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. Steve

    To the admin: I posted two replies in this thread last weekend; since then I've seen a couple of new msgs appear but neither of mine. My posts were courteous and did not violate any TOS rules that I know of, so I'm curious why neither has been posted???



    July 15, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • Kate

      Steve, it's been my experience that there are technical problems that eat some posts. Others I think get removed because one or more people hit the report abuse buttons. I wouldn't take it personally, and try to post your comment in a different way. I've found some sub threads just can't be posted to at all at some point.

      July 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  2. jfonty1

    Immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence the same Congress formed the American Bible Society

    July 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • Selfish Gene



      The American Bible Society was founded in 1816 by people who were committed to the word of God and to the end of slavery. The first President was Elias Boudinot, who was also President of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1783 and later Director of the U.S. Mint.

      John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was named President in 1821 and a number of illustrious individuals like Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, Johns Hopkins University President Daniel Coit Gilman and Edwin Francis Hyde, a former president of the Philharmonic Society of New York, headed up the organization over the years. Francis Scott Key, the writer of the United States' National Anthem, was a Vice President of the organization from 1817 until his death in 1843.

      The American Bible Society provided the first Bibles in hotels and the first pocket Bibles for soldiers (during the Civil War). The first translation by the Bible Society was in 1818 into a Native American language.

      In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the ABS distributed more than one million Scriptures and offered downloadable portions free of charge to those affected by the tragedy.

      It has also maintained its commitment to military, including producing a pocket-sized military Bible, developed jointly with the aid of Catholic and Protestant chaplains from all branches of the armed forces.

      It has also provided Scriptures to victims of natural disasters. Following the tsunami in 2004, ABS worked in cooperation with the United Bible Societies and partner Bible Societies in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka to provide a host of Bible resources to people in the affected regions. In 2005, it sent nearly a million Bibles and Scripture portions to those who survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

      And ABS has formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to give a free Bible to each of its new homeowners in the United States.

      July 21, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  3. Anon

    The Treaty of Tripoli
    Signed by John Adams

    "As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
    "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
    - Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)

    July 6, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • jfonty1

      Please understand tt was a treaty crafted by Arab Muslim pirates to coerce a new nation with a non-existant naval power and questionable financial abilities to sustain a war against a huge superpower. The treaty was written in Arabic and did not originally include the statement about America's non-Christian government as an article but a letter. This letter is considered poorly translated and erroneously placed into the treaty for unknown reasons. We do not know why there was no comment on the initial signing but it was later removed!

      John Adams was one of our most fervent defenders of the Christian nature of our nation!
      There is a wealth of evidence as to John Adams view of Christianity in regards to the American government.
      In 1813 he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."

      Nice try! But to take this one dubious example as proof that we are not a nation based on Christian beliefs, Christian culture and Christian morals is unconvincing.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • peace2all


      Actually Anon is correct. And your presumptions that this is a 'christian nation' ....sounds like.....Wait a minute....Yes...sounds like we are a Theocracy....just like Iran....

      Jfonty1....thanks for playing...Carol has some delightful parting gifts for you..!!

      July 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • jfonty1

      peace2all, Treaty of Tripoli as Anon was showing does not prove we were not a nation based on Christian beliefs.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • jfonty1

      Patrick Henry was a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."'

      July 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • jfonty1

      Thomas Jefferson wrote "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator. "' He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • jfonty1

      On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, '"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."'

      July 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • jfonty1

      Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States reaffirmed this truth when he wrote, '"The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."'

      July 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • jfonty1

      In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: '"The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."'

      July 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • jfonty1

      Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian

      July 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • jfonty1

      The list could go on and on! The truth of our nation's history is Christianity. Of course atheists do not like this and will do whatever they can to deny it and deceive others

      July 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mark

      Here's a Thomas Jefferson quote for you. Even if he personally believed in Christianity, he founded our country on the idea of religious freedom, that nobody HAS to be a Christian and that religion shouldn't have any influence on public law.

      [N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
      - Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, ed, Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 347

      July 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mark

      jfonty1, our ancestors believed a lot of crazy things just because no other rational explanation was present. Diseases are caused by sinning, animal sacrifices can influence the weather, my livestock are sick because witches live in my town and need to be purged...THAT"S what our history is. Gallileo was IMPRISONED by the roman catholic church for daring to claim the earth isn't the center of the universe, they took a myth they could understand over science that they couldn't.

      Do you personally believe everything in the bible or can you admit we've evolved beyond myths? Maybe our ancestors from 200 years ago didn't really know everything.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • jfonty1

      mark, absolutely I agree w/ that. It is what allows people of all faiths to live here in freedom. Howver the atheist agenda would have you believe this country was NOT founded on christian beliefs which is false.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
    • Mark

      I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.
      - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799

      July 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mark

      jfonty, I'm an atheist myself though I'm not part of any organized movement with an "agenda". But let me try this another way – you could say Rome was founded based on their own mythology (Zeus, Romulus and Remus, etc), but does that make the religion true? If the Egyptians founded their nation based on their beliefs in Osiris and Ra, does that make their religion true?

      I've no doubt that many of the founding fathers were religious people. But that's not going to convert any atheists to Christianity.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • NF

      The legal ascendancy of one sect, bible-belt evangelicalism, over all another Christian sects, other religions and any other religious position is exactly what separation of church and state protects against. I sincerely doubt that those who proclaim America to be a Christian nation loudest really want to make room for Catholics, Mormons or members of what they call "dead churches." You know, the traditional denominations that the Founding Fathers would have belonged to, had they been religious.

      July 6, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • Kate

      Jfonty – John Adams despised Christianity and wrote many letters saying exactly that. Thomas Jefferson disliked it so much he personally re-wrote the bible taking out all of the religion and leaving in the moral lessons. You might want to do some real reading on history to learn about it rather depending on tv talk shows or your pastor. Both dubious sources at best.

      July 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  4. Mark

    Witches don't exist, leprosy isn't caused by sinning, weather patterns aren't influenced by animal sacrifices, the earth isn't 6,000 years old, it's not flat, it's not in the center of the universe, people don't live on clouds...when are we going to stop relying on the bible for our facts? It's about as truthful as the book of scientology, or as real as Zeus, Osiris, Shiva, Buddha, Quetzacoatl, Morrigan, or any of the other THOUSANDS of gods that humans have believed in at one point or another. It's like having fully-grown children running around the world trying to convince everyone that Santa really exists even though nobody has seen the real thing.

    July 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • NF

      At least with Santa kids are not only told that he exists and that he brings gifts, the gifts actually show up under the tree on Christmas morning, labeled "Santa." You can really understand why kids believe in Santa. They not only trust the adults who tell them he exists, but they see pretty real "evidence" that he does, in fact, exist. Christians are told that God exists too, by adults that they also trust. They are also told that he makes miracles in people's lives, but all that they get are stories of people experiencing what amounts to good luck that happens to non-believers just as frequently, only then it's just called luck. Where are the bible-grade miracles today? Why doesn't God actually heal amputees, or create miracles that nobody could mistake as just coincidence?

      July 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  5. Mark

    One nation, under Xenu, indivisible and with thetans for all!

    July 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • peace2all

      Mark....O.k.....now THAT was too funny....

      July 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  6. K

    I don't really see how it matters whether it was a Christian, atheist or God himself it is funny. That is reason enough. But on a more important note, we live in a democracy, or what passes for one these days, and if I remember correctly that means the interests of the masses should be put in front the whining of a very small minority. Atheists are vastly outnumbered by Christians so who cares what they want?

    July 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • Tim

      Stunningly ignorant statement...African Americans are also still outnumbered by whites, Asian Americans are outnumbered by African Americans...women are ounbembered by men...we could go on and on and on...

      July 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Tim

      or outnumbered depending on which keys you strike!

      July 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Chris

      I would have to disagree. If we ignore the voice of the minority we dilute the voice of the majority. We can not afford to be so righteous that we trample the rights of others.

      July 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Mark

      Is that the message of Jesus that you follow? "Who cares what they want?"

      July 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  7. Chris

    Wow. The amount of open hatred displayed here is one of the saddest things I have witnessed in a long time. We are so divided as a nation. Religion vs. Non-Religion, Christians vs Non-Christians, Democrats vs. Republican, Black vs. White, Rich vs. Poor.... The list goes on forever. No common ground, no desire to compromise and find something we can all agree on. In a democracy there can be no true winner or looser. If we continue this way as a nation Stalin will be right and we will fall from within. Everybody wants to blame the other side for the problem. The truth is we are all the problem. No love for each other, no ability to meet each other half way. I fear for my country and all of our children s future. We are divisible, it's already happening.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
    • Chris

      I am Christian that believes in secularism. Do not want the gov't in my church, and visa-versa.

      “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (“Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ”)

      July 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Brad

      Right, Chris

      And we're going to pledge "indivisible" whith this kind of internet terrorism going on.

      July 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  8. Tim

    I am an atheist. I am right! YOU are wrong....argument over. No, wait...HITLER! Now, argument over...

    July 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Tim......I am not quite sure where you are coming from Tim.....But, just for the record....Hitler was a 'christian' ....not an atheist. There have been books written about the recording of his speeches, and he had made himself clear about his christianity.

      His BEHAVIOR AND ACTIONS WERE UNDENIABLY THE WORST OF THE WORST....Hopefully, there aren't other 'christians' like him out there...?

      July 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Tim

      Peace2, Tongue was in cheek. Just got a little tired of the back and forth and thought I would toss Hitler in so someone would call Godwin's Law on me! Be well.

      July 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • peace2all

      Hey Tim.......No problem.....was just checkin' your posting out and wasn't sure where you were coming from....

      And to you.......BE WELL..!

      July 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Anon

    If hearing a voice talk to you means you are crazy, then every person that says he or she has heard God's voice is a lunatic.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  10. Brad

    It's time to blow the cover of CNN. This is not a public page at all. Every participant is an employee at CNN arguing with each other across the office.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Emily

    Atheism is a belief system - it is a belief that there is no god. The existence of god cannot be proved nor disproved. Dogmatic atheists are as bad as dogmatic religious people. What causes harm is not WHAT you believe, but how you express it. The content of your belief is only important to you - it should inspire you to be a better person. Once your belief system causes you to want to modify OTHER people, then it has gone too far. This is a secular society. Religious beliefs (or non beliefs) are to be protected, but they should have no part in shaping our society. Right and wrong, under the law, should be dictated by a balance of freedom and safety. The judgement of supposed "wrongs" that do not harm another person should end inside the judger's head.

    July 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • BlueMando

      No, Emily. Once again, atheism is a "LACK of belief" system, if anything. Just as bald is not hair color, and OFF is not a TV channel. You can believe pink fairies live in the center of Neptune and someone else can believe that a giant invisible octopus lives on Saturn, but my non-belief and desire for proof does not put me in that same category of gullibility that those blind faith beliefs exist in. You DID bring up an important point, however. The tendency to believe without proof has a very devisive and detrimental effect on our decision making. Just look at our political process where people vote based on some incredible misconceptions. The list of negative effects from blind faith runs throughout our society.

      July 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
  12. Howie

    There is no god. Any fool who tells you otherwise is just that – a fool.

    July 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Brad

    As a Catholic, I'm interested in the question of idolatry. Will the same people who mock Catholics' veneration of statues, etc.,
    be the same people who pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth? If so, the same people will probably claim some sort of mental superiority.

    July 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Brad......Since you are a catholic, I, first of all have sincere compassion for you. But since you have made it clear that you are catholic, then within that closed model, you will find a lot of 'other' non-catholic, yet 'christian' religions taking issue with your praying to saints, veneration of statues, etc.... and yep...those same people will probably not make the mental leap that worshiping a flag is on an 'somewhat' similar level metaphorically speaking.

      Again, as I have said and many others earlier........you could solve this issue...and we all could by recognizing that the pledge of allegiance, was originally written without the words....'under god'.....

      Take it back to its original form, and you will help somewhat stem the idolatry issue.....

      July 6, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • Brad

      @peace2all: Thank you for your refreshingly kind response (hard to come by on this page). I must acknowledge, though, that from my youth I was instructed never to worship or adore, but only venerate such things as statues. We Catholics are often judged by outside appearances. And some Catholics DO approach idolatry in their zeal. Iconoclasm is a very old issue in the church.
      Peace to you, also.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Brad.....You are welcome. I do understand where you are coming from. As a catholic....worshiping what you worship will bring you a lot of grief from other christian believers.

      Peace to you as well......

      July 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  14. jfonty1

    I've heard this before and I think it is true. No one talks about God more than atheists!

    July 6, 2010 at 11:18 am |
    • Brad

      That is because God is the itch that a person can't reach. It begins to irritate. Another term might be the "numinous", an inate awareness of something spiritual.

      July 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • peace2all

      jfonty1........You are kidding right.....? Atheists which are maybe....5% of the population, are talking about God more than the billion christian lunatics on the planet....?

      Well, even assuming your ridiculous presumption as correct, it would be probably because Atheists are tired of the same tired and worn out old biblical superbeing dribble being dumped on humanity...

      But, thanks for playing.....

      July 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • jfonty1

      peace2all, movies, books, billboards, ads – it is the new "atheist evangelism". atheists love to talk about God

      July 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  15. Mollie

    This is so silly. The media is stirring up a war between Christians and Atheists. This is something that shouldn't matter. One person believes, another doesn't. Big deal. But the media wants a fight, and their gonna get it! Just look at all the hateful posts.

    July 6, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  16. Ken

    For the sake of argument, let's say there are 3 great religions on earth each with 2 Billion followers. I've asked people of each faith what will happen to the 4 Billion people who disagree with them. Each roughly responded in the same manner....."If God wanted to save them, he would plant the seed of inquiry in their sole to seek out the truth (their chosen religion of course)....therefore, he doesn't want to save them, and they will all burn in Hell for eternity or some such equivalent.
    Now, they are all mutually exclusive and each cannot be right. Is it just me, or does anyone really think that a loving creator would condemn 2/3 of his creation.....many of whom know nothing about the other? As a parent of 3 kids, would you purposely kill 2 of your kids?.......The only logical, rational conclusion is that it isn't 2/3 that got it wrong, it is 3/3. But if you are truly open, caring, accepting, you don't get any followers and therefore no money. The crowd and money draw is being 'right' when everyone has got it wrong......religion REQUIRES separation, divisiveness, and superiority....the very things that prove it is a sham.

    July 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
    • Gary

      Ken, excellent post.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  17. Ken

    Disease, death, random acts of violence are all scary things. I can understand how belief in superbeing watching out for you can be a comfort. I wouldn't want that cocoon bothered either. The problem is when you believe in your self-delusion to the point that you start infringing on the rights of others. This country is made up of a lot of diverse folks who have fundamental rights. When you start imagining that your imaginary being dislikes communists, dislikes gays, and dislikes every other creature he created because YOU dislike them, then you've crossed the line. Would God really hate any of his creations? It isn't the atheists that believe they are God...they don't believe in God. It is the religious that put words into GODS mouth, decide who HE hates and dislikes, and then says they are merely following. That is the definition of bold faced evil.

    July 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  18. Michael Davidson

    Whoever defaced the billboard should have their own religous freedoms violated. I get so angry at people who think their religious beliefs make them "right," and someone else wrong. Learn your history people ... before the 1950s "under God" was not part of the Pledge of Allegiance. It was added to scare people about Communism. It was not part of the original Pledge. Therefore, it should have been removed A LONG time ago.

    "Christians" are among the most hateful people in this country ... hypocritical ... condescending ... and not very Christian at all. Maybe if God is real he'll come back one day and look you all in the face and say "you got it wrong."

    July 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • conan the contrarion

      unfortunately, you are correct that there are thousands of hateful Christians- but the fact that they are hateful simply and absolutely means that they are Christian in name only. i can say this from my personal experience, and therefore it can't be proven wrong. when sept. 11 happened, i was hateful as can be- i watched my fellow citizens jump from the buildings. let's just say, i wasnt wanting equal and opposite reaction. i wanted revenge that was way out of proportion. the only reason that my hate was dissolved is because deep in my heart, i knew that because i believe in Jesus, i have to share HIs values. and He says love your enemies. there's no gray area there. and a change happened in me that wouldnt have if i didnt believe in Jesus.

      so, believe it or not, Jesus is responsible, in my life at least, by neutralizing hate, instead of growing it.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • ReconsiderEverything

      With your rational thinking, one could infer that jesus was resposible for 9/11 then too.

      July 6, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  19. Christian Nelms

    ....from both sides of the fence.

    July 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  20. Christian Nelms

    If you have an opinion, share it. But do it tactfully and with respect. Manners are seriously lacking in the world today, especially online where you don't have to face those you're insulting and degrading. I'm no angel, I've never posted anything on a comment board but sure, I've said hateful things and intentionally tried to make people feel like dirt. Is that the right thing to do... no. But it happens, its a part of life. All im asking... is that before you respond, calm down, think things through, and then answer. Show some respect. Everybody deserves respect until they do something to lose it, and having different ideas, or beliefs about something does not entitle that person to lose respect.

    July 5, 2010 at 5:01 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.