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June 23rd, 2010
10:49 AM ET

Billboard campaign rebuts 'one nation under God'

Religious billboards adorn the highways across the South. But a new billboard campaign in North Carolina deliberately snubs the Almighty.

A coalition of atheists and secular humanists has placed a billboard on Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte that displays an American flag with a few key words from the Pledge of Allegiance: “One Nation Indivisible.”

Notice anything missing? The phrase “under God,” which appears between "One nation" and "indivisible" in the Pledge, is absent on the billboard.

William Warren, a member of the North Carolina Secular Association, says his group put the ads up on billboards across the state to let people know that patriotism and belief in God are not always synonymous.

The billboards are appearing in a half-dozen locations across the state, including Asheville, Winston-Salem and Raleigh, in addition to Charlotte.

Warren, an atheist, says people who share his beliefs often fear losing their job or their friendships. The billboard is designed to encourage them to be more open.

“We’re here. We’re your neighbors, your co-workers,” he says. “We’re not happy that we have to hide who we are everyday.”

Read more on this story from CNN Charlotte affiliate WBTV.

A statement on his group's website says the campaign "is intended as a consciousness-raising effort to point out how every U.S. citizen who doesn’t believe in a monotheistic god is being 'officially' marginalized, disrespected, and discriminated against by the insertion of 'under God' in the Pledge..."

The North Carolina Secular Association's statement also alleges that North Carolina's constitution "restricts anyone that doesn't believe in a monotheistic god from holding public office."

Warren says two billboard companies refused to raise the billboards. One said the Pledge ad was too controversial. Another didn’t call back when it heard about the planned message.

“It’s a pretty innocuous message,” says Warren. “If someone sees controversy in the message, they’re looking for controversy.”

Some may consider the location of the Charlotte billboard controversial: along a parkway named for the Rev. Billy Graham, the venerated evangelical minister.

But Warren says the location was chosen because the price was right. The Charlotte billboard costs $3,300 to rent for a month.

The entire billboard campaign costs $15,000, with money coming from donations from various secular groups and from a national marketing organization called FreeThoughtAction.

The North Carolina Secular Association's website explains that it chose the Pledge for its campaign because the phrase “one nation under God” was inserted into it in 1954, provoked by the Cold War. The intention then was proclaiming a Judeo-Christian American heritage in the face of godless  communism.

That change, though, stigmatized atheists and religious skeptics, Warren says.

“Instead of uniting the nation, it divided the nation,” Warren says. “You were either religious or with the godless communists.”

The Pledge was originally written in 1892 by a former Baptist minister who made no reference to religion in his version.

In 2004, the Supreme Court rejected efforts by a California atheist to revisit the issue of banning the Pledge’s recital in public schools because of its use of the words, “under God.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Courts • Culture wars • Politics

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soundoff (797 Responses)
  1. Hannah

    Solex- Think what you want to think but..He wasn't created for us to blame him but for us to see our sin and know that it is bad so that we will live for him and not sin.

    Joel3-Well said.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • USN_Athiest

      You state "think what you want to think" and yet you posted earlier that you need to help those who don't know what you believe in...so which is it. Do you live and let live or are you going to save me from the perils of your "hell"?

      June 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Zack

    Yes whoopsie I do have proof, it is a historical fact that Moses parted the red sea. There isn't a historian out there that doesn't agree that it had happened. They had actually replicated the act in a science lab saying that there was a scientific explanation behind it. Which I completely agree with, God made science and everything else, of course there is going to be a scientific explanation, my big thing is why is the only time that it has ever happened in the history of man happened to be at the exact moment in time that Moses wanted to part the Red Sea for the Jews to escape Egypt. Once again you don't have to believe but don't tell me what I do and don't know.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
    • Whoops!

      [it is a historical fact that Moses parted the red sea]

      U trollin': Bad
      1/10

      June 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • ThomasDTank

      Whoa whoa wait a second? Historical evidence the red sea got parted? No historians will deny that?

      I dare to ask a source on this. One source, any source. [Protip: a BIBLE VERSE IS NOT A SOURCE] <-

      June 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Guest

      Red Sea was a Chariot dumping ground back in the day.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • JCC_Starguy

      "They had actually replicated the act in a science lab saying that there was a scientific explanation behind it."

      Who is this mysterious "they" you mention? Unless you can cite a source, this is just gibberish.

      Incidentally, if the event (or "act" as you call it) can be replicated in a science lab (which I seriously doubt), there's nothing particularly miraculous about it, is there? In fact, it becomes rather mundane.

      June 23, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  3. PHIL

    @Joel
    You lost all credibility when you said you had proof of an existing god. I LOL'd.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • Joel3

      PHIL – We do indeed have proof. You wont find it in Wikipedia or any science book. You will find it when you seek Him. And yes, it is undeniable.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  4. Joel3

    Whoops! – Not paranoia, I've never been more at peace in my life. I also know full well the "image" of myself that I would give off by posting my comment, but I simply don't care This is a "blog" which means doodly squat to me, but it's also used to probe the general public's opinions. I speak life, and reveal real life. Not this imaginary social networking internet world which has turned us into a bunch of zombies. Bye Whoopie!

    June 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  5. Zack

    Look Report Abuse you don't want to get into "the truth" with me. I don't see why so many people have such a huge issue w/ other people having their own beliefs. You should move back to England, we came to this place to have this kind of freedom, once again I don't care if you believe or not that is your choice but the things you people are saying are exactly what your accusing "Christians" or any other faith of doing.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  6. Solex

    Sorry Joel – Belief in God and any "invisible man" is a cult. Look up the word "Cult" in the dictionary sometime... Don't bother, here it is:

    Cult -noun-
    1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
    3. the members of such a religion or sect.

    So you see Joel ALL relgioins are cults. Straight out of websters...

    June 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Joel3

      Solex – A "cult" is a man-made religion. It has no divine power within it, just a bunch of meaningless, and sometimes sick rituals. And usually, the top dog is not "a god or gods" but rather a MAN who has taken advantage of weak minded, weak willed individuals- period

      June 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • Guest

      Are you sure your not talking about Atheism....

      June 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
    • Guest

      Atheism is a religion, when one worships themselves instead of God.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • Charles

      I'm sorry...but you're saying I worship MYSELF just because I'm atheist? That's...just about the WEAKEST reply I've heard today. When you don't agree with someone, I guess you just say "they're full of themselves" and "in love with their own ego" to sound superior, huh? Who worships themselves now? Yeah, that's right. It's you. Check and mate.

      June 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • Vivian

      I'm amazed. First time yet I agree with everyone under one post. Everyone nailed it right on the head! Solex got the definition correct (sorry about you having to pull out Websters), Joel3 explained it correctly, the Guest went into additional explanation and Charles you finished it off...people are in love with themselves (what they want, they think, they feel) rather than lovers of God.

      June 24, 2010 at 3:05 am |
    • Abd al-Latif

      God is not a man. Sorry.

      June 25, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  7. Report Abuse :D

    Don't forget friends: if there's a post that's not on your side, click the Report Abuse button! It's almost MADE for religious debates! Gets rid of the truth you don't wanna see faster than ever!

    June 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Vivian

      I disagree with you. We have freedom of speech, even if it is electronicly processed. Whatever gets posted does not have to agree with a particular belief system therefore it does not make it abusive. That's the thing about the internet, IM's and emails; it is hard to pick up the tone in the text sometimes unless it's in all caps, of course. Clicking "Report Abuse" is like blaming our bad choices on things done to us in our childhood; everyone wants an easy way out of having to either be accountable for themselves or having to read things that make them stop and think that perhaps they are not necessarily correct and renew their way of thought processing or reaction to the original blog. The Terms of Service govern the site and they "encourage lively and courteous discussion". It should not be 'my' way or the abuse box.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  8. Zack

    My only issue w/ this billboard is there is no need for it. I am Christian and I feel the same way about the Christian billboards. Rather than wasting money on a billboard for you beliefs that money could be going to help someone that could truly use it, Christian or not. I am tired of this crap

    June 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • JCC_Starguy

      Sadly, this billboard is necessary. Those of us who have religious people try to insinuate their beliefs into every single aspect of daily life, from clothing to high school graduations, are simply trying to say that atheists have a place at the table, too. Our states' Elizabeth Dole ran a campaign ad last November that basically said, "If you don't believe in God, you should have no voice in government" when she tried to smear her opponent Kay Hagan for meeting with the Godless PAC. We have a voice and it deserves to be heard.

      And the cost of this billboard is infinitesimal compared to the costs of erecting huge mega-churches, preachers' salaries and, when the courts finally settle the matter, payouts to the victims of lecherous priests.

      June 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  9. Boka

    The faster we can get religion purged from this country the better.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • illlisten

      it sure helped the soviets to purge religion

      June 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  10. Joel3

    Solex – For the record, Faith i God and His Son is not a religion. Unfortunately, people have turned it into a religion over the years but Christ died to get rid of that non-sense. This is all there is to it:

    FAITH + PRAYER + GOOD WORKS = SALVATION

    If that's still too much for you to handle, then that's just ashame. And I'm not trying to PUSH anything on you. Believe what you want, but it is still my duty as a Christian to offer truth. None of us are going to sit here and make-believe it's ok to say God doesn't exist when we have proof that He does. Sorry if it offends you THAT much ??

    June 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Report Abuse :D

      Don't forget friends: if there's a post that's not on your side, click the Report Abuse button! It's almost MADE for religious debates! Gets rid of the truth you don't wanna see faster than ever! Click now! 🙂

      June 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • Whoops!

      [For the record, Faith in God and His Son is not a religion.]
      Christianity.

      [Unfortunately, people have turned it into a religion over the years but Christ died to get rid of that non-sense. This is all there is to it]
      Christ died to get rid of things that hadn't happened yet? Dying isn't very good. That's comparable to a couple breaking up and one of them saying 'I'll kill myself if you don't go back out with me'. That's not a relationship I want to be a part of. That's all there is to it.

      [FAITH + PRAYER + GOOD WORKS = SALVATION]
      Faith = blind
      Prayer = mumbing to your hands
      Good works = This is actually important
      Salvation = wat?

      [but it is still my duty as a Christian to offer truth]
      Your version of truth =\= our version.

      [None of us are going to sit here and make-believe it's ok to say God doesn't exist when we have proof that He does]
      Haha oh my, we have proof now?

      June 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • Joel3

      Whoops! – Your mind even works like a computer lol. take a look at your answers. You have been TRAINED.

      Let me ask you something: If you found an extremely important secret that everyone overlooks, and that would be the KEY to all they were searching for, what would you do? Would you keep it to yourself like some believers do for fear that you would be mocked? Or would you swallow your pride and spread the truth to as many as possible knowing that at least SOME would find the same thing? I chose the 2nd choice, and y skin is pretty thick at this point so keep making a fool outta yourself.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
    • Whoops

      You.. don't debate much, do you.. 🙁 It's ok this is good practice for ya.

      Also the posts are way up here now, I keep losing track, post at the bottom and we'll start from there.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
    • Eric G.

      How do you know your god is man-made? Because he hates all the same people you do. Why do so many believers hate atheists? Atheists don't hate believers, just like I don't hate my children for their belief in the tooth fairy. Atheists love believers......... until they think their god wants them to kill non-believers......... then we have a problem.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Cindy

      What proof do you have that God exists? I'm not trying to be a smart aleck (there are enough of those on here already) so I'm hoping you will respond.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • Joel3

      Eric G. – I don't hate anyone.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • Joel3

      Cindy – When, or if you decide to take the first step toward God by confessing your belief in Him and the Son, along with prayer to begin building a relationship with Him, you will be filled with a spirit (holy spirit) which you can actually sense and feel happening within you. Now believe me when I tell you, the first time somebody said that to me I looked at them like they were out of their mind. So I understand the look on your face right now 🙂 However, I decided to take the leap and what I found I can hardly put into words. You will be filled with a peace and renewal within you that is undeniable. He will start to reveal Himself to you based on your own personal situations and the way He does it is just incredible. Cindy, I'm only 32 years old and I used to have the same mindframe and "excuses" as most of the people on this board. This is not something someone can work out with "logic." This pertains to something much more special.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      It's SO not a religion that you have dogmas, churches, holy books, holidays, and rituals! And you have to tell everyone else they're wrong!

      Awesome!

      June 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • Vivian

      Joel, your response to Cindy was magnificent.

      June 24, 2010 at 2:39 am |
    • CM

      Joel, the problem there is that you can't have the key to what I'm searching for, because you have NO CLUE what I'm searching for. You just assume I'm searching for the same thing you are, because your key demands it.

      June 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • Abd al-Latif

      "Christ died to get rid of that non sense." Hmm. I think you are confusing "Jesus" (Yeshua, known to us Muslims as Nabi Isa, aleihi salam) with Paul of Tarsus. Paul of Tarsus was little more than a conman, the used car salesman of the Bible. Unfortunately Christianity is based far more on "Saint" Paul's bizarre antinomian theories than it is on the words of Yeshua, who truly was a prophet.

      June 25, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • Joel3

      Abd al-Latif – NO. Paul was an apostle annointed by Christ Himself, He was instructed to preach the gospel to the gentiles because Christ knew Paul would make a perfect fit for that position. Paul was one of the most violent and merciless persecutors of Christ's followers and carried out "punishment" to anyone who was a believer without remorse until Christ Himself revealed to Paul that He was indeed the Messiah. From that point Paul went on to preach truth like no other apostle before Him. His 13 epistles were inspired and written by the Holy Spirit within him. Paul was shown many revelations regarding the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven and was the catalyst for many of the world's first churches. His teachings are that of the Saviour, given to him by the Saviour, and have been proven more than worthy by any God seeking individual. And by the way, Christ was not a mere prophet like Muhammed. For what prophet have you ever known to raise HIMSELF from the dead? What prophet have you known to perform such miracles? What prophet have you known whom calls the dead to "Come Forth" ? What prophet have you known who predicts His own death and the exact details of how it would be carried out? You may like to pick and choose, or even completely remove certain sections of the Bible which "make sense" or "don't make sense" logically to your own understanding. However, the spiritual realm and life after death have absolutely NOTHING to do with your petty "logic."

      June 25, 2010 at 9:37 am |
    • CM

      Still waiting for Joel to tell me what I'm searching for... since he knows what everyone in the world wants apparently.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  11. PHIL

    @solex
    I love you

    June 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  12. AshannaK

    We are one nation, indivisible. But we wouldn't be without God.
    Put that in your smoke and pipe it.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • Solex

      To Hannah, if God is omnipotent, then why does "he" need standing up for? God was created by man in his image so that we can blame him for our predjudices and hate....

      To AshannaK – We would still be a nation without "God". The fact that we are divided while you think we aren't – delusion.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • USN_Athiest

      "We are one nation, indivisible. But we wouldn't be without God. Put that in your smoke and pipe it."

      And your proof of this lies where? Where was your "god" during our civil war where we were a nation divided? Where is your "god" during the political squabbles that divide the country between right and left. ...and so on and so forth.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Guest

      Excellent!!!

      June 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • Rinoa

      Why does god need a lowly human to stand up for it? Surly it must be all powerful to stand up and defend itself?

      June 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Guest

      Rinoa–

      When Christ was on the cross, was the same thing said " If your God come down from there, save yourself and I will believe"

      June 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  13. Hannah

    this has gotten out of control!! I will not accept "One Nation Indivisible" Come on all God believers now is the time for us to start standing up for what we believe in and help those who don't know.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      'I will not accept "One Nation Indivisible"' says all that really needs to be said about you people.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • illlisten

      i'm standing up for my love for Jesus and His lack of desire to conquer the roman empire and start a theocracy.

      June 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  14. Brian

    I have never understood cultists (Yes, ALL religions are cults).......Solex You will have to add Atheism in there as well then. That religion practices the same tenets. That is what is so funny about reading these posts. you can interchange Atheism for religion or vise a versa in most of these posts and they still hold true. Both sides have a lot of hate and intolerance, and both sides want to be the one saying Oh it’s not our side it's them.....until there is an "us" we don't stand much of a chance.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • Solex

      Sorry Brian, Atheism is NOT a Cult. There is no organized structure, there is no one in charge. There is no hierarchy that dictates behavior or subservience.

      The biggest difference is that religous people think that atheiests are "evil" – while atheists think that religous people are misguided. Atheists believe the universe is a closed system with no need of explanation or purpose. Atheists believe that only they are responsible for their actions and do not blame their predjudices and hatreds on anyone but themselves.

      Atheists are about knowing themselves and being a good person because it is the right thing to do.

      Religous people live in fear and worry about "sin" and hold other people to standards they do not practice.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • TruthAndJustice

      Without God, who decides what is right and wrong? You? That's extremely arrogant, Solex. If you say it's the majority who decides right and wrong, then again you lose because the majority is Theists.

      In Atheism there can be no objective right and wrong, and true Atheists acknowledge this. Your desire to be a “good person” and do the "right thing" only proves you realize there is an objective standard of behavior to which you are accountable.

      Perhaps some religious people live in fear, but not Christians. Sin is only a worry to those like you who refuse to obey the objective standard of right and wrong they know exists, in favor of their own rules about right and wrong.

      June 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "In Atheism there can be no objective right and wrong, and true Atheists acknowledge this."
      That is correct.
      "Your desire to be a “good person” and do the "right thing" only proves you realize there is an objective standard of behavior to which you are accountable."
      That is not. Subjective standards work just fine.

      June 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • TruthAndJustice

      @ MikeTheInfidel

      And what subjective standard would that be? Your own? That doesn't work. You can say you don't like that something, but to say that X is right or wrong is to acknowledge a higher authority. That authority may be the government, such as it is wrong to drive without car insurance. That authority may be your parents when you were a child, such as your parents telling you not to play without finishing your home work first.

      If an Atheists, however, says that it is wrong to not allow homosexuals to marry, for example, then obviously he is not referring simply referring to the government or his parents. He is referring to some authority that is above even those. The only authority left is God. There is no such thing as right or wrong in an Atheist world, only 'I like' or 'I don't like'.

      June 25, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  15. Brian

    There's no point in arguing with the bible-thumpers and god-pushers.......Richard, by reading your post one can clearly see that there is not much use in arguing with the non-believer either. By both sides refusing to talk to the other side, or willing to at least co-exisist there is little chance for the Christian to spread the Gosple, or the Athiest to buid the utopia. Both sides operating out of an area of hate do a disservice to both of their causes....and last time I checked both sides tout inclusion as a cornerstone.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  16. PHIL

    @JASON
    So you're saying that if I do not endorse a dogmatic belief system, then "I'll be sorry?" That's tyranny my friend, which I do not believe in.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  17. Marsha

    Sorry, the right.....

    June 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  18. Marsha

    You have to right to believe or not believe, but, one thing you don't have the right to do is rewrite history.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  19. SHAIARRA

    who's "GOD"...Who's "religion" ....whos church way to salvation....is the right way

    June 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  20. Nurse K in San Diego

    I've never liked the Pledge. When I was a Christian I didn't like it because it promoted idolatry.. you pledged your allegience to God, to doing what is right, not to a country.. especially not to one that has consistently failed to follow Jesus in its persuit of power, money, and material comforts. As a non-Christian I still don't like it, only I don't think of it as being offensive to God, rather, to good ethic and reason.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:36 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.