I’ve seen some misleading and terrible political ads over the years but Elizabeth Dole’s attack on her opponent, North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan, pretty much takes the wafer… and grape juice.
Senator Dole is losing. What does she do? She chooses the wide and straight super highway with a T.V. ad tailored to define Ms. Hagan as not a Christian, in North Carolina, even claiming Hagan doesn’t believe in God.
The attack claims Ms. Hagan raised money in Boston from a group called the “Godless Americans PAC.” And then, with an image of Hagan on the screen, a female voice intones “there is no God.”
In reality, Ms. Hagan has been a Sunday School teacher and ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (her family has been active in the same church in N.C. for over a hundred years.) And, the Hagans’ spend much of their free time doing community service and missions through the church.
Dole’s ad is ridiculous on so many levels beginning with the fact that the fundraiser in question had about 35 hosts including Senator John Kerry. I bet some of those hosts prefer Dunkin Donuts to Krispy Kreme… now that’s an affront. Some of them may even prefer tomato-based BBQ sauce to vinegar-based… o my.
But, Dole chose to go after the Christian in Hagan. But, get this, part of the ad, while talking about Godless Americans, has a frame of Ms. Hagan talking to someone… is it a Godless American? Not on your NIV. It’s a Sunday School teacher and college theology professor.
Bearing false witness is hard… its hard work.
The Hagan campaign responded with confidence and honesty.
See the Hagan response ad: Kay Hagan Responds to Dole Attack
See an email from Hagan that went to over 1.2 million people of faith in North Carolina, including 700,000 Evangelicals: Kay Hagan Email to 1.2 Million North Carolinians
Here’s the thing about the Dole attack… it stinks to high heaven. If the Dole campaign is reading the numbers then they need new numbers. If the Dole campaign thinks they are in touch with what families are thinking then they need to re-evaluate their moorings to average folks.
The problem for Senator Dole is that Kay Hagan has been talking about the issues such a good jobs and health care instead of dividing and scaring people with baseless attacks. In fact, she’s probably met with and talked turkey with more North Carolinians over the past 6 months that Senator Dole has over the past 6 years.
The bottom line is that making all the false accusations you can conjure up about a person’s faith just won’t fix that.
Senator Dole’s attack seems more in-line with 1988 than 2008.
Folks just know better because Kay Hagan is for real. People are tired of faith being used to divide, to speak to the worst in us, instead of it being used to bring us together on common ground where we can work toward the common good.
Here’s what the North Carolina Council of Churches had to say, in an open letter to Senator Dole, about her attack on Ms. Hagan:
Dear Senator Dole:
We are writing to deplore as strongly as possible your recent thirty-second television advertisement and the extended but similar piece from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, suggesting that your opponent is “godless” and concluding with the words “There is no God,” which the viewer could easily believe are being spoken by Sen. Hagan. As you no doubt know, Sen. Hagan is a faithful and active member and leader in the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro. To say or even to suggest that that outstanding congregation has chosen a lay leader who doesn’t believe in God is appalling and should be offensive to churches and church leaders throughout the state. And, as we learned from this morning’s News & Observer, other participants at the “godless” fundraiser in question included Sen. John Kerry, whose membership in the Roman Catholic Church is pretty well known, and Ambassador Swanee Hunt, who began her theological studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and graduated from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, a United Methodist seminary.
The North Carolina Council of Churches does not endorse or oppose candidates for political office, and neither you nor Sen. Hagan should construe this letter as taking a position about the outcome of your race. The Council has, however, called for greater civility in political discourse, and we cannot remain silent when you challenge the beliefs of faithful fellow Christians and suggest that a leader in one of the state’s oldest and largest denominations doesn’t believe in God.
I look forward to seeing what the voters have to say.