Tag Archives: Elizabeth Dole

No More Hating On Atheists?

In response to Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan’s bigotry toward atheists which went largely unnoticed, B.T. Murtagh of QuarkScrew wrote a very encouraging piece entitled Dole, Hagan And Hating On Atheists. The following excerpt is the part that I found particularly inspiring:

Remember, though, we’re only the last in the line; at one time it would have been just as easy to hate on the Jew, the Muslim, or even the Catholic here in America. In some few places that’s still somewhat the case (Muslims in particular are tempting targets today, in certain venues) but it’s become unacceptable in American society at large.

Keep your eyes on the prize. We’ll get there, if we simply keep insisting on our equality and humanity, as forcefully and insistently as did the other minorities. Given the groundwork already laid, it should be doable in decades rather than centuries.

I hope.

It wasn’t so long ago that the President George H. W. Bush refused to acknowledge the equal citizenship and patriotism of American atheists, stating:

No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

In Barack Obama’s 2006 Call To Renewal address, Obama affirms his own Christianity as well his belief in separation of church and state:

[B]ecause I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality , I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they’re some one they’re not . . . Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”


Washingtonpost.com

I share B.T. Murtagh’s hope and finally believe that hope to be well founded.


Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Troubled Thoughts Of A Godless American

I’m still very troubled over the Godless Americans ad put out by Elizabeth Dole. I’m experiencing a mixture of emotions that I’m having trouble explaining. If I don’t at least try, though, it will continue to eat at me.

I’ve always known that atheists aren’t exactly embraced in the United States. I’ve experienced the prejudice and felt the contempt before. But this time it wasn’t just some jerk down the street who won’t let her kid play at our house because my kid used the A word to describe himself. It wasn’t some stranger on the internet who thinks I don’t have the capacity to love, and doesn’t understand what stops me from stealing or killing. While all that can be very irritating, this felt much more personal, for some reason.

A politician running for elected office used an aspect of who I am as a smear against her opponent. Despite the fact that it’s been all over the news, and all sources have been very quick to point out that Kay Hagan is a good Christian, no one in the media has addressed the bigotry of the ad. This seems only to reinforce the notion that there’s something inherently wrong with being an atheist and that associating with atheists is an act of poor judgment, at best.

As if the ad and the media responses weren’t bad enough, Kay Hagan’s response was to file suit, calling the ad an “egregious and shameful mistake”. But why? What makes it worse than the onslaught of negative political ads we’ve been seeing throughout this campaign? The A word? That’s what tipped it? Palling around with atheists is somehow worse than palling around with terrorists?

That’s how this is all reads to me.

Dole’s ad has been described in the following ways: the nastiest, most egregious ad of he entire campaign, despicable, deplorable, utter filth, vile, slimy and shameful. And that’s just off the top of my head. The only challenges to this that I have seen have been on the personal blogs of atheists. This tells me that most of my fellow citizens believe that atheists really are all those things; that we are the scum of the earth, the worst of the worst.

I am finding this quite painful and difficult to take in. I am raising a child in a country full of people who will hate him because he doesn’t share their religious beliefs. It’s painful to consider the very real possibility that he might never be able to reach his full potential because of prejudice, ignorance and bigotry; because we live in a country where hating him is so commonplace that most people don’t even think to question it.

I have cried many tears over this, and I’m sure there are more to come. I’ve written to Kay Hagan and to Elizabeth Dole. I’ve written to several news networks and will continue doing so. Every time I hear this story retold with no mention of the bigotry toward atheists, I search for contact information to the show on which it was aired, and send an email. I comment on every blog I see discussing it and failing to acknowledge the bigotry. I don’t know what else to do except to keep writing about it and continue promoting others who write about it.

In Kay Hagan: The Slanderous Accusation of Atheism, Alonzo Fyfe explains why Hagan’s response to Dole’s ad is just as bigoted as the ad itself:

Hagan isn’t making the claim that atheists are Americans too and have a right to present their views to perspective political candidates. She is not saying that the fault of Dole’s advertisement is that Dole is lying and promoting bigotry and hatred. She, in effect, endorsed the hate and answered, “How dare you accuse me of not being just as bigoted against atheists as you are! You take that back!”

I encourage you to read the entire piece as well as Senator Dole’s New Anti-Atheist Advertisement in which Fyfe makes the following argument:

The fight against anti-atheist bigotry has to be our fight. The idea that we can hide behind politicians and judges forever while they do the dirty work (and pay the political price) for protecting us – while we do nothing in our own defense is as absurd as the belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old. It is a willful denial of political reality.

This doesn’t mean that we all need to march on Capitol Hill. We can all contribute in our own ways through blogging, sending emails, writing satire… Whatever it is you do, keep doing it because it really is our fight, and no one is going to fight it for us.

Edit to add: I’ve been rethinking the second post I’ve linked to here. Not that Fyfe doesn’t make some good points, but I don’t think I agree that it’s “hiding behind politicians” when we expect them to speak out against this kind of thing. I’ll post more on this later.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Godless Americans and Bigotry In the U.S.

Christians throughout the United States claim that their faith is under attack and that their religious freedom is in jeopardy. They believe they are being persecuted and discriminated against from all sides, a claim which we see on TV, hear on the radio and read on forums across the internet. Explaining that atheists in America are marginalized and one of the last remaining groups that it is socially acceptable to discriminate against has, in my experience so far, proven to be an exercise in futility.

Many of you may already be aware of the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Dole‘s “attack ad” against Kay Hagan.

In the ad, Hagan is accused of associating with Godless Americans, taking “Godless money” and even being Godless, herself.

Campbell Brown of CNN
reports:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican of North Carolina is trying to hold onto her seat in an extremely close race, and to that end, she is attacking the religious faith of her opponent, Kay Hagan.[…]

Yeah, you heard that right: “There is no God.” The only problem is Kay Hagan never said it. Never. Just a picture of her face over someone else’s audio. Kay Hagan is a member of the Presbyterian Church. She is a former Sunday school teacher.

The fundraiser the ad mentions was not hosted by the Godless American Political Action Committee. A member was one of 40 different co-hosts. Sen. John Kerry was at this fundraiser. […]

Elizabeth Dole is hardly alone here. Her ad is just one of the most egregious.

Good for you, Campbell Brown, for calling Dole out on this lie. Except… not only do you fail to recognize the implicit bigotry of the ad but you also express it yourself, calling the ad “one of the most egregious” of the campaign.

Would it be just as evil to accuse Hagan of associating with Blacks, Hispanics or Jews, for instance? Would it even be a point of discussion, much less worthy of attack, if Hagan had taken money from an organization representing the civil rights of one of these minorities?

But you’re hardly alone, Campbell Brown; your article is just one of the more bigoted.

From the Fayetteville Observer:

During a town hall meeting, a McCain supporter said she was afraid of Obama because he was an Arab. Taking the microphone from the frightened woman, McCain said her fears were unfounded, Obama is not an Arab. He’s a decent American, a family man, with whom McCain just happens to have differences.

Honesty like that has earned McCain respect from both sides of the aisles. Sen. Elizabeth Dole should take a lesson from McCain. A broadcast ad targeting her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan, shows Dole ratcheting up her rhetoric, and probably winning the honor, so far, of fielding the nastiest, most misleading, negative ad of the campaign. Here’s part of the ad that portrays Hagan as a godless liberal:

Leaving aside for the moment that McCain’s defense of Obama was bigoted, implying that “decent” and “family man” are the opposite of “Arab”, this article goes on to call Dole’s ad “the nastiest […] negative ad of the campaign”.

I think it’s time we stop and ask ourselves why godlessness or atheism can even be used as slurs. Why is it among the nastiest, most egregious things that can be said about a person?

Something Colin Powell recently said comes to mind. In response to accusations that Barack Obama is a Muslim, Powell said this:

Well the correct answer is, ‘He’s not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian’. But the really right answer is, “What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No’, that’s not America.

The same principle applies here. The factually correct answer is that Kay Hagan is not “godless”; the ethically correct answer is, “So what if she is?”.

Alex Castellano says to Wolf Blitzer of CNN:

There’s a way to make this attack. There’s a way to say, “Look, this lady goes to church, believes in god but look who she’s taking money from.” This is a question of judgment. There’s a fair way to bring up who you’re associated with. This seems to cross a line.

So it’s an act of poor judgment to associate with atheists and take money from them? You’d think we were all terrorists or something.

It’s come to a sad state of affairs in the United States of America when a particular religion or lack of religion can be used as ammunition to make an attack on someone’s character.

To any Christian in America who thinks his faith is under attack or that he is being persecuted or discriminated against, ask yourself how egregious, nasty, malicious or negative the ad would have been had it read like this:

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I’m Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: A leader of Focus on the Family recently held a secret fund-raiser in Kay Hagan’s honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can only rely on God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus saves!

BILL O’REILLY, HOST, “THE O’REILLY FACTOR”: The Pledge of Allegiance says “one nation under God”, you’re down with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re down with that.

O’REILLY: Our money says “In God we trust”, you’re OK with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are!

Focus on the Family and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took Christian money. What did Hagan promise in return?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless America!

It wouldn’t hurt at all, would it? In fact, it might even give the impression that Dole was campaigning for Hagan. Why? Because being a Christian in America is seen as virtuous and respectable. Dole’s ad has the desired effect only because atheism is perceived in the United States as something to be hated and feared; something evil, immoral and repugnant.

The prejudice and bigotry toward atheists in America is so commonplace and accepted that a politician running for elected office uses and exploits it without apology as a smear against an opponent.

Most of those decrying the ad are doing so because “Kay Hagan is so a Christian!”, while remaining oblivious to just how wrong the ad really is, and why. Not only does this go unnoticed by the media, they actually play into the idea and reinforce it; as of last night, even Keith Olbermann didn’t seem to catch on.

So, Christians, please don’t ever complain to me about how your rights and freedoms are being trodden on, or whine that you are being discriminated against, because you will get no sympathy from me.

You are extremely well represented in the United States, and I hope that Elizabeth Dole’s “egregious, nasty, negative attack ad” and all the media responses to it will help put that into perspective for you.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On