Democratic National Committee CFO Brad Marshall, who suggested asking Bernie Sanders about his supposed atheism on the campaign trail in an effort to discredit him in upcoming primary states, has now resigned from his position.
He was joined out the door by CEO Amy Dacey and Communications Director Luis Miranda — all of whom were on that email thread and none of whom had the courage to say, “That’s a horrible idea.” (Indeed, Dacey implicated herself in that thread by chiming in with an “AMEN.”)
The email was sent in May just before two primaries in very religious states:
To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
While no one ever acted on this suggestion, you can understand why critics believed this meant the DNC was in the bag for Hillary Clinton when they were supposed to remain neutral until after a candidate had been officially nominated.
It was also a slap in the face to those of us in the non-religious community. We’re used to the Religious Right calling us immoral and wicked, but for the Democrats to use atheism in a smear campaign? Et tu?
It’s not like it would have even worked. Sanders had commented on his humanistic Judaism in multiple interviews up to that point. He never said he was an atheist, per se, but talked about his belief in doing good for all people. “That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
The resignations were announced this afternoon:
[DNC interim chair Donna] Brazile praised each outgoing staffer in a statement for their “commitment to this cause” and wished them well in the future.
“This election is the most important of my lifetime, and the DNC will continue to recruit top talent to help lead the fight to elect Hillary Clinton and Democrats across the country,” Brazile said in the statement.
It’s worth noting that a fourth person on that email thread, national press secretary Mark Paustenbach, did not resign. He also didn’t respond to those emails.
In the wake of the scandal, the Secular Student Alliance urged members to sign a petition calling on the DNC to apologize for its members’ actions:
Add your name to this petition to tell the DNC that atheists are not a smear tool, and that atheist identity is not grounds for political attack, even behind closed doors.
Today, the SSA commended the DNC for accepting the resignations, but reiterated the need for an apology. They also sent the organization the petition (600 signatures strong):
On Tuesday August 2nd, the Secular Student Alliance sent their signatures and a letter requesting that the Democratic National Committee apologize to atheists for Marshall’s email, and to affirm that atheists have a place in their political party.
On Marshall, Patrick Sean Barnacle, the Secular Student Alliance’s Associate Director stated, “We were happy to hear that this sort of political attack was found inexcusable by the organization, but the millions of atheists and other nonbelievers have never received a formal apology by the DNC. Those who identify as ‘no religion’ are the largest growing cohort in the United States. They deserve a place in both political parties.”
As of this writing, the DNC has not responded.