Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's challenger, North Carolina State Sen. Kay Hagan, is fuming over a Dole ad that says a leader of the Godless Americans Political Action Committee recently sponsored a "secret fundraiser" for Hagan.
"I think Elizabeth Dole has just gone to the lowest of the lows,” Hagan said during an appearance on a talk show on WPTF-AM in Raleigh, according to CNN. “This is an attack on my Christian faith."
Describing herself as a Sunday school teacher and an elder at a Presbyterian church in Greensboro, Hagan urged Dole to "pull this kind of despicable ad," CNN reported.
Hagan also filed an application with a court Wednesday seeking permission to file a complaint within 20 days, after the election is over.
"The advertisement purposely misstates facts about the plaintiff," Hagan alleges in the three-page application in District Superior Court.
After the narrator in the 30-second ad says a leader of the Godless Americans committee sponsored a "secret fundraiser" for Hagan, the video shows members of the group declaring that neither God nor Jesus exists.
"Godless Americans and Kay Hagan," the ad continues. "She hid from cameras. Took 'Godless' money. What did Kay Hagan promise in return?" The ad ends with a picture of Hagan and a voice that sounds like hers declaring, "There is no God."
The court complaint says Hagan never made that statement or accepted money from the group.
Dole's lawyers defended the ad Thursday as "100 percent factually accurate and truthful." The campaign for the GOP incumbent said it based its claims on Hagan's attendance at a fundraiser in the home of a Godless Americans adviser.
"Kay Hagan attended a fundraiser event in Massachusetts in September held in the home of two anti-religion activists, Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband, Woody Kaplan," Dole's attorneys said in a letter to Hagan's lawyer.
CNN reported that Dole's lawyers described Kaplan as a founder and advisory board member of the Godless Americans committee. They also said Kaplan and Kaminer are advisory board members of The Secular Coalition for America, which CNN described as "the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans with the unique mission of protecting their civil rights."
Kaplan gave $2,300 to Hagan's campaign, the lawyers said.
Hagan, who is slightly ahead of Dole in the polls, said, "This is politics of the worst kind, and I know it has been rejected by North Carolinians at every level.”
Meanwhile, Dole’s Web site touted a new ad Friday, one that starts off declaring that Hagan’s faith isn’t the question, but the fundraiser “in her honor” raises questions.
The Godless Americans Political Action Committee’s Web site says it evolved from the November 2002 “Godless Americans March on Washington. Its purpose is to represent atheists and others who reject religion in the nation’s political discussions.
The committee “does not claim to represent every atheist, free-thinker, secular humanist or other nonbeliever in the United States,” the Web site says. “It does, however, provide those who wish to participate a voice, a strategy, a vehicle in promoting the policies we embrace. It allows us to endorse political candidates who support our vision of a secular America, one where our right to freedom of and freedom from religion is valued and protected.”
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