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.”
Mormonism is bunk right from the start. Even mainstream Christian believers can see the errors of their ways. "Magic Undergarments"; "Golden Plates"; "polygamy"; one can become "Christ" on another planet, and a "half baked" book of Mormon written by Joe Smith from supposed "Golden Plates" out in the backwoods of Upstate N.Y...
It is all bunk.
That anyone can believe Mormonism is beyond even the minds of those that believe any religion.
That "Born Again Christians" would flock behind a Mormon is beyond this believer's comprehension.
The Satanic rituals in the Mormon religion make the whole religion questionable.
We are talking "extreme cult" here folk.
Right. Because consuming the flesh and blood of Christ every Sunday is so much more rational than magic clothing.
Honestly, one flying spaghetti monster is as ridiculous as the next.
Coming from a "fundamental christian" home, I spent years searching for the truth (as if)- I looked into them all, Judaism/Mormonism/Shinto-faith/Buddhism/Fundamentalism- guess where it brought me,
Atheism. Anyone with an inkling of common sense recognizes the ridiculousness religion conveys.
The church pays no taxes, brainwashing its parish members with guilt trips.
Democrat Harry Reid is a MORMON too
Then this goes for him too.
Take note everyone that this is Obama's flip flpo on an issue to get votes. he makes it by what's going to get him the most votes, not with his heart.
That's why Romney has flipped more to win the conservative base with all their lies.
Take note everyone that this is Obama's flip flpo on an issue to get votes. he makes policy by what's going to get him the most votes, not with his heart.
Actually Jack you're confusing the candidates; it is Romney who has flip-flopped on abortion, auto bail out, helathcare, gays in the military, etc
Didn't Obama flip flop in the gay marraige issue?
Obama will get the most votes because Obama's a good leader, a caring commander in chief. So many of the past upsets, have been ridden past. Jobs are being recognized- the economy is getting better!
"Mormons claim to "know" that God Himself, in person, said that all other religions are "an abomination" (Google Joseph Smith's first vision.)"
So what if they do believe that, if they're not hurting anyone else? And, for the record, even if the official position of the church of LDS is that all other mainstream churches, especially the RCC, are "apostate" churches, that diverged significantly from the early church, I can tell you that in reality, they are friendly with other denominations, especially the Catholic Church. Personally, my Mormon in-laws have been very respectful of my Catholic beliefs, to the extent they attended the baptism of my twins.
Mormons do not believe all other churches are an abomination... Just the opposite. All other Christian churches have elements of truth. It is only that over time the big picture was lost requiring God to reestablish his church. In that regard all othe christians to Mormons are to be respected as brothers in faith...
Remember "W" ? He thought he had a connection, relationship, personal divine guidance from God that directed him to start a war in Iraq. You can believe it's o.k. for people to claim to Him personally, but not people of such power. I happen to think it's nuts to give power to people who make such insane claims. Listen to Romney, sounds like war is o.k. with him in both Iran and (real crazy) Russia.
The office of President has no religious requirement, so leave religion out of the issue including this billboard crap
Obviously, anti-Religionists are against anything religious people say.
But what is their own message?
That we should all "love each other"? Really?
lolcat. reality is correct. We have separation of church and state. although I don't see an atheist being elected any time soon.
apologies, I misplaced this comment.
What I meant to say is that the religion of a candidate will certainly influence his politics –
how could someone who's religion discriminates against a "gay lifestyle" pass legislation that supports gay equality and abolishes the second-class citizen status of gay people?
Separating church and state is good, but in the personality of the candidate, the church definitely comes back into play.
I think it's more complicated that "we shouldn't care about the religion".
In America, people also care about what kind of a family man a candidate is and other details about their private lives.
If Romney wins we'll all have to wear the Magic Mormon Underpants! Mormons believe in the rantings of a snake-bit ex-con who was lost in the desert – had hallucinations and then formed Mormonism. Wow, unbelievable!
I am agnostic and have never believed as my presidents so why would you think there would be forced conversion to the LDS church because of a Romney win? FYI Democrat Harry Reid is Mormon.
Anti-Mormons love to throw out the whole ex-con label. Please provide ANY proof that Joseph Smith was ever convicted of a crime? Since that is the actual definition of a convict, meaning he was convicted. He was persecuted his entire life.
Who needs atheists when we have Christians that will attack other
Christians. There are many ignorant posts that demean things that I believe are sacred. If you want to understand "Mormonism", read the Book of Mormon, visit with missionaries or members. Just because you don't believe or understand does not make it right or wrong. In addition, as you might guess, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who did not vote for Romney in the primary elections in 2008. Had nothing to do with his religion. Had everything to do with who I thought the best candidate was at that time. I will vote for him this time because I believe he is the best candidate in this election. His religion has nothing to do with it. Get informed on the issues, not atheistic or other rhetoric.
As an ex-mormon and agnostic, the billboard is a lie.
Thank you for your sanity and decency.
The story is very misleading.
Mormons have allowed Blacks to be members this is true but it is the priesthood where racism still rears its ugly head. There are no priests that are minorities in the Mormon church. Why???
CNN is blatant in its clear promotion of Obama and dissing of Romney. It is clear to any clear minded person what CNN is attempting to do. LEAVE RELIGION OUT OF POLITICS. Besides... If Mr. Romney is elected President, he isn't going to run it as a Mormon, but as a President who wishes to address many economic, foreign policy and social issues. He is not representing his religion of choice, but rather the people who elect him... all colors, all religious and spiritual beliefs (or not). I don't ever remember such articles when JFK, Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton or either Bushes. Leave both presidential candidates alone and stop trying to meddle with the voters.
Once again, atheism’s position comes from faith, not logic or critical thinking. You can believe it, but no amount of verbal twister changes the claim into a logical statement. Atheism (“There is no God”) requires faith. You can believe there is no God, fine. But to state it as fact? And belittle those not accepting your dogma, presuppositions, and faith? All while claiming superior intellectual and logical skills (while holding a logically absurd position)?
Atheists miss the irony.
Some atheists are really agnostic — they don’t have a reason to believe in God. Those people exist on reasonable logical ground the atheist lacks, even if their conclusion is faulty. But you can’t be a true atheist and at the same time expound on your logic and intellectual prowess — it’s a contradiction.
If atheists could just admit their position comes from faith, without proof, and based on hope (not critical thinking), we could progress to more interesting questions.
It is unfortunate that so much of the press, especially someone like CNN relegate themselves to propaganda, worth less than a supermarket tabloid prior to any election. Makes me seriously reconsider the quality of their content going forward... No wonder CNN is 4th behind other less known media outletts
Blue, let me put it this way: I have no evidence that you are a child molester, therefore i do not believe that you are a child molester.
I have never seen any verifiable proof of the existence of any gods, therefore i do not believe that any of them exist.
If some verifiable, concrete evidence of gods' existence were to be presented, peer-reviewed and published in a respected journal that is not hidden behind a paywall then i would accept that gods exist.
"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. "
Being gay is not a choice science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.
All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.
Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.
In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.
The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.
On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"
Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"
But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.
This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.
The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.
Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).
Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.
Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.
Wow... thanks for your long+interesting post – with which I absolutely agree.
I do hope you keep a copy of it – these discussion boards are a little short lived and I'm often not sure if it's worth our time putting our time into them. I think hardly anyone reads what anyone else is saying – everyone seems to just "sound off".
Anyway – good luck and cheers!
Even if what you say is true, and the jury is still out on all the science part ( I have yet to see a real study) Should the gay lifestyle be promoted and publicly endorsed is equivalent in social good? That is the real question here. Can a child find its path in life better from having that as an option, it is it a cancer (from nature) that even if endorsed wounds the soul and limits the physical ability to experience natural happiness...
Even if I concede that science can result in being gay, I have a hard time seeing how even if fully embraced by society it would create happiness. Is it just possible that this aeration of nature should be resisted rather than endorsed, if happiness is to be obtained. Before I get emotionally attacked, let me say I really want to find out! Where is the gay lifestyle on the scale of happiness for the individual, happiness for the entended family, happiness for the children of gay couples. We have to be cold in our assessment of these elements or we really do risk society. Being in healthcare I can think of a long list of natural things that we spend billions to resist. Auto-immune disorders, dimensia, cancer, joint replacement...
Hmmm ... wonder if these athiests also don't believe in honesty or integrity? They're certainly not displaying any.
More so than Christians; reason we are not hinder by a belief in fantasy
We believe in observable reality, not talking snakes, worldwide floods, or the ultimate con, the notion of rewards after death. Morally speaking, our commitment to reality puts us light years ahead of religious folks.
richunix – You're comment lacks honesty and integrity. And you have bad grammar. You won't win many "converts" that way.
Mike D – Your self-righeousness and closed-mindedness are worse than most religious people I know. Don't flatter yourself into thinking you are more enlightened than everyone who does not share your opinions.
Your, you're, yore. Don't preach about grammar until you grasp it.
It's very telling that the Christian right backs Romney, who does not believe in their Christ, or any of the other things the right says they consider important.
There beliefs aren't true, just their hatred for the Democratic Party.
And their pants-wetting fear of having a black president.
Simple research would teach you that Romney does believe in Jesus Christ. He just believes that Jesus did a bit more than most Christians believe. Other than that, most of his core beliefs mach up with most of Chistianity. A little bit of research would help fill in many of your knowledge gaps. Good luck.
As soon as you start to look into "white" and "black" people as a group you will naturally find differences.
Scientific racism has a long history.
No, poorly conducted experiments and quack science have long been used to support raciest agendas. Race is nothing more than a social construct, it has no scientific definition. Any and all differences between races can be attributed to socialization and culture, biology plays no role.
I would like to dismiss racist science as quackery too, but is it really?
Or are we just forbidding ourselves to look into that direction, because we know nothing good will come of it?
Do you have any evidence for your claim that "all races are equal"?
Given their skin color, physical const-itution etc. they evidently are not.
On the other hand I recently read a study that Chinese Asians supposedly have perfect pitch (which is how Chinese can be a perfect-pitch language).
Scientific "racism" can also be used for compliments.
"I see gays are trying to put themselves in the shoes of the civil rights fight. '
The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right, putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.
"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."
Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.
The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.
"Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.
Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.
Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.
"We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.
Take note everyone that this is Obama's flip flpo on an issue to get votes. he makes it by what's going to get him the most votes, not with his heart.
funny religious people will FIGHT to get their nonsense forced on everyone when even they do not believe it 100%.
Here is the proof.
1) the goal of life according to religion is to die and go to heaven.
2) but when these people win the lotto basically ( die ) people freekout even stop talking to their god.
3) if they won a trip to Hawaii they would be happier then seeing them go to heaven
If you are stupid enough to use religion as a voting criteria, here are your choices: a guy who committed to one religion and has been living it; or a guy who went to muslim schools, sat in Reverend Wright's Marxist church for 20 years and then dumped both traditions when it was politically expedient.
When someone leaves their faith in favor of rationality my respect for them increases greatly. I'd love it if Obama was an atheist, but it'd be political suicide. That's just the sad reality of attempting to lead a nation full of deluded religious fools.
'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"
Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.
The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
By the way hundred of experts in this country have also stated. 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."
O-K, it is completely normal for those of the same gender to claim a legal union?
Soon, Joe the lonely, will "make residence" with Joanne the sheep?
And tax payers will have to fund these perversions?
IF Tom & Joe absolutely must -enjoy- one anothers' "company" let them-
there is no reason however, the American public must recognize their adolescent curiosities.
Where's the ad shamming Harry Ried? Or does he not matter because he's a Liberal being part of the Mormon Chruch, just Romney's the issue.
Give me a break, agenda all over it.
"this Atheist opinionation that goes around these days is just plain stupidity."
And thinking lighting candles, wearing robes, carrying statues of dead men on a cross is not plain stupidity ? i wont even mention the bibles lack of knowledge on genetics. Adam and eve populate the earth, Noah's ark has only 2 of every species ( how did they feed the meat eating species ? ) Two is not enough to populate a species i would think a GOD would have know this. and if he used magic why not just skip the whole flood in first place lol
I'm not saying that "believers" sometimes aren't behaving like stupid people either – it's just that Atheists (Dawkins, Htichens, Pinker – you name it) are calling themselves "smart by definition", and it's simply not true.
The way out is not putting all trust in science, it's vigilance – permanent vigilance. :/
Atheists are the new fundamentalists. They try to impose their views on others and whine the loudest when they don't get their way. Despite all the rhetoric, Romney is a moderate Republican who will probably shut up about religion. Obama expanded the faith based initiatives. I'm not even all that religious, and atheists are beginning to annoy me by shoving their beliefs in everyone's face
We have had religion imposed on us for years and now we Atheists are growing in numbers and pushing back. I have no problem if you keep your religion to yourself. Please don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church.
The better ad:
SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.
SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.
SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.
Added details upon request.
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.