March 6, 2009

Atheism and Politics

Posted in Atheism tagged , at 10:21 am by Andrew

In a piece entitled, “Our Hail Mary Pass,” Elizabeth Dole’s 2008 campaign manager, Marty Ryall, defends and explains his campaign strategy, including the “Godless Americans” attack ad ran late in the cycle insinuating that Democrat Kay Hagan was an atheist.

This is the money quote:

We were on a losing trajectory and we had to change the topic of discussion. The only option we had that could accomplish that was an ad on the Godless Americans PAC issue.

We had polled the issue in mid-September and found that it tested very well among the key groups that we needed to win. We needed to raise intensity among Republican voters, as well as shift the focus of Independents and conservative Democrats from our negatives to Kay Hagan in an unfavorable way. We needed something that had some shock value and would also generate an earned media component—and that was the “Godless” issue.

Hagan’s response, of course, was to vociferously deny that she was an atheist (and she’s not; she’s a Sunday school teacher), and not to defend those “Godless Americans.” Like me.

HT: Hemant Mehta.



  1. Matt said,

    When I saw the Dole attack ad, I got my checkbook out and wrote a check to the Hagan campaign. When I saw Hagan’s response, I wrote and asked for my money back (which, to their credit, they did refund).

    I guess I would rather have Hagan in office than Dole, but I was pretty damn offended by Hagan’s sanctimonious response.

  2. Stephanie said,

    I suppose I have fairly low standards for elected senators; I believe, by and large, that they reflect their environment rather than change it. I took it as a good sign that she (a) had the meeting she did and (b) did not return the money they raised nor throw the group under the bus when given the opportunity. An incremental change to be sure, but one that sufficiently prevented me from taking offense.

  3. John said,

    I got news for you….if people suspect you of being an atheist while you are running for office, it won’t be JUST the republicans attacking you, there are plenty of democrats that will expose and attack your beliefs. I live near plenty of bible thumping liberals.

  4. Anselm said,

    I believe Dole’s ad was reprehensible. I am a Christian, but I would have no problem voting for a competent, ethical atheist (since unfortunately there are many incompetent, unethical Christians). If the individual is competent and ethical, and you agree with him or her on most of the issues, it should be irrelevant whether they believe in God. There is a diversity of views on all issues among atheists, even so-called “moral” issues (e.g., even though Christopher Hitchens and Nat Hentoff are atheists, they have both expressed opposition to abortion, which is typically thought of as a “religious” view). Luther’s doctrine of the “Two Kingdoms” should guide Christians in their thinking about church-state issues. (Luther himself said he would rather be governed “by a competent Turk rather than an incompetent Christian”).

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