By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – A prominent atheist group is using next month's Democratic National Convention to take aim at the presidential candidates' religion, putting up billboards targeting Mormonism and Christianity in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Our political system is rife with religion and it depends too much on religion and not enough on substance," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, sponsor of the ads.
"Religion is silly and religion has components that are inherently divisive. … There is no place for any of that in the political system,” he said.
The billboards go up Monday in Charlotte and will stay up for a month at a cost of roughly $15,000. The Democratic convention runs September 3-6.
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The billboard targeting Christianity features an image of Jesus Christ on toast and this description of the faith: "Sadistic God; Useless Savior, 30,000+ Versions of ‘Truth,’ Promotes Hates, Calls it ‘Love.’ ”
The billboard targeting Mormonism lambastes – and, Mormons would say, distorts – specific Mormon doctrines: "God is a Space Alien, Baptizes Dead People, Big Money, Big Bigotry.”
The Mormon billboard features a man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments.
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Both billboards feature the line "Atheism: Simply Reasonable."
American Atheists had wanted to put the anti-Mormon billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with the Republican National Convention there later this month. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon. When no billboard company in the city would lease the group space for such a sign, Silverman said the organization decided to focus solely on the Democrats in Charlotte.
“Presidential conventions are for ideas, not ideology – platforms, not platitudes," Silverman said. "If a person believes stupid things, we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the nonreligious voter votes.”
CNN Belief Blog: Atheist leader hopes to mobilize closeted nonbelievers
Some religious leaders said the billboards showed a misunderstanding of how faith works.
"That billboard makes the most common high-school error when it comes to atheism," wrote the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, in an e-mail to CNN. "It's not arguing against the existence of God, but against religion. The American Atheists need to go back to school on this one."
Martin also questioned the language used on the billboard: "And as for 'promoting hate' they're doing a bang-up job themselves with that billboard."
Terryl Givens, a Mormon professor at the University of Richmond, called American Atheists "petty and vindictive."
“If this example of adolescent silliness is what atheists mean by being reasonable, then neither Mormons nor other Christians have much to worry about," he said of the billboards. "When atheists organize to serve the poor and needy of the world, they will be taken more seriously."
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It's not the first time the American Atheists group has released in-your-face billboards. Earlier this year, the group put up two billboards in heavily Muslim and Jewish enclaves in New Jersey and New York bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.
“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards said. At the time, Silverman said the signs were intended to reach atheists in Muslim and Jewish areas who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.
In addition to the billboards, Silverman said his group plans to stage protests at both conventions.
"When atheists organize to serve the poor and needy of the world, they will be taken more seriously"
Givens needs to check out the Foundation Beyond Belief. We atheists give of ourselves to help the poor and needy. Not because we're promised an eternal reward, but because IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
And all those "Devout Christians" at Chick-fil-a could have just as easily spent that money and time on non-perishable food donations, but preferred to ram fast food into their hateful mouths.
Huh well General Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jung Ill, Milosevic, Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini they were all Atheists too. I am sure everyone felt the love with them. LOL
Atheists hate people shoving religion down their throats, which I can agree, I hate Atheists shoving their crap down my throat too.
Communist leaders like Pol Pot and Stalin would not have been charismatic enough to gain converts had they not learned the discourse of dogmatic persuasion from religious inst/itutions.
Pol Pot spent 8 years at a Catholic school in Phnom Penh and Stalin 5 years at a Russian orthodox seminary. Historians have noted their speaking and writing styles ape those of the Church in being 'declamatory and repet.itive, with liturgical overtones”.
While they both sought to eliminate traditional religions from their kingdoms, they did so in order to divert the common man’s fervour to their own cults of personality.
As Karl Marx himself noted “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
Hitler’s Third Reich, on the other hand, was no friend to atheists and encouraged religion in Germany. Having been exposed to religious methods of persuasion in school at a Benedictine cloister, Hitler recognized religion’s power to keep the people compliant.
Instead of purging faith like the Communist regimes, he purged atheism:
"We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942
While Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot put themselves into the Godhead position, Hitler publically professed his Christianity until his dying day and used Christian arguments to whip his people into a frenzy. This is why Nazi uniform belt buckles were emblazoned with the slogan “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).
Each of these leaders wielded their people’s predilection for faith like a weapon. Atheism is not the prime cause for these tragic regimes – the misdirection of faith is.
Like religion, they demanded blind obedience and obsequious submission from their followers. They tolerated no free-thinkers and enforced dogmatism – a trick they learned from their religious educations.
Your comment is entirely pointless as the people I listed WERE STILL ATHEISTS and KILLED many people.
It doesn't matter who attended some stupid religious school or what not. Most of the founding people of science were religious too, but were scientists.
And please do not quote the parasitic Marx.
sharky, please. Everyone knows a religious person would *never* do anything like those mean old despots did! REAL religious people only do good. Anyone who does bad is just saying they're religious.
The lord is not MY shepherd. I am NOT a SHEEP.
Not long ago, religious schools were the only places to persue an education.
The clergy were some of the very few literate people out there – becuase their profession freed them from teh drudgery of real work, in the sweaty, laborious sense of teh world.
Also bear in mind that anyone who opposed the Church in any way was exiled, or more commonly, executed.
Look at what happened to Galileo when he spoke out.
Crusades, inquisitions, witch burning etc. were all implemented by the religious.
And how was Marx a "parasite"?
His version of Communism was not conceived for Russia, which was a poor, agrarian country, but rather for a society that had all ready been industrialized.
I can see the ghost of McCarthyism haunts your doorstep.
23.It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
WHEN A CHRISTIAN GOES ALL OUT TO SAVE A FETUS AND ALSO BELIEVES IN CAPITOL PUNISHMENT I DO THINK THERE IS SOMETHING OUT OF CINC,
I'm voting for Obama, but as an atheist, I do like these billboards. Religion is not the most important factor at all to me. Barack Obama's being a Christian doesn't bother me, he keeps it to himself. Romney and the religious right, however, do not.
Making fun of someone's faith is not funny. I truly believe Obama is an aetheist. Just another lie to appease voters until he "thinks" he has enough support and voila, his position changes. That's why I have such a tough time listening to him on anything. He lies so consitently. Romney is no better and should have stuck to his moderate record, but instead pandered to the hard line conservatives. Say what you will about Paul Ryan, but he is honest. Just as Biden is. Although Biden puts his foot in his mouth a lot.
Ryan's honest? How do you know that? Based upon what?
Tom Tom... Because he has not backed down or been afraid to say some unpopular things. For example his medicare reform which the dems are so up in arms about. It is unpopular and he stuck with it. I have not seen one instance where someone claimed he has lied, where as both Romney and Obama have had countless bouts with it. Funny you don't question me on Biden? Liberal much?
If you think making fun of religion can not be funny you have never seen South Park or Family Guy.
what good is an honest fool?
why would we question the idea that Joe Biden puts his foot in his mouth a lot? ;)
In 'recent' memory, only Dan Quale did it better.
I do believe that most politicions are agnostic. They say they are religious to get votes
I don't like these billboards. They are soph0moric and at the level of a middle school playground taunt.
The "You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice” is a much better message. More subtle, more reasonable.
As we have recently seen in the London 2012 Olympics, the British know how to do deliver a message rather better – their bus campaign was brilliant and is a much more positive way to do this.
SO STOP WORRYING
AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE
Currently they are focused on getting non-believers to stand up a bit in the UK census rather than being facetious and professing non-religions like 'Jedi' which is really taking off as an ironic statement of non-belief in Britain.
IF YOU'RE NOT RELIGIOUS,
FOR GOD'S SAKE SAY SO
http://www.atheistbus.0rg.uk/ (replace the 0 with o)
I like these much better.
I think it's always better (in broad cases like this) to go the route of starting a conversation rather than just invoking defensive rage.
THANK GOD I'M AN ATHEIST !!!!!!!!!
You religious people often recite "we are not all like that"... want your individuality. Correct.
Then thus you like everyone else formally uses the group – which everyone hates to be associated – but will immediately classified and treat individuals as per group. I find that a huge laugh.
Give some thought as to why you use your words in the field of context that you do. You need to think more.
There are some atheists that refute the existence of God and that's it there are others that mock religion, religious people, sacared scripture and chasitse people calling them all sort of things on here – there is a difference.
Christians; Adhere to the belief there is a God
Atheist: Adheres to a belief there is no God.
Fundamentalist: one who adheres to a strict set of beliefs.
Both Christian and Atheist are Fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism is the starting place of all wars.
Join the Agnostic Assembly.
Er Agnostics have a set of beliefs too, maybe not as fundamental but still beliefs.
The theists and atheists just are becoming to overzealous.
there is an error in your logic.
You say: <i?Atheist: Adheres to a belief there is no God.
This is incorrect. More accurately:
Atheist: Does not believe in God.
There is no "belief" to adhere to.
It's interesting that he is critical of people of faith being "certain" of things, yet he is claiming certainty himself.
There's something distasteful about picking on people for their differences. I don't care who it is, the practice is bad in itself. Atheists.org needs to really ask is this what they want to be.
Agreed. These atheists are acting like Christians.
Stuff like this does tend to just make it worse. Gets the spotlight, though.
This billboard does not pick on anyone for being different. I criticizes irrational beliefs.
Athiests want to be in a country where religious people don't change the rules to force their views on others who believe differently.
Agreed. The British atheists have a much better approach.
This is demeaning. It just takes the discussion down the level of the hypocritcal and self-righteous believers.
Dyslexic goD - Isn't that what the gays are doing?
how does gay people filing taxes as married/joint change the lives of straight people?
@HollywoodPR – To me, gays are asking for the same benefits heteros_xuals enjoy. That's just America living up to it's 'dream'. If you don't believe that, you've bought into the wrong idea of American Freedom.
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
– Isaac Asimov
The presumption in that sentence is of course: 'properly'.
I'm meeting with some conservative christian friends tonight and we're all going to watch Smokey And The Bandit part 3. Next to Deliverance it's their favorite.
Romney didn't say a word about Mormonism and Obama said America is no longer a christian country. What are the atheists so mad about? you talk about divisions in Politics, religion is the least of worries in my opinion.
I do not see any anger in this billboard.
Romney is very clear about his Mormonism.
Dear Athiests: I believe in God. You do not believe in God. I don't condemn you or hate you or tell you that you are stupid for not believing in something that I believe in. So why do you condemn me and hate me or tell me I'm stupid for what I believe in? That's all I have seen on here from Athiests is hate. You can keep your hate and I will keep my God. Let's just agree to disagree. God tells me to love everyone and I try to do that. I don't spew hate but you do. Also, if you do not believe in God then why do you use His name in vain? You use His name in vain when you are angry so why not just use your own name. I'm sure you believe in you. I also believe that I would rather live my life as if there is a God and be wrong than to live my life as if there isn't a God and be wrong. I just hope that someday you will stop with the hate. Hate harms....love heals!
It happens in small steps – the Ten Commandments in courthouses, prayer and creationism (“Intelligent Design”) in schools, revising science, history, and civics textbooks in Texas, State-endorsed prayer rallies, faith-based initiatives, and on and on – and because these steps may individually seem harmless, many people underestimate their consequences. That is why we must stay alert and fight to keep church and state separate. We should shudder whenever a politician or policymaker alludes to his or her religious beliefs as a justification for public policy. We should be deeply suspi.cious of anyone who claims to be chosen by God to lead us. We should aggressively defend our free society against any religious group who would hope to gain control over it.
Do not underestimate the importance of defending the separation of church and state. Stand up for it at every opportunity with your voice and your vote.
Your faith is a poison on modernity, a bigoted racist perversion of mens fears.
It must die and be buried like all it previous iterations.
There is no man in the sky that prefers you to anyone else, and even claiming there is one is no longert acceptable.
1) if you truly treat people as you claim, you are the exeption.
2) most non-believers could care less what you believe until those beliefs are pushed into legislation, or victimize others
3) You assume atheists use "god's" name in vain. Most that I know do not.
4) As a non-believer I don't view believers as "stupid" (well some I do) – I believe they simply compartmentalize logic for comfort.
5) Hate, division and prejudice have far deeper roots in religions than non-belief.
Pam- I don't believe in the supernatural like you but I don't "hate" you. What I do hate are bad ideas. I hate ideas that condemn others, ridicule others for being who they are. I hate ideas that fly in the face of common sense. I hate ideas that indoctrinate young children to believe in fairytales or suffer hell. I hate ideas that exist on the taxpayer's dime through subsidies, exemptions, and "free passes" to spend government funds (read" my money) without scrutiny. In short, I hate bad ideas like Naziism, Stalinism, White Supremacy, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.
Thanks Pam. Well said. GOD (continue) to Bless You!
Pam, you may not participate in the practices you mention, but I have been on the receiving end of that type of behavior countless times, sometimes very blatantly and sometimes very subtly because of my lack of beliefs. I do not treat others badly and I am extremely compassionate, sometimes overly. I just think some people are trying to use stronger stances to get their message across. So many Christians behave in this manner as well. It's hard to be discriminated against for having no religion because very few people understand. I can't just pretend to be religious just to fit in, not even when I was 6 years old. Believe me, I tried. It's hard to feel unaccepted. If I just told everyone I was Christian, I would probably have a much easier life. Not all non-believers bash Christians, just like not all Christians bash non-believers. I think Atheists are just trying to be heard and understood in a world that sees the non-believer as pure evil.
Pam, Have you actually read the bible? Sorry, but it simply a hateful book. For starters, it condones slavery. Do you believe it is ok for individuals to be bought and sold as property? Your god does (since he wrote every word).
I don't see how someone can be loving and at the same time, support a book that is full of hate.
There are certainly hateful atheists, just like there are hateful jews, christians, muslims, etc. The difference is that for the religious, their hate is taught as a collective group. Atheists aren't following specific teachings so you can't group them together, like you can those that are following a religion with specific teachings.
What if you're wrong about the great Ju-Ju of the the sea? Or the plethora of other Gods/religions? Better believe in them all just to cover your bases.
It's awesome to see someone be brave enough to stand up for me having the right to my beliefs and opposing people who would hate me for my beliefs.
I think niqqers are animals and should be chained up until sunday and let loose just to play football and then chained back up.
Thanks for supporting me, and not hating me because I think niqqers are inferior animals and should be chained up most of the time.
You are the best Pam!!!
Dear Pam: I do not hate you. I don't understand you. There are so-called Christians that hate Jews and yet pray to a Jew. This is a sign that some god fearing people haven't the faintest idea about anything that religon teaches. I do believe that most atheists act more Christian than the ones that go to church. I don't understand the people that believes that Methuselah lived 900 years or Jonah lived in a whale or Noah crowded a male and female of all species on a tiny boat. (did this include polar bears and penquins.
It isn't hate, Pam. It's ridicule. You claim to be adults, yet you cling to your belief in Santa Claus (Jesus/God) the way a five-year-old does.
I need to renew my membership.
The groups spokemen is DAVID SILVERMAN. He is an ATHEIST ZIONIST. They love to bash CHRISTIANITY and aim to purge Americans of their Christianity. They never complain about Judaism though. Only Christianity. They don't complain about the mixture of church and state when OBAMA erects a 40 foot Memorah on the White House loan, but when they put a Christmas tree up they start crying abbout seperation from church and state. To hell with DAVID SILVERMAN.
Don't be silly.
We hate Jews as well, but you guys have had so much success with the whole Holocaust thing, that we figure you guys kill the Jews, then the Muslims kill you, and then we just make the Muslims into slaves.
So far the plan seems to be spot on!
Actually , AA has done the same thing with Jews and Muslims.
The bible is like a "Nigerian Email" from the bronze-age.
Where do you want me to send my money?
Jesus left me a substantial fortune when he was crucified, please send me your banking information and I will transfer the money right away.
You know, the Bible doesn't say what happened to all that gold, frankinsence and myrhh.
Imagine whats the value is now thanks to 2000 years of compound interest!
I agree that the billboards may appear hateful to some, but remember that these delusions have a great deal of money and power behind them. In addition, the religious use these ideas to legislate for everyone, so I can see the anger and frustration in their message. We can't control what people think, but we CAN educate them to use their critical faculties and reasoning abilities to see that the religious systems of thought are not logical, are actually immoral, and are merely a crutch for the fearful. I also think it's helpful to ridicule the ideas (virgin birth, resurrections, heaven, hell, etc) and NOT the people, though it's tempting sometimes.
Hey Silverman, it's YOU who believes stupid things...
When you encounter someone who professes to be an Atheist, take the most personally advantageous action: eat him. Atheists are high in protein and a good source of B vitamins and amino acids. They tend to be greasy, so otherwise watch your intake of fats and cholesterol. Shield your activities in this matter from the attention of the authorities until Atheists are recognized as game animals by the state. Remember, you have nothing to fear except law enforcement as long as you have braised, roasted or broiled the Atheist to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees.
They are also good in casseroles and fricassees.
Touching briefly on the subject of tenderization: Since Atheists are almost always the product of a somewhat affluent background and are usually quite young, they seldom will require a marinade-– though the rarely encountered elderly Atheist can be among the toughest of meats, rendered fit for eating only by stewing or by incorporation into sausage.
Some within our movement have brought to my attention that since only a small percentage of the US population identifies as Atheist, a domestic shortage will soon ensue. The problem of the importation of foreign stock is a real one, and though logistically challenging, should be met with by the harvest of readily available European animals. Atheists have become common in Europe since the great conflagrations of WW II and the Cold War. The horrors perpetrated by Nietzschean inspired Fascism are not easily forgotten. And the long and grueling Cold War– a necessary defense against the wholly Atheistic social and economic philosophy of Marx and the realized atrocities of Stalin, et al.–has left Europe moribund and stagnate. The irony that so many Europeans have responded to the historical atrocities of Fascism and Communism by embracing Atheism themselves is delicious. I suggest we take advantage of that delicious irony: literally.
Make no mistake. I am an Atheist myself. But I will never reveal this to the world. It serves my interests to call myself a Christian.
Do not bore me with notions of how I should obey my "inner moral sense". My moral sense and empathy are nothing more than genetic imprints, primitive survival advantages I have outgrown–much as I have outgrown the need for God. I can discard them both easily. They are worthless to me. After all, God Is Dead and the only good is what is good for me. I am the Superman. I am Beyond Good and Evil.
Give it your best shot. As you so eloquently point out, we are generally more affluent, generally more intelligent, generally better educated, and are usually very well armed.
If we can't out spend you, or out think you, we will just fvcking shoot you.
GOD IS NOT DEAD. IN ORDER TO DIE YOU HAVE TO LIVE FIRST.
ANOTHEER SUBJECT: THERE SEEMS TO BE NO ACCOUNT OF WHERE JESUS LIVED BETWEEN THE AGE OF 13 TO 32. I HAVE READ THE BIBLE AND OTHER RELIGIOUS PAPERS, AND STILL HAVE NO CLUE.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.