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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. tv22

    Atheists – our life is meaningless so we can only find joy in bringing down others.

    August 28, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • sam stone

      Theists – Our life is so meaningless that we have to pretend that the creator of the heavens desire an eternal personal relationship with us

      August 28, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  2. post

    why is the inflammatory, anti-christian sign described as "featured.. this description"
    while the inflammatory, anti-mormon sign is described as "lambasted.. distorted view"
    ?

    August 28, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  3. buckshot

    Muslims and their asinine islam is the worst of them all. And what I know from experiencing mormons . . . can't be posted in a comment.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • tv22

      Then you sir, are a bigot.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  4. post

    these billboards are quite obviously hate speech – i guess certain people's "intellectualism' blinds them to that.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • sam stone

      How are these billboards hate speech?

      August 28, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  5. buckshot

    I am an atheist, but I don't belong to an organized group. I chose this way since reaching the age of rellity and sanity at the age of ten. All religions are a bunch of mind scrambling garbage, regardless of what they call themselves,

    August 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • tv22

      And another bigot. I respect your non-beliefs, until you insult mine.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  6. truth be told

    People prayed and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, the vile lying billboards are gone.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Roddy

      And yet your god has still never healed an amputee. He can take down billboards but can't feed starving children. Worst god ever.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • truth be told

      You know the status of every amputee from creation to now? Amazing ! And they appointed you to speak for "all" of them? Who was the first amputee ?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  7. MIchele

    Threats, huh? Typical xtian behavior............."If you don't believe in my fairy tale I'll kill you". I've never had much time for their silliness, but when Obama won the Presidency, their hateful ways came rushing to the forefront and I saw how truly evil most of them are. They use what they consider a holy book to justify hate against anyone who is not the same color, religion, or income level as they. Terrible people. Our country would be in much better shape without them.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Patti

      Thank you Michele...I agree that many Christians who now make up the 'Tea Party' seem to be coming from a place of judgment and hate, and I don't believe those are Christian values!

      August 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Delise Means

      Finally a blog that dd not beat up on President Obama AND Mitt. Are we making progress or what?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • tv22

      You do realize that Obama is a Christian and that 90% of Americans believe in God. We can't all be bad, can we?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  8. BinaryTooth

    Why do atheist have to be a hate group? Why can't atheist just choose not to believe? Haters suck.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • DJL

      Because christians keep trying to force their beliefs on everyone (no to gay marriage, abortion, etc.). It's THEIR hate that begets this hate.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • sam stone

      Binary: When theists try to codify their beliefs into secular law, this is not hate speech, it is self-defense

      August 28, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  9. clarke

    This is so unnecessary and distasteful.. What is the matter with people.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • JPX

      -has pulled the signs after what the group called a “large volume of threats.”- Does anyone else see the irony here? The atheists once again proved their point. You never hear stories of atheists "threatening" anyone, it's always the Christians who are full of intolerance and hatred. They should have kept their billboards up.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Qodex

      Atheists never threaten anyone? Oy. Was Santayana right, or what? OK, here's a chance to expand your horizons a bit. Google "Religion is the opium of the people", which is a paraphrase, find out who said it, THEN follow the threads to see the results when this atheist implemented his philosophy. I've heard some atheists dispute the connection between atheism and the almost inconceivable level of violence alluded to above, saying that atheism is the absence of belief, and therefor can't motivate anyone to do anything. The billboards which are the subject of this article are a perfect and complete refutation of that argument. Atheist jihadis. just what we needed.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  10. Bert0529

    My God is the real God!

    No, MY God is the real God!!

    No!!! There is NO God!!

    Settle down kids! You only get a cookie if you play nice.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  11. Dan

    There are of course subtler ways to protest the violation of church vs. state. I have commonly seen people take a fine point felt tip pen and make subtle little dots over the 'god' before 'we trust' on the backs of $20 dollar bills. Then these easily get into circulation.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Chemack56

      Right...just like he right wing religious zealots are "subtle".

      August 28, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  12. Oh boy

    There was nothing "religious " about Jesus. Please don't confuse the followers of Christ "Christians" with evangelicals who bow to writings that are at times nonsense, contradictory, hurtful, and ridiculous that people made up sometimes hundreds of years after the fact and others included in a book.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  13. ElmerGantry

    Max stated,
    __________________________________
    Max
    There are three invisible, undetectable leprechauns living under my staircase running the world. So far NONE of my friends have been able to disprove the existence of the leprechauns so they must really be there.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    ____________________________________

    I am sorry to inform you, Max, that you are wrong. It is the three fairies under my staircase that are running the world. You need to convert or else! Prove me wrong!

    Chuckle chuckle chuckle.

    LOL and have a great day.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  14. objectivist5

    I respect those that believe what ever religion they want. Personally I believe in none. Being an objectivist I believe in individual rights and freedoms. So, where ever your individual beliefs take you, it's your right, your life, your freedom. That's what i hold sacred.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  15. Darth Cheney

    I know we live in the age of attack ads, but I do not believe that such deep insults will advance atheism or agnosticism. It makes us look very small and bitter. Like most complex realities, questioning the existence of God does not lend itself well to sound bites.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Dave

      "Advance" ? If we start trying to advance our beliefs, we are no better than those who cram their views down our throats. Live and let live.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Shut the bible

      How is advertising the truth an attack?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  16. JAB62

    I say put them back up. Religion is the great ball and chain of mankind. It is for ignorant scared people who are too lazy to think for themselves.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  17. logtaads

    Listen, all of you atheists I could really care less about what you do or do not believe.

    If the greatest thing you believe in is yourself then good for you.

    If you prefer to believe that when you die your a#@ gets thrown on a trash heap and the worms, etc, eat you then I am happy for you.

    However, your almost ritualistic pursuit and condemnation of religion borders and smells of religion.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • noteabags

      How much less could you care?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Dave

      @ Allah-and if we do not beklieve in your one TRUE god, you will kill is, right? in his name? Prayer works huh? Tell that to the parents of children dying of cancer in hospitals today.

      The comment abouit worms just furthers my belief that religion makes us feel better that something good will happen after we die.

      Religion is the root of all evil.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • shadowdiver

      logtaads your rant is exactly why a lot of us want to see an end to your phoney religion. Look at the hate in your post. My Jack Russell is more christ-like than you.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • lefty

      You "could care less" logtaads? Aw, you do care about us atheist after all

      August 28, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    PROVEN .

    August 28, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Simon Cohen

      "Prayer changes things PROVEN ."
      Few simple questions to answer: 100% of all prayers by all people? Perhaps some of them contradict each other? And what is the success rate of all prayers?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Ach

      What a load of garbage. Next thing you know you'll say the chain letters are real too because something bad happened to you once.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      It's useless to try to to convince a credulous and willingly ignorant troll.

      Don't feed it.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Mittens Wromney

      Religion has hurt more children than anything else. There is no question about that. Religious fools have brainwashed children into believing creationism and the place down under – and I'm not talking Australia. Both of these notions hurt children.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Allah is GREAT

      My prayer changes things, because i pray to the one TRUE God. I can tell by your ignorance and stupidity, that you pray to the false gods of the West. Tell me this, why would a JUST GOD listen to the prayers of those living in privilege? You have plenty of food, drink and live in supreme opulence. Allah is there for the TRUE believers. Those that do not worship the false idols, those that do not preach charity while driving 50,000 SUV's, and those that actually have souls. You have no soul worth saving, for you have never known hardship because you abuse 90% of the population to cover your face with McDonalds.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Religion is not healthy for children or other living things.

      Actually, there's never been a single study that gave any credence to your claim that prayer works, In fact. there was one study where they had one group of very ill patients who were being prayed for, and another group that wasn't. The group receiving prayers was divided up into a group that KNEW about the prayers, and a group that didn't. The group that didn't know about the prayers fared the same as the group that got no prayers. The group that KNEW? Apparently, the added stress of all that attention for prayer isn't good, because that group didn't do as well as either of the other groups.

      So... no, sugar. Prayer doesn't do anything except waste time that could be spent doing practical things. You know... like actually helping people.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • shadowdiver

      Praayer=wishing

      August 28, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • truth be told

      @simon
      you do not know what prayer is, or you would not make that statement.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • truth be told

      @elmer
      truth is never trolling

      August 28, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • truth be told

      @mittens
      the greatest form of child abuse is to deny a child eternal life.Shame on you

      August 28, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • truth be told

      @allah...
      allah is the false god of a false prophet. prayers to allah are prayers to the devil

      August 28, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Paris

      While you are busy praying, some of us are busy doing.

      If there was a god, I believe she would rather have us save that child drowning in the river, rather than pray for the child to be saved.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • truth be told

      @religion is
      Never study studies study God, studies are always slanted to a human perspective. you know nothing of prayer. your ignorance is more than apparent.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • truth be told

      @paris
      If you ever come to a place of common sense you might want to keep it for yourself

      August 28, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • meh

      @truth be trolled

      atheist troll detected

      August 28, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @truth be told,

      Why do you not tell that to "Athesim is not..."? Hmmmm?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Roddy

      Your god cares more about billboards than starving and abused children.
      PROVEN.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • truth be told

      @roddy
      starving and abused children are your responsibility. God gave you instructions to care for them, you are not doing a very good job.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • truth be told

      @elmer
      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      thanks for the two Truths you post, atheism is useless and God is available for life changing prayer.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  19. Xavier

    Militant secular "humanism" is equally as dangerous as religious fundamentalism, since neither promote individual freedom freedoms, but would instead suppress them.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • nope

      @xavier
      nope

      August 28, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  20. Simon Cohen

    Ask deeply religious person which religion is absolutely true and trumps all other religions. They all can't be right but, surely, they all can be wrong.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • nope

      @simon
      nope

      August 28, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • yep

      @simon
      yep

      August 28, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • meh

      @simon
      meh

      August 28, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • The Pope

      @simon
      *fart*

      August 28, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • post

      ask a deeply anti-religious person why the most intellectually satisfying explanation for the existence of all things is the spontaneous explosion of all the matter and energy in the universe out of a single point ( nevermind where that single point came from ) and the creation of life ex-nihlio.
      no matter how you approach the subject, you approach it with faith. atheism is not above scrutiny either.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:02 am |
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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.