By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – When he campaigns in southern Florida on Monday, Mitt Romney will have an unwelcome traveling partner: a mobile billboard attacking his religion.
The billboard on wheels, sponsored by American Atheists, attacks the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its treatment of African-Americans and gays, though the church says the attacks are inaccurate.
The billboard, which American Atheists says will follow the Romney campaign for seven days, features two messages on Mormonism: “No Blacks Allowed (until 1978)” and “No Gays Allowed (Current).”
The first line is a reference to the church’s practice of denying lay priesthood to black male members until 1978.
Though the church did not allow black male members to be ordained before that year – when the church head says he received a revelation to reverse the policy – it did allow blacks and members of all racial and ethnic groups to be church members. According to The Second Book of Nephi, a part of Mormon doctrine, “Black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.”
The billboard’s second line refers to what American Atheists President David Silverman says is the religion's “intolerance” and “bigotry” when it comes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
But the church denies such categorizations. It accepts gay members, though church doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed and the church strongly opposes same-sex marriage. Some gay rights activists say the church is subtly growing friendlier toward the LGBT community, including voicing support for some gay rights.
"People are surely free to disagree with us on the facts," Dale Jones, a church spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."
Jones continued: "We would be happy to introduce the (American Atheists president) to any of our millions of members of different ethnicity who would be happy to educate him on our racial diversity."
Silverman denies the billboard, which is costing the group $8,000, is an attack on Romney specifically. A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign said she would not comment on the sign.
“Nobody seems to be talking about the implications of having a very religious Mormon president,” Silverman said. “There are a lot of things about Mormons that people don’t know, including the fact that racism is an important part of their dogma.”
The LDS Church has largely tried to stay out of the politics surrounding the presidential campaign, even though it has received increased attention due to Romney’s candidacy. This billboard, writes Jones, is "obviously" about the "personal politics" of American Atheists.
"We have consistently kept out of the political campaign," Jones wrote. "People can see this (billboard) for what it is."
American Atheists has a long history in using billboards to call out religion and get its message out. During the political conventions in August and September, the group put up billboards attacking Mormonism and Christianity, taking aim at the faith of both presidential candidates.
This mobile billboard, however, is a departure from the standard American Atheist tactic of multiple billboards on multiple religions. According to Silverman, this is because Romney’s faith hasn’t been addressed enough in the 2012 election.
“We all understand the implications of having a Christian president. We do not understand the implications of having a Mormon president,” Silverman said. “We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance.”
The billboard is false, and perpetuates ignorance. That's the problem. Blacks and LGBT individulas have been allowed to be members of the Mormon Church since its beginning in the 1830's. Google "Elijah Abel" and "Mitch Maynes." I invite anyone who disagrees with me to attend my Mormon congregation in west Philadelphia, 3913 Chestnut St. at 9:30am Sunday mornings and see the diversity of the Mormon church for yourself.
Are there a lot of inter-racial couples at your church?
Do you kill them on sight as the Prophet Brigham Young commanded?
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."
– Brigham Young
"From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel. Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
– David O. McKay
That was my ward when I lived in Philly. It was one of the most diverse churches (of any religion) that I have ever been to. We had people from every walk of life, many countries, cultures and races. I enjoyed being a member of that ward. I may not be practicing anymore, but the people of that ward were caring, diverse and openminded.
If that is indeed the case, it is despite their religion – not becuase of it.
@ Doc Vestibule. Like I said, I invite you to google "Elijah Abel" and "Mitch Maynes" and join me for church on Sunday. It will be eye-opening for you.
I'm not a Mormon. Or a Catholic. Churches has evolved over the years. What was thought to be the "right" religious teachings then has changed. But our faith in God has not. I don't hate atheists, but it chaps my hide that the rights of a few are put ahead of the rights of the majority. That's when I draw the line.
Doc Vestibule, I think there are quite a few mixed-race married couples in the Church of LDS. I know two couples myself.
That does not change the fact that blacks were DENIED the priesthood for over 100 years......blatant racism!
Athiests are begining to sound like a religious organization, maybe even the Taliban. They seem to want to push their agenda and make everyone think like them.
The only one who sounds like Taliban are evangelists
Jack. Atheism is not a religion. Religions push their agendas all the time. If anyone is like the Taliban it is the christian fundamentalists and evangelicals – they want to dictate birth control, parenthood, marriage partners, etc.
Hope you atheists take a lot of marshmallows with you when you depart this world.
Nothing like a little thinly veiled schadenfreude to start the day off right.
Passive-aggressive condemnation – part of your nutritious breakfast!
No. I don't get pleasure in others misfortunes. But I don't like stupidity.
Deb. As there is no god, no heaven, and no hell it makes little difference what gets buried with us – so don't spend too much time planning your afterlife.
You said, "I don't get pleasure in others misfortunes. But I don't like stupidity."
How do you reconcile not liking stupidity with your own obvious belief in imaginary friends?
Well then I hope you die gloriously in battle, surrounded by the corpses of your slain enemies.
That way you can know the bliss that is joining Odin in Valhalla.
Not an atheist, but I think these billboards maybe will lead people to do proper research on what the LDS church teaches. They teach falsehoods about the origins of North America's peoples and there are all sorts of ridiculous things about their religion and origins.
As a person of independent faith, I commend the atheist group on this!
If the billboard actually does motivate people to research the Mormon church, they will find out that the billboard is false. Google "Elijah Abel" and "Mitch Maynes," or maybe look up the topic on wikipedia. All this billboard does is perpetuate ignorance.
I guess if you're no into perversion you're politically incorrect.
"I guess if you're no into perversion you're politically incorrect."
No, it just means your uneducated.
Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."
hey below, if it was normal mother nature would've given you the proper tools for it. So if it's not a mental disorder then it's a choice right? because you guys say it's not a choice but yet you say it's not a mental condition. I think you may be lying. I've read many of those artiicles and found that most were written buy gays themselves. Look up the bio's on those guys. Oh, and EXCUSE ME for not hitting the T on not.
Don't worry Mormons, we atheists think that all religion is justification to oppress and exploit people. This isn't anything personal. You could change the word Mormon in that sign with just about any other religion and it would still be true.
As an atheist... I'm actually a bit ashamed of this tactic. Shouldn't they have a similar sign slamming christianity following around Obama?
Well said. Many religions teach hate and exclusion, sometimes being very subtle. The Catholic Church is like a large lobby group this year, tellling members that it's a sin to vote for pro-choice candidates. That would be tolerable, except they maintain their tax-exempt status while mixing politics and religion.
Well, if that's the case, Mike, where is the billboard following Obama?
Something else to think about: When mormons get into a position of power, they use every effort to seed all positions around them with other mormons. Its happening in companies all over US right now, and some have been caught. REcently an HR department was gutted because they flagged applicants with colored paper clips as being mormon and they were hired over much more qualified non mormons. Also another company HR department and many others were canned because they were found to be seeding the entire upper management staff with mormons from their church, and leaving the rest of the population out of the picture on these high paying jobs, which many of them were not even remotely qualified for. So think about that when voting for Romney. He will place in office alot of mormons, at the local state and federal level, nepotism at its finest.
I work with several companies that are like this. This is true.
Yes, if this Mormon gets into power, he is going to surround himself with ex-Bush cronies. That is the scariest thing I have heard in 4 years.
I have seen this practice first hand
First... let me state that I'm not disagreeing with you. Merely seeking information.
Do you have any reputable citations/links to back up your claims ?
Nobody plays favorites in hiring more aggressively than the Jews.
They share that trait with many groups: white people, men, Jews, black people, etc. People like to work with people like them.
lots of examples out there, here is a really good one I can't believe is not part of this campaign: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/04/17/45678.htm
Jews, mormons, catholics, etc. No matter who does it, its wrong. I am not picking on mormons. I am picking on the practice and Mormons are one of the worst I have seen personally at it in my part fo the world. And i know of 3 companies here locally (Intel, where I worked, fired a bunch for this practice, another local private high tech company if rife with it, and a third company locally had HR gutted because of the paperclip-gate). Unfortunately these don't tend to get press as the companies keep it quiet. But I was there when the Intel event happened, and my sister in law currently works at the company filled with mormon nepotism. Paperclip-gate everyone around here knows about.
I have absolutely experienced this first-hand. It is extremely common in school districts – once a Mormon gets into the principal or superintendent position, it is very difficult to get hired-in or promoted if you're "lucky enough" to already be working in such a school.
We all have a tendency to choose people we know or trust (or think we can). One way we decide is things we have in common.
Determine whether or not you like a person on their own merits, not their religious affiliation. In the real world people are individuals with a variety of beliefs related to their personal experiences. If you expect to understand someone based on some broad generalization you've invented you'll only move through this world blind and ignorant. And ignorance isn't cute no matter who sponsored the billboard.
You don't really know if you like a person unless you know how delusional they are. The sign of a true friend, someone you can trust, is a firm grasp on reality. If they have to talk to their imaginary friend in the sky before they give you advice, not "good friend" material.
Science damm you athiest!
Things like this kind of make me want to be an Atheist, until I find out that Atheism is mostly just another cult.
At least in moments like this, what this "group" is saying makes sense.
How is atheism a cult?
A cult is by definition belief in the supernatural. Hence atheism cannot be a cult, unless you're misusing the word.
It is not a cult. It is simply the lack of a belief in god. Most people who are atheists do not belong to some sort of group. Each person hold their own views on everything. There are no rules.
Everyone can't be an athiest. You must take specific beliefs regarding spirituality, dieties, and the afterlife. Atheistic satanist are definetly a cult as well, though they believe all of atheism tenants, they use the figure satan and is based on the tenants of "an eye for an eye" and self-indulgence and create rituals surrounding that.
Christian logic. "The absence of something proves its presence". If you do not believe in something, you believe in something, and that something is "nothing". If you are poor, you are rich in something, and that something is your poverty. If you are ignorant, you know something, and that something is "nothing". You can go on and on.
@Seyedibar / Huebert / JBring
I just checked the definition of "cult" in a number of dictionaries, and it actually said nothing about anything about "supernatural" anywhere.
In fact, my use of the word makes perfect sense.
Cult: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad.
Atheism can't be a cult. It has no leader or set beliefs. It's like NOT skiing is a hobby, because I do it all the time. I actually have very few Atheist friends. We don't congregate weekly. Yes there are groups, but that's because we don't have a church to go where we can meet up. No belief is not a belief system like religion is.
Maybe not a "cult", but atheists sometimes have the irrational belief that everyone who doesn't believe what they believe is irrational or evil.
Believing in gods is at the very least unreasonable because, without evidence to support the existence of gods, there is no reason to believe in any. Assigning specific traits to beings for which there is no evidence that they even exist, is irrational.
Not believing in something for which there is no evidence is the rational thing to do.
cult /kəlt/ Noun: 1.A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
re·li·gion /riˈlijən/ Noun: 1.The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
In which dictionary did you find your definition? How far down the list of definitions was it? I used the first definition from Google's online dictionary to find my definitions. How does atheism fit either of the definitions I provided?
At first glance Atheism does not have any "personal agency" in it – no personal God.
But it still has Prophets, Saints and Martyrs:
Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Hypatia of Alexnderia.
It also is a "irrational veneration" in the sense that something is believed to be an absolute source of truth even outside its original area of application.
What I mean by that is scientific epistemology – which is great and fantastic for a great number of things, but simply not applicable to social, personal and political questions.
Science says what it says, but it is completely unable to give you an answer why there is a "you" and a "me", what we are doing here.
Applying science to these areas is a misapplication of knowledge derived from a very specific depersonalized method.
It is imho in every way as irrational as religion is.
Look, It goes the other way too. The bible is simply not a reliable history book, it's a story handed down through eons and it has changed along the way like a fairytale.
But that doesn't make the questions we have – very valid questions – go away.
All science can do is mute your voice to ask them by refusing you langauge to say it.
You and me will not go away, no matter how much it looks like we are just emerging from material processes.
Well, both "aetheists" and religious followers have problems. They both believe they know, with certainty, why the world works and what happens post death. I think a true scientist/thinker would be agnostic; recognizing the physical laws in place but also understanding we do not know everything. An open mind is key. Fervent believers on either side are blinded by their passion. Public Policy should not be defined by religion. Environmental policy should not be defined by religion. We should also spend more money on Nasa. The end.
Atheism has by definition nothing to say really about topics of race and gender.
Yet they somehow say it, just because of "common sense". But that "common sense" could very well sway in the opposite direction.
In fact, if Atheists would kindly look at their revered "scientific facts" they could easily discover how races and genders are in fact NOT equal.
I don't know... I do agree 99% of the time with the criticisms "Atheists" have, but – apologies – so much of this Atheist opinionation that goes around these days is just plain stupidity.
You can be an atheist in my opinion and still leave an option for the unknown. You can say "It is more likely that there is no god. I believe there is a 98% chance there is no god. However, I leave a 2% window that there is something out there that someone may identify as a god."
lolcat. Please provide examples of those opinions.
for example, when you talk to people who believe in Dawkins, it seems as though the world is split into two kinds of people:
One the one hand, rational, intelligent, good-natured, peaceful and humane Atheists, and on the other hand violent, barbarian, ignorant, delusional, uneducated, abusive, immoral adherents of religion.
It is simply not that easy.
Atheists can be as brutal, violent, uneducated, barbarian and ignorant as anyone.
The important thing is the dismantling of absolute truths.
Atheism in itself rescues nobody from anything.
too bad most "tolerant" religions arent so tolerant. and cause wars, killing, hunger etc
After a long debte within the Mormon board as to whether blacks should be allowed to joinn their religion, the governing board decided in 1978 that blacks will finally be allowed to join the faith, as long as they agree to be limited to two wives while the white males were allowed 8. That is racial discrimination and inequality.
Hate to break it to you, but Mormons didn't believe in polygamy at that point. They were always allowed to join their church, just not be priests. Do you have your religions mixed up or somehthing?
Decisions, decisions decisions... Well, I'll take two blondes. That is before Herman Cain does. hehe!
Except there were those of African descent who were members of the church long long before the 1978 revelation. What the 1978 revelation and declaration was about was receiving the priesthood.
You evidently get all of your information from billboards sponsored by atheist groups. You'ld be better off looking up Mormons on wikipedia.
It's tough being the Republican candidate. You need to campaign against the Democratic candidate, the media bias typically directed toward conservatism, and outspoken groups like American Atheists who target you but not the Democratic candidate.
The Democratic candidate isn't running on a platform that aims to codify the immoral religious delusions on the society as a whole.
Everyone should be free to believe how they see fit, and free to practice those beliefs. Forcing them on others infringes on their freedom to do the same. The republicans platform seeks to legislate discrimination based on christian extremist beliefs.
Voting for a republican, any republican, is the immoral choice.
All religions are misogynist and based on delusional fantasies (and shifting their economic burdens onto nonbelievers as with property tax exemptions in USA).. but Mormonism takes the cake with Scientology a close second. Atheists should have added third line about exploiting and subjugating women. Mitch still makes the little woman wear her magic underwear whenever she leaves the house
Atheists attack religion because deep down inside they need to feel justified in not believing in a supreme being like the rest of humanity throughout history. If they can get others to deny faith, it is easier for them to swallow their unwillingness to FOLLOW God.
"Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
"Salvatore" degenerates to:
"Douglas" degenerates to:
Taskmaster" degenerates to:
"truth be told" degenerates to:
"The Truth" degenerates to:
"Thinker23" degenerates to:
"Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
"another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
"Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
"tina" degenerates to:
"captain america" degenerates to:
"Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
"Atheism is justification for denying God." degenerates to:
"Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
"just sayin" degenerates to:
"ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
"Kindness" degenerates to:
"Lorraine" degenerates to:
"Chad" degenerates to
"Bob" degenerates to
"nope" degenerates to:
"2357" degenerates to:
"WOW" degenerates to:
"fred" degenerates to:
"!" degenerates to:
This troll is not a christian!..
So I guess atheists should pick any one of the "supreme beings" postulated by "the rest of humanity throughout history".
So many to choose from! I feel like a kid in a candy store!
Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama....
Eenie, meenie, miney – Quetzlcoatl!
I am actually a mental patient using my 15 minutes of pc time
@Atheism is justification for denying God.
" Atheists attack religion because deep down inside they need to feel justified in not believing in a supreme being like the rest of humanity throughout history.If they can get others to deny faith, it is easier for them to swallow their unwillingness to FOLLOW God."
Very poor and unverified argument on your part.
If you'd like to read some bat-guano insane, violent, racist ranting, just read the Mormon Journal of Discourses.
Brigham Young was an abhorrent man.
Ridiculous to follow a candidate around and point out his religion's deficiencies, since it matters not in a country that separates church and state.
...except we don't. Checked your property tax bill and fire/EMT assessments lately? Fifty percent higher thanks to church exemptions. Robme and Ryun will legislate subjugation of women and their rights.
What country do you live in? There is only theoretical separation of church and state here in the US. It's a nice thought, but it's not what's happening.
Separation but only when it is convenient for the religious though. A person's politics are heavily influenced by their religion and Mormonism is one of the whackiest.
Apparently you are not at all in touch with the realities of what is happening in the U.S.
Godless heathens trying to sway the election towards other godless heathens
That's funny since neither of the candidates are "godless heathens".
So... which is it? Is Obama Muslim, Atheist or Christian like he actually practices?
May I request you use the more inclusive term for us godless heathens? I strongly prefer imaginary friend free. You see, in addition to being free from the god delusion, I also don't believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or any other imaginary being.
Here are the facts: the Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, was imprisoned in the early 1800's for misleading a group of people into a cult. then he founded the mormon church based on tablets that only he could read. if you believe this guy and this faith, then you lack rational thought and you should not be president of the US
Well that kind of sounds like Romney, he wants us to believe in an economic plan only he can see.
Other facts: according to the gospels by Peter, Paul, and Matthew, Jesus' mother was a virgin who gave birth to Jesus, who also walked on water and brought a man back from death. If you believe these guys, .... All religions rely on crazy assertions, Mormonism is no different.
In Christianity, Jesus was sacrificed by God to break the bonds of sin.... Who did God sacrifice his Son to? Shouldn't people be worshiping that higher power God?
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.