What Liddy Dole did was to say "Don't vote for Kay Hagan, because she likes atheists." Hagan said back, "Liddy Dole is a liar -- I don't like atheists." Substitute "Jews" for "atheists" and you'll see right away why the whole thing is offensive and both sides come out smelling bad.
Fact of the matter is, religious beliefs ought to be considered to be, and in fact truly are, utterly irrelevant to a candidate's qualifications for any kind of political office. Which is why the Constitution prohibits religious tests for holding public office, and why it's obnoxious to create de facto religious tests as part of the campaigning process.
So let me make this suggestion. Candidates for political office should take the following pledge:
I promise, in conducting my campaign and in serving my term of service if elected, to not exploit anyone's beliefs about religion, including my own, for political advantage, and to condemn any other candidate or officeholder who does so.Simple enough, right? But how many political candidates would be willing to take and stick to that pledge?