Sen. Dole vs. the atheists

As far as I can tell, North Carolina's no different from the rest of America when it comes to religion. About a tenth of the population is free of religious conviction. That's not a big slice, but it could, in theory, be big enough to cost Sen. Elizabeth Dole her re-election this November, if enough free-thinkers learn that they're not welcome at her dinner table. Thanks to PZ's outrage, we learn that Dole is outraged that her Democratic challenger, Kay Hagan, is hanging out with ;;;; horror of horrors ;;;; Boston atheists.

From Dole's website:

Salisbury, N.C. - On September 15th, Kay Hagan is heading to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a fundraiser for her Senate campaign. What may surprise mainstream North Carolinians is that the fundraiser will be in the home of leading anti religion activists Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband Woody Kaplan -- who is an advisor to the "Godless Americans Political Action Committee."


"Kay Hagan is trying to run a campaign in North Carolina that casts her as a moderate but the money that's paying for it is coming from the left-wing fringe of political thought," said Dole Campaign Communications Director Dan McLagan. "You can tell a lot about a person by their friends and these are friends most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner."

I decided to call Dan McLagan and ask him if he meant to insult atheists on behalf of his boss.

"Elizabeth Dole respects all North Carolinians, but what we're saying is Kay Hagan is going to some interesting places to raise money," he replied, adding that Hagan also recently spent time in Chicago seeking money from unions.

I didn't ask how he knows which of his acquaintances are atheists. But I did wonder about Dole's approach to the scientific community, seeing as there are so many top-ranked researchers hanging around the Research Triangle, and given that about 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists.

"There's no insult implied to the scientific community," was McLagan's response.

OK, then.

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"There's no insult implied to the scientific community," was McLagan's response.

I used to think NOMA was a smart, diplomatic, politically wise strategy. Now I see it contributed to a situation where most people are likely to accept statements like this, because they think there's no connection between being non-religious and being a scientist. And it contributes to discrimination against the majority of scientists, which contributes to undermining science.

"... and these are friends most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner."

And you sure wouldn't want one to go to your kids' school - or even to drink from the same water fountain!

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 29 Aug 2008 #permalink