In the media firestorm following GQ's Jason Zengerle first posting the Rand Paul "Aqua Buddha" story in early August, he told me that a college prank anecdote related by a former Baylor University classmate of Rand Paul was being blown out of proportion. Yet, Zengerle also said he was surprised that the core of his story was not getting much attention, that Paul' had Paul belonged to a secret society that mocked religion:
Sort of a cross between Yale's Skull & Bones and Harvard's Lampoon, the NoZe existed to torment the Baylor administration, which it accomplished through pranks and its satirical newspaper The Rope. The group especially enjoyed tweaking the school's religiosity. "We aspired to blasphemy," says John Green, another of Paul's former NoZe Brothers.
Zengerle was convinced at the time that the most damaging facet of the Aqua Buddha story for conservative Christian Kentucky was that Paul and a classmate instructed a pranked classmate to worship a false idol, the "Aqua Buddha."
Now, Politico's Ben Smith and Democratic candidate Jack Conway are both resurrecting the story, both emphasizing what Zengerle thought was key.
The NoZe Brotherhood, as the group was called, was formally banned by Baylor two years before Paul arrived on the grounds of "sacrilege," the university president said at the time. "They had 'made fun of not only the Baptist religion, but Christianity and Christ,' " President Herbert Reynolds told the student newspaper, The Lariat. -- Politico
A new Conway campaign commercial picks it up from there:
ANNOUNCER: Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called
the Holy Bible “a hoax”, that was banned for mocking Christianity and
ANNOUNCER: Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down
before a false idol, and say his god was ‘Aqua Buddha’?
ANNOUNCER: Why does Rand Paul now want to end all federal faith-based
initiatives and even end the deduction for religious charities?
ANNOUNCER: Why are there so many questions about Rand Paul?
“Values matter," said Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley in a statement, "Rand Paul chose to join a secret society the University had banned for being ‘grossly sacrilegious.’ And tying up a woman, no matter what the reason, is nothing to laugh
at. Rand Paul doesn’t share Kentucky values.”
The Paul campaign issued a statement on Saturday:
Today, Jack Conway stepped way over the line and released a shameful and despicable ad that questions Dr. Paul's Christian faith. Dr. Paul and Jack Conway may disagree on many issues and the best direction for our country, but personal attacks on Rand's faith are way out of bounds.
Rather than address the pressing issues of our time, Jack Conway is shamelessly doing what so many desperate politicians do at the last minute - resorting to revolting personal smears.
"I am a pro-life Christian, and I have never written or spoken anything that would indicate otherwise," said Dr. Paul.
Kentuckians are sick of gutter politics, and Conway should be ashamed. A candidate who would use such a despicable and desperate attack clearly doesn't understand the values of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.