Email to the Elizabeth Dole Campaign August 28, 2008

Email to the Elizabeth Dole Campaign

Recently, Republican Elizabeth Dole maligned her Democratic opponent for a North Carolina Senate seat, Kay Hagan, for planning to attend a fundraiser hosted by atheists. Since then, there has been a lot of feedback from atheists.

They may not have been paying close attention to the race before, but now, they are watching and supporting Hagan.

Reader Amy said this:

I just emailed Elizabeth Dole and cc’d Hagan’s campaign. As a North Carolinian, I had already voted for Hagan in the primaries, but now she will be getting my volunteer time and my donation.

Reader postsimian added:

I’m from IL, and I’ll be donating $50 to her opponent’s campaign. Things like this deserve a tangible retort.

And reader Siamang let us in on the excellent response he sent the Dole campaign:

Elizabeth Dole campaign,

Dear reader,

I have no illusions that the Senator or anyone high in the campaign will be the one reading this email. I assume that some volunteer or staffer will quickly skim through this and tally my opinion on a response sheet before deleting it.

So this email is actually addressed to you, the reader. Thank you for taking the time to take part in the political process. Thank you for taking the time and having the consideration to read these words I’m writing to you. Perhaps you’ll mention them to someone else in the Campaign. Perhaps it’ll be something you’ll keep to yourself. Anyway, I just have to say this to someone.

Who am I? I’m a 41-year-old married father, living in California. I work hard, pay taxes, send my daughter to a local public school. I do volunteer work, give to charity, and am very involved in my child’s education. I am a fiercely patriotic American.

Today, I was outraged to learn of a press release from Senator Dole’s campaign condemning her Democratic opponent for meeting with a group representing Americans with no religious affiliation. If you asked me yesterday what I thought about Elizabeth Dole, I’d say she was a strong, resourceful, intelligent, moderate leader. If you asked me yesterday about her opponent, Kay Hagan, I would have said “Who?”

I didn’t know her name.

I do now.

Here’s a passage from the press-release:

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.”

Wow. I guess I should tell my Christian and Jewish family, friends and loved ones that they can’t have me over for dinner because I am a nonbeliever. Is he serious? Are North Carolinians really that divisive on issues of religion that they won’t even break bread with someone with different beliefs?

If Hagan had met with a group of priests, rabbis, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews or the members of any other belief-set, I think you, campaign-worker, would be outraged if the Dole campaign had spoken ill of that meeting. You rightly would have seen it as the politics of division or worse, naked bigotry.

So now, I’d like to ask a question. As an American, am I not allowed to meet with political candidates merely because of the minority status of my beliefs? Am I not allowed a voice? Is it the Senator’s contention that it is, and rightfully should be, political poison for a candidate to meet with certain Americans just because of their beliefs about God? Is it telling me, an American, that unless I believe in God, that I shouldn’t be part of the political process? That I should sit down and shut up?

The group Hagan met with includes atheists, agnostics, humanists and deists… as well as any number of people who check the box “none of the above”. Great Americans like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein all counted themselves “none of the above.” Together, the “none of the aboves” make up 16% of Americans, according to Pew Research.

We understand we’re a minority. We know we’re misunderstood and that creates mistrust. We know that the only solution to this is to be part of the American dialog.

But we cannot be a part of that dialog if the politically powerful cast us as pariahs in order to win the cheap allegiance of antipluralist bigots. I think it’s no way to act as a United States Senator. It’s wrong to say that certain Americans are lesser, or do not deserve representation or to meet with our candidates merely because of our beliefs. That’s just wrong, and most American Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons and others would agree on that point one-hundred percent.

See, it’s not who Senator Dole prays to that upsets us. It’s that she seems to advocate that political representation be subjected to a religious test. No religion? No meeting with your candidate… that’s the Dole plan.

We can see that we are being singled out as being unworthy of speaking to. So I’ll speak with my money, and so will many others. Today I donated $100 to Kay Hagan’s campaign. Further, I’m sending out a challenge to the millions of “none of the aboves” nationwide to do the same. From all walks of life, people tired of being scapegoated, of being ridiculed– of being silenced and exiled from the political dialog– will have at least one candidate to contribute to who isn’t afraid to talk to us.

Sixteen percent. That’s a lot of Americans. Yesterday, I didn’t know Hagan’s name. Today I do. Tomorrow many more will.

People all over America will now hear Hagan’s name, and what she had the bravery to do… to meet with people who Senator Dole wants to make political untouchables.

People like me.

Anyway, reader, I’ve taken enough of your time. I just want perhaps to let someone there know that nonbelievers are just as 100% American as anyone else. We live and work and love and care for our children and grow old and die just like everyone else. We pay our taxes, serve our country and contribute to the greatest nation in the world. We are your schoolteachers, your firefighters, your doctors and your soldiers.

We are Americans… and you never tell an American to sit down and shut up.

Thanks for listening, dear reader.

On the basis of those who told us what they’ve donated, I count $300+ from readers of this site.

I’m sure we can do better than that.

***UPDATE 1*** (11:15 a.m. ET): The count is an additional $580 just in the past few hours! You all are incredible!

***UPDATE 2*** (5:02 p.m. ET): The count altogether is an additional $1180 since this post went up!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Well, poop. I got clear to the end of the donations page and then discovered that I’m not allowed to donate because I’m a federal contractor.

    I’ll make my husband donate when I get home from work. So put me down for $10 by proxy.

  • Korinthian

    I just love seeing atheists pulling together in the same direction. It is thanks to web sites like this one. Keep up the good work everyone, Hemant.

  • Varda

    Well even though I live in NY, I just donated $25 … I hope she crushes Dole in the election.

  • Alycia

    Well done, Siamang, well done. I wish I could be that articulate.

  • John

    I just donated $250 to Kay Hagan’s campaign because of this although I haven’t lived in NC for 35 years.

  • SarahH

    Siamang – excellent letter. I couldn’t have done any better, and I especially admire the pragmatic tone, addressing it to the actual reader instead of going along with the pretense that politicians actually have time to open their mail.

  • Robin

    Put me down for $100. Awesome letter.

  • Dan

    Put me on the tally for another 10 bucks.

    Excellent work Siamang.

  • Kate

    10 dollars from Chicago

  • JerryFLA

    $100 from a “N/A” in Florida

    Siamang – my compliments, excellent letter.

    I nominate you official spokesperson representing all of us “None of the Aboves”

  • andyinsdca

    I would give her a donation, but she’s just an average lefty.

  • SarahH

    Also: I just wrote my own e-mail and sent $25 to the Hagan campaign.

  • $25 from the cornbelt of Illinois. This is a very exciting and empowering time for us non-believers. I’m glad we’re taking advantage of it.

  • I sent the following letter to the Kay Hagan campaign along with my $25 donation:

    Dear reader,

    I’m a California, so I really don’t have a direct interest in your Senate race. However, this morning I donated $25 to your campaign. I read in the news that your opponent’s, Elizabeth Dole’s, campaign mocked Kay Hagan for meeting with an group of non-theists. That kind of bigotry is unacceptable in the American political process. We non-theists are still American, still pay our taxes, and contribute to society. That Kay Hagan is willing to meet with us and hear our points of view speaks volumes.

    So, I donated to Kay Hagan’s campaign, and I wanted you to know why.

  • Wow, way to come together. I’m going to spread this on my blog and forums to get more volunteers. You should do the same!

    Let’s see if we can make this go viral 😀

  • Two posts in a week with quotes from Siamang. Perhaps it’s time for Siamang to start a blog.

  • Elsin Ann Perry

    $25 from Tennessee here. Thanks for giving us this opportunity, Hemant!

  • I just donated, so you can put another $25 in that total.

  • Siamang


    Tonight’s the night that the Secular Coalition is going to be on Colbert. Good timing for this action.

    I too would like this to spread beyond me and just my $100. I’m really glad that other people feel as strongly about this as I do.

    As Atrios says, “reward good behavior.” This is a model of political action that I often take. When I get angry during the political silly season, I take that anger and immediately click to where I can give to their opponent.

    Let’s keep this going. Good thinking, Postsimian. Anyone else got an atheist blog that can cover this?

  • David

    Yesterday when I read your article I went to Hagan’s site and contributed $50. I am from CA but hope Dole gets her comeuppance.

  • Kate

    Alright Siamang…here’s what I wrote!!!


    I thought you should know that you just lost a vote. After reading what your
    campaign said about Kay Hagan’s association with someone from the Secular
    Coalition from America:

    “‘Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan Horse
    for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would
    horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it,’ [Communications
    Director Dan] McLagan said. ‘This latest revelation of support from
    anti-religion activists will not sit well with the 90% of state residents who
    identify with a specific religious faith.'”

    I am appalled that you would refer to a secular group as “anti-religious”. I am
    an atheist. I am ALSO an American. I am not anti-religious. Why would my
    existence “horrify” most North Carolinians? I am a Duke graduate student…I
    frequently volunteer…I donate to charity…in all my life, I’ve never even
    received so much as a parking ticket! So why, I ask, are atheists so “horrifying”?

    I assure you that the only thing that does not sit well with THIS North Carolina
    resident is your disgraceful attitude toward the non-religious community of this

    My vote counts just as much as a Christian’s vote here in NC. And you just LOST
    my vote.

    Kate *******
    Duke University Graduate School

  • Norm

    Even though I guess it counts as more out-of-state money from the “left-wing fringe of political thought”, I just sent her $25.

  • Kate

    Oh look…I just got a response from the Dole campaign:

    “Thank you for contacting The Elizabeth Dole Committee. Senator Dole appreciates hearing from people regarding issues that are important to them. We will be sure to pass your message along to her. If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact us at anytime. Thanks
    again for contacting The Elizabeth Dole Committee and may God bless you and
    your family.”

  • Amy

    I was just coming here to post the same thing Kate did. God bless you indeed. Can’t decide if it’s a dig or a standard form letter.

  • Margy

    Wonderful letter, Siamang. You knocked it out of the park! Put me down for $25.

    Ever since I started visiting this site and joined the Freedom for Religion Foundation, I have been overwhelmingly impressed by how articulate most atheists are. This letter is yet another shining example!

    “If religion is the opiate of the masses, then fundamentalism is the amphetamine.”-Miz Vittitow

  • llewelly

    I wonder if the Dole campaign will respond by accusing Hagan of consorting with out-of-staters who want to force their ‘anti-religious’ views on tarheels.

  • Siamang

    Yeah, you wanna know how much Elizabeth Dole wants to have an argument about out of state donors?

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. Keep sharing here what you’ve written. As I imagined when writing my letter to the Dole campaign, all that would happen there would be a tally. I wrote it specifically to share.

  • Lee Picton

    I just got clued in from one of the folks over at Pharyngula. I never heard of her either, but I just used my credit card and sent Ms Hagan $25. And I’m from Maryland. I think I will also be sending a note to the Dole folks.

  • Another $25 from Florida!

  • Richard Wade

    I just sent this to Dole at her Washington office and to her campaign:

    To Senator Elizabeth Dole:

    I am a Californian who seldom donates money to political candidates even in my own state and I am not active in any political group but I just sent $200 to your opponent, Kay Hagan and in the interest of fairness I think you should know why:

    I am angered by your press release of August 26 where you have attacked Kay Hagan for her plans to attend a fundraiser with members of the Secular Coalition for America. Your statements and innuendos demonstrate a reprehensible level of ignorance and bigotry against American citizens who follow no religious path. Most secular people, whether they call themselves atheists, agnostics, freethinkers or just “not religious” are not “anti-religious” as you have tried to characterize them. They are pro-freedom. Most, like myself will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious people to protect our Constitutional guarantees to worship or not worship as we see fit. We deserve and we demand to be represented just as well as any member of a faith.

    Your tactic of trying to incite the ignorance-based fear and hatred in your potential voters shows that you are willing to stoop to being a demagogue and that you do not take the liberty of all your constituents to heart. Singling out a class of Americans by their religious views to use them as a scapegoat is disgraceful. If you had criticized Ms. Hagan for meeting with Jews, you would have been deservedly denounced by millions as a bigot. Take it on notice now that treating non-believers as pariahs is no longer acceptable and will no longer happen anywhere without consequences. In your case, your opponent just got a boost from a stranger 2,800 miles away. I look forward to your defeat and to the victory of Kay Hagan.

    In reward for her rare open-mindedness and her political courage, I am sending a copy of this letter to Kay Hagan’s campaign along with my donation of $200.

    Most Sincerely yours,

    Richard Wade

  • Siamang

    Richard wrote it better and briefer.

  • $100 dollars to Hagan.

  • Erik

    Here’s my e-mail, as a Christian who believes that all people should have equal respect:

    Dear Senator Dole,

    I was disappointed to hear that you’ve decided to use Kay Hagan’s visit with a non-religious group to trash her name at the expense of American citizens. Just because a category of citizen is in the minority DOES NOT give anyone the right to malign them. You were around for the civil rights movement, you should know that. In fact, your dismissal of non-religious Americans is and example for why those groups Kay met with must continue to exist.

    I write to you not as a non-religious person myself, but as a born-and-raised North Carolina Christian man. In my Bible, the only people Jesus spoke against were the self-righteous religious people. In our state’s own public schools, I was taught to respect all people even if I disagree with them. I suggest you review that part of the curriculum before attacking your opponent at the expense good American citizens.

    Erik Snyder

  • milo655321

    Just contributed $50 to Kay Hagan’s campaign and will now compose an e-mail to Ms. Dole’s campaign to inform them. Before reading the comments made by her campaign, I wouldn’t have cared otherwise.

  • Richard Wade

    Erik, thank you very, very much. I am honored to stand next to you on this, along with our heathen brothers and sisters. We all have rights and liberty or none of us have.

  • Today I will send $50 to the Kay Hagan campaign to express my outrage at Elizabeth Dole’s anti-atheist bigotry. My organization, Atheists For Human Rights, frequently quotes this statement by Lutheran theologian Martin Marty, made in his keynote speech at a symposium on religion in public life in Minneapolis MN on April 28, 1998: “It is the role of unbelievers to force religions to be benign.” My hope is that the many contributions to Hagan from outraged citizens will force Sen. Dole to rethink her malignant religious bigotry. As Martin Marty said, that’s our job!

    My support for Kay Hagan

  • Bruce Critelli

    I just dropped $25.

  • Siamang

    My voice of thanks to Erik too.

  • Richard Wade

    Off topic: Bruce Citrelli, is that the Dalek Lama? LOL! “Exterminate! Exterminate!”

    Thanks. It’s important to keep each other laughing in trying times.

  • Bruce Critelli

    Yes it’s the Dalek Lama.
    When the Dali Lama was speaking in Chicago last year, I was going to print up some t-shirts with the image and read “Exterminate Oppression” and/or “Exterminate Tibet”. My plan was to get beaten up at the peace rally.
    My wife and sister talked me out of it at the last minute.
    Seemed like a good idea at the time…

  • ash

    have any of you considered contacting the press about this? 2 little posts on 1 not-so-huge website gets this kind of (monetary) reaction from a tiny percentage of a non-believing minority? mayhaps if more politicians were aware of this, they wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss non-believers as voting non-entities…

  • Add another $25 to the tally for Kay Hagan, from this Atheist/None of the Above person.

  • Amy

    Check out this bit of asshattery by Dole, quoted on the Christianity Today website:

    “Two-thousand years ago a man said, “I have come to give life and to give it in full.” In America I have the freedom to call that man Lord, and I do. In the United States of America we are free to worship without discrimination, without intervention and even without activist judges trying to strip the name of God from the Pledge of Allegiance; from the money in our pockets; and from the walls of our courthouses. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The right to worship God isn’t something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will defend.”

  • I just donated $50 even though I’ve never been to North Carolina.

  • Darryl

    Siamang, you said it all. Well done. Have Republicans taken complete leave of their senses, or do they just have no shame when it comes to campaigns? Count me in for $25.

  • I just donated $25 through

  • I just donated $10.

    I would have done more, but I have bills to pay. :/

  • Kevin

    Add another $50 from me. Central, IL.

  • midwestatheist

    Another $10 just donated to the Kay Hagan campaign from Illinois. And, like a previous poster, I’ve never even be to North Carolina!

  • Dave

    Donating ten bucks, from Chicago.

    I’d do more, but I’m a poor college student. 🙁

  • I work for a large bank based in Charlotte. I have been down there a few times. Charlotte is okay. It is not as big as Chicago, but it was okay. Like Bloomington, but cleaner. (Isn’t “Southern city” kind of an oxymoron?)

    Shameless plug: I have some pix of North Carolina:

    There are some monuments to the Confederacy near the state capital.

    My aunt and uncle live in Rock Hill, SC, which is pretty close to Charlotte. She said that when they moved there one of the first things people would ask you is what church you went to. But she said that things are changing.

  • I don’t know that I’v ever been to North Carolina besides driving through, but I just donated.

    Alabama Atheists for Kay Hagan

  • Rob

    I gave Kay $10.

  • Ash: I don’t mean to ask a stupid question, but do you know who in the press one would contact? I don’t, but would love to do so if I had an idea of where to start.

  • ash

    Anthroslug; wouldn’t have a clue, i’m English! having seen a few examples of American journalism tho, this seems not only newsworthy but more newsworthy than some of the rubbish they usually cover (well actually, let’s not restrict that to the Americans)…perhaps a journo in Hemant/Siamang’s local area might be interested in active atheist political campaigning?

  • I sent $25 to Kay Hagan. Best of luck to her.

  • stillwaters

    Put me down for $25.

    I also noticed that Ms. Hagan is #1 on the ActBlue‘s hottest candidates list of this week’s busiest recipients. I think we are definitely making an impact.

    Go Kay Hagan!

  • sc0tt

    $10 from this atheist patriotic moderately liberal out-of-state veteran has been added to Ms. Hagan’s political fund.

    I think that may be my first political contribution ever!

    Do we know if she’s still planning to go? Do we know if she knows about this effort to support her decision to go? Can Hemant get an interview with her?

  • robert

    Add another $50 from me just now. Unfortunately, I can’t find the time to write a beautiful letter to the Dole campaign to appropriately express my own outrage. Thanks so much to those who did. ~robert

  • Siamang

    Scott asks a good question.

    I also wonder if the Secular Coalition and/or Kay Hagan’s campaigns will even be aware of this.

    The campaign probably just gets money in small donations in lots of different ways.

    This is really a little bit of netroots activism. It’s all about rewarding good behavior, which is a great way to deal with those moments when you feel voiceless in an overwhelming political landscape.

    Together we have more voice than just a handful of votes in North Carolina, and it’s specific. If Hagan wins, there’s no way she could tell by the vote count WHY or why not a handful of particular voters chose her.

    But as donors and as an action, this message gets sent, if only to Hagan (and Dole): we want to be part of the national political dialog. And we will not be told we cannot participate.

  • Here’s the letter I just sent to the Dole campaign and CCd to the Hagan campaign:

    Dear Elizabeth Dole campaign,

    I am a resident of the State of California, but I donated $50 to the Kay Hagan campaign last night because I was completely disgusted by an August 26th press release from Elizabeth Dole trying to paint Kay Hagan in a negative light because she chose to associate with people like me – a secular humanist/atheist. Elizabeth Dole certainly doesn’t know me, but apparently would not feel comfortable having dinner with me. I am a 43 year old happily married mother of three college students who donates to numerous charities, donates blood, pays taxes, plays in a community band, loves life, and is proud to be an American citizen. I also have extremely good table manners.

    I am generally not very politically active – I have only contributed money to a political campaign once before – but this outrageous press release shocked me into action. Imagine the outcry if you had said this about any other minority group. It certainly makes your smear-meter laughable. I am not anti-religious, but I am anti-bigot. Until yesterday, I had never even heard of Kay Hagan, but I am a supporter now, thanks to you.


    Laurie Soule

  • benjdm

    I just donated $25 and emailed the Hagan campaign.

  • grumpy

    This is all so cool. I sent $10 and a note to the Dole campaign.

    Wish this could have happened when Bush 41 said we shouldn’t be allowed to vote, or even to be citizens.

    I read about this at a great comfy place for heathens to hang out.

  • Jerryd

    Just sent $100 from Wyoming to Kay Hagan’s campaign along with an email of support. Also sent an email of disgust to Dole. I hope a million other Americans do the same.

  • Phil

    I live in Vermont, but I also contributed $25.

  • Freak

    I’m in MO, but sent $5.

  • Tom

    I’m an Ohio atheist and just contributed $25 to Kay Hagan. I’ve also sent emails to both campaigns to let them know why.

  • Renee K.

    I’m a life-long atheist, and I gladly sent $10 to Kay’s campaign. I’ll try to send more later.

  • Duane Toler

    I just received Dole’s hate mail today in my snail-mail box. I immediately donated $100 to Kay Hagan’s campaign, and I’ve only donated $30 to Obama. I disbelieve in trying to buy politicians, but this was completely ridiculous. Both and are showing Hagan inching ahead slowly but surely in the race 🙂

    Have a good day, folks!

  • heide

    I live in California. I just now found out about this. I hope my donation of 100 dollars does not come to late to help defeat that bigot.

  • Richard

    Fifty dollars and a vote for Kay Hagan from a registered Republican in NC.

  • Bob

    Sen. Dole picked her rear end when more than 180 workers were fleeced out of the jobs, vacations and retirement while consumers were flim-flammed for $2.9 million in bogus rebates when Tarboro-based Farmtrac N. America closed its doors.

    Nice job, E!
    Now do you wonder why Hagans won?


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