June 28th, 2010
03:37 PM ET

Secularist billboard defaced

It was meant to be controversial: a billboard campaign with the message "One Nation Indivisible," purposely leaving out the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegience. Over the weekend, vandals replaced those words on one of the signs with spray paint. Full story

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Belief • Culture wars

soundoff (435 Responses)
  1. Christian Nelms

    I don't like CNN. I don't like comment boards. Everybody tends to think that they're smarter, tougher, and more correct than the person who posted before them. As I said, I don't like comment boards, but I do enjoy reading the comments posted to get a feel for the popular opinion on a particular site. Unfortunately most comments on most comment boards are charged with underlying agendas, personal defense, and biased attacks.

    July 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Kate

      Perhaps you should ask for your money back.

      July 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  2. unome

    CJ – Pretending that YOU KNOW something about the origins of the intentions of the Founding Fathers? Maybe you ought to read up? Try readin "Faith of Our Fathers," for a start. Your statement that they were "deeply religious" is false. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and many others were diests. That is, they believed in a God in general, but not the Christian God, or Biblical God. The Founding Fathers were students of the Enlightenment and greatly influenced by the great 18th century historian Edward Gibbon, who wrote the still venerated "The Deline and Fall of the Roman Empire." Gibbon puts the reason for the fall of orderliness and the onset of the Dark Age squarely on Christianity. We place a great many other falls from grace on Christianity as well. The Inquisition (all over Europe) that murdered hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, and a scriptual (and forged) addition in the second century that led to 2,000 years of persecution of Jews and culminated in Nazism and WW2.

    But the drive by religious factions in the American Colonies and then the U.S. has always been a partisan threat to governance by free people. Example: Christians often turn to the fact of the phrase "In God We Trust" on our money, yet forget the history of that movement by fanatics since 1783, that was resisted until 1863 when the nation was at stake and those with the power to resist such a manipulation had more important things to do. So since the CW, we have the slogan.

    AND The Pledge of Alegiance did not contain the worlds "Under God" until the 1950s and the big, communist witch-hunt of the McCarthy Era.

    I always get a real charge out of posts by psuedo intellects like you who pretend to be expert on a subject, but only have a religious adgenda driving your every thought.

    July 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
  3. Gary

    Thanks Filmore, I will check it out more. I used watch John Edward. I found his shows uncanny and interesting.

    July 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  4. Kevin

    They can deface signs all they want... but when they die, nothing happens.

    Try as they might.

    July 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  5. Filmore

    Some thoughts: As an atheist, I've felt scorn from religious people often in my life. Saying that, things seem to be getting better. At least here in South Florida. I've been accepted more than not lately. I've read that 33 percent of France is atheist.... and a large percentage throughout Europe. It's optimistic that the people who took up Christianity and spread it around are now moving away from it.
    I truly hope that access to the internet encourages people to look into old religions from thousands of years ago and research how they have evolved into what we call religion today. I found Sumerian mythology particularly interesting in that a lot of the stories in the Bible/Torah/Koran are in Sumerian mythology. The people have different names but the stories are too similar to ignore. Funny, the stories of "Noah" and "Adam and Eve" are right next to the stories about the pantheon of Gods coming to Earth, getting drunk, taking the forms of animals, and raping women. Zoroastrianism has a few similar stories too.
    Religion was originally used when people didn't know how to read, write, count, or know the calendar. People would gather and the holy man would tell them when to plant food, harvest crops, slaughter a calf, hold a festival, attack the neighboring village, etc. Spread of religion also helped foreign people interact and trade ideas and goods. It doesn't benefit society in a practical way any more. The world is past the point where it benefits from having religious control. If people wish to worship, they should be welcome to... but only if they do so without forcing their beliefs upon others.
    I've noticed religious groups trying to instigate a "debate" about how it's evolution vs. creationism. They want people to be arguing about it. Please ask yourself why they are doing this, and how they plan on benefiting themselves from it. Please think into everything you read that appears "controversial" and don't immediately take sides, but think into why someone would benefit from there being a controversy in the first place. This is a tactic of control used a lot lately.
    I'm sure not many people will read this. Thanks if you did.

    July 5, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • Gary

      As an agnostic I respect your Atheism. I have too been persecuted by religious folks in my past too. Just remember Filmore you can not prove that God dose not exist. I realize the burden of proof is on the believers. that being said many Christians,Muslims and religious folks alike are great people. I think only a small percentage of religious people are fanatics. Most well to do neiborhoods and strong family communities are filled with churches too. Political correctness,trial lawyers and freedom of religion already gives us doubters the freedom we need and deserve. I hope you do not judge all religious folks as narrowminded or foolish.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:13 am |
    • Filmore

      I can understand how any religious person thinks that people of other religions is wrong. They'd have to. That's what belief is. I try to respect others beliefs and hope that they respect mine. While you're right that I can't prove that God doesn't exist, I can prove that the stories in modern monotheistic holy texts were mostly stolen from older religions. To me, this greatly corrupts the idea that what they all say is "the" one and only truth. I don't see how anyone can believe it... if they but read into it a little.
      Saying that, I can't prove that a God doesn't exist. But, as there is no reputable correspondence between this God and us people, I'm not going to give anything to the people who are preaching a religion that is obviously false. You are right in that most people are reasonable. However, I wouldn't say that the well to do neighborhoods are because of the churches. Quite the opposite actually. Churches seem to collect in places where there is money. There is some merit in saying that it is beneficial to a career to be the same religion as the person who is giving you a raise.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  6. Conan

    "There is just enough religion in the world for mankind to hate each other, but, not enough religion exists to make mankind love each other." Mr. Robert Burns I believe.

    There is the question of: Which came first? The chicken or the egg.

    A new question should be: Which came first? The hate, or the religion?

    Gandi I believe once said:: Christianity will be a good religion, when people start practicing it! This is true of all of them. Peace in the middle east, what a joke, all of the religions from the middle east as practiced, promote hate, violence and division. Religion is the only acceptible form of bigotry.

    July 5, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • Gary

      Conan, great post!

      July 5, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  7. persecutionformynonbeliefs

    What irony. I'm starting to understand what it felt like to be a Christian in the time of our 'Savior'. 😉

    July 5, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  8. T

    Blasphemy about God is so well heard in these comments. God is love. I have never met a christian who wasn't loving and compassionate to people in the world......ever. So, I can't understand why all the hate towards Christian blelief and God. Christians do not impose their belief on Americans, only to love and set an example for what is good in all of us. We should love our neighbors, but also beware of the lion in sheeps clothing. I would be lost without scriptures God has given us to live by. Atheist I'm not sure what scripture they live by, hopefully not man's word, because you will be disappointed every time. God is not a person and it is quite disturbing how people refer to him that way. He is our spirit inside us and all around us. God gave us free will so could make free decisions to accept or reject him. I believe God should be in our pledge of allegiance, billboards and wherever we can be reminded of the love and mercy he has for us. We should remember that society doesn't have the answers for our life, it so obvious everyday. I would never depend on man for my happiness and will turn to prayer everytime. God has never let me down and wouldn't let America down either. America was founded under Godly men and not non-believers, so that is why we are a great nation. I shutter to think how our America would have fared otherwise.

    July 5, 2010 at 4:28 am |
    • Gary

      As an agnostic I do not Blasphemy God. I rebuke some religious fanatics like Ted Haggerd,Andrea Yates,Osama Bin Ladin,Jim Jones,David Koresh,Jiimmy swaggert ,many preists but I if God exists I do not connect him with any of the folks or any religious fanatics on earth.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • Mr.Cranky

      T, if God recognizes our free will to believe or not, to have a relationship with God or not, then why don't you Christians do the same? The godly men you speak of did in fact see benefit to a secular gov't.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • Anon

      Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
      In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
      Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
      -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
      But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
      -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
      What is it men cannot be made to believe!
      -Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee, April 22, 1786. (on the British regarding America, but quoted here for its universal appeal.)
      Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

      July 6, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  9. deekayfry

    To say that nation was founded on religious principles is false and misleading. Also to state that the founders intended for America to be a Christian nation is also false and misleading.

    People who espouse this idea conveniently ignore the accompanying literature from that time period. The intent of the First Amendment was to avoid war and strife, and to avoid events like the Crusade and the Inquisition. The Free Exercise clause is very clear.

    Another often overlooked clause of the Constitution is the Religious Test Clause, "...but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    WHERE in all of this do we see our Founding Fathers pushing for a great Christian Nation???

    July 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • Filmore

      If it was meant to be a Christian nation then why is Freedom of Religion the FIRST Amendment!!!! The First!!!

      July 5, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  10. Ghost

    If I wanted to "brainwash" a large population, I would make them repeat something over and over again, until they believed what I said without any doubt.

    July 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  11. doxa

    The use of the word "GOD" was a mistake..the USA was founded on the principle of not favoring any one religion thus the seapration of chruch and state. Some of the actual founding fathers were non-believers. I hope all those that support the believe-shallow though it be-that this is a chridstian nation are reaady to support the muslims since they will someday be the largest religious group in the USA -look at their stats worldwide and their growth here in the USA. So if culture dictates what phrases and words we use on the billboards (majority rules?) then get ready to see and be comfortable with muslims..Europe has tolerated the signs put up by atheusts on the buses and in in other places. Then again-America is no better than any other country when it comes to having people that define their lives by the religious belief system.. and I don't have that problem..I'm a former theologian now atheist..so I ignore the "God wars"..and the hatred of christinas toward anyone that beieves other than they do..get it??

    July 4, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  12. publius enigma

    Stories like this make me question whether there is any real meaning to the word "indivisible".

    July 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
    • Gary

      As a kid I always thought we were saying invisible. which is true. If God exists he is invisible.

      July 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • Ituri

      So are the unicorns in my closet! And the leprachauns that dance in my yard!

      They're invisible, so prove me wrong.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  13. David

    lmaooooooooooooooooooo at people fighting over God constantly. Diversity in action. we have so many real problems, why make more?

    July 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  14. Rush

    It is good to have a debate on this issue, and hopefully it can move from billboards or crosses on national lands to a more civilized, constructive venue.

    July 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  15. Ozzi

    Now, now. Let I and I calm down. It's just graffeti. Let I and I pass this fatty around and contemplate the wonders of art and protest. Jah blesses I and I. Let us stop this downpression.

    July 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  16. David Johnson


    1. I'm totally bored with the arguing between Christians and Atheists. 2. I'm a Christian and I wouldn't vandalize someone else's property. and 3. Who says a Christian did this anyway?

    Well, there is no proof that a Christian vandalized the sign. But, not having proof never stopped a fundie! I feel it in my heart.

    A Christian did it, probably while humming a hymn. He was doing the work of the lord, just like the Christians who have done violence to abortion clinics and personel. But wait, I thought only the Muslims were violent...

    July 3, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Gary

      David Johnson as an agnostic I realize too that violence is not only a Muslim trait but in some cases a devout christian trait too. But lets be fair. Christians despite being very arrogant and pushy on their religion which is all based on a book written by man. No scientific fact. Muslims act out much more violent and often. As an agnostic I respect all faiths as long as they understand it is faith not fact. That substantiats their belief system. I think most devout Christians and Jews living in western civilization would be devout muslims if they were born in middle east or of muslim parents and vice versa......Arguing religion is boring. No one can win no one can lose the argument. I do know the burden of proof is on the religious person while arguing.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • tracy

      faith and fact are not mutually exclusive.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Q

      "faith and fact are not mutually exclusive." While true in a sense, many people of faith actively entertain beliefs which are directly contradicted by facts, e.g. a discrete hierarchical fossil record vs. all creatures specially created at once.

      July 4, 2010 at 1:18 am |
    • David Johnson


      Actually there is tons of proof that evolution is true. There is no proof for the creation story.

      Let me explain why it is so important for the fundies to hold onto the creation myth:

      If there is was no creation, then there was no first sin. If there was no first sin, then there is no need of a redeemer. Then, where is Christianity?

      July 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  17. David Johnson

    Archangel Gabriel

    God hates shrimp.

    That is all.

    Wish that were true. God finds time to hate gays, witches, misbehaving young people, brides who can't prove their virginity (the groom isn't held to this standard. He is a man!) and a host of other "hates".

    July 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • Neil B


      God does not hate gays, witches, etc. He does hate the sin they are in. We ALL have sin, but it is not the same sin that everyone wrestles with. As a parent, imagine you told your child to clean their room before you would take them for a day at Seaworld. After a whole week of constantly letting your child know what was required, they still did nothing and blew you off, cussing at you or ignoring you all week. Would you still take them to Seaworld over the weekend? I would think not unless you want to have a spoiled child. Does not taking your child to Seaworld mean you hate your child? No. It means that you want them to know that there are consequences for our actions. God is no different in that he loves us all but he also has a standard to attain and our sin is what keeps us from his standard.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Ituri

      Peoples LIVES as ADULTS compared to a kid that doesn't clean his room and a trip to Sea World. Yeah, that totally makes me want to join your cult. *rolls eyes*

      Grown adults don't need the threat of having "Sea World" taken away to behave. They certainly don't need you diminishing their entire life to a petulant child and a weekend outing.

      July 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Neil B,

      Not taking your kid to Sea World is not quite the same as having the village stone him to death, which the desert war god proposes.

      July 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  18. David Johnson


    I believe and am not going to argue it. You are free to choose. God is both terrible in his wrath, and his mercy is without bound. I am sure of where I want to spend eternity. Hope to see you on the other side.

    Hmm... Well, I'm "sure" I want to spend my eternity on a beach in Hawaii, drinking Mai Tais. Being sure doesn't make it so. You and I will one day die. Our bodies will return to the earth. We will not be aware of this transition. Our brains will have ceased. We will be no more. No heaven. No hell. God Bless!

    July 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  19. David Johnson


    Gary, believe me when I say that I do not blindly recite what I read. Don't make the mistake of thinking that I do not think for myself. In fact, it's the fact that I think that has lead me to these answers. Trust me, I question every single thing I hear, whether its secular or Christian. I keep my pastor on his toes by always asking him to prove himself.

    Gabe: If that were true, you would be an agnostic. Your pastor cannot prove any of your beliefs. Except that your wallet will be magically lighter at the end of his service.

    July 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
  20. David Johnson


    "Through all that time I asked God to sustain me; my bank account was never once overdrawn, which is what I asked for specifically."

    Let me get this straight. God made direct cash deposits into your bank account? Really? Freaking loon.

    Well I've been praying to win the lottery for years and that has not happened. I have been praying for the pain in my reconstructed knees to go away. Nope still here today. I prayed like crazy my youngest would get into Princeton, nope community college.

    Just as much proof there is no god. Unless of course he just likes you better.

    Well said, but let's not forget all that prayer for the buried coal miners and the Gulf oil leak. Neither of these prayers were answered.

    Let's consider the mothers in Africa that pray for food, to keep their babies alive. Too bad it was god's will that they die.

    Ever been to a children's cancer ward? Every parent there is praying for their child. Some survive. Some don't. God works in mysterious ways.

    Did you know that of all the "healings" attributed to god, not one missing limb has been restored? Amputated limbs and iron chariots are difficult for god. LOL

    July 3, 2010 at 1:10 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.