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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. Mac

    I cannot believe YOU PEOPLE want to be ruled by Salt Lake City. THATS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU ELECT THE PLUTOCRAT.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Ismael

      I agree.
      If that guy turn to be the next president. His leaders will be the ones running the nation from Utah. A cult member do that what his/her cult leaders tell them to do. No room for critical or independent thinking.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  2. Mohammad

    These people give atheists a bad name. Why are they trying to make this political? How about bashing Obama too?

    October 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Wow, you really think that religitards aren't making it 'political'?!?!?! Atehists r just telling another side of it

      October 22, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      Mormanism: "No blacks allowed."

      Mitt Romney is a blatant bigot and a racist. And if he had his way, 47% of the American people would be considered second class citizens and would be segregated from society under his Jim Crow system.

      Let's face it, Romney will never be POTUS.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Chooch0253

      Another person that appears to have reading comprehension difficulties. Not surprising. That seems to be a constant when it comes to Romney supporters. “We all understand the implications of having a Christian president. We do not understand the implications of having a Mormon president,” “We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance.”

      Does that help you. You should have read it twice now. Is it starting to register or do you need a slap upside the head?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  3. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    lets have a debate on crazy ..... Mitt the Grand Master Kolob would win hands down.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  4. Henry

    I am an atheist. Based on Romney's tenure as the governor of Massachusetts, I see no evidence whatsoever that his Mormon faith affected his governing any more, than say Obama's faith impacts his governing.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

      I take it your are neither black, gay or female eh?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Mac

      Liar. Plant.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      No, his mormon faith didn't affect his governing because he had no problem shipping American jobs overseas and making a fortune while laying off thousands of American workers. In other words, his mormon faith taught him how to look out for himself.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Ismael

      How do you know for sure? Are you a Mormon that's using "theocratic warfare" to defend the faith? Are you an expert in cult rules, regulation and behavior to know if his faith didn't play a roll in the decision process? Please classify.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Andy in Minneapolis

      @ Henry

      Actually I believe Romney's beliefs have influenced his governence. Gov. Romney has gone on record as stating that after looking at the facts and numbers he has changed his decision based upon his religious beliefs. Gosh I wish I could remember exactly when and where that came from but keep your eyes and ears open I'm sure it'll come back up again in the last days before the election.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  5. aerokid

    So let me get this straight. Atheists will b**** and moan all day about religious aspects of life that are around them and insist that religion not be forced upon them, but they go around and attempt to force non-religion on other people.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • a dose of reality

      How is a billboard forcing you to do anything? ya don't see atheists trying to teach evolution in church now do ya????

      October 22, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      All throughout history, different sects of Atheism have fought brutal wars over who doesn't believe in God the most. Oh, wait a second...

      October 22, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • NoMoreLabels

      If someone doesn't speak out against a majority idea such as religion; it overwhelms easily. With the mass of religion as it is today; can you imagine the quagmire of chaos that would result in the fight over which ideology would rule? We see a glimpse compared to what it could (and would) become. Be thankful for the neutrality that critical thinking has to offer–it balances so that a wave of ritualistic religious (hostility masked as love for the most part) BS doesn't swallow society as a whole.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Chooch0253

      that posting is about as intelligent as when somebody makes a statement another says "so what you are saying"....

      October 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  6. Dave Bradley

    Gee, I thought there were laws against hate speech? Why do they never apply to groups like these haters?

    October 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • snowboarder

      i'm curious what in this campaign you consider hate speech?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Chooch0253

      How about because they are not a hate group? People do not believe what others believe and say so so in your simple mind that makes them a hate group. No wonder you buy the religious rhetoric as fact.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  7. MrBeenThere

    @ citizen bob: so are the atheist organization is saying that if Romney is elected he would be the first non-Christian president? ????????
    -------------------–
    That sums it up................. and he well be..............the christian groups and Billy Grahm himself have been saying that for years. Oh... that"s right the big Billy just change his mind and welcomed Mitt and the Mormons to the club. Mitt and the Mormons are only for themselves and that's the way there run this Government if they can get in.

    Obama 2012

    October 22, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  8. BurnNotice

    What makes the Mormons so different is the fact that it's all a colossal Fraud!

    Joseph Smith never "translated" anything, but patched together a boring fantasy novel.

    Then, he plagiarized the King James Bible and claimed it was given to him on golden plates.

    Mark Twain had it right, his commentary on the Book of Mormon is both truthful and hilarious.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • snowboarder

      burn – all religions are colossal frauds. have you ever expended any critical thought to the jewish or christian doctrines? they are complete absurdities.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • blighter

      Being a complete fraud doesn't make Mormonism different from Christianity and other religions.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    Some super fun video of Mormon Temple ceremonies.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6udew9axmdM&w=640&h=390]

    October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Person

      How do you get the html embedding of youtube videos to work on these forums?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

      yes, they are a strange lot!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  10. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    WOW ...mormons have come a long way from core... they do not mix races! and women are subjects or slave-wives for the planetary gods. Mormons are only cool if you are a male conservative-minded space-freak!

    October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  11. a dose of reality

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Iconoclast

      Excellent.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • pjs

      Most if not all religions have one thing in common that keep the flocks faithful.They offer and promise life after death.We would all like to live forever.There is not one human being that was alive or is alive that can prove an afterlife.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  12. MrBeenThere

    The Truth Hurts........... And don't forget that Mormons are taught that Lying to further yourself or cause is OK........... Pretty sums up the whole Republican Presidential cycle doesn't it............

    October 22, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • huh?

      Please provide evidence.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • dragonfire77

      No need, they provide that evidence every day. Check up on what the GOP has been saying lately. You might just be offended.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • MrBeenThere

      OK........... Please Read very carefully................ I like the one from the great grand daughter of the exalted wizzard/founder himself.

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/07/exclusive-brigham-young-s-great-great-granddaughter-on-mormonism-and-mitt-romney.html

      http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/6267/does_mormonism_encourage_lds_people_to_lie/

      http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/13/the-root-of-mitt-romneys-comfort-with-lying/

      October 22, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  13. snowboarder

    as an atheist, i don't like the methods of these activist atheists and i see no benefit in this campaign.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • freetime1

      " activist atheists " are why ouir numbers are growing so fast. " activist atheists" are needed to get the word out and it is working too.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • snowboarder

      freetime – certainly not due to compaigns like this. following a presidential candidate like this they are just publicity hounds.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • Iconoclast

      @ snowboarder – Using a mobile billboard seems, on the face of it, really smart. Why pay for multiple billboards that may not be tactically placed due to a saturated billboard market when you can pay for one that can be placed anywhere the law allows and has the probability of greater impact desired? I'm sure publicity is a big plus, but the news does not have to cover it.

      Also, I've never purchased a billboard, but it seems plausible that billboard companies may require a set time period for a billboard to be leased in order to decrease unleased billboard time and establish greater prediction of income. By using a mobile billboard, for a moving presidential candidate, alot of potential monetary waste is minimalized.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Chooch0253

      “We all understand the implications of having a Christian president. We do not understand the implications of having a Mormon president,” “We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance.” Did you read the article or just post your "opinion"?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • NoMoreLabels

      This campaign provides information–in the name of transparency–that most people turn a blind eye to due to indoctrination by society/parenting/religion grooming them to do such. It's meant to educate when knowledge is of vital importance.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  14. citizen bob

    so are the atheist organization is saying that if Romney is elected he would be the first non-Christian president?

    October 22, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Primewonk

      No. It's saying that Mormons are racist hômophobes, just like most fundiot nutters.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Mike D

      That's what they're saying, yes. Mormons are not Christians.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • blighter

      Nah, the great thing about Mormons is they have all the crazy of Christianity, plus extra-bonus Mormon crazy. In the Venn diagram of religious nutjobbery, the Mormon circle completely surrounds the Christian circle.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    The Mormon doctrines are indeed racist.

    Until 1978, the LDS had only a few non-US temples and they were all in lily white areas. One in England, one in Alberta, Canada and one in Switzerland.
    Isn't it convenient that the Prophet received a divine revelation allowing dark skinned people into the clergy at the exact same time as the Mormons opened their first temple in a land full of dark skinned people!
    It can be hard to get unpaid volunteer clergy to do the dirty work when your religious tenets automatically exlude the majority of a given population.

    Today, while there is no official policy of segregation, the old prejudices still exist.
    Black LDS church member Darron Smith wrote in 2003:
    "Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness".

    "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel. Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
    – David O. McKay (Lester E. Bush's, "Mormonism’s Ne.gro Doctrine: An Historical Overview")

    "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."
    – Brigham Young ("Journal of Discourses", Vol 10, page 110)

    October 22, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Iconoclast

      Nice post. This is the bigotry that Atheists abhor.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  16. holly

    Aithiests suck.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Religitards suck. Gee, now that accomplished a lot didn't it?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • BurnNotice

      Your spelling sucks!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Chooch0253

      Did you stay awake all night to come up with that "brilliant" comment?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • blighter

      They didn't stay up all night. It came to them instantly in a vision from Jesus. Apparently, Jesus turned off his spell-check.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  17. !

    Atheism needs to be banned !!

    October 22, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Religitards need to be banned. fair is fair right?

      October 22, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Mirosal

      So, in other words, NO ONE should be able to question anything regarding religion, is that what you're saying? I want you to be very clear in your answer.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • freetime1

      All we need to do is get rid of the 1st Admendment that keeps messing everything up. Please. I know you fear us, the truth is hard for some to take, but we are not only hear to stay we are growing faster and faster.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  18. Kelly51

    So why doesn't the liberal party do something about this nonsense? Is it because they are all athiests? II don't care for the liberal views but attacking someone's religion is not American at all. Obo needs to go! Romney 2012!!!!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • chubby rain

      There are conservative atheists...

      October 22, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      The church of later day aint no saints flip flops just like Robinromneyhood. No blacks allowed, O' blacks allowed, no blacks allowed, O' blacks allowed. I hope a bolt of lightning takes Robinromneyhood ou for good and his coward son for threatening the President.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Scales of Justice

      How odd? Not that I subscribe to their faith but President Obama is regularly "attacked" for being a Muslim even though he has professed his Christian faith. Go figure.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Chooch0253

      Sure thing sock puppet, not buying into someone's religion as being a fact, is anti-American but being prejudiced towards other races is perfectly acceptable to people like you.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  19. Franco

    Atheists fighting something that they believe does not exist.

    Atheists are not the brightest lights.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • chubby rain

      Even if God(s) don't exist, there are still believers...

      October 22, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Kelly51

      Do they really expect people to drop their faith and pick up on athieisim with these unhonorable tactics? Athiests are indeed losers!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • a dose of reality

      And all the religitards pushing their religion on everyone else is honorable? What hyp*cracy!!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Danny

      Actually, I'm pretty sure atheists believe religion (with its often accompanying intolerance) does exist. You don't seem too awfully bright yourself.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Chooch0253

      Given your posting, I think it is the other way around.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  20. tv22

    Do they follow around the Christian President? Plus, if they are atheists, what do they care about what others believe? Is there now an organized religion of atheism?

    Atheists – life is meaningless, then you die.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • a dose of reality

      We care because you try to push your religion onto everyone else! And fwiw, you live a lie and then you die too. All dressed up and no where to go.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      No, life is not meaningless. This is the only one you get, so make the most of it, and live it to the fullest extent. Learn all you can, teach what you know to those who follow you, and help those who need it. No deity required to perform any of those things.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • vancouverron

      religious–think life is meaningful when it really isn't. then they die.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Chooch0253

      Try to comprehend what you read. Maybe re-read the article. It clearly states why they are doing what they are doing where Romney is concerned. You mean you didn't "understand". Not surprising. That is the one consistent when it comes to Republican/Conservatives, even when presented with information that should be factored in, they only hear or see what is in their heads.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:38 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.