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Atheist group removes billboards targeting presidential candidates' religious faith
American Atheists says it took down billboards critical of the candidates' religions in Charlotte, North Carolina, after threats.
August 27th, 2012
09:55 AM ET

Atheist group removes billboards targeting presidential candidates' religious faith

By Dan Gilgoff and Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – An atheist group that raised a pair of billboards taking aim at the presidential candidates’ religion at the site of next month’s Democratic National Convention has pulled the signs after what the group called a “large volume of threats.”

The billboards, sponsored by American Atheists, took aim at Mormonism and Christianity and went up this month in Charlotte, North Carolina, which will play host to the Democratic convention.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and President Barack Obama is also a Christian.

The billboard targeting Christianity featured 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.’ ”

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The billboard targeting Mormonism lambasted and, Mormons would say, distorted specific Mormon doctrines: "God is a Space Alien, Baptizes Dead People, Big Money, Big Bigotry.”

The Mormon billboard featured a man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments.

American Atheists said the billboards provoked a “large volume of threats” by phone and e-mail and that the group reported the threats to police.

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“It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately,” Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ managing director, said in a statement last week.

“No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny and this includes religion in all forms,” Knief said. “We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”

American Atheists had wanted to put the anti-Mormon billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with this week's Republican National Convention.

When no billboard company in the city would lease the group space for such a sign, American Atheists President David Silverman said the organization decided to focus solely on the Democrats in Charlotte.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Politics

soundoff (1,780 Responses)
  1. CaptainACARS

    I am an atheist but I think it is a mistake to do tjings like this. Putting up billboards and signs makes us look hipocritical, and makes us look no better than the Bible thumpers of the world. I cannot understand why any atheist would expend the energy trying to change someones mind. You must show respect in order to recieve it from someone else. That being said, the people who made threats are even more stupid.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Huebert

      Why shouldn't we try to educate the believers?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Anthony

      Captain,
      I totally agree, and as a believer I think it goes both ways.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • WASP

      @anthony: what religion has isn't called education, that is optional. religion has indoctrination which is mandatory......better known as training.
      why else would the church start "grooming" children at such a young age to ONLY accept their flavor of god and not anothers? i say out of fear because if a child grows up with a rational mind and asks questions, they will eventually start questioning the church and you all can't have that.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • SciGuy73

      I agree with captainACARS. I belive in educating people, and trying to get them to think for themselves, but I don't think these billboards were designed to educate anyone.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Wade

      @sciguy "Educating people?" Isn't that *exactly* what you criticize the religious for? Trying to convince someone to believe what you believe is exactly what you abhor so much in the religious. It's also known as being a hypocrite.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • 24shamsky

      I'm a non-believer as well, but I agree with you 100%. There's no point in being needlessly antagonistic, and those billboards are way over the top. Atheism is supposed to be the rational position, but you can't hope to persuade people of that by mocking the beliefs of others. That doesn't justify the threats, of course, but honestly, did they really not see this coming?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • SciGuy73

      @wade The fundamental difference here is I want people to think for themselves. I don't want them to be suffocated in religious dogma. There is no athiest book that tells people what they are supposed to believe, what they are supposed to think, and what they are supposed to do. I want to help them open their eyes, look critically at the world around them, and make decisions based on reason and facts. That is education.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Huebert

      @Wade

      Educating is teaching people to question everything, including what the educators say. Religion indoctrinates, that is they provide the answers and considers questions heresy. Do you see the difference?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Wade

      @sciguy

      What if they think for themselves and come to the conclusion that religion has it right?

      That's not acceptable, is it. You don't want people thinking for themselves, you want them them thinking for themselves and coming to the same conclusion you have.

      In this country anyhow, people choose to engage in religion. They already have thought for themselves and chosen the religious path. But those people can't be intelligent, independent thinkers, can they? No, they're just ignorant sheep who aren't nearly as smart as a free-thinking atheist, are they?

      Atheists are as much into conversion, messaging and hate as any religion. You will not be happy as long as people choose to believe differently from you.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @Wade: Atheists don't object to religious people attempting to "educate" people. You can do all the "educating" you want at your churches, your Sunday brunches and your parochial schools. It's only when you attempt to infiltrate the public school system in order to foist your religious beliefs on our children that we object to your efforts to "educate" them.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Simran

      Both these billboards and the reaction of Christians to it are laughable. It definitely doesn't help to mock people in their faces – this way we further justify their ignorance. Those who want to learn will do so, those who want to question everything will always do that. The rest will only feel offended! Stupidity of the human race it is.
      As a person outside the US however, I do understand the reaction of atheists (may be not approve of this particular billboard, bcoz I have seen some better ones, more intellectual ones). Now if even after so many years, US is debating over the issue of abortion, and then trying to include a creationist theory as science etc etc... The concern of atheists (and I think all other intellectuals too) is pretty justified. Now they could have put it more intellectually, but seeing the reaction of Bible thumpers here at CNN, they will not understand sublte messages. The Lord the God seems to have been hammered so deep into their brains, that they simply will not understand why issues like abortion are personal issues. And that religion is also a personal issue. No body has a problem as long as you keep personal stuff in your house.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • WASP

      education is optional because the person has the freedom to choose not to learn.
      indoctrination a.k.a. training is best started at a young age and isn't optional; in training there are stiff punishments for those that don't conform from physical punishment to mental and social punishment. after a while anyone will conform to what they are being told.................trust me i spent 8 years of my life in the best training insti-tute in the world, the united states army.
      they know how to train you without you even knowing it, so does the church.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Wade

      @ 24shamsky And when questions come up about evolution, the creation of the world, religion, or any other "large" topic, you want the public schools to either belittle the religious view, or not acknowledge it at all. If you don't permit people to understand the positions of all viewpoints, then they are not free to choose for themselves. They will have been fed one and only one view.

      In short, you want *EXACTLY* what you criticize the religious for. You want your children educated in an environment free from mentions of religions, so that they will grow up not believing in religion.

      You're a hypocrite, plain and simple.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Huebert

      @Wade

      Your right we should let them choose. We can let the kids chose between chemistry and alchemy, we can let the kids choose between psychology and phrenology, between physics and magic, between meteorology and divining through chicken guts.

      Creationism isn't taught in a class room because it is not a scientific theory. The theory of evolution has been stringently challenged since it's inception over 100 years ago, and it still stands. It also is the basis for all medical testing, and it is still providing new and testable insights. Schools will teach creationism the day that it provides one unique testable prediction.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Simran

      @Wade,
      As an atheist, I can only speak for myself. Now let it be clear, we are not a church or an org.anization. I dont even live in US. So none of these are my issues really. People who ch.oose to be religious are welcome to do so. People who want their children to learn about their religion have the right to do so. But the issues here are, from what I have understood over the past few weeks:
      1. Religion cannot be a part of the ru.nning of a secular government. Or else, the const.itution should just declare it is a Christian nation.
      2. Science and religion are separate. Teach science in science class, Bible/ Quran/ Guru Granth Sahib/ etc should be taught at the respective religious places. The schools are public schools, and there are other kids (of other religions too). And creationism cannot be accepted as a scientific theory.
      3. The issue of abortion – come on, this is simply ridiculous. Are we going back to the stone age now where you want to control women again??? If some people feel abortion is not justified in their religion, well fine, do whatever you want to in your family. Are you worried that ur women will start to protest?
      4. Gay marriages? What is your problem man? Let those people live. Isn't that what life is about – LIVE AND LET LIVE.
      5. Religious intolerance in US – it is a fact. I have been to US 3 times in the last 4 years, and I can state for myself, I like visiting Canada far better. The intolerance in US starts right at the airport. As was evident from the Sikh shooting, half of Americans dont even know that SIkhs and Muslims are different. And their hatred of all Muslims, I fail to understand that either. I live in India, and my country has been in con.stant battle with Pakistan, but do I hate all Pakistanis??? Hell, no. It is stupid to do so.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @Wade: When children are dragged off to church by their parents, compelled to pray in school, and are taught that Adam and Eve rode around on the backs of dinosaurs 5000 years ago, I would submit that they are not "thinking for themselves" but are, in fact, being indoctrinated into a particular belief system. I have no problem reconciling science with faith; there are plenty of scientists who believe in God. I do have a problem when faith is used to deny science, when religious myths are considered valid alternatives to generally accepted facts, and when religious beliefs are used to advance a particular social agenda. Atheists don't do that - we advocate separation of church and state, not the repression of churches or religious thought. If you want to teach creationism as a valid alternative to evolution, go right ahead - but do it in a religious setting, where such teachings are appropriate. Despite your attempts to draw an equivalency between the two, the comments I've seen don't demonstrate a similar level of tolerance on the part of believers for atheism. Until that changes, you're just talking through your hat.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Wade

      @Huebert

      Ah, the old, "science has all the answers" theory.

      Many, many years ago, many of the most respected scientists in the world believed the Earth was flat. For decades (at least), the most brilliant medical minds in the world believed that bleeding was the best cure for illness.

      Today, any physicist will tell you that what he knows to be true today is vastly different from what he knew to be true 20 years ago.

      Fifty years from now, many things that you are arguing are scientific fact, will no longer be how we understand it.

      Why does the answer have to lie solely on one side or the other? Why can't there be both intelligent design and evolution?

      August 27, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Simran

      @ WAde,
      Since you support that study of evolution should include the religious aspect of it – here's a deal.
      Respect every religion there is (and that should include Islam as well, coz there are a lot of Muslims in US), and now right down a chapter about all the different concepts of religions about how the universe began.
      Or else just shut up about Bible's concept of how we came.
      This is insane – I live in a pretty religiously intolerant country, and even here, no body wants to teach religion in public schools!!!

      August 27, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Jesus

      @Wade

      I never said that science has all the answers, nice straw man though. I said that evolution has passed every test put to it, in addition to that, evolutionary theory sill yields useful predictions, which is the entire purpose of a theory.

      Provide some evidence for your designer's existence and then you have a theory, until then you are just giving unfounded speculation.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Simran

      @ Huebert,
      I will also add to that list that we should let them choose between faith healing, Unani, Homeopathic, Ayurvedic, Chinese herbal system of medicine in addition to routine allopathy. And let's see where they go with that.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Huebert

      The "Jesus" in the above post is me, I was making a joke on a different board and forgot to change my name back.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Wade

      @24shamsky

      If you prevent your child from learning about religion in the public school system and then ensure they are taught at home that there is no God, aren't you indoctrinating them just as much as the parent who "drags them off to church?" Of course you are.

      Both religions and atheists are intolerant of each other, and BOTH sides are trying to force their viewpoint into the public sector.

      I addressed "generally accepted facts" in my other posts. What was "generally accepted facts" 300 years ago is laughed at today. The same will be true of what we regard as "generally accepted facts" today. I'm certainly not against science, but believing that science has all the answers today is pure folly.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Simran

      @ WAde,
      You say science revises its theories every day. Well, I see that as a compliment to science actually. You just proved that science is not blind faith. It is a system where tested knowledge is passed on from one generation to next, and every generation can verify it and refute it.
      Now have the religious texts been revised in the context of present day world??? Basic moral values were different 3000yrs ago, and are different now. When you update these books, taking out all the statements full of hatred and bigotry, I might also want to read them.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Wade

      @ Simran

      If you think intolerance is bad in the US, you clearly have not traveled much. There are places in the world that make the religious debate in the US look like a chat between old friends.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Huebert

      Evolutionary theory draws nothing from it's acceptance. all of it's authority comes from the fact that it has been tested over and over, and the fact that it can be used to make effective predictions. What is commonly accepted is irrelevant to science.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @ Wade: I haven't criticized the "religious" at all, except for their efforts to impose their agenda on public education. There's nothing hypocritical about suggesting that religious beliefs should be taught in religious settings, and I would never criticize any religous person for doing that. Nor is their anything hypocritical in my not wanting my tax dollars to used to promote a particular religious viewpoint. Religious mythology has no place in a science class, period. I am denying nothing to anyone who wishes to pursue a faith-based education, but that can and should be done privately, not on the taxpayer's dime.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Simran

      @Wade,
      My point about religious intolerance is exactly this – is US really comparable to those countries which practice intolerance???
      Now when you want to compare yourself to progress further, who is going to be your yardstick? The ones below you (yes then you can boast we are better) or those who are better than you (and then one feels – No, I can do better).
      And no, I draw no conclusion saying I was bigoted against. It will be wrong to say that happened. But I simply said, I felt better in Canada than US.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @Wade: Nowhere have I ever suggested that parents don't have every right to educate their children in their own belief system; I fully expect that both believers and non-believers alike will attempt to impress their beliefs upon their children, and I certainly don't consider that "indoctrination." Nor do I have any intention of preventing my children from learning about religion, if that's their inclination, but there are plenty of avenues for doing so outside of the pubilc school system. Teaching science in science classes does not equate to a denial of religion or the promotion of atheism - it's entirely possible to embrace evolution and still believe in a higher power. (My father is such a person. I'm not.) Nor do I accept your premise that teaching values to one's children denies them access to other belief systems. As it happens, I was raised by two devoutly religious parents, and received an extensive religious education in a private setting. I came upon my own belief system after years of study and careful consideration, and I trust that my children will have the freedom to do the same.

      As to your question, "why can't there be both intelligent design and evolution," I believe I've already addressed that. If people want their children to be taught both, that's fine. But "intelligent design" is not science; it's a religious belief, and as such, it should be taught only in a religious setting.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Dana

      Wade, telling people to blindly believe what is in some old book because you said so is not educating.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Cory

      Huebert: Why would YOU want to waste your time trying to convince believers? Just like you'd have a serious problem with a theist proselytizing you, you don't do something this childish like stick a billboard up to "educate" and/or to get a reaction. If believers stuck a billboard up that read "Atheists Are Not Human" you'd have beef with it. This kind of stuff gives us a bad rep. This IS militant atheism. Extremist anything is horrendous, and this includes extremist atheists. You don't believe in God? Fine. Let others believe and leave it alone. By the way, I'm also an atheist.

      August 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  2. DukeMantee

    I agree with what these billboards are saying however they are hideous. Who designed these monstrosities?!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  3. Rooster Cogburn

    Now if we could remove the atheist, oh and the ACLU too.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Huebert

      Can't feel the christian love.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Cardiac50

      Because anything like thought and belief different from yours is a threat..

      August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • 24shamsky

      And how do you propose get rid of atheists, Rooster? Stone them? Burn them at the stake? Some Christian you are. Sounds like that all "love thy neighbor" stuff only applies to neighbors who believe as you do.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • jsmith89

      Rooster is ready to join the Christian Taliban.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  4. James

    Hopefully the atheist have learned their lesson. Their hate speech will not be accepted.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Huebert

      How exactly is informing you that your god is most likely not real hate speech?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Cardiac50

      But of course Christian hate speech is simply them expressing their religious belief, and is therefore protected.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • 24shamsky

      While I personally think the signs stepped over the line and were in poor taste, criticism of religious beliefs is NOT hate speech. And if the "lesson" to be learned here is that such criticism can be silenced by threats and intimidation, then folks like you are just helping to prove their point.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Adrian

      Yes, the loving Christians will make sure to respond with just as much hate. People are sheep.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      No. It was a small step, even with a bit of a stumble. But a giant leap for rationality. There will be more, rest assured. Thankfully this now must be having atheists and agnostics thinking of much better ways to bring people to their senses.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • WASP

      @james: too bad religious folks haven't learned that over the past 2000 or so years.
      "you hate, you will be hated; you love, you will be loved." A WASP ORIGINAL. :)

      August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Wade

      @Heubert "Most likely not real" – got some questions there, don't ya?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Huebert

      @wade

      Not really. I take this position because it prevents theist from using the "so you don't know for sure argument". I also say that their is most likely not a gnome living in a teapot orbiting Saturn. Like god, the gnome does not exist, I use the phrasing i do because it is more palatable to believers.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Bob

      Seriously, James, if you actually read the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible, you will find that it contains explicit hateful instructions like these:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      August 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  5. howash Dao

    The religions of PEACE ( XTians IZZlams Juzzdy ) must WIPE OUT atheist because we LOVE our GODs ( we don't believe in the same one ) to death ;-)

    August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  6. Anthony

    It's actually amazing that an Atheist group would promote anything against a religion. It would be illogical for an atheist to be offended by a law or judgement given from something or someone that doesn’t exist. If there is no God, as an atheist would believe, then there is no reason to be so angered by a book that claims to be written by this God who does not exist. Is it wrong then for someone who believes to consider this truth? If so, by whose law do YOU judge? Your own? It should hold no power over you; you don’t believe it. The fact that it angers you is evidence that there is more than a shadow of a doubt lurking behind your infallible human logic. The fact that you are judging reveals a system of morality that you have tried to impose on the world. The only difference between you who refuse to believe in God, and us who do believe, is where we derive our compass regarding truth.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • SciGuy73

      I believe you are missing the point.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Anthony

      And I'm really tired of seeing or hearing about Atheists that cry about being persecuted for their "non-belief" when it is them that throw it in our face with a hateful and offensive messages. Then act totally baffled and upset that we get offended.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Anthony

      No, I see the point. "Freedom of Speech." Lets hide behind it as Atheist do. Then complain when a religious group exercises the same right.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • SciGuy73

      Oh, well when you put it like Anthony that then I guess it does justify death threats.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Anthony

      The death threats are totally out of line, I never said I agree with them at all. For a believer, or non believer that would be simply wrong. The billboards however leave a bad taste in everyones mouth however, believer or non believer.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Brad

      That is an extremely illogical post. Pointing out that those who wish to lead us subscribe to a delusional fairy tale ideology has zero bearing on having shadows of doubt regarding the existence of a supernatural being or where anybodies moral compass is derived from. Having said that, and as an atheist myself, I do think that these billboards were a little over the top and counter productive. Atheists should not be seeking to antagonize, but rather to reason and promote the questioning of the religious status quo. Billboards like this just push the believers into a corner and have them chanting "four legs good, two legs bad" like the sheep in Animal Farm.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      Anthony, the problem occurs when the "law or judgement given from something or someone that doesn’t exist" is put into the legal system. Your non-existent god has no place in a government that represents people of many faiths. When someone is running for the highest office in the nation, it is our responsibility to know if their personal beliefs are going to conflict with their elected duty. Certainly many christians had no qualms about believing lies put forth by the political enemies of our current President on the subject of his faith.

      I agree that the signs seem more aimed at offense than at education, but then, I think the same way about all those billboards and signs I see from christians, promising me eternal torment because I don't (and can't) believe in their god.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @Anthony: I agree that these billboards were in poor taste, but so is plenty of other stuff I've seen on billboards. But let's be clear: these signs weren't taken down just because people complained about them. The signs were removed because of the threats. That's NEVER an appropriate response, no matter how "hateful" you find a particular message.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      It's actually amazing that an Atheist group would promote anything against a religion.

      > It would be illogical for an atheist to be offended by a law or judgement given from something or someone that doesn’t exist. If there is no God, as an atheist would believe, then there is no reason to be so angered by a book that claims to be written by this God who does not exist.

      Only if you ignore the fact that laws are written with an expressly religious tone

      > Is it wrong then for someone who believes to consider this truth?

      Yes, that person is wrong. Because they're basing their decisions on authority, not by reality.

      > If so, by whose law do YOU judge? Your own? It should hold no power over you; you don’t believe it.

      I judge by the laws of our society. Which is now, by my estimation, the best and most moral system we have now. Sure, there can be improvements, but I don't know what those are.

      Remember, back many years slavery was considered moral. It's not now, by any definition.

      > The fact that it angers you is evidence that there is more than a shadow of a doubt lurking behind your infallible human logic.

      No, it shows that you haven't actually considered why someone may not believe as you do.

      > The fact that you are judging reveals a system of morality that you have tried to impose on the world. The only difference between you who refuse to believe in God, and us who do believe, is where we derive our compass regarding truth.

      I derive my truth based on the reality I live in. You derive your truth from a 2000 year old book that simply tells you that things are the way it claims.

      My basis for morality is therefore superior to yours. 100%.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  7. more2bits

    Typical for all religions to promote violence. Almost all wars throughout history have religion as their basis.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  8. What do you expect in the BIble Belt?

    You go to the "Bible Belt" home of Billy Graham and expect to not get push back from the general public? Save your hate themed billboards for California. Don't go to the South, with negative ads and expect to not be criticized for it. They got a pro-rated refund for taking the signs down.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • derp

      Yeah, who needs free speech in the south.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Justin

      Yeah, state-run atheism has worked real well (Lenin, Stalin, and Chairman Mao).

      August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Wade

      @derp I think you need to look up the definition of "free speech." Free speech does not guarantee you the right to say what you want and have nobody complain.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  9. SciGuy73

    That's the Christian spirit! Threaten people to get them to do what you want! After all, it works for god.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • John

      The atheists are the worst at it, they can't stand to see any religious sign or mention of religion without thinking to sue someone to take it down.

      If you don't want to see religious signs don't expect people to welcome your signs too...hypocrits.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Daniel

      HA HA HA!! You are sooooo correct!!

      August 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > If you don't want to see religious signs don't expect people to welcome your signs too...hypocrits.

      I have 0 issue with individual private organizations putting up whatever religious signs they want. I'm against government putting up such signs.

      And if you're not, I'm assuming you'd have 0 issue with the US dollar saying "In allah we trust" and your children coming home with hindu newsletters about their religious ceremonies.

      These signs are privately funded. Just like the 1,000's that are privately funded for God that I have no issue with.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  10. Turtle

    It really is a sad day when the only way to gain attention is to attack something that is different from you. I don't get why Atheists get so mad about others believing in something, be in an alien, monster, or cartoon character. How fulfilling can your life be if you spend your day worrying about what others believe?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • derp

      Yeah, christians never care about what others believe.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > It really is a sad day when the only way to gain attention is to attack something that is different from you.

      Not different. Stupid. You have this silly idea that only believing in what can be shown is equal with believing stuff that can't be shown to you.

      > I don't get why Atheists get so mad about others believing in something, be in an alien, monster, or cartoon character.

      We wouldn't if there weren't people trying to enforce their religion on us through governmental challenges. See what creationism is doing today as a perfect example.

      > How fulfilling can your life be if you spend your day worrying about what others believe?

      Very fulfilling. Because it stops us as a culture from believing in nonsense that's holding us back.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  11. StayinAlive

    “No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny" – But that doesn't give anyone a free license to portray someone else's faith in a deeming fashion. Fanatical atheists are just as bad as fanatical theists.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • derp

      What is a deeming fashion?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > “No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny" – But that doesn't give anyone a free license to portray someone else's faith in a deeming fashion. Fanatical atheists are just as bad as fanatical theists.

      Actually, the US was founded on free speech. If you want laws preventing bad things being said about the nonsense you believe in, I suggest you move to Iran.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  12. DrJStrangepork

    They should put a new sign that reads, "Free speech is accepted by everyone as long as you pray to the same deity, Thank you for being so polite Charlotte, NC, ... American Atheist Alliance (or whatever their name is)"

    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Zoop

      Down with the otters! Unified Athiest League forever!

      August 27, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  13. Mark

    I am an atheist, but I do think this billboards were a little too extreme. It is sad, however, that even less extreme billboards promoting atheism had received similarly hateful comments from supposed "Christians". Christians really seem to have a need to feel persecuted, when in reality, they do most of the persecution on Earth.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • KellyInTexas

      I totally agree – as an atheist myself we are trying to engage people in a reasonable dialogue. When you insult, belittle, or attack it is impossible to have a reasonable dialogue.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  14. Free Speech

    Freedom of speech means you have the right to say whatever you want to say and the government will not make laws to hinder that speech. Freedom of speech does not mean you are free from criticism and people responding badly to your statements or fighting against them. There is a big difference between the two. You have the right to say whatever you want to say, and people have the right to hate what you say and take action against (legally) against it.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Xdoc

      Death threats are not a "legal" way of responding.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  15. Moogly

    You put up a hateful sign, get a hateful response. Who knew?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Anthony

      Exactly! They spread hate, then act all surprised and baffled that they received it in kind...then point fingers and say "I told you so, Religious people are violent!!!"

      August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      at Anthony... of course the other side can say the same thing. People can be hateful and religious. People can be hateful and not-religious. That is the point. They are both just people with no room for tolerance. Tolerance is the word here. Atheists shouldn't be intolerant and neither should Christians or Muslims or whatever your flavor.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • logtaads

      Exactly! Lol... these guys put up rude and offensive signs and then ... duh, why is everyone mad at me and threatening me. LMAO!

      August 28, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > You put up a hateful sign, get a hateful response. Who knew?

      Yeah, cause Jesus never said that you should turn the other cheek or anything.

      ZING.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  16. Forrest

    Young Life can brainwash my middle schooler into "accepting Christ" while at school, but if an atheist were to convince a Christian to reject Christ, they'd be railed out of town. Hypocrites.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • George

      What do you think the science classes in school are teaching?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @George
      All high school chemistry teachers have a secret, communist agenda with the physics faculty acting as their gestapo.
      They won't stop until all faith is destroyed and replaced wtih facts.
      Best to home school your kids and keep them away from the influence of heretics like Copernicus, Galileo and Hawking.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Xdoc

      I am sorry, but my child's science class doesn't begin with.. "So, you know that God doesn't exist and science here proves it." Usually in chemistry, they start with a nice table called the periodic table. Most likely in biology they may start with the circulation system or skeletal system. In physics they would probably start with motion and work. How does that teach children to hate God or to hate religion?

      August 27, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • 24shamsky

      @George: Hopefully, they're teaching science. The teaching of science, however, has no more to do with promoting atheism than it does with creationism. Neither are appropriate subjects in a public school setting.

      August 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      > What do you think the science classes in school are teaching?

      Reality. If you suggest that science is somehow against your God, what does that tell you.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  17. Bob

    What's next? A Christain Fatwa that athiests should be killed for insulting christianity?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • steve

      Your comment has nothing to do with reality.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  18. jim

    This sounds a LOT like Muslim reaction when they think they have been insulted.

    Maybe Christians and Mormons should look in the mirror if they want to know where the problem lies.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • DrCole

      Jim, tell me where it says that "Mormon's" were doing the death threats and hate towards the Athiests. As a Mormon, I've heard and seen all of this stuff before. It's nothing new...shucks, I used to do the hating against Mormonism decades ago. That was before I realized they weren't anything like society and other religions and non-religions had taught me. If there was someone out there that was doing death threats against someone expressing their view...shame on them...as an individual. Let's not bash the entire group, since the entire group didn't send in death threats, because that would be a bigotted action.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    PROVEN !

    August 27, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • SciGuy73

      The only thing prayer is proven to be is useless.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Atheism is Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

      Actually, you mind be surprised, but:
      It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. Teaching kids to be agnostic helps reinforce their understanding of the new real things they can see and learn about in life. It helps them properly separate the known from the unknown without confusing them. They just need to be taught things that are unknown, like god, and things that are made up, like all religion.

      Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

      We have only begun to scratch the surface in using the mind to its maximum. Damaging it with made-up junk that politicians and salesmen dreamed up long ago is senseless, and limits the mind's potential. These politicians and charlatans didn't even do a good job of organizing and being consistent with the stuff they dreamt up to try to control people. Daddy used to say they were caught with their pants down when the bible was first translated so that common folk could read it. Very true.

      Instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

      mama kindless

      August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Wade

      @mama

      Wow. That's quite a doctrine you've got there. I'm so glad you've got it all figured out and anyone who believes in religion is not as smart as you. I will say this, atheists are the most egotistical and arrogant people in the world, so you've got that going for you.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • jsmith89

      @Wade,

      Nothing makes an Atheist feel more intelligent and elite than having a discussion with a "Believer". After 15 minutes the Atheist will know that they are smarter than 95% of the people in the world.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  20. Honey Badger Dont Care

    It really is a sad day when all of these religious nuts think that they are being persecuted and cant abide free speech.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Me

      Plenty of room for free speech here. Both sides can speak their mind. If these atheists were creative, they could easily find a way to get their message across... Billboard companies have the right to refuse to sell to anyone.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Justin

      You noticed the article doesn't mention what kind of threats were made. I'm sure the vast majority were not harmful threats to the people's safety. Did you realize this is called taunting, or baiting, people into an argument? What would you say to someone who insulted you (or someone you loved)?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Me

      It really is a sad day when all of these atheist nuts think they are any different then the religious nuts and start spreading hate with a sense of self-righteousness

      August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Xdoc

      Hmm, "death" "threat". Too tough to understand? Let me put it in lehman's terms. Threatening people with death means that if you do not take the sign down, they will find your headquarters or one of your employees, and will kill them. Hmm, should I place the dictionary definition for you? Threatening with death is a kind of threat.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:55 am |
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About this blog

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.