’s son is an Eagle Scout. Hagan’s campaign said that while Hagan opposes discrimination, she believes the question about who can be troop leaders is a decision for the Boy Scouts, not Washington, to make.

    As has already been mentioned, it doesn’t really matter if members of congress support removing “under God” etc. from things – those matters go through the courts. It’s sad that so many oppose it (or have to go on record as opposing it in order to win elections), but it’s kind of moot.

    And she’s absolutely right about the Boy Scouts having the right to discriminate – so long as they don’t receive governmental support. Hopefully if (when) she’s a senator, she won’t be voting to give funding or other support to discriminatory organizations.

  • Karl LaFong

    Dole will protect North Carolina values? And exactly what are those values? Do they differ from American values? Apparently in North Carolina, minorities have no rights and our Constitution is “nuffin”. Remember, the bible supports slavery and the state bird is the cardinal. Oh, no, a red bird, are they all commies?

  • Richard Wade

    Cuttlefish, your poem is very clever and funny. Creativity should be encouraged. Send it to our friends in NC.

  • benjdm

    As has already been mentioned, it doesn’t really matter if members of congress support removing “under God” etc. from things – those matters go through the courts.

    It still matters. First, if enough of Congress supported removing it, it wouldn’t have to go to the courts. Second, if enough of Congress want to modify the Constitution, the matter will no longer go through the courts.

    And she’s absolutely right about the Boy Scouts having the right to discriminate – so long as they don’t receive governmental support.

    At best, that’s debatable. The line between a ‘private organization’ and a ‘place of public accomodation’ (like a hotel or restaurant, which can’t legally discriminate in their services) isn’t that clear. The original ruling in BSA vs. Dale was that they were a place of public accommodation according to New Jersey law and could not legally discriminate. The Supreme Court overturned this ruling.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_v._Dale

  • http://nocoercion.com Darren

    Like Chad, I’m a Libertarian and am encouraging people to be aware of Dole’s hatred but to vote for the Libertarian, Chris Cole, rather than Hagan. My thoughts on this are at my blog: Elizabeth Dole calls her constituents “vile”

  • Anonnie Mouse

    Funny that we have yet to see the Dole ads here in good ole A’ville, as far as I can tell. Have the fundies given up hope on winning over the mountains yet?

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  • SarahH

    I followed the link from that last post and left the following comment on their entry:

    I don’t know if this comment will be read by anyone who’ll really care, but as one of the atheists who reads and comments on Friendly Atheist, I think I speak for most of us when I say that we absolutely do not want to infringe on anyone’s right to practice their religion.

    We’re upset because we’re so often vilified in political races as some sort of evil scourge, when we’re just normal Americans who don’t happen to be religious. We donate blood, we volunteer, we’re policemen and firefighters and doctors and teachers too. We have families we love and some of us have served or currently serve in the military.

    Atheists can be Republicans or Democrats or neither, but atheists will continue to speak out when our lack of belief is used as evidence that we don’t want what’s best for our country, or that we’re bad people somehow. We’re not. And we rightly applaud the few-and-far-between politicians who risk being smeared and treat us like normal people.

    Treating atheists the way she treats other supporters doesn’t make Kay Hagan an atheist. It makes her a decent person. Even if she secretly believes (as you do openly) that atheists are dead wrong and bound for hell, she’s still “loving her enemies” and showing Christian love towards nonbelievers in a way that’s earned our respect. Calling us names and telling us that we’re shameful and evil is a surefire way to get most of us to simply tune out the harassment.

    A friendly atheist,
    Sarah

    I don’t know if it will simply fuel the hate, but I’d like to continue the pattern of speaking out and addressing the people who vilify us. It’s a good thing.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Sarah — Very nice letter :) Thanks for posting it.

    – Hemant

  • benjdm

    I know they have a disclaimer that the website isn’t satire, but it has to be. It’s definitely a great example of Poe’s Law…I should add it to the Rational Wiki.

    About Calvinists 4 Conservatism

    - We believe that Christ will return one day when the world is mostly Christian and perfect for 1000 years. This belief is called postmillenialism, and explains why we labor tirelessly to Christianize government.

    - We believe that theonomy, God’s law, must be applied to every aspect of life. Autonomy, man’s law, must be abolished, everywhere.

    - We believe in the teaching of Cornelius Van Til: 1. There is no neutrality between believers and non-believers. Non-believers must exterminated.

    - We believe that government’s functions are…3. To ensure that the Bible is not disobeyed anywhere. Disobedience is to be punished in the manner God sees fit. Any other function is unconstitutional, and leads to the current welfare queen leeches in our system today.
    - We believe that R. J. Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law is the best guide for establishing how #3 above is carried out.
    - We believe in geocentrism and a flat, circular Earth with the North Pole as its center, just as the earliest Christians did.
    Only by embracing these tenets can we be expected to be freed from welfare queens, Islamofascism, atheism, homosexuality, and the rest of the sinners for good. I smile to think of how our children will live under God’s law, yet shudder to think of how our children will live under an even more immoral secular humanist theocracy than what we live under today.

    There’s also something saying that the website address used to be calvinists4brownback, which WAS a parody site.

    ETA: Scratch that last sentence. It was blogs 4 brownback that was a parody site. I don’t know about calvinists4brownback.

  • SarahH

    Yeah, I’m about 90% sure it’s a parody, but it’s incredibly hard to tell, and that’s sad.

  • NC Atheist

    This just finalized the debate for me. I’ll be voting for Kay Hagan. Elizabeth Dole’s bigoted backers are just the sort of nasty folks I have to live with day to day, proselytizing and harassing me and my family.

  • Bob L.

    I find it amusing and at the same time disgusting that the party of Richard Nixon, of “dirty tricks”, of watergate, of Willie Horton, of Iran Contra, of Lee Atwater, of Abramoff, of swift boaters,and on and on are whining about negative ads by liberals.

    The sleeze of the political season makes me want to puck. I have avoided this political season except for this last debate. Why? Because I’m not undecided, I have never been more sure of who I am voting for. I haven’t voted for a Republican for decades, and I’m not starting now. The above issue about Atheists is a good example of why.

  • Mickey

    these advertisements are enciting bigotry towards atheists. if mulsims, jews or a specific race was central to these advertisments there would be nationwide outrage. A class action is needed against this bigotry

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