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Atheist billboard attacks Romney’s faith, but Mormons say it's misleading
This billboard on wheels, sponsored by American Atheists, will follow the Romney campaign throughout southern Florida.
October 21st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Atheist billboard attacks Romney’s faith, but Mormons say it's misleading

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.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Florida • Homosexuality • Mitt Romney • Politics • Race

soundoff (2,468 Responses)
  1. John

    through our history, people on this earth people think money is the root of all evil. try religion. wars upon wars upon wars upon killings upon killings. it's sad.

    not to mention the catholic faith wants to help poor people , donate money donate money, yet the pope sits on a 24k gold throne at the Vatican during mass. leadership by example...

    October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Mike D

      Well, a lot of those wars that were committed in the name of religion also happened to bring considerable profit to highly placed people in the aggressor nations. This is not just happenstance.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Fladabosco

      If it's easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man into heaven then it must be easier to get 200 million camels through the eye of a needle than for the Mittster to make it upstairs.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  2. Green Eyeshades

    It was only a matter of time before the Obama surrogates played the Mormon card. Shows how desperate they are.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Mike D

      Republican voters cared a lot about Romney's faith during the primaries. Only now that he's got the nomination has it become a non-issue in the red states. It's obviously less frightening to them than four more years of a black president.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Marky Merlot

      Good on them, I say, as Obama, and anyone with a social conscience, has be labeled "Marxist or Leninist" by the right wing. Of course, the ultimate insult, in their eyes, is to call Obama a muslim!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Fladabosco

      These people are not Obama surrogates and Obama is a Christian. What rock you been living under?

      October 22, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  3. Fladabosco

    Anyone who thinks their religion is right and everyone else's is wrong is arrogant beyond belief. It's FAITH not knowledge. I'll attack Romney's faith because Jesus himself said that not only is it harder for a rich man to get into heaven than to get a camel through the eye of a needle but that what you do to the least of us you do to Jesus. So as Romney talks about the poor and the needy as parasites he is saying that Jesus was a parasite.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ehms

      I've never heard Romney refer to the poor and needy as parasites. In fact, he donates significant percentages of his income to his Church which uses those funds to help the poor and needy.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • rocketscientist

      Welll, there was that 47% line. Not saying he literally meant it, but it raised a lot of questions.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  4. Jack 3

    I see gays are trying to put themselves in the shoes of the civil rights fight. This is a lie to gain acceptance for the legal rights of gay perversion. Man should never bow to this demand.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Mike D

      Is that what you see, Jack? I'd think it'd be hard for you to see anything with your boyfriend's sack bouncing off your chin.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Fladabosco

      Whether they are perverse in your opinion is just your opinion. And why should you have rights that they don't? Because your ancient scripture tells you so? Are you one of those religious blowhards who will tell everyone the 10 commandments are the unerring word of god but don't know that they forbid drawing fish, or clouds or tunnels? Don't believe me? Look it up, Exodus 20.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  5. demo Joseph

    Mitt fits well in the church. He can lie and doesn't even know he is doing it. He feels above others and smiles as if he knows he is going to heaven. He fits well in the high and mighty of men who call themselves christians.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Mantra

      true that

      October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • lolCAT2000

      There are different brands of christianity, but selflessness is usually seen as a virtue, arrogance is not.
      In fact, I bet your very own value system has been influenced by "diffuse christianity" in your surroundings.
      Things could be very different.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  6. Wayne

    I have a friend, both gay and a Mormon who was thrown out of the church when he came out 6-7 years ago. Gay Mormons to this day are regularly thrown out of the church if they come out. Facts are facts!

    October 22, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  7. lolCAT2000

    There is no real reason an atheist couldn't say: "keep women out of the office, they are less intelligent, have less potential for abstract thought and spatial thinking, also they can't reverse park".
    Or "keep ga-ys out of the office – they are more likely to get infections and diseases due to the fact that they regularly poke their di-cks into someone else's butt".
    The evidence is there. So what's up atheists... or do you attack what religious people say just because they are religious and therefore have to be wrong?
    Check your own facts and discover that you are in every way as irrational.
    Even though I like the opinion of your "cult" in this case. :)

    October 22, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • lolCAT2000

      (I'm sure you could make a similar point about races if you set up your experiments the right way)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • .

      "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:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "lolCAT2000" 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:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian..

      October 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Huebert

      Please cite a source for your "evidence".

      October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • lolCAT2000

      Hey "." – I definitely do not belong into this list of yours. :)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  8. MikeB

    As if Atheist care.
    Pushing their religion of denial and supremacy is there opportunistic attempt to demean others to justify their ill will upon others. And to claim ownership of the public square.

    No Cultural Diversity in the Public Square. (Currently)
    Shame on the Atheist.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • A

      Shame on Mormonism is correct-not only are they against blacks and gays, but women have few rights in this religion. They even have to ask their bishop if they can read books. Let's not forget that it wasn't that long ago either that they married several women. That religion is about sheer control. Some would say that they are not even Christians as they have some far out beliefs.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Jace

      where did you hear that women can't ready books? that is totally false. if so, all of those women studying at BYU would be condemned. that's just dumb.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Eric

      @ A
      A: can't see one bit of truth in your paragraph. Remember, lies do not become you.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • rocketscientist

      A:"Shame on Mormonism is correct-not only are they against blacks and gays, but women have few rights in this religion."
      They have as many rights as women in the Catholic Church.

      "They even have to ask their bishop if they can read books." That's total crap. You're either misinformed, ignorant, or lying.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  9. ItiahPundit - NY10920

    Considering Billy Graham has been paid to promote this cultish religion, I say Bravo for their effort! I hope they highlight how close the Mormon Religion is to Voodism – Prayer for the dead really? Magic undergarment?

    October 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  10. Aliana

    The LDS church teaches Native North/Central Americans are descendant from Israelis. There is zero evidence of this genetically or otherwise. They teach that horses and other animals lived in north and central America before the conquistadors. This is false. They teach that women are subservient to men. This is false. They teach that "reformed Egyptian" is a language, it was not. Joseph Smith falsely translated papyri he thought NO ONE would ever find the actual language for. But they did. lies lies lies lies lies!

    October 22, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  11. Rosco

    Mormons claim to "know" that God Himself, in person, said that all other religions are "an abomination" (Google Joseph Smith's first vision.)

    October 22, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • ItiahPundit - NY10920

      So true and yet Billy Greedy Graham is supporting putting a Mormon in the White House – Really Sad....This Christian will NOT be voting Romney – Sorry, my vote is not for sale!!! -

      October 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  12. Daniel

    Hmm...Mormonism is Christianity...get over it....

    October 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Mike D

      Depends on what Christians you ask. To some denominations Mormons are nothing short of a heretic cult. Funny how many of them have toned down that rhetoric, though...to those hillbillies even a Mormon is better than having a black president.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Marky Merlot

      @ Mike D, – you nailed it!

      October 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  13. lolCAT2000

    Atheism has by the definition it gives itself 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.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Daniel

      You have no idea of what you are talking about...seriously. You are misinformed and are full of ill-intent. Are you a christian?

      October 22, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • a

      lolCAT2000- was there a point in all of that rambling?

      October 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Your_mom_should_have_aborted

      1) By race a gender equality they are speaking about equality before the law, not biological advantages. Clearly their are ups and downs, different medical conditions and other things based on race or gender. What they are advocating for are equal rights. I didn't think anyone was retarded enough that this point needed further explaining, thank you for lowering my expectations of humanity.

      2) Morals can be derived from many places, try reading (if you can) about humanism, Greg Epstein has a good book about ethics without the need of religion. There are also plenty of examples of people without a monotheistic religion that live or have lived peacefully in accordance with their own morals. The history of many secular people is far less bloodstained than their christian counter parts.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Fladabosco

      Atheists don't have a belief system or a need to explain how we got here, why we behave the way we do, etc. People don't behave the way we do, good or bad, because of ancient scripture or the voice of burning bush in the desert or the face of the messiah on French toast. People didn't become moral or good in 33 BC. If we didn't behave that way we would have died out long before the carpenter's son came along.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  14. Primewonk

    Why do these religious nutters have this bizarre need to have the candidates "out Jesus" each other? In essence, you are mandating a religious means test for elected officials. How do you justify that belief with regards to what Article VI, Section 3 of the Constîtution?

    October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Fladabosco

      You are totally missing the point. They don't out-Jesus each other because it's what they stand for. They out Jesus each other because if you want power you have to play to what gets people to vote. If you tell an atheist that a Christian is running for office they will shrug it off because it's the quo. But if you tell a very religious person that the other candidate is a secret Muslim, or is pro-choice then it gets people off their patoots and out to the polls. That's why. It got Reagan elected and it got Bush elected and it's the surest way to get people to the polls.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • ripcord

      As George Wallace said after one defeat "I will never never be outn!ggered again ", and went on to prove it. It's what politicians do.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  15. David in Houston

    There ARE implications to a president's personal views. A candidate can vow to be the president to all Americans and execute laws as they are written, but their personal views do make their way into laws and executive orders. Consider stem cell research under Bush II. There is no way to tell how many Americans could have benefited (or even survived) from the cells that could have been harvested from those embryos that Bush made off limits. And the implications continue on into the future like a traffic jam that still exists an hour after the wreck has cleared. In Bush’s case, these were embryos that were being “thrown away” anyway. He, and those that think like him had no problem with those embryos being incinerated, but felt it would be immoral to remove some cells from them for testing. What would Romney have done???

    October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • ehms

      You could also ask what would Harry Reid have done. He's a Mormon too you know. And that really is all you need to know about Mormons in the political arena. Both Romney and Reid are driven by their faith to take the positions they take. And yet they take opposite views much of the time. Why? Simply because one of the most important Mormon doctrines is that of free agency. What Mormons believe is a divine gift for all people to make their own choices. Mitt and Harry both agree on a few essential points ... Jesus Christ is their Savior, charity is required of those who believe in Christ, the Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible are scripture, and happiness comes from making choices consistent with the commandments and doctrines of Christ. How they go about expressing and living those beliefs in the political arena are vastly different. And that is the beauty of it. The LDS Church itself does not exert influence over them. Their faith and view of how to apply that faith does. And voters can decide for themselves which version of application they like better.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  16. MagicPanties

    Romney believes he will become an actual god when he dies and rule his own planet.

    Do you really want a president with such delusional beliefs?

    October 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Primewonk

      Delusional beliefs?

      Like talking snakes? And talking donkeys?

      Men living in the belly of a fish for 3 days?

      Women created from a rib bone of a man?

      30 feet of rain each and every hour for 40 days?

      Women being "unclean" twice as long after birthing a girl than a boy?

      Treating leprosy by using a live bird to sprinkle the bold of a dead bird around a house?

      Sure those aren't delusional beliefs!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  17. jamdfh

    A religion created to have more wives! it's pure genius that they have been able to make it this far, especially after their initial issues when John Smith was killed. To assert that it is more than that is rediculous!

    October 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • ehms

      I assume you meant Joseph Smith. And I also assume you are not aware that the practice of polygamy has been banned from the faith and actually will get a person excommunicated from the Church since the 1800s.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Mainstream Mormons outlawed polygamy as a matter of political necessity.
      Utah was denied statehood over and over again because the US Gov't would not admit a state that practiced "the twin relics of barbarism – slavery and polygamy."
      In the 1880s, various federal laws were passed imposing severe penalities for polygamy and the banning of it became an official requirement for entry in the Union.
      In 1890, Prophet Willford Woodruff issues the rather uninspired decree" that "my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land."
      In 1896, Utah's 6th or 7th application for statehood was finally accepted.

      But the LDS still preaches that men can have as many "spirit wives" as they want – but a woman can be bound to only 1 man.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  18. yep

    The recitation of facts are not an attack.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • ehms

      Inaccurate or misleading recitation of facts is an attack.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Angel

      “We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance.”

      Interesting, seeing that they themselves are ignorant in their statements. Get educated, before you start attacking someone else.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  19. Brian

    Athiests are fools. No wonder why their convention was canceled a couple of months ago because of not enough funding and participants HAHAHAHHA. Just one of our catholic churches alone has more members than the entire athiest organization lmao.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • yep

      Atheists are a diverse bunch, not herded like sheep, like you.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • mya

      Gee, Brian, thanks for making Christianity seem so christlike and kind! You really do radiate what the whole goal of God's Plan is. Thanks for spreading good feelings about our religion! Keep at it, buddy!

      October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • geckopelli

      There are few Intelligent Free Thinking Individuals and MANY ignorant dupes who are easily suckered into believing anything they're told.
      But you wouldn't know that because you are clearly in the latter group.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  20. Crusader

    Funny how these demo-craps calling themselves 'athiests' are against Romney while ignoring Obama, who has a deep belief is islam or whatever he believes in today. I think these athiest demo-fools are buying into the 'religious right' term created by the trolls in the media. It is convenient to forget Carter and Clinton and all the other left wing religious types.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Mike

      "...while ignoring Obama, who has a deep belief is islam or whatever he believes in today."

      Which is of course why Obama is supporting Islam by... (fill in the blanks with some evidence there buddy)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Mike D

      I was hoping to hear from a deluded teatard today.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • The_Mick

      What nuts if that you have a belief that Obama has a belief in Islam. After early childhood where he was exposed but investigations -and you know the GOP spent plenty on them- revealed he never followed Islam, he was raised by his mother's parents in Hawaii, Christian bankers. Why would he turn against Christianity especially when it would have made things more difficult for him politically? THINK for yourself and don't let those lying propagandists get the better of you.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • ripcord

      I,m sure it chaps your hieny but there are republican atheists too

      October 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
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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.