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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. ME II

    I find this mobile billboard disappointing. By following Romney around, it is associating with the candidate and therefore blurring the "wall".

    October 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  2. Christianity and Islam is a mental disease- FACT

    "when the church head says he received a revelation to reverse the policy"
    .
    We call this mental illness.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Reality

    Another "better" ad: (only for the new members of this blog)

    "So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones."

    October 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Sane person

    Religion is a learned mental illness.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • MCR

      A mental illness has to be both anomalous and cause distress – religion is both common (at least in the US) and consistent with a happy life for both self and those around one, depending on the nature of the beliefs. Religion certainly takes a large number of extra presumptions without evidence, but it’s just a matter of degree compared to those of us non-religious who have fewer fundamental premises. No one walks around without any fundamental premises: you have to take some things as given simply to believe you’ll exist one second from now. So if you want to redefine insanity, it’s just a matter of degree who’s crazy and who isn’t. And I’m betting you find a lot of your premises are unfounded once you look at them more closely. Starting with the assumption the religious are mentally ill.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Talking to imaginary beings qualifies as crazy to me.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Sane person

      Not all religious people are mentally ill, but there are different degrees of religiosity and if you are TOO religious you will be put in an asylum.

      October 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • rocketscientist

      Any licensed and competent psychiatrist or psychologist will affirm that having religious belief does not necessarily equate to having a pathology, i.e. delusions, schizophrenia, etc. You can check the DSM IV.

      So anyone claiming that people with religious belief is either ignorant/and/or a lying bigot.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_delusion

      October 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The brilliant rocket scientist burps up this gem: "So anyone claiming that people with religious belief is either ignorant/and/or a lying bigot."

      Comedy gold, I tell ya. You couldn't pay for this kind of ridicule.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsaOL85jx9Q&w=640&h=390]

      October 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  5. Mickey1313

    The mormons posting are clearly lieing to save the churchs face. All theism is croupt, but new obviously false religions, eg mormonism and scientology, are dangerous and evil. I fear the power they wield far more then islam. Only zionism is a more damaging and dangerous belief.

    October 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • rocketscientist

      The Church of LDS is not evil. If it was, I never would have married into a Mormon family (I'm not Mormon).

      Get over your obvious bigotry. You'll be a happier person.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  6. Verimius

    As one who finds the fundamental tenets of Christianity - existence of God, divinity of Christ, resurrection, salvation, etc. - completely implausible, it hardly matters whether or not some events happened in America or on another planet.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  7. Jerry Fallswell

    There is nothing wrong with a church excluding the spawn of Cain or the hell bound perverted sodomites who now want to "marry" each other.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      You are the real hell spawned idiot.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Jesus

    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!`~

    October 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Are you spamming this now even though "Prayer works" hasn't?

      October 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  9. ROMNEY AND PAUL + GREED and HATE

    Good! Romney needs to start explaining his cult to the American people!

    October 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Marsupial's have a pouch

      October 23, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Troll Alert

      "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:
      "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 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      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!~`

      October 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • derp

      I prayed that you would stop posting this garbage.

      It didn't work.

      Prayer doesn't change things.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      @derp
      The only prayer God will hear from you is the sinners prayer of repentance. Once you are born again you may talk with God on any number of topics, opposition to prayer will not be on the agenda. God bless

      October 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      I often speak with Him about my pants. God bless

      October 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      Repent and be saved false 'just sayin', be delivered from your thieving lying ways before it is too late. God bless

      October 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Looking at the creation of the LDS church it ahould be obvious to anyone with half a brain that it was started by a snake oil salesman.

    October 23, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  12. E B

    There are lot of really misinformed bigoted comments here. I wonder if any of these people denouncing Mormonism have ever set foot in an LDS chapel? Talked to a Mormon? Visited mormon.org? I am a Mormon. I see misunderstandings about what I believe all the time, and they don't bother me perse, so much as the fact that so many people don't take the time to try and find out who we really are. The fundamental belief and practice in the LDS Church is to follow Jesus Christ. We believe every person on this earth will have an equal opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. What's discriminatory about that? Even these attacks lose sight that every person has the same promised blessings for living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Taking the media's word for anything isn't smart – they're biased. The media is playing us for fools. For example, there is so much more to debate accuracy than what they say: like the fact that the military still uses bayonets and submarines have been around since the Civil War and nuclear ones since after WWII and that Romney's math really does work. Yet the media continues to talk positively of Obama and negatively of Romney as if we won't see through their bias. Be prepared to have even more polls thrown at you that are weighted unrealistically towards Democrats – above even 2008 leves.

    Read both sides for balanced coverage because it sure doesn't exist in one place and both sides leave stuff out. How can you make an informed opinion on any topic if you consider only one point of view? You can't. Thanks for listening.
    http://www.conservativemormonmom.blogspot.com

    October 23, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Do you condemn ho....mo....se...x...uality and keep gays from openly joining LDS? thats discrimination.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Dan

      Another conservative mor0n who doesn't understand how the polls work...

      October 23, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • MCR

      EB, I think what people want is to have this line from the Book of Mormon explained:

      "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men."

      Certainly, other religions all have their issues, but you can see why this kind of thing would make people uncomfortable, especially given the history of exclusion?

      October 23, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • a reasonable atheist

      The president (snarkily) stated that we "have less bayonets and horses," not that we do not use them still. He then went on to bring up modern aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. He was making the argument that force projection is important, and that modern technology allows us to project dramatically more force with less ships. Gov. Romney stated something to the effect that our Navy has the least amount of ships since 1917. The president's comments were to the point that one modern aircraft carrier (force projection nearly unlimited), missile cruiser (force projection ~1000 miles), or nuclear submarine (force projection ~1000 miles for conventional and ~5000 miles nuclear) can project dramatically more power over a greater distance than the entire US Navy of 1917 (force projection limited to at most ~60 miles from the muzzle of the largest battleship guns). Therefore, counting ships is a ridiculous way to measure naval strength, and the governor's argument is pointless.

      If you want to measure against existing modern navies, tell me how many super carriers the rest of the world has... That's right, zero. How many are in service in the US Navy? 11. Other nations operate at best medium and escort carriers. The US has more of those as well. Claiming that our navy is weak is laughable.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • OgLikeRock

      Rock say to Og, "WOW that lotta words to say 'I am superst itious and believe in stuff that not real, and think others should run their lives by it, too" and then rock laugh at stooopid humans. Og like rock, rock smarter than super sti tious people. Og laugh too, so sad but funny....

      October 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      google "mormon think lying" to learn about "Lying For the Lord"

      October 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • ;p;

      They're called temples, not chapels
      And no one is allowed in there except mormons or by invite
      Are you actually mormon...?

      October 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • rtr

      I was a mormon back in the 60"s and what they tried to teach me was wrong then. There is one sure way to tell if a church is good or bad and that is if god all of a sudden changes his/hers mind, whenever this happens it proves the church wrong. We left the church when they told my mom that the only way to heaven was if her husband invited her.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • OTOH

      ;p;

      They have 'chapels' too... and there are some areas that are open to the non-Mormon public.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  13. MCR

    Like being a Democrat or Republican, one's religion is just a belief that should be open to scrutiny and criticism. It scares me that in this country you can wrap any belief up, call it a religion, and then claim persecution as soon as you're criticized. It's scarier still, that in some countries you're legally protected from criticism once you wrap yourself in religion.

    October 23, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  14. Jesus Christ

    If you have a mind of your own, look up the things mentioned in this video and find out that it's all true.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0u6clxJmI8&w=640&h=390]

    October 23, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  15. nicolo

    Fear is never a good thing...

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwDU5v98qp0&w=640&h=390]

    October 23, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  16. jackback

    Why not listen to the ones that have experience?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Kc7dodjr4&w=640&h=390]

    October 23, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  17. pastmorm

    Take it from people that have been there...

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bup4ydQ7jFQ&w=640&h=390]

    October 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  18. Huebert

    I'm a troll child! I'm a troll, actually I am a troll....that creepy kind that you worry about...I'm a troll! Finally someone has given me purpose!!! Thank you sweet Jesus, I love you!!!!

    October 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  19. Huebert

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6nAJ8boRpU&w=640&h=390]

    October 23, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  20. hotdogguru

    Mormons practiced polygamy from the beginning, this is a fact. They only quit when the forced by the government and that coincided with divine revelation. Still in their canonized scripture it commands (yes demands) multiple wives and now they teach that many wives will be give to the men in the next life.

    CNN, you are wrong! Mormons still believe in polygamy but can't practice it legally. But you just wait until they make it to their magic kingdom – wives will be plentiful. -ex Mormom

    October 23, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Huebert

      A large portion of my family is connected to the Mormon church. Some are practicing and some are ex-Mormons. None of them secretly believe in polygamy.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Jesus Christ

      Ok Huebert, we believe you. NOT!
      Not only do you have secret temple names, you practice secret rituals and believe that you will all become gods of your own planets if you are good enough on this earth. You believe that GOD was once a simple man on another planet just like this one. You believe that women can never hold the power of GOD, but abusive men can. Now anyone can look up what I just said and actually find out for themselves what the truth about the mormon church is, instead of taking Huebert's word for it....

      October 23, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Huebert

      @Jesus

      I'm an atheist you twit. I know that god is nothing more than an imaginary friend for adults. However, I do despise the paranoid bigotry which fills your and hotdog's post.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Huebert

      Ok, I admit that I'm schizo...I wouldn't be an atheist if I'm defending mormons, but I like to play both sides because the voices tell me that I get more attention that way. Then when that doesn't work, I attack people, which my doctor says is my borderline personality disorder. I'm really a plague on society and I only wish I could get more meds! At least they let us use the computer here in the psych ward!

      October 23, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Huebert

      Good bye troll child.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Gast

      I'm a practicing Mormon and I do not know a single person who believes in polygamy or would want to live it. Also, it was not from the very beginning. It was later and not everyone practiced it. And yes, it was abandonned for statehood. But it's not part of our doctrine. Period. Just because someone says that they used to be a Mormon doesn't mean they're going to give you the facts. If people are not happy with something, they've got a reason to gripe and turn others off. I'm not a Utah Mormon. Not interested in being like that culture. But get your facts straight. I personally know plenty of active gay members and we are ALL held to the same standards. And by the way, we're not all Republicans. I'm pretty left of center, thanks!

      October 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Kev

      Wow, that's a new, I wonder why I, being LDS never heard that I was still commanded to have multiple wives either in this life or the next. I also wonder why then back in the nineteenth century when the church was practicing polygyny that only a minority of Latter-Day-Saints were ever involved in it?

      October 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • rocketscientist

      hotdogguru is full of it. Gast and Kev are right. I married into a Mormon family (I'm Catholic), and I can say unequivocably that none of my sister-in-laws or my mother-in-law and definitely my own wife (although I'm not Mormon) would go for the multiple wives thing. And I really think the guys in the family wouldn't want it either.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • rocketscientist

      BTW, Huebert, well done!

      October 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      And you mormons just try to push away the polygamy allegations while ignoring the statement that you DO believe you'll all become GODS eventually. That GOD was once a man. Admit it and see if people think you're still a christian. No...you just go on about being persecuted and tortured (making you gods chosen people of course) while ignoring the fact that people are more intelligent these days and they don't fall for your avoidance of the truth.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:00 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.