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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. SokrMom

    Attacking the GOP presidential candidate on this issue, at this time, is just helping him get elected, since right-wingers are easily convinced that religion is under attack from government. (It isn't hard to understand their thinking, since they are themselves using politics to attack secularism.)

    October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  2. gladiatorgrl

    One thing we'll never know. How much tax exempt money Mitt has donated to his cult. I sure hope there are no homeless or hungry in Utah with all those millions in "charity" .

    October 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • jackthegeek

      It is not his fault what the law says about how much he is paying for his investments on capital gains. He paid his dues and gave 30% to charity. If he belongs to 1% then praise the lord for his hard work. I work with the 1% people like him which is the engine in our economy.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  3. ARAPIKOS

    When Mormons come to my door–I tell them that I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian–a religion over 2000 years old and their is only 183 years–BIG difference–right? Maybe, they should join our faith.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Huebert

      If the age of a religion is so important would you consider converting to Hinduism? considering it is about 3000 years old.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  4. commonvoiceoo1

    I worked in law enforcement for 24 years and worked with many that belonged to the Mormon faith. I was really surprised when a fellow officer, whom happened to be an elder... told me that the color black was the mark of cain and his people. This was ten years ago. America has advanced in the right direction concerning people of color...yes, there is still room for improvement. I think an old member of the NAACP would echo those words...what did he say some 56 years ago? "Racism is America's worst disease". Albert Einstein

    October 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    Any Christian voting for a mormon cultist will be damned!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Huebert

      Can't you feel that christian love?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  6. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    To all those who say atheism is a religion or faith: the lack of faith is not faith. If you think that having no religion is a religion, you are sorely misguided and obviously have a poor grasp of language. Would you say that not collecting stamps is hobby?

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Mike

      Apparently we are now defining "not something" as a something.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Mike, I invite you to look up the definition of the word atheism. It does not describe "not something" as "something." It describes someone "without religion," much like the word "amputee" describes someone with a limb.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      *without

      October 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    The Mormon religion is a false religion that mocks Christianity!!!

    Any Christian voting for a mormon will be damned!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Damned!!! Damned to an imaginary hell by an imaginary god!!! Damned I tell you!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • dhondi

      flying spaghetti, I guess there is only the god of the religions we know or nothing at all?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • jackthegeek

      Where did you read that idea that they mock christians like me?? If you are a Christian, then you are a hyprocrite mocking other denominations.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      @dhondi, Prove that a god, any god, exists. Can you do this without referring to a religious text? No.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • dhondi

      Flying spaghetti, you ask me to prove....which is impossible....I ask you to disprove...which is possible, can you? No.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Mike

      @dhondi: The burden of proof lies with the one purporting an opinion as true. Lacking evidence demands acceptance of a NULL hypohtesis, which in this case, would be the improbability that a god or gods exists.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      @dhondi It is philosophically impossible to prove a negative. I rely on the complete lack of scientific evidence of the existence of any deities.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • dhondi

      So your faith is science?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • my2cents

      @dhondi

      You have it backwards. If something does exist, it can be proven to exist. If something does not exist, it cannot be proven.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Science does not require faith. It is true regardless of your opinions.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • dhondi

      Really? I thought you could not prove a negative....doesn't science rely on being able to prove negatives in the support of positives?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • dhondi

      my2cents, Do you know this to be true? I invite you to prove it.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • dhondi

      flying spaghetti, "It is true regardless of your opinions" you are starting to sound like a true believer.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      One doesn't "believe" in science. You accept it as valid based on rational, fact based evidence. Something the religion cannot provide.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • dhondi

      @ Mike, do you have all of the evidence? If not might a presumption of the NULL be a bit hasty?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • dhondi

      You accept it as valid, would it be true to say that you believe gravity exists?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Science does not require belief. I accept the existence of gravity on the basis of repeatable, testable, fact-based evidence. Gravity exists regardless of my "belief," or lack thereof, in it.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Huebert

      dhondi

      The only way to prove a negative, we will use "god does not exist" as an example, would be to observe every point in the universe simultaneously and continuously for all eternity. However in order to prove, well support, a positive all that you would have to do is find one bit of evidence for god's existence, and believer's can't reach even that low standard.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • dhondi

      How can you say that it exists regardless of your belief, when your belief that it exists regardless of your belief is yet another belief?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • dhondi

      @hubert, do we have either?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Huebert

      dhondi

      Do you have either what? There is no evidence for god's existence so the logical conclusion is that he does not exist.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • dhondi

      @ Hubert, proof requires an infinite set of trials. Supporting evidence is well, just what anything looks like when compared to the infinite, vanishingly small.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • dhondi

      God is he?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Dhondi, Imagine if I were to say, "I don't believe in the existence of chipmunks." This is a false statement, one can easily demonstate the existence of chipmunks with rational, fact based evidence. Chipmunks exist despite the fact that I don't believe in them. These are not beliefs, they are bits of factual knowledge. Extraordinary claims, like the existence of an all powerful being in the sky, require extraordinary evidence.

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

      Flying spaghetti, is that proof that your statment is false?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • dhondi

      factual knowledge is not belief? A belief of observations and thoughts about observations that led you to knowledge?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Facts do require belief. You don't have to believe a fact for it to be true.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Huebert

      dhondi

      Supporting evidence is all we, humans, have to go on. Proof's only exist in mathematics and alcohol.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      *do not
      oops.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. jack

    Church leaders 1978 revelation was Carter's threat to take away the LDS Church tax exempt status due to racism

    October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  9. Horus

    I don't subscribe to any man made religions and IMO religion is not required to be a good, moral person. However, American Atheists Organization has been making some seemingly poor decisions lately regarding "picking your battles".

    October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Mormonism is a false religion that mocks Christianity!!!

    Any Christianvoting for a mormon be damned!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  11. gladiatorgrl

    So they get to make ME walk on a crutch? b/c they NEED a crutch? I mean really. NO STATE SPONSORED RELIGION! that's ALL atheists are asking for.

    Teach a man to fish and he fishes ...
    Teach a man critical thinking skills and he goes into the Universe and says "What sky creature"?

    just b/c one is happy in ingnorance bliss does not mean they get to make that decision for others

    October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • dhondi

      Which one is living in ignorant bliss?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  12. willard43

    Forgot to mention the Vengeance Pact against the US for Mormons who were killed during the 19th-century. I'm sure it's probably been written out now, but was that not part of the pledge to be a Mormon?

    October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  13. davedave2

    most conflicts in the world were started over power money or s e x - we need to ban power money and s e x

    October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • dhondi

      the root of all evil is desire.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  14. norm

    As an atheist I find this billboard disgraceful. If American Atheists wants to attack religions, it should be because religions are silly and irrational, not because they are less than optimally inclusive.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    Any Christian who votes for a Mormon cultist will face God's wrath!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      scary....

      October 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Huebert

      On this blog, I have seen a lot more kindness and respect from the Mormon commenters than I have form the "True Christian" ones.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      kindness and respect does not change the fact that their cult mocks Christianity. Focus on what's important and not the pretty wrapping paper!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Huebert

      DD

      Kindness and respect are very important. Your actions in this world are what count. The next life, in which you believe so fervently, is nothing more than a fantasy.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  16. davedave2

    The Mormons changed in 1978 – did you want them to stay the same. Lets talk about the two most famous athetists – Mao and Stalin..

    October 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Joseph Smith

      The Mormons only changed because they were forced to, just like they were with polygamy. The BOM is false and has been proven to be not based on any real history. Why would you believe something so blatantly false?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • gladiatorgrl

      then that means they were WRONG does it not? that means their "true" God made a mistake during that last epiphany?? Imaginary fairy tales have no place in REALITY it's just WRONG.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  17. Dyslexic doG

    Is Mormonism Christian?" is a very important question. The answer is equally important and simple. No. Mormonism is not Christian.

    The reason Mormonism is not Christian is because it denies one or more of the essential doctrines of Christianity. Of the essential doctrines (that there is only one God in all existence, Jesus is divine, God in flesh, forgiveness of sins is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:1-5), and Jesus rose from the dead physically (1 John 2:19; Luke 24:39), the gospel being the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, 1 Cor. 15:1-4), Mormonism denies three of them: how many gods there are, the God of Christianity, and His work of salvation.

    Mormonism teaches

    Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) and that Jesus is a creation. It teaches that he was begotten in heaven as one of God’s spirit children (See the Book, Jesus the Christ, by James Talmage, p. 8). This is in strict contrast to the biblical teaching that he is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), eternal (John 1:1, 2, 15), uncreated, yet born on earth (Col. 1:15), and the creator all (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). Jesus cannot be both created and not created at the same time. Though Mormonism teaches that Jesus is God in flesh, it teaches that he is "a" god in flesh, one of three gods that comprise the office of the Trinity (Articles of Faith, by Talmage, pp. 35-40). These three gods are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is in direct contradiction of the biblical doctrine that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:5). See Trinity for a correct discussion of what the Trinity is (see also, false trinity)

    Because Mormonism denies the biblical truth of who God is, who Jesus is, how forgiveness of sins is attained, and what the gospel is, the Mormon is not Christian – in spite of all his claims that he is Christian. Quite simply, the Mormon god doesn't exist.

    Mormonism teaches

    Mormon theology teaches that God is only one of countless gods, that he used to be a man on another planet, that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of that god on that world, and that he brought one of his wives to this world with whom he produces spirit children who then inhabit human bodies at birth. The first spirit child to be born was Jesus. Second was Satan, and then we all followed. But, the Bible says that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5), that God has been God eternally (Psalm 90:2) – which means he was never a man on another planet. Since the Bible denies the existence of other gods (and goddesses), the idea that Jesus is the product of a god and goddess couple is rejected. The Bible tells us that Jesus – The Jesus of Mormonism – is definitely not the same Jesus of the Bible. Therefore, faith in the Mormon Jesus is faith misplaced because the Mormon Jesus doesn't exist.

    Mormonism teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross itself (and receiving it by faith) is not sufficient to bring forgiveness of sins. It teaches that the forgiveness of sins is obtained though a cooperative effort with God; that is, we must be good and follow the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church in order to obtain forgiveness. Consider James Talmage, a very important Mormon figure who said, "The sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone has exercised an influence for evil," (Articles, p. 432), and "Hence the justice of the scriptural doctrine that salvation comes to the individual only through obedience," (Articles, p. 81). This clearly contradicts the biblical doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith (Rom. 5:1; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9) and the doctrine that works are not part of our salvation but a result of them (Rom. 4:5, James 2:14-18).

    To further confuse the matter, Mormonism further states that salvation is twofold. It maintains that salvation is both forgiveness of sins and universal resurrection. So when a Mormon speaks of salvation by grace, he is usually referring to universal resurrection. But the Bible speaks of salvation as the forgiveness of sins, not simple universal resurrection. Where Mormonism states that forgiveness of sins is not by faith alone, the Bible does teache it is by faith alone. Which is correct? Obviously, it is the Bible.

    Mormonism and the Bible

    In order to justify its aberrant theology, Mormonism has undermined the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible. The 8th article of faith from the Mormon Church states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." This means that when the Bible contradicts Mormonism, the Bible isn't trustworthy.

    The interesting thing is that Joseph Smith allegedly corrected the Bible in what is called The Inspired Version, though it is not used by the LDS church. Though they claim they trust the Bible, in reality they do not. They use Mormon presuppositions to interpret it instead of letting it speak for itself. For example, where the Bible says there are no other gods in the universe (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8), they interpret it to mean "no other gods of this world" – which is not what those verses say. They do not trust the Bible and they often state that the Bible is not translated correctly.

    Conclusion

    Why is Mormonism a non-Christian religion? It is not Christian because it denies that there is only one God, denies the true Gospel, adds works to salvation, denies that Jesus is the uncreated creator, distorts the biblical teaching of the atonement, and undermines the authority and reliability of the Bible.

    No-one denies that Mormons are good people, that they worship "a" god, that they share common words with Christians, that they help their people, and that they do many good things. But that isn't what makes someone Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (NKJV). Becoming a Christian does not mean belonging to a church, doing good things, or simply believing in God. Being a Christian means that you have trusted in the true God for salvation, in the True Jesus – not the brother of the devil, not the god of Mormonism, not the gospel of Mormonism. Mormonism is false and cannot save anyone.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • davedave2

      boring

      October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Lynn

      Very informative and factual. I taught a class about Mormonism to people in an evangelism class in my local church. They also believe in baptism of the dead.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • TCO30

      Wow, you went through a lot of effort to get so much information wrong. It was a nice attempt, but not in fact accurate.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  18. Seriously

    Arguing over whether or not a mystical sky man from Kolob exists or not... HAHAHAHAH silly humans :[ I wish I was born a dolphin or something so I didn't have to hear all your BS.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • dhondi

      yeah, like dolphins don't fight

      October 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • WASP

      @DHONDI: seriously? that's the best you could come up with? dolphines don't fight, except when protecting young. they don't even "fight" over mates, they are truly peaceful creatures.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  19. Joseph Smith

    The Book of Mormon, the basis of the "church" is based on a history of Lamanites and Nephites in North America. No scholar other than LDS/Mormon "scholars" have found this history to have any credibility. The Smithsonian discounts it.

    The Book of Mormon is false. Mormonism is false.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!!!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      All religions are man made and are false

      October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • jackthegeek

      I am a catholic, and I found Mormons churches when I traveled in Asian countries as chruch Of Jesus Christ. Their prophet Joseph is God's messenger not God. Just like the Protestants, Episcopal, Othodox, Mormons is another form of Congregation.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • my2cents

      so is the bable, the quran, and the torah

      October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  20. Andrew

    As a lifelong Mormon this whole thing disgusts me. People need to stop thinking all Mormons are right wing religious zealots who love Mitt Romney. Yes there was racism in Mormonism, yes there is current discrimination towards LGBTG individuals. But the Mormon church is hardly alone in those areas, and is by no means anywhere close to being the the worst offenders in those areas of discrimination. The racism is in the past, we are not proud of it, but we cannot change the past, so move on. Black Mormons, like singer Gladys Knight, have moved on from it, so why cannot others who have not been affected by it not move on? The church is slowly changing its views on LGBTG individuals as well, which is far more than can be said of most other major religions. More work needs to be done, but it is occurring.

    As for Mormons all being right wingers who love Mitt Romney, just remember the person who is the most powerful Mormon in elected office – Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, one of President Obama's strongest allies in Washington and one of the most liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • davedave2

      i found one good post

      October 22, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Joseph Smith

      The God of the Bible would not decide to deny members of any race into his church, change his mind on polygamy, or make members of a real chuch pay to enter it, like Mormons charge members to enter the "temple"

      Mormonism is false, regardless of how much Kool-Aid you drink.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Ismael

      A person who is indoctrinated from birth to shun his/her flesh and blood in a heartbeat just because that child change his/her religious views, can't be a good leader.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:28 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.