So North Carolina Democratic hopeful Kay Hagan is suing Elizabeth Dole over a TV ad in the race for US Senate. I really have mixed feelings about this story. The implication is that Hagan is an atheist (or at the very least is strongly associated with atheists) and that’s patently untrue as she is an elder in her Presbyterian church. But, Hagan’s suit declares that “the advertisement … injures (Hagan’s) good name and reputation in the community”. The Dole camp counters that this information is something that Hagan is trying to keep quiet.
See? You don’t even have to be an atheist to be evil because simply being associated with atheists will injure your good name and reputation. And the discussions that I have seen on the TV news shows only add insult to injury. They argue about whether or not the ad is accurate or “smart” or whether Hagan should denounce the endorsement. It seems to have escaped every talking head that the Constitution declares that there will be no religious tests for office.
Atheism is the last frontier of open, community accepted prejudice in this county. You can turn people against someone by simply declaring “That person is an atheist!” Yet, if you tried that with virtually any other descriptor, such as “That person is a Jew!” or “That person is a woman!” or “That person is Hispanic!”, any half-educated, half-enlightened citizen would wrinkle their nose, turn their head away in disgust, and rightly label you a racist or worse. But atheism? Nope. That’s fair game in America, even in 2008. You can have your hate and wear it too.
So, I was thinking about what to put on the lawn to really scare the neighbors for Halloween tonight. I think I’m going to put up a big sign that says “An atheist lives here.”