Back in 2006, the University of Minnesota released a poll showing that atheists were the most distrusted minority group in America:
From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.
That finding was backed up by a Gallup poll in 2007 that showed that a majority of Americans were unwilling to elect an atheist whereas a majority said they would be willing to elect someone who was gay.
Apparently Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign was aware of this bias, which is why they have decided to play their “scary atheism” card at the last minute. Having already gone after her opponent, Kay Hagan, on the issue of gays getting married, the Dole campaign has released a new add linking Hagan to the Godless America PAC and accusing her of taking “Godless money,” whatever that is:
The ad claims that the “leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan’s honor” which, as the Huffington Post points out, is bogus – it was actually a “fundraiser co-hosted by 40 people, including a representative of the Godless America PAC.”
Hagan, for her part, is understandably upset:
A new television ad by Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign that ties her rival, state Sen. Kay Hagan, to an atheist group has provoked a threat of legal action from the Greensboro Democrat.
“I can’t tell you how upset I am that Elizabeth Dole is attacking my strong Christian faith,” Hagan said late Tuesday.
Hagan, who is an elder at First Presbyterian Church, said she is incensed by the ad because at the end it shows her picture with a female voice saying, “There is no God.”
Her campaign will hold a news conference in Greensboro today to push back against the ad, and Hagan said lawyers for the campaign are preparing to send a cease-and-desist order demanding that Dole stop the ad.
But the Dole camp is unapologetic:
“The ad is 100 percent accurate,” Dole spokesman Dan McLagan said. “If the truth hurts, that’s their problem.”
As I noted in my last post on Dole’s campaign tactics, until recently she had never really been the type to engage in this sort of wedge-issue, right-wing scaremongering, which makes her descent into it all the more pathetic. If she keeps this up, I’m going to have to add her to my regular monitoring rotation since she seems to be turning into a regular fountain of wing-nuttery.