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.”
Interesting they are tailing Romney but not the "christian" obama. What faith atheists have. Every fact we build on and learn about is an absolute accident of an accidental cell joining millions if not billions of years ago. Talk about faith...........
Difference: atheists that accept evolution, or the theory that all life came from a common ancestor, are more often than not willing to discount that acceptance upon evidence to the contrary.
Theists, on the other hand, can be presented with mountains of evidence that disprove their beliefs, but their "faith" keeps them from discounting those beliefs. That is, rather than accept reality for what it is, they continue to believe the same disproven beliefs.
its based on beneficial mutation on a micro scale over long periods of time. its not faith when we can prove it with facts.
Right... as opposed to talking serpents, dirt to human, woman from rib, etc...
Is there any intelligent scientist (or person for that matter) that believes people were formed from ribs and not evolution? No.
Nobody said it was an accident, you on the other hand argue that "go did it" with nothing to back up your assertion.
"I don't know how it happened but let's try and figure it out" is a perfectly reasonable position,
"I don't know how it happened and therefore my god did it" is not.
I live in a rural area of the country and I can assure you that blacks and gays are not welcome in many churches in this area, which might explain why "christians" have contracted Romnesia and have flip flopped over to the Romney camp.
This whole thing reveals the lie that "religion" provides a moral underpining for human society. It took them until 1978 to have the revelation that racism is wrong? I learned that when I was a kid, in the early 60s, and it was hardly news then! Perhaps Mormons should call me for a moral compass and moral guidance – all their great religious minds seem to struggle with basic values. Perhaps this is why Mitt Romney has such a problem with telling the truth – it may be that honesty (along with perhaps compassion and humility) has not yet been "revealed" to him as an obvious moral value.
all you have to do is write a book and tell people god told you to write it instead of just telling everyone himself (lazy) then you can be a cults moral compass
As a born again Christian I cannot vote for Romney . The Bibel says that even the elect of the Church will be fooled by the anti christ . That is very evident by all the "T.V. Pulpit Pimps" trying to force people into voting republican . The Bible says to
"Look at the fruit of the tree " . Mr. obama is trying to help the poor and the sick and old . romney is trying to help just the rich .
I will be voting for Mr. Obama . He may not be the best Christian to some but at least he´s trying to be a president to all .
The Mormon church was not the only place to not allow blacks Give your head a shake All Americans were a part of racial discrimination not just churches Making this about religion instead of how Obama Failed is just stupid. Still many places that women are not allowed. Only this year at some Golf clubs for heavens sake.
Obama hasn´t failed the people Congress has you should quit getting all your info . from FOX . They lie alot .
Yeah. Romney doesn't hate black people anymore. Even if they were evil. He just doesn't like gay people. But that's their fault for being gay.
If you want to make it about Obama's supposed policy failures then you need to address Romney's failures as governor also.
I wouldnt say Obama is a Christian only God knows maybe even testing his faith on his career over his faith.. but he is a President.
You must have caught that contagious disease Romnesia. Then again, a bigot, such as yourself, would have no conception of moral pride.
Romney being a Morman is but one of the reason I will not be voting for him. How many sons does he have and none have served in the military?
The rich don't "serve" in the military. They just use it for photo ops.
I thought the current military was a totally volunteer organization. When did it become a legal requirement for a presidential candidate to have his sons or daughters serve in the military. For that matter, when is it a legal requirement for the presidential candidate to serve in the military. Pres. Obama has not served nor Mitt Romney (who received a deferment when he was eligible for the draft. BTW his lottery number was very high and most likely would not have been drafted.) Clinton who "loathed the military" did not serve and went to "study" at Oxford. Poor research on your part Go Army.
RP. The difference being that the GOP are hawks yet with a few exceptions like McCain and Palin they or their family do not serve in the millitary. Romney is not an exception.
Is there a connection between your two thoughts?
Just trying to make the point that eligibility for the presidency does not include service in the military for the candidate nor his offspring. Likewise complaints have been posted previously that Romney did not serve in the military. My point was that he had a military deferment PLUS he most likely would not have served via the draft because his lottery number for the draft was too high. Go Army's basis is flawed from the start. My postings just prove it further.
Mormon with values in the whitehouse, or MORON in the whitehouse....you decide. Wake up people. Atheists worried about a Chrisian's beliefs....wow. Let it go already. Wow it's reassuring that Atheists are more concerned about idiotic items that won't put food on the table or help people get back to work. Thanks Atheists for supporting our country where we really need it right now.
Atheist are helping. By trying to stop the religious right from slowing down science and critical thinking. Have you heard what Dr. Broun said? Have you read he Texas republicans agenda? Religion has pushed to far and needs some pushing back just to keep this country sane.
I'm an Atheist. Mormons may be whacked out but Obama's record on religion isn't any better.
He threw the Atheists under the bus on day one when when he had Mega-church con man Rick Warren speak at his inauguration.
Then...instead of dismantling GWB's Office of Faith Base in Initiatives in the White House he super-sized it.
Since I already know from his record that Obama is a dishonest fool the whole issue of religion in this election is a wash.
Good job Obama!
I am athiest and voting for Romney. You can't put everyone in a group. I'm sure some Mormons are voting Obama.
Good comment....I despise the intent from any other humanbeing on earth, just because someone has different beliefs, seems to feel the need to place them in a category/classification? My belief is, everyone should mind their own business & not worry about how another humanbeing lives their life...
There's no such thing as an athiest. No one, unless they've had a stroke, can look at a tree, a dolphin or an enzyme and intellectually contend they're random occurrences. Athiests just want their Sunday mornings free, to be their own god and behave as they choose. They're just too gutless to admit it.
The notion that everyone is as ignorant and arrogant as you are is ridiculous.
No, atheists can look at those things, and not say they came about randomly, but instead following a series of physical laws that allowed them to occur naturally. Where those physical laws come from, most atheists – and *all* honest people, for that matter – will free admit "we do not know."
But to those who posit "god dun it!" just because you are too unimaginative or too scared to think for a moment that a magic sky daddy isn't watching over you, please do not lump free thinkers in with your kind. We're not too cowardly to admit to believing like you do, we're to intelligence to ever believe like you do.
we're too intelligent*
Alan, read this and maybe it will give a point to ponder.
Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
This is not the dumbest thing I've ever read, but it approaches it. Does it never occur to these commentators to have even the slightest knowledge of what they're criticizing?
"Athiests just want their Sunday mornings free, to be their own god and behave as they choose." As do many Christians.
Randomly huh, you need to go back a take another look!
I am an atheist and I don't think those things are "random". Just because they are not random does not mean a god exists and certainly not any god as has been historically defined. You seem to be arguing from an "intelligent design" perspective, in order to prove something is designed you would have to have a non-designed "thing" to compare it to. Intelligent design can't do that because in that argument everything is designed. How then can we compare design to non-design?
But you are right in a back handed way, I am not going to waste my time on Sunday mornings listening to people claim to know "which god" for which they have no evidence for their claim.
your grasp of evolution is not surprising, its just scary that even though you have the internet you refuse to use it to look into the things you can not comprehend. this is the 21st century and its uniformed opinions like yours is why our education standards are the laughing joke of the world. i guess its easier to be ignorant than informed... yea America
" Athiests just want their Sunday mornings free, to be their own god and behave as they choose. They're just too gutless to admit it."
Perhaps that would be YOUR reason for being an atheist - it is not mine, nor any atheist I know.
Sometimes I almost wish that your fantasy were true - live and behave just as I do now (quite well, thank you) and be rewarded with eternal bliss if I toss in a "Save me, Jesus" or "Allah is great". There is not a shred of verified evidence for your fantasy afterlife.
@alan: you want to know the main difference between we "evil" atheists and you religious nutters?
you still require a reward/punishment system to do the right thing and even then you mess it up; atheists don't require a reward to do good and have no one to blame when we mess up.
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
Actually, everyone is born an Atheist and remains an Atheist until they are programmed to be religious.
"I can't believe why anyone would believe religion. The religious people say that the lord is in all of us. I mean come on, I've seen lots of operations and the lord has never been found. See, proof that God does not exist. Tada!" Now, I want all the religious people to read my statement and understand how ignorant it is. That is how ignorant this statement is "Evolution is false because things just don't randomly change from a duck to a crock. Or a duck just doesn't randomly happen". If you are clinging to that argument, then you need to study before making yourself look ignorant.
You make a straw person argument. Nobody said that things arose randomly. We scientists say that we developed through the process of evolution. Yes there are random events that are part of it. You need to read a bit about the theory of evolution. Evolution is a fact. There is no scientific doubt that it happened. Your statement is sort of like the "Watch Maker Analogy" (google it). In this it is said that you see a watch on a beach and know that it was created and did not arise by natural means. Then look at a tree and it is also complex so it did not arise by natural means. This argument is internally inconsistent in that the watch is compared to nature (e.g., a tree) to say that it is complex and could not have arisen without a creator.
If the Second Book of Nepthi claims all are equal, why don't they have female Bishops and Elders?
Joe, you have just identified the simplest litmus test for any religion: Are women equal to men?
Most religions treat women as less than men in God's eye. Oh, they scramble for explanations when asked, but as long as women can't be priests, I have no respect for the Catholic Church; as long as women are told to submit to their husbands (but not vica versa), I have no respect for the Baptist Church; as long as women are not allowed to lead prayers, I have no respect for Islam, etc.
This is directed towards the religions as a whole, not individuals. In fact, most American Catholics disagree with some of the Vatican doctrines (birth control, for example); there are Baptist Churches that don't treat women as less than men in God's eye, etc.
Check out this video before voting for Governor Romney.
Difference between Conservative Christian and Atheist:
The Atheist does not seek to legislate the denial of God.
The Conservative Christian does seek to legislate the belief in God.
The Atheist does not seek to legally inpose his/her morals on Conservative Christians.
The Conservative Christian does seek to legally impose his/her morals on Atheists.
Look up the definition of bully.
Maybe one day Conservative Christians will stop persecuting Atheists and just let them live their lives as they like, just as they are happy to let the Conservative Christian worship God as he/she likes.
You forgot to mention Muslims, Jews and other religions looks like an attack on Christians
Jews aren't trying to legislate a belief in Yahweh. Muslims aren't trying to legislate a belief in Allah. Atheist don't care what what you believe, we care about what you try to codify into law.
Sums it up pretty good IMO. Although Muslims are trying to bring their own law system into north america.
And the U.S. courts are effectively stopping that.
I smell... ... desperation
"Silverman denies the billboard, which is costing the group $8,000, is an attack on Romney specifically."
Yup, I'm sure it's just a big coincidence.
I BELIVE THAT THE LORD TELLS OBAMA HES BELIVES HIS CHRISAINTY AND MITTROMNEY HAS BEEN NOT MY FAVORITE CANIDATE HES A MORMEN AND I DONT FOLLOW MORMON BELIVES THAT THE BLACK CHURCH SUPPORT OBAMA TO GET A SECOND TERM NOW IS THE TIME IN THIS FINAL DEBATE LETS MOVED ON AND WIN SIGNED CHRISNELSON OF CT.
It's a Jesus YELLER!!! Run for your lives! Run for your lives!
You, sir, are an idiot. Not surprising you're also a Xian.
and on the sixth day god created capslock and said "let's bang out punctuation on monday"
Why is this an attack if it's just facts?
Surely you don't think that only false claims can be called "attacks"? Wouldn't you rather attack with the truth?
Would love to see all these atheists at the Muslim rallies...............or I guess they are afraid !!!!!
Muslims have little to no political power in this country, so they're not a worthy target.
No... we ridicule the bat-sh!t crazy Muslim beliefs too, as well as the crazy Christians.
Yeah okay....Christians in the United States are such bad, awful, terrible people....cry me a freakin river. If your kind spent a year or two in the middle east harrassing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, everyone one of you would have been strung up and crucified in the streets of Mecca or Bengazi, by now.
You people are extremely lucky to be living in this country where you are protected by the 1st Amendment. I don't care if your Aethist or not but you have absolutely no right to harass Mitt Romney and everyo other Christian on the street because of the 1st Amendment. Be prepared for a backlash if you continue. If you truely want to live in a godless morally decrebit society, go to China or Russian. Just because you think you can yell the loudest, doesn't make every Christian a stupid redneck because they believe in jesus and god.
Yeah okay....Christians in the United States are such bad, awful, terrible people....cry me a freakin river.
You Said: " If your kind spent a year or two in the middle east harrassing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, everyone one of you would have been strung up and crucified in the streets of Mecca or Bengazi, by now. "
'Your kind'...? I assume you mean critical thinkers that happen to often be atheists ?
And as for the rest of your comment about being "strung up" in the ME... well no sh!t, sherlock ! 8O So would 'your kind' as they currently do.
So what ?
You Said: " You people are extremely lucky to be living in this country where you are protected by the 1st Amendment. "
True... and that goes for "you people" as well. LOL.
You Said: " I don't care if your Aethist or not but you have absolutely no right to harass Mitt Romney and everyo other Christian on the street because of the 1st Amendment. "
Oh... poor Christian. You people are constantly harrassing people that are 'non' Christians... i.e.. burn in hell, God doesn't love you, etc... and... you guys have more Christian billboards up around the country than anyone.
So... get your facts straight, dude. And... we can and will "challenge" your bat-sh!t crazy beliefs all we want. Feel free to challenge us as well.
That is part of "free speech" bubba.
You Said: " Be prepared for a backlash if you continue. If you truely want to live in a godless morally decrebit society, go to China or Russian. Just because you think you can yell the loudest, doesn't make every Christian a stupid redneck because they believe in jesus and god. "
This is just pure stupidity.
Prayer changes things .
So does bigotry.
It changes human beings into groveling fools, begging an invisible sky man to do them favors.
Nothing fails like prayer.
Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!_*
Athiests are getting just as annoying as the Jehovah's that knock on my door at 7am on Saturday morning.
Atheism is just as much of a religion as any other.
What little good religion has managed to accomplish could just as easily have been done without it.
so, the Mormon church has has black friends?
They are not just friends, we have prominent black members, including Gladys Knight and Mia Love.
Yes, but it only started inviting them over for dinner when the neighbors started to whisper.
So Sana...you can two people that belong...how many blacks in the quorum of the70's first or second? How many in the 15? how many even black Stake Presidents have there been? The billboard is correct...the church says that blacks could always be members....HOWEVER... The 12 year old Aaronic priests(white kids) had more power than a 50 year old Black man ever could..the Blacks could not be endowed so they were relegated to either telestial or terrestrial Kingdoms! .No Celestial Kingdom for Black people! Mormons are also counseled to marry within their own race...that rule is still in effect!
anything else people want to know? I have more but i am at work and dont have as much time as I need.
Not too many blacks can be bothered with Mor(m)onism. They're too busy being crazy-assed Southern Baptists.
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.