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.
"I don't like atheists, they mock Christianity."
But when Christians & Jews mock & bash Islam, they are just telling the truth, right?
Nice stretch. Atheists also mock Islam, oh, and every other religion for that matter. I haven't mocked Islam lately. My Christian friends haven't either. Getting tired of all the "One christian did it so all do it!" mentality that atheists flock to in order to come up with a point.
It is easy to be smug as an Atheist. You don't have any stupid ideas that you have to defend. If you believe the ramblings of uneducated peasants from 2000+ years ago. You deserve to be mocked.
Frankly, it's too easy to believe in nothing. Allows a person to not have to be responsible for anything and can be the justification for any kind of lifestyle no matter how cruel. In some ways, it's like religion, well, except the hell part. It's easy to be smug when you don't have the mental capacity to believe in anything more than your existence.
Mec....exactly....this is what flies over a lot of peoples heads here. The fact that they are so CERTAIN of their belief system that they are going to tell everyone else they are wrong is exactly what they confirm they despise in religions. Very funny.
@mec. No, the smugness is all Christian/Mormon/Islamic because they write of this wonderful life as inferior to the real deal, Life in Paradise with God. How stupid do you have to be to buy that load of bull? And then condemn everyone who does not share your belief? Condemn to Hell, condemn as "not saved, condemn as infidel. Bunch of creeps, if you ask me. THIS is the time for atheists/agnostics to stand tall and face every one of you believers and depants you in public. Then we'll go for a walk in the park and enjoy the day, as we were born to enjoy it. Free. Of. Superst!tion.
I am definitely not a believer, but I am not an Atheist, meaning I do not think there is the need to go up after religious people or religion. Yes religion is often times used to go to war and when I hear BS I will call it for what it is, and there is plenty of BS in Mormonism and Christianity as well as any other religious centered around the myth of God.
That said, the "live and let live" is my motto, as long as you do not start telling me what I am supposed to believe or not, I will not bother you at all, but come at me with your BS and you will learn that you have no right to do so. It is very easy to prove wrong anybody who goes around preaching their religion ... think abut the UFO Jesus believers to star with , or those who think the Bible was written by God .. man what amount of BS, but then again do not bother me and I will not bother you.
If you think I will go to hell and you won't .. well fine .. just don't be disappointed not to find me in hell ;-)
PS: be sure o be aware that if I will go to hell, you will have plenty of time to be disappointed that I wasn't the only one ;-)
Ah, the whole "Live and let Live" myth...
@mec smug, smug, smug
Atheists and agnostics might be very tired of the religious card played at every major election. I am agnostic and it certainly doesn't prevent me from being tolerant, having integrity and morals. I do not need a "manual" to figure out how to live and respect other humans, animals and the planet. Is it so hard to live and let live? Don't shove your religion down my throat and I won't try to convert you either.
Another over used phrase. I've seen so little Christian shoving that frankly I wonder if they are even doing anymore.
@mec: It's called being "desensitized". It's crucial to the brainwashing tactic.
@Mec: You should try taking a trip down to the bible belt...I assure you they are in large numbers there.
History has shown again and again there is nothing in the world more hateful and violent than religious bigots. Those atheists are idiots for provoking them in such an aggressive way.
BP....ever heard of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc, etc? You have blinders on my friend.
@brian You have chosen a couple of egomaniacs who have severely damaged several societies and used them to define atheism. NOT. Stupid (but predictable) move.
Hitler was a Christian:
Stalin and Mao were dictators of totalitarian governments. Such always prey upon their own people and in the modern era that means it can be done by the millions instead of just tens of thousands (like in the histories of religion). Religious ideology has little to do with it except perhaps as an excuse. Many have been slaughtered by people proclaiming "for God!". No one has ever been killed by a zealot crying "for Atheism!".
People are so surprised that there are dumb atheists, just like dumb folk of every belief system, but those responsible for these billboards were plain dumb. Most non-believers are "closet non-believers" who realize that religious people will stick to beliefs they've invested years of their lives in, no matter how farfetched they may seem, and even if they're proven wrong. How many millions still believe in the Adam and Eve story, going so far as claiming that God planted dinosaur bones to "test our faith." No billboard is going to change anybody's mind. These particular atheists were more interested in confrontation, and what does it really achieve in the end?
Well...people are sure talking about it!
Hawk...we are talking about it on here but 99.999% of the world have no idea what happened here. Actually, I wish I hadn't stumbled upon this as I have wasted an hour of time.
This article has reached more people on the web than those billboards ever will.
"Promotes hate, calls it 'love.' So true.
So misunderstood and over abused. Atheists promote hate with billboards like this one. No one is free from hatred when you use it in such a broad term.
@ Mec. I disagree. There's nothing on either of these billboards that is untrue. Any college student who has taken Biblical Studies 101 could have designed either of these billboards.
My billboard would read: They control what you think, what you do, and what you say. They take your money, and they have their way with you children. And you allow it.
Ha, the level of exaggerations you have brought are seriously undermining your point. I debated an atheist club at college. It quite simply wasn't as hard as people might think. You claiming everything said is true simply because you exaggerated your college experience isn't intelligence. It's bandwagoning.
@Mec: Well, if you debate atheists, then you may want to try that...rather than simple deflection. It may help your cause a bit. Perhaps an example of how such things are exaggerated..
Unconfirmed rumor is that the threats thrown at the Atheists over the Obama sign, was due to the fact they said that Obama was a Christian, and they were upset the Atheists weren't taking shots at Islam when slamming Obama. Yes, the "Obama is a secret Muslim" contingent is still about. And the rumor is definitely unconfirmed... as I just made it up :-P
Obama is too educated for any religion, especially one in which the "original sin" is eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The only time I ever doubt that he is being genuine is when he invokes one of the ficticious gods of the ancient world. It's written all over his face.
Education is the cure, my friends. And I hope everyone here has read the Bill Nye article and watched the video.
hmm,,although I somewhat disagree with the tone of these messages, I have to say I am even more sickened by how Christians reacted to it. Threatening other human beings with harm and death doesnt sound too Christ-like to me. Just once again shows how absolutely hypocritical all the mouth-breathing brain-washed Christians are. I cant tell you how many signs Ive seen from churches that condemn others to hell, which is by far a worse message than what these atheists put up, yet I dont see the Christians having to take down their signs after being threatened by atheists. Atheists are by far more moral than Christians are. This is a reality check, Christians. Youre just another form of the Taliban. When you threaten people simply because you disagree with them, youre no better than Bib Laden. I cant wait for religion to die. We might actually live in a peaceful world once that happens.
Blah blah blah. Christians are just finally fed up with being ridiculed. This billboard was pretty much hate speech if you were to translate it to anything other than religion and those groups would sue to have the billboards removed. The threats were definitely unnecessary, but the dumb atheists were hoping for that kind of reaction. Atheist trolls.
You are so right. Totally agree with you.
Christians should be ridiculed. They believe that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. There is literally nothing more idiotic for an adult to say they believe. They ABSOLUTELY deserve ridicule.
Ha. Yes because not understanding all the universe means that God can't exist. :P All it takes is a critical mind to look at creation and really see the problems with evolution on a grand scale. But I leave that to the simple minded atheists with nothing else to base their beliefs on. Amazing how easy it is to break down atheists with a few points.
History tells us that Christians wrote the book on torture and death. Yes, they promote hate and call it love. But the real horrendous, bloody stuff got left off the billboards, as did the part about taking our money and having their way with our kids (teenage boys usually).
Let me be clear Lagos. I am not just making this generalization about atheists. I think all people are generally intolerant. There are very few truly tolerant people out there. I really cannot even count myself amongst them as I like most have my own intolerant views here and again. The evidence supports my opinion as well. When was the last day without war? Has there even been a day without war? We hate each other so much, and are so unwilling to accept each other that it is highly likely that there has never been a day where we were not fighting over something.
CNN's comment system on these blogs is pathetic and needs to be migrated to Disqus.
Atheism is a terrible religion.
Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby. i.e. – it isn't one.
Fail. Atheism gives all the attributes of God to nature and time and its high priests are the likes of Dawkins and Nye.
No, atheism does not require faith. No one follows Dawkins or Nye out of blind obedience.
Nature is not Omniscient. It has no intelligence at all as a whole. Nature is not omnipotent. It has no "magical powers".
So...what ARE these "traits" that atheists are giving to "Nature" that belong to god?
Atheism isn't a claim. It's rejection of certain claims.
I do not follow anyone. That would be, to me, a rather foolish and silly thing to do.
Dawkins and Nye and all the rest are, from what I can determine, intelligent people who bank on their talents and hard work to gain a certain level of fame in certain circles and they use that fame to get their points across.
It is no different than Bono using his fame to help starving people by giving a concert.
I don't go to concerts and I have never read a book by any of those gentlemen and why should I?
I came to my educated opinion by checking facts and considering different scientific issues.
If religion is found to be utter nonsense over and over no matter how you slice it, then the problem would be, for you, the fact that religion is utter nonsense and that more and more people are seeing it clearly now.
You don't like that, understandably, because you have been sold a bill of goods that never existed in real life beyond being a swindler's agenda burned into your brain.
You do not get to make up your own version of the facts.
Facts are dangerous things. If you can't handle them, that is not our fault. That is your fault.
I do not believe any gods exist.
I am an atheist.
For anything beyond that, I am a secular humanist because my morals are better, more honest, more ethical, and more effective than your morals.
That why I prefer them to yours regardless of your religion.
In terms of ethics, your god is so disgusting and vile as well as psychotic and sadistic, that it is easier to be more moral than your god than it is when following him, especially since he does not exist. For me it is harder to be immoral, and so I became an atheist. Very simple. It helped that no matter how I prayed or what I did or felt, no evidence of any god was ever found to be real. Just imagination and illusion and biased perceptions.
Pretty easy to not believe when there is nothing to believe, right?
THAT is why most people are atheist for those that are gnostic about it.
An agnostic atheist would say they are not sure, but that they have yet to see any proof.
Knowing there is no supernatural beings doing anything anywhere that can be measured and examined, there is zero reason to believe in such a sadistic nightmare of a ridiculous religion where everyone interprets it individually regardless of which religion we're talking about here. That's not proof of a god, that's proof you have no real god behind anything you say.
I could go one for hours. Hey, it's the middle of the night and I had nothing better to do at the moment.
You should be using this time to look up words and stuff. Then you'd have a better bunch of things you could say.
Worked for me. Stay ignorant if you want. Go play in the street if you want. No, read and learn. It's more fun.
You honestly don't believe it takes faith to believe that life just sprung up from nothing, and that the universe came into being from nothing exploding?
CurmudgeonTx – Nope, it takes no faith at all. The Big Bang is the current Scientific Theory (which is different from a non-scientific theory) and has a fair amount of evidence – especially if you understand a little bit about quantum mechanics. In addition, I have no problem saying, "I don't know, but we'll keep looking for the answer."
If your god exists, what caused him? If nothing did, then why not just take one step back and say that the universe always existed?
People talk about Intelligent Design...well, can we talk about Stupid Design for a moment? We breathe, eat and speak through the same orifice – guaranteeing that some portion of us will die each year by chocking to death. Dolphins and whales have a different orifice for breathing than for eating, so it isn't like it can't be done. Our eyes see very little of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can't detect things like radiation, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other things that can kill us instantly, if we are exposed to enough of it. Other creatures can see much better than we can and can even see a much wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum, so why are we so limited? And finally...down there...an entertainment center in the middle of a sewage system?? Who designs that?? That's just absolutely stupid design! (apologies to Neil deGrasse Tyson for paraphrasing some of his work)
I am an atheist, but these billboards are are just plain bad taste. This is not even funny. I'm not sure what this atheist organization is trying to achieve by ridiculing other people beliefs. I wish they take these down, apologize and seriosly rethink their media activities.
Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature. People tear down and ridicule others to tell themselves and show others how much better they are. People put up something with the intention of offending and shocking, and then use people's outrage as more "evidence" of their own superiority. "Look at all these crazy people getting all worked up over this billboard! Get a sense of humor!"
I want to say thank you, and I was always think why they do this,but I said also depate overthis isn't important and will dvide the nation more and more, any way your words are great and as I'm christian I'm sorry to say thank you.
They are performing the same function as the rude and crude gay rights parades 40 years ago. Embarrassing behavior, in-your-face antics, brought the issue onto the front burner. And now we are very close to having civil rights for same s3x couples. It worked. The atheists, late to the party, are trying the same tactic. It also will eventually work, and smooth sailing will be enjoyed by all. Superst1tion will die a miserable death, as it deserves to.
so Viad, , I'm carrying my son so I misspelled, I'm sorry for that and Thank you for your words" that is what I mean.
It's not meant to be funny, Vlad. Faith and Magic in place of Science and Reason is no joke.
Tax the church, and keep the clergy away from our kids (teenage boys mostly...usually the "sensitive" ones who prefer art and music to team sports for some reason, must be a choice they made).
As a Catholic, the only part of this that is particularly offensive is the fact that they went into this specifically intending to offend some, shock others, and convince little to nobody... And then be "surprised" that people get upset. People that issued threats (if legitimate) need to get a frickin' grip, beyond that give me a break... Yes, we're all sorry you're the "victim" here.
Wow someone who understands that these people were just spreading hate.
I wouldn't say it was even hate, then again I don't use that word anywhere close to loosely. For lack of a better term, trolling. And then pretending to be offended and shocked when people react strongly, while getting exactly the reaction they were looking for.
They're not playing victim. They know they're upsetting people. But those on the edge and doubting their faith may seek consoled by the fact that others feel the same way about the faith they are about to leave. However, it is still not justified to threaten anybody, even in the face of ridicule.
Oh, give me a break. So, if you're trying to reach those on the edge of their faith, you put up billboards taking things wildly out of context and proportion and mock their current or former beliefs? Yeah, keep on believing that they went into this thinking "Hey, let's help a bunch of people not be religious anymore."
So, you would agree that any billboard saying that atheists are going to burn in Hell is also spreading hate?
it's just shock value humor, not hate. They are laughing at Christians and Mormons, both of whom are horrified that they might be the butt of snide jokes. Over time, this will give way to clear and open discussion, once people realize that the sky does not fall when questioning the roots of coo coo.
Lagos, if you really are Catholic, keep your kids away from Father, especially the boys, particularly in the later teen years.
The Lord Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, my saviour, my redeemer, my best friend and my brother and the only mediator between God and man, repent and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. PP
You're best friends with someone who never speaks to you?
yada yada blah blah blah.
poly, you got the upper hand there, dontcha?
King of kings?
I read somewhere that he's a useless saviour.
But actually, he's an allegorical figure, an imaginary character, part of a larger fiction that's been particularly troublesome to humankind for twenty centuries. Read the books by Price, Carrier, Dougherty, Loftus. Education is the remedy.
I am not personally offended by their billboards, it really shows the world how foolish they are, I believe someone once said that a man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a lawyer, or some variation of that phrase. These folks have themselves as their own Gods and they have fools for Gods. PP
I may not agree, with their message. But I agree, that they have the right to express themselves.
I am glad they were balanced and attacked both candidates. i hate it when the left gets a free pass. For example, Obama taking the anti gay marriage position(up until very recently) and conservatives were vilified for the identical position! For the record I am pro gay marriage, atheist, and very right leaning on economic matters.
I personally think that atheism has big problem. One cannot explain where matter in the Universe came from, or what happened before the big bang, or how the laws of the universe where determined.
Science cannot explain these things.
I prefer to attach the label "God" to the laws of physics and the unexplainable. That is my preference. No, i don't believe in a being that judges me . None of that crap.
I do believe that the human brain is wired to manufacture an outside deity. Without the "other" part of consciousness, where would we look for inspiration to keep going in the face of adversity. If I "believe" there is a plan for me, I can remain optimistic and keep going. Therefore, I manufacture a "destiny" which you may call god.
Finally, if no one is looking, why shouldn't I steal? I won't be punished, but that social compact that I have with other people to behave with integrity... with the belief that if we all act with integrity we will be better as a whole.. I call gods word.
So, atheist can say what every they want, but at the end of the day they are just playing with definitions.
You seem to imply that if "no one is looking", you would steal and commit all sorts of crimes against people. I think that speaks a lot about yourself, not Atheists.
Tom- I don't steel because I feel that I am part of a social agreement. By everyone not agreeing to steel we all benefit. I can call that agreement "morality" and say it is enforced by god, but again, its all just playing with words.
No- I would not steal. My wife calls me annoyingly honest...
as a quasi-agnostic bordering on athiestic principles, I implore you to re-read your post; and then prove to me and everyone else that you are not a functional retard.
So you believe that anything that we don't yet understand is "god"? That is the "God of the Gaps" – a deity that is ever-shrinking as we understand more and more about our universe. When we we a primitive species, this god of yours was HUGE. Today, this god is MUCH smaller, and continues to shrink with every new scientific discovery.
As to "why not lie, cheat, steal, etc? Because it is wrong? It harms others? If you need to use a "holy book" to tell you what is right and what is wrong, you are in BIG trouble indeed! The Bible, for example, endorses slavery, the killing of disobedient children, subservient women, and much, much more! I'd rather determine what is moral by reason, than rely on a bronze-age book.
I disagree completely! If someone steals they benefit at the cost of another. I will agree with you in the end everyone is just arguing semantics, but I think it's stupid to think that atheists are a bunch of crime-spreeing gang bangers because of their rejection of a deity. I can't find the studies now (Too late, going to sleep soon!), but recent polls showed that of all demographics the greatest handicap was being an Atheist. We're also as a whole significantly less likely to cause crime than Christians as well. Hypothetical question, about the whole science argument before, the Bible said things like the the earth is the center of the universe, world is flat...could it just be a matter of time before we discover the origin of universe? Religious or not, I don't see how a desire to yearn to know more could be a bad thing.
Actually, they can. You just haven't been keeping up on current physics. Their mathimatical postulations hold far more weight then some 'invisible man in the sky' theory.
So Dakota: You believe in a god because you want to believe in a god. How does this make you any different than any other believer? You just set your own parameters, just as every other believer set their own parameters or accepted the parameters created by others.
The simple fact is that there is no evidence to support the existence of any god, so your choice to believe in one is simply an irrational response to your disinterest in the truth.
Boy, the knee jerk reactionaries are out in force tonight?
ohsnaps- Must be high or something. You made no point.
Hawk- Yes, as a matter a semantics, I can call the "unknown" god, or 'blah blah" or anything I want. It is just place holder.
And I never said I needed a holy book to tell me what is right and wrong. Humans can have an implicit or explicit compact to behave in a cooperative manner. Call it god, allah, what or a signed voucher. Doesn't matter, but it is a principle that is necessary for an orderly society.
Tom- Neve said atheist are crime spewing what ever. What every you want to call it, people have to agree not to lie cheat and steal to form a society. Call it law, morality or god. What ever floats your boat. I don't believe much in law, myself. Having been raised a catholic, we were taught to "tolerate" the law but not kowtow to it. I still agree with that philosophy.
Dave- No, there is no reason for the particular rules of the universe. These are things we just observe. Sorry.
tallulah13- I would be considered by religious people to be a complete atheist. I just happen to believe that there is a universe that is understandable at some level, but not completely. And I am happy with that. We, as humans, simply lack the fundamental ability to grasp anything that does not have a physical analog.
I further separate religion into an attempt to explain the origin of the universe and the relationship of human-to-human.
You cannot explain where the fundamental rules of the universe came from and why they are not other than they are. So, I prefer to call the particular set of rules that we are stuck with my GOD.
As for people's interaction with other people, there must be an over arching philosophy that governs our behavior besides selfishness. Again, in Catholic philosophy, as I understand it, most people are just told to believe because they cannot arrive at morality by reason. Other people can. I consider myself in the second camp.
My point is that atheist believe in a universe understandable by science but at its root, there just "is" there is not "why"
For social relationship, atheist don't kill each other because they have arrived at a philosphy which transcends their own selfish needs.
Both of those things are the core of religious philosophy. . . So, atheist are lying when they say they believe in nothing. They believe in something. What defines an atheist is that they do not believe in a deity that dictated holy words.
But I would argue that the whole "dictation" stuff is just myth and I bet there are a lot of priest and cardinals who understand it as myth as well.
I believe in God. I have since I was a small boy. My family has been as loyal of Christians as we are able. Thankfully I believe God is forgiving.
Since my daughter died, it has become even more important for me to hold onto my faith in God. I have faith I will someday be able to see my daughter again. That keeps many people going. Atheists love to rip that safety net out from under people without thinking of the consequences. I am not hurting anyone by believing there is a God that will allow me to see my loved ones again after we all die. I believe my God does not want us to die early, but that personal decisions or other situations cause this to happen.
Who are Atheists to try to take this from me?
CurmudgeonTx- I think that is the part of religion that athiest can't see..
Yes that is really mature Eh. And such a well reasoned argument. Nevertheless, atheist in general are intolerant. Imagine how people would feel if I as a Presbyterian put up a billboard mocking the faith of Mormons. Would others not unanimously agree that I was being a bigot? Are atheists immune to intolerance? Here is what I think. I believe that atheists are just like everyone else, just as illogical and with their own set of intolerant views. Atheism is no better than any particular religion as they are just as likely hate mongers as any religious group.
Be careful with your words... You're making sweeping generalizations, hardly a great foundation to attack someone else's moral failings.
Atheists in general are not intolerant, it is just these particular atheists are jerks. Calling a religion names is juvenile and won't convince anyone of anything. I'm an atheist. Most of my family is Jewish. Most of my wife's family are various Protestants (largely Lutheran). We all get along. Same deal with most of my friends that are atheists. We'll be happy to have a theological conversation with you, but we're not going to call you names.
the next time you assert that "atheist in general are intolerant", please ask yourself "am I being a sanctimonious ass by making this statement?"
This statement is exactly as wrong as "all Christians are morons" though if you go look at the Bill Nye thread you will find a surfeit of evidence there.
The reason you see so much vitriol from atheists is exactly this kind of denigration. Words can be weapons. You may not have intended it, but you put a sharp edge on yours.
I suggest next time that they buy their own plot of land and mount their own billboard.
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.