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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. WillieLove

    Racist religion....but, they make a stand against sodomites, but these sodomites need Christ like the rest of us. We all need to turn from our sinful ways. Sin is Sin.

    October 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  2. Margaret Swain

    I just wish this election was over with already. Obama is a Muslin, Romney is Morman and I am Baptist. Nothing much matters regarding their belief, except the one belief that upholds American Values and respects that, and isn't all for throwing it all under the bus in the name of economic socialism. Goodbye Barack Hussein.

    October 28, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • WillieLove

      Well, if you want to keep the GOP rich vote Mitt. did jesus help people in need and did he stand up for the poor and needy? Was jesus a soul winner? they both are under satan's control but your job is to win people to Christ and stand up for the oppress. Rich getting richer with a care for people and they wont take that with them to Hell. No one is perfect but we must try to live a life Christ called us to live.

      October 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  3. kjr

    How do I donate to pay for a tank of gas? Let's keep this billboard rolling...

    October 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  4. fred smith

    Lets see, what religion is our democrat senate leader Hairy Reid? Why no mention of that CNN?

    October 28, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • IslandAtheist

      Because the magic pantie wearer isn't running for president.

      October 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  5. Michael Corrieri

    I am anti-Romey, but I have to say this billboard is BS. A church should have the right to deny gays. Joe Biden is a Catholic, and the Catholic church does not allow active gays to participate in any sacraments. Where's the billboard?

    October 28, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  6. SDbalance

    Grow up some day maybe? Adults disagree on policy and political philosophies. Children resort to name calling. At least though this is honest about what I believe to be the main reason motivating many people to vote "against Obama"–not so much "for Romney." Bigotry stemming from personal insecurity, hatred, and, at the core, fear, nicely packaged as religion and "love for God." (the other being that great moral virtue of financial greed).Trust that if there were someone white, male, and Christian and wanting to create "out" groups to scape goat and demonize (LGBT, "promiscuous" women who love to get abortions, ethnic minorities, "evil nations") running against Romney, the same people would be on here belittling Romney and Mormonism.

    October 28, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  7. fred smith

    Lets hear what Obamas Reverend Wright has to say. Why no articles on that CNN?

    October 28, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • good one

      ..all religion is weird,in my opinion, but baptizing dead people is totally out there.No?

      October 28, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  8. Jim

    Truth – you're third grade education is showing.

    The margin of error goes both ways, so it is just as likely that Obama is FARTHER ahead as that Romney is closer.

    The margin of error might work in mitt's favor in one state, but the odds of them all erring in his favor is like 1000 to 1.

    October 28, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • A

      If you are going to insult someone's third-grade education, at least you should know the difference between "your" and "you're". How embarrassing for you.

      October 28, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  9. splassher6

    'SPECIAL REPORT' INVESTIGATES BENGHAZI — NEW REVELATIONS. Watch Sunday @ 3 and 10pm ET on FOX news, the number one news network in the USA. Sorry CNN, even you cannot stop the truth from coming out. Try real news for a change. Perhaps your viewers will appreciate it.

    October 28, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Engineer

      Watching Romney try to score points with American deaths turns my stomach.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Rhino40

      Wathing a sitting president bold face lie to you about the deaths of 4 Americans in order to avoid any political backlash this close to an election should turn your stomach even more.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • fred smith

      Pull your head out engr and go read the real news.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  10. coyote

    so no women were allowed at the bull and bear lounge in NY at the waldorf until 1977. I'll bet they play golf too... insidious game.

    October 28, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  11. Joe Smith

    Besides, waht self respecting black or gay or person familiar with the book of mormon would want to join? Read it sometime. It sounds like Monty Python made it up.

    October 28, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • fred smith

      Lets here what Obamas Reverand Wright has to say, hmmmm?

      October 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll bet Obama knows how to spell "Reverend," you bozo.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  12. Truth

    We do seem to be having a critical n1gger f@&&ot problem in America today.

    October 28, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who's 'we', fvcktard? You and your pet rat?

      Grow up.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  13. Joe Smith

    It is misleading becasue they will let gays in if those gays promise to take courses to un-gay themselves.......

    and they will allow blacks, but not as full members.........

    but Indians are welcome since they are actually Jews according to mormonism.

    However, any Christian would have to renounce their faith to join mormonism since they are all considered heretics by the mormons hierarchy. So if you want your own planet and magic underwear - renounce Jesus and your faith, heathens.

    October 28, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • JT

      Joe, you mean they used to not allow blacks. I am a "former" Mormon. Blacks are now allowed to be full members in the church. That's why the billboard has a date next to the part about the blacks. Either way, the church is doing gays a favor. It baffles me as to why anyone would actually want to be a part of that bizarre cult. Check out some of their temple endowment rituals on YouTube. Creepy stuff!

      October 28, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • fred smith

      Lets hear what Obamas Reverend Wright has to say CNN. Why no articles on that?

      October 28, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  14. big b

    Let the poofs and boots start their own churches.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  15. NC Independent

    CNN - your blatant bias is still showing!

    October 28, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  16. KarenFaye

    In order to be "born again" don't you have to be "BORN" the first time???????? He's clearly in favor of abortion because he's the result of one.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If this made sense to you when you typed it, you're drunk, stoned, mentally challenged, or deranged. Or "E": all of the above.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  17. salathieljones

    Reblogged this on The World Outside of Yourself.

    October 28, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  18. unowhoitsme

    Mormons have multiple wives...Mitt lies...dodged the war, sent American jobs overseas, doesn't want anything to do with the "other" 47% of hardworking middle class/poor/senior Americans.

    Omit Romney NOW, before it's too late. He will destroy America!

    October 28, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • big b

      Too late. Your fool in the WH has already accomplished that!

      October 28, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Truth

      Enjoy Romney for the next 8 years, the n1gger failed.

      October 28, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • coyote

      hey truth – cnn does not play. just wait. they will isolate your IP address and then no matter who you become, they will silence you. you'll have to purchase a new computer and get new internet. lovely, stop using that word.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • JT

      Truth – You're disgusting. It wouldn't be hard for CNN to get your IP address. There is no such thing as anonymity online anymore.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • fred smith

      Lets hear what Obamas Reverend Wright has to say, Hmmmm.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  19. thomas

    I'm Mormon and gay and have had no problems what so ever.

    October 28, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Joe Smith

      guess you danced a two step when the mormons chuch spent 25 million backing anti-gay proposition in Cali two years ago.....

      October 28, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • JT

      Sorry, but you're either Mormon or you're actively gay. You can't be both. The only way to be gay in the church today is to deny, deny, deny and live as a straight person.

      October 28, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  20. South Fulton Guy

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/trinity-church-members-reveal-obama-shocker/

    October 28, 2012 at 6:43 am |
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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.