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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. Babs

    I have known Mormons in my time and I can honestly say most of them have been kind and generous and willing to help another neighbor out in time of need. Mormons just like any religion are made up of people who are mortal and subject to the fralities we mortals have. However, it does seem to me that the Mormons I have known are trying to hold to a high standard for their people. I am just sick and tired of all the name calling, the tearing down of people and the hate in this election year and wish we were more apt to look for the good.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • kenneth

      Never underestimate the power of delusion and wishful thinking!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • niknak

      Or the power of really powerful guns.
      Because nothing shows how much you love jeebus then going out and killing another liviing thing with your gun.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      I have known atheists in my time and I can honestly say most of them have been kind and generous and willing to help another neighbor out in time of need

      October 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. kenneth

    check out these creepy Mormon Rituals (obtained from a hidden camera) on YouTube

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6udew9axmdM&w=640&h=390]

    October 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • kenneth

      PS- Y'all are welcome!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      Strangely I keep waiting for someone to go: BOOGA BOOGA!!

      October 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Rewrite History

    So do the Atheists know that one of the main reasons Mormons were driven out of there homes and had to move to Utah was because they were "Pro Black" or do they just conveniently leave that fact out.
    Also I have never seen someone professing to be a Mormon mock and ridicule someone for being gay or lesbian. Yet, I see it happen all the time the other way. Why do non religious people treat others so badly (Like on this forum) and justify it by saying the other side is not fair?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Daremonai

      Eh, I have seen Mormons treat gays and lesbians pretty badly, so that part is not myth. The Mormons (and evangelicals) just don't see it as 'bad' since they feel it is simply the natural order to behave towards certain people in certain ways.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      "Pro black". Really.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      They don't hate gays. They just fund anti gay propositions.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      To see just how "pro-black" the early Mormon church was, just read some of Brigham Young's statements from the Journal of DIscourses.
      "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).
      "In our first settlement in Missouri, it was said by our enemies that we intended to tamper with the slaves, not that we had any idea of the kind, for such a thing never entered our minds. We knew that the children of Ham were to be the "servant of servants," and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord would permit them to welter under the curse and those were known to be our religious views concerning them." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 172).
      "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." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

      October 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • sam stone

      Theists try to use their beliefs to deny others their civil rights

      October 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • skarphace

      Rewrite History: the reason that Mormons were driven out was because they were claiming to be Christian and the Christians in power saw them as a cult. In their minds, it put Christianity in a bad light. 'Pro-black' and 'no blacks in positions of power' do not coincide.

      Tell me this: why were Mormons driven out of our great country and not the many black churches in the south during that time if that was their only crime? Are not black churches 'Pro-black'? Or is it that they just aren't as 'Pro-black' as Mormons?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  4. gladiatorgrl

    Dennis

    um..the Hat their religious leader favors at the high ceremonies.
    ____________________________
    LOL THANKS for the laugh – ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! :-)

    October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Yeah that was a good answer.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  5. meemee

    Actually, I don't understand why atheists are making the error of chiding only the republicans and Romney when it comes to his belief because the Democrats invoke God and Christianity fairly often themselves. As an atheist myself, I would rather see these ones who choose to be so political attack the specific policies that they are really concerned with as leftists rather than make the huge error of typifying only one party as "true believers." However, the Republicans would do well to figure out that they aren't doing themselves any good when they flog dead horses like Roe v Wade and other obviously hypocritical issues when they are so famous for being against "government intrusion into our lives."

    October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      The VP debate should have cleared that up if you watched:

      Ryan – one cannot separate their faith from their work
      Biden – I do not push my political beliefs on others

      they both have faith ......BIG difference – – one would use this gov't to shove theirs down your throat ..... be afraid be very afraid

      October 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Martin

    Those atheists will never get to Kolob.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Along with the rest of humanity as no such place exists.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Just like those wussy, peacenik Christians will never get to Valhalla.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Martin

    Can't he destroy the billboard with his magic underwear?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • JesusIsMyGardener

      Yet another paradox...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Its good to see that hate is alive and well in america. Way to go american atheists!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • skarphace

      Please explain to us why this billoard is more hateful than the Christian billboards attacking Islam?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Romnesia

      So how is pointing out inequities hate?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Hate? I think this is a stand against hate thomas. Please explain your comment.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Dennis

      They should really be more tolerant of intolerance

      October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • barry heath

      Truth is never hate...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      please point out how this is more hateful than theists bloviating empty proxy threats to non believers

      October 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  9. Diraphe

    Even as an atheist I have to notice the double standard here. Why no concern over Obama's evangelical faith?
    Because this is a strictly partisan attack that is why.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • skarphace

      If you will notice, the attack on Obama's faith was fairly partisan as well...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • barry heath

      because Obama doesn't believe in magically underwear...can you imagine that a man running for president believes this doctrine and nobody thinks that weird...

      October 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  10. billy davis

    Another part of Romney's history he hopes the American people will not see.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      oh everyone's SEEN exactly what Mitt the Twitt is.... but to many as long as he's the "generic Republican candidate" well that's ALL they need to know.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  11. gladiatorgrl

    What's the difference between:

    someone who thinks they're getting 40 virgins when they die
    someone who thinks they're going to the promised land
    someone who thinks they're going to sit at the right hand of God with all their dead relatives
    someone who thinks they're going to be a cricket because they were bad in this life
    someone who thinks they're going to Valhalla if they die by sword
    someone who thinks they're getting a planet near Kolob to populate

    October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      None. They are all silly.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Dennis

      um..the Hat their religious leader favors at the high ceremonies.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  12. Dennis

    The gods of Kolob don't approve.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  13. cd

    I am SURE CNN will make sure the atheists 15 min. of FAME since 1/2 CNN'S liberal STAFF belong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • niknak

      Was that English you were trying to write?
      Home schooled much?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      What are you trying to say?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      You must live in Texas where they fight critical thinking.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • cd

      Enough to pay MORE TAXES than you will ever earn TOTAL INCOME in your ENTIRE LIFE,it's not what you SAY it's what you PRODUCE. just look @ OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @CD
      So you must be one of the 54% of Americans that Romney does care about.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Was that response in the correct place? It makes no sense.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      And you know this how, cd?

      October 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, cd...it is obvious that you are soooo much wealthier than other posters. It comes out in your insight. Now, boy, go f yourself

      October 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  14. Bob

    " I would trust God any day of the week over a doctor that sat in a classroom and learned from a so called professor."
    -ttt
    @ttt
    I hope you stick to your convictions and when you do get cancer, put your fate in the hands of god and not a doctor. Let me know how that turns out....from the "afterlife".

    October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • ttt

      Let me know when they get a cure for cancer. They have made Trillions of dollars and still cannot come up with a cure for cancer. Where does all that money when there have been minimal results? Yeah I know all about cancer and I will probably die of cancer. My family has it up and down the generations. My aunt died of cancer at 34 in 1974 when they couldnt do anything to help her anymore. My uncle died of cancer after an 8 year fight in 2003. He finally gave up on the doctors because the pain from the treatments hurt worse then the cancer did. My grandmother died of cancer in 2004 she had cancer in 1988 and was cured within a year only to have it affect another part of her body in 2003. She did not want to treat becuase she seen two of her children die of cancer in which they were in more pain in treament then they were when the cancer was untreated. So yeah hopefully God will not put you through the pain I have seen in my life as a result of cancer. And I pray that God will assist doctors to find a cure for cancer.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  15. mark

    I found it funny that after reading this story I seen another story on the top banner that said...."Quarterback moves to trademark "Tebowing". I love how people use religion to make a buck.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • niknak

      What is the one thing ALL religions have in common?
      The collection plate!!!
      Religion, and religious people have been using it to make a buck since the beggining of human kind.
      Religion is the biggest, longest and most lucrative ponzi scheme ever invented.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  16. M.E.

    I think it's weak honestly. Be an athiest, fine, believe or don't believe whatever you want. But don't use the same dirty tricks to worst followers of various religions do. Rise above that sort of jerkish behavior. There are millions of Mormons out there who are good people, nice people, and do not share the more bigoted views of their church. Why tar them with the same brush as the leaders who make up the silly rules? Athiests frequently come off as elitists and a little elitism is healthy in my book since it pushes you to do better. But the best way to pull that off is by actually being better and not resorting to the same tactics as the other guys.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      The followers have a duty to fix the churches point of view. Otherwise they will get painted with the same brush. After all they are followers.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • OOO

      Don't you think those "good mormons", or "good christians", or "good muslims" are providing cover – are basically enablers for the more extreme sides of the sme religion?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bob

      That's not fair. We have just as much of a right to be annoying as sholes are you religious folk. You can't have a monopoly on it. And just like you, we don't really care if our followers believe, so long as they donate and vote with us.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • meemee

      Atheists may be the elite intellectually, but characterizing them as elitists is dishonest and not true. A philosophical atheist is a critical thinker first and that means that they are well aware of all the follies the human mind is subject to. I understand that looking up at them from the point of view of the religious "true believer" mind set, these people seem elitist. But that is rather indulging in the sins of pride and avarice, isn't it?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      If the worst behavior that Atheists pick up from their religious counterparts is just being jerks and exposing the inherent flaws, racism, ho.mophobic leanings religions have, then I'm all for it.

      Seriously though, I have never understood why literally holding up a mirror to someones beliefs and saying, " if you are a mormon you are tacitly are actively believing in XYZ thing" and somehow you're the jerk?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      you could FIX your church but again... when one is a sheep one just goes with the crowd does one not? bbaaaahhhhh

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  17. kd

    The billboard is pretty accurate. The LDS spokesman makes it seem that the Mormon church throws its doors open to gays. Not so at all. Just two weeks ago, at their bi-annual Conference, they doubled-down on their anti-gayness, saying that gays should not be allowed to marry and should never be allowed to raise children. They may 'accept' gay members into their church, but they make those gay people to promise to live the church's anti-gay stances.

    Also, it is very true that the LDS church did not let Black males attain the priesthood until 1978, as we all now know. (Women of any color are not allowed that position). So black male members of the church, the very, very few there were, were second-class citizens of that church then. And, frankly, now. How many black leaders in the church? I lived in Utah for 17 years and was aware of none.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  18. Billsf

    Be careful. The spaghetti monster is reading all of these comments!

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Its OK. I recently became a pastafarian. But I'm thinking of returning to dudeism.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm typing my messages from under a restaurant napkin. We all know the spaghetti monster forgives all that is done from under a napkin, praise be upon It.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      May his noodley appendages comfort you.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • meemee

      Count me in. I'll bring the mint jelly to the rites.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • kenneth

      Ramen.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  19. Ruben Gonzales

    Here is Romany Mormon cult doctrine:Mormonism shares some beliefs with traditional Christianity, its main teachings depart from biblical truth. For example, Mormonism rejects the idea of a Triune God. Why? Because LDS theology says Jesus was a created being, the result of a “heavenly father” and a “heavenly mother.” In addition, Mormon doctrine says that God has a physical body and was a man like anyone else at one time. Further, the Mormon Church teaches eternal progression, through which a man can himself become a god, be “sealed” to a wife (or wives) in a “celestial marriage,” and produce spirit children to populate another planet. Mormonism is fundamentally a system of multiple gods, not a single, Triune God as held in biblical Christianity.

    Salvation is also much different in Mormon teachings. The Bible presents salvation as a free gift of God obtained by grace through faith. Human works do not contribute to our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Mormon salvation includes both faith and a series of works. Eternal security (the belief that a person cannot lose his or her salvation) is rejected, since Mormon salvation is based in large part on acts of obedience after an initial faith experience.

    Mormons also view Scripture differently. Mormons accept the Bible as inspired (particularly the King James Version), yet they also claim that The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, along with other writings from early Mormonism such as The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants. These books redefine or contradict key biblical doctrines yet are considered authoritative by Mormons.

    Finally, Mormonism teaches a view of heaven that differs from what the Bible presents. According to LDS theology, three eternal options exist: the celestial, telestial, and terrestrial kingdoms. Two are based on good works, with the top level (the celestial kingdom) reserved for the most faithful Mormons.

    Despite the Mormon Church’s rapid growth and influential members, its beliefs are incompatible with historic biblical teaching. As we have seen, Mormonism’s core beliefs are far afield of the orthodox Christian faith. The Mormon error affects their view of God, Jesus, salvation, Scripture, and the afterlife.
    ( Got Question.com )

    October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Amhlair

      This is a very accurate post, but so lengthy that few people will probably read it.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • meemee

      There is no truth but "truthiness" in the Bible or any other religious tome.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • meemee

      The "triune" god of Christianity is a flimsy cover from the fact that it arose from Paul's need to attract polytheistic Greeks into his church. Christianity is really polytheism combined with patriarchal Judaism.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Thomas

      Ruben all churches are cults. Read the definition. Using the word cult is a way to stir up the negative connotation of the word. Really makes you sound bigoted.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • treblemaker

      Thank goodness everyone has a right to their opinions...and so do I. A triune God is not ONE GOD! There is only ONE GOD, and he is GOD! He sent His beloved Son, another spirit being, to show a wayward Jewish nation that they had lost their way. His sacrificial death opened the door to the Gentiles to have a chance for salvation. It takes faith AND works-that's why there are epistles and letters after the Gospels showing how to lead a life pleasing to the Lord AFTER confessing your sins and acknowledging that the Son (the Messiah) did indeed die for our sins. The Holy Spirit is another spirit being, sent to us by the Lord as our new and rebuilt "conscience".

      What makes you think that the Messiah only appeared in Israel? It is very possible that the Messiah appeared on the North American continent showing the true Way back to the Father. If you think that the Mormon religion is cultish, I present to you the most cultish denomination of all-Roman Catholicism, a marriage of Roman pagan rituals and Messianic teachings, watering down the true message of the Messiah in order to be accepted by the decaying populace of ancient Rome. I could go on and on, but this is good enough for now.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • skarphace

      treblemaker: you have just highlighted one reason I really do not understand Mormons. They say they are Christians and yet they argue against the very foundation of Christianity, the trinity.

      You are right, Mormons do not believe in the trinity. They believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct creatures. However, the trinity, being that 'the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit' are actually one and the same, is the very basis of Christianity. To a Christian, Jesus is God.

      Therefore, by arguing against the concept of the trinity, you are arguing against Christianity itself. This is why Mormons are not and will never be Christians. Ok, unless they have another 'revelation', that is.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. lolCAT2000

    I totally agree with the tendency of the ad...
    discrimination against blacks and gays needs to be stopped once and for all.
    But why would Atheists back such a message?
    Because you should "love your next like yourself"...?
    ...oh really?

    October 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • a

      Keep spamming. Have a big problem with atheists, I see.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Because most atheist are fair individuals who don't like bigotry and hate.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Bob

      Because atheists don't need a god to be good people.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Scott

      Make no mistake, they hate.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • lolCAT2000

      @a Sorry, I just read the recent Atheist debate and I just can't believe my eyes how many silly things the "smartest" people are saying. :/
      @lam of dog: Some bus drivers also cook really well.
      @bob It's very nice of you that you describe yourself as a good person... but maybe you are just nice to people when it helps you get ahead? When did you do something good to someone you didn't know? And why? Wouldn't that be somehow a stupid thing overall?
      Look what nature is doing:
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDWSmQsvRSE&w=640&h=390]

      October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • drinker75

      I'm an atheist, I do charity work, I deliver meals on wheels, I volunteered as a docent, I volunteered at my children's schools, I volunteered as a horse leader for disabled riders. Did I mention that I'm an atheist?? I don't expect anything in return for doing these things, although maybe it's selfish of me to get a good feeling from helping others.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:54 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.