August 13th, 2012
10:03 AM ET
First on CNN: Atheist group targets presidential candidates' faith with billboards
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A prominent atheist group is using next month's Democratic National Convention to take aim at the presidential candidates' religion, putting up billboards targeting Mormonism and Christianity in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Our political system is rife with religion and it depends too much on religion and not enough on substance," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, sponsor of the ads.
"Religion is silly and religion has components that are inherently divisive. … There is no place for any of that in the political system,” he said.
The billboards go up Monday in Charlotte and will stay up for a month at a cost of roughly $15,000. The Democratic convention runs September 3-6.
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The billboard targeting Christianity features an image of Jesus Christ on toast and this description of the faith: "Sadistic God; Useless Savior, 30,000+ Versions of ‘Truth,’ Promotes Hates, Calls it ‘Love.’ ”
The billboard targeting Mormonism lambastes - and, Mormons would say, distorts - specific Mormon doctrines: "God is a Space Alien, Baptizes Dead People, Big Money, Big Bigotry.”
The Mormon billboard features a man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments.
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Both billboards feature the line "Atheism: Simply Reasonable."
American Atheists had wanted to put the anti-Mormon billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with the Republican National Convention there later this month. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon. When no billboard company in the city would lease the group space for such a sign, Silverman said the organization decided to focus solely on the Democrats in Charlotte.
“Presidential conventions are for ideas, not ideology - platforms, not platitudes," Silverman said. "If a person believes stupid things, we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the nonreligious voter votes.”
CNN Belief Blog: Atheist leader hopes to mobilize closeted nonbelievers
Some religious leaders said the billboards showed a misunderstanding of how faith works.
"That billboard makes the most common high-school error when it comes to atheism," wrote the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, in an e-mail to CNN. "It's not arguing against the existence of God, but against religion. The American Atheists need to go back to school on this one."
Martin also questioned the language used on the billboard: "And as for 'promoting hate' they're doing a bang-up job themselves with that billboard."
Terryl Givens, a Mormon professor at the University of Richmond, called American Atheists "petty and vindictive."
“If this example of adolescent silliness is what atheists mean by being reasonable, then neither Mormons nor other Christians have much to worry about," he said of the billboards. "When atheists organize to serve the poor and needy of the world, they will be taken more seriously."
CNN Belief Blog: Unbelieving preachers 'come out' as atheists
It's not the first time the American Atheists group has released in-your-face billboards. Earlier this year, the group put up two billboards in heavily Muslim and Jewish enclaves in New Jersey and New York bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.
“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards said. At the time, Silverman said the signs were intended to reach atheists in Muslim and Jewish areas who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.
In addition to the billboards, Silverman said his group plans to stage protests at both conventions.
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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.
If there is a god, give me a sign. Let Christopher Hitchens Hitchslap the Pope.
It seems "inherently divisive" to refer to beliefs which bring many people joy, stability, and peace as "silly." While I agree that religion has and still is causing a large amount of hate and violence all over the world, I don't think these billboards are doing anything helpful. By being condescending on billboards, this group just makes themselves look disrespectful and unlikeable. I'd rather claim to be religious even if I had no true faith rather than risk being associated with these jackholes.
if they're silly, they're silly. doesn't matter how many people are under the god delusion. we're trying to wake you up, get you to think for yourselves.
It also used to be divisive to say the Earth revolved around the Sun.
I'll be happy to prove that there is no such thing as God, just as soon as you are finished proving that there is.
Little children are silly for believing in Santa Claus.
Adults are silly for believing in Jesus/God.
People believe in purple unicorns.
It brings them joy.
Thanks for sticking up for them.
It seems "inherently divisive" to refer to beliefs which bring many people, pain, starvation, suffering, intolerance, oppression and war/death as silly.
Atheists in the 20th century have killed way more people than the entire history of religion.
Hitler, Stalin, Milosevic, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong Il, and more are responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths. Today in modern China, there's no way to count the number of people killed each day because of the atheist regime (the same can be said in North Korea).
Hitler was Catholic.
Hitler was Christian. Try reading.
And none of those other people killed because they were atheist. They did not want to share power with religion. They were megalomaniacs, plain and simple.
Hitler was not Christian. He stopped going to the church decades before he took over germany. He was into the occult but he definitely did not go to church. He even persecuted catholic priests.
Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, noted:
"The Fuhrer is completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed."
Hitler was Catholic the same way Dawkins is Anglican now. Does he believe in God? No.
read mein kampf, hitler's book. he talks about god and his mission to kill the jews. nazi belt buckles read "in god's light". do some research before you post.
ANd yet, no0one can find anyone who was ever killed in the name of atheism, while history is piled deep with the corpses of those killed in the names of various gods.
Sounds like propaganda to me 🙂
So here's the logical fallacy that atheists are presenting: they think that because someone went to church as a child, they still believe those teachings as an adult. Richard Dawkins went to church as a child, but today he identifies himself as atheist. Does that mean he's Anglican as well? Of course not. Does that mean Stalin was "Catholic" his entire life? Of course not.
Hitler mentions doing 'God's work' several times in Mein Kampf. Is that something an atheist would say?
"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
– Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941
The Catholic Church celebrated his birthday.
Unless you somehow "know" the "heart" of Hitler, the only thing that we have to go on on what he believed is his own writings, and it was laced with religion, and him thinking that he was doing the will of god. Even if he wasn't a christian, there is absolutely no denying that he used the christian religion to motivate and mobilize the people.
crusades, religious terrorism in the middle east, read a history book
"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."
Hitler murdered nonchristians, atheists, and g a y s.
He only spared caucasian christians.
He believed exterminating the jews was gods great mission for him. He was very clear about that. Nine million jews, atheists, and g a y s would argue that he was certainly not an atheist.
CNN LOVES THIS CRAP FROM THE ATHEISTS. MY FAITH DOES NOTHING TO HINDER SOMEONE ELSE FROM BELIEVING OR NOT BELIEVING. ATHEISTS CRY AND RANT AND POUT LIKE A BUNCH OF CHILDREN AND THEN HAVE THE NERVE TO POINT THEIR FINGERS. MISERABLE AND RIDICULOUS.
Capslock always means 'serious business'.
"Capslock always means 'serious business'."
Sometimes it means – "I'm a total fvcking tool that doesn't know how to use a keyboard".
No, of course not. Your faith only hinders the ability of people who have nothing to do with your religion to get married, adopt children, visit their partner in the hospital, teach actual science in science class rooms, give women control over their own bodies, develop medical advances that can replace tissues and possibly someday even organs, etc.
I can't imagine why anyone would get so bent out of shape over your "harmless" beliefs.
Except that you take them with you into the voting booth, oh right.
atheists are the most idiotic group of people ever. they're so desperate for attention they have to form a religion to deny religion. if you don't believe in something, you don't believe in it. these atheists feel the need to create a religion just to bash religion. anyone see the fail here? atheists are like the little goth kids everyone made fun of in highschool.
If they are idiotic why does survey after survey show they are the most intelligent?
oh really surveys show intelligence? link me to these surveys
Atheism is not a religion.
cry more. christians bash atheists constantly, but when you get it back - WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!
Dr. Martin calls Athiest petty WOW and of course never seen any pettiness out of Christians. I saw nothing promoting hate in the descriptions of the billboards above. I think people are just sick & tired of having religion (fantasy) dictate politics. Separation of church & state seems to be all but forgotten. The right wing are more concerned about catering to multiple right wing religions than catering to the people themselves. The Tea party for instance is not a political force but rather a religious one.
And who are you to call religion fantasy? Oh, you were the one who threw all of the elements up in the air when they miraculously and out of nothing created an orderly and perfectly designed universe. Explain that away.
" I saw nothing promoting hate in the descriptions of the billboards above."
Allow me to point some out: Christianity has a "sadistic God" and "promotes hate" while Mormonism has "Big Bigotry" and you think these descriptions come out of love or tolerance?
You would first have to show me a orderly and perfectly designed universe. I havent seen one yet.
So, God created everything. What created God? Nothing? Follow the flowchart – Nothing created God, and God created everything, so therefore Nothing created everything. You are just as guilty of the 'something from nothing' problem as those you ridicule.
WHAT I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT UNDERSTAND IS HOW THIS IS CALLED TOLERANCE WHILE CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED INTOLERANT. I AM TOTALLY OFFENDED BY WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN GOD. SADISM, COME ON – YOU REAP WHAT YOU YOURSELVES SOW. 30,000 TRANSLATIONS/INTERPRETATIONS? THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF LANGUAGES IN THE WORLD WITH DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS, SO ARE YOU PEOPLE GOING TO TRY TO EXTINGUISH THE HUMAN RACE ON THAT POINT? GIVE ME A BREAK. JESUS NEVER TAUGHT HATE BUT AGAIN I CAN LOVE EVERYONE BUT I DON'T HAVE TO LOVE WHAT THEY DO. GROW UP!!!!!!!!
Why do religious people have to shout all the time? Tone it down Mr. ALL CAPS.
Christian billboards up all over the place = OK
Atheist billboards up in a few places = intolerance
? Care to explain?
here's the difference:
atheists produce an offensive billboard
christians keep loving g.ay couples from marrying, lobby to have evolution taken out of our schools, follow a book that says to kill g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend.
hmmmm which is worse...
Have you ever read the bible? Might want to try some time. Everything on that bilboard is in there.
Oh, and there is a "Caps Lock" on the left side of your keyboard. I think that you inadvertantly left it on.
Let's Make Religion History
The irony of the billboard is too much to handle. Silly atheists.
these billboards aren't really to my taste, but they do have a point. think jesus is all about love and compassion? then you haven't read the bible. jesus approves of slavery, arguably the most evil inst.itution ever visited by man on another man:
37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”
doesn't sound so full of love there. tells slaves to obey their masters if they want any chance of getting into heaven.
The funny thing about your statement is that your current moral stance against slavery is based upon the abolitionist movement of the 19th century which was lead by Christians such as Horace Greeley and John Brown...You dont even know where you get your values
ummmmm... the whole slavery movement was led by christians. everyone that owned a slave in this country was christian. the bible approves of slavery. talks about it in about 20 places, never in a negative light. there are rules for beating your slaves, buying slaves, even selling your own daughter into slavery. the bible was used by southerners to justify slavery from day one. i think YOU need to get your facts straight.
I suggest you study history. There are still societies who do not use Christianity to uphold slavery. There were slaves before Christianity.
You need to study history. Read about the 2nd Great Awakening and then realize you are very wrong about history. Even a community college student learns this type of thing in their general education history class.
But gosh, Johnny, isn't the bible the infallable word of god??
i didn't say there weren't slave before christianity. stop putting words in my mouth. i said everyone in OUR country that owned slaves (africans) were christian. if you dispute that fact, then you are delusional. seriously, are you retarded?
so my point is, you a few christians that were against slavery as if that proves christianity is against slavery when the people that owned the slaves were christian.
and you don't address the fact that the bible approves of slavery over and over. the bible has rules for selling your own daughter into slavery. what about that?
Prove what I said wrong....dont make asinine comments...try to prove it wrong, you cant. You are not intelligent or educated on history enough to do so. Keep trying though.
"Prove what I said wrong....dont make asinine comments...try to prove it wrong, you cant. You are not intelligent or educated on history enough to do so. Keep trying though"
So you are saying that all of the slave owners throughout America were atheists?
Damn I miss Christopher Hitchens right now.
atheist's and the ultra-religious have one thing in common that is always overlooked – the basis of their beliefs (or lack of them) is equally provable and knowable. there is equal ability to ascertain the exsistence, or non-exsistence of a higher power – which is to say it's impossible,
wrong. atheism follows empirical evidence. there is none for religion. completely opposite.
What empirical evidence is there against the existence of God. Answer that, dont try to flip the argument, answer it with empirical evidence. Solid proof that there is no chance of a higher power at all in any way.
This is nonsensical. Atheists ( a group I disagree with) have nothing to prove. How can you prove the non-existence of something. It is today's hateful Christians who howl about God but really have nothing to prove he/she exists. The Bible is not proof at all. Applying a false equivalence is not appropriate.
Abiogenesis? Emperical Evidence?
This fake intellectual made a claim. I hope you can read. He claimed that there is empirical evidence that there is no God. I asked them for it. Its their fault. They should not lie. They should not make a claim they cannot back up.
Are you serious Johnny America? The burden of proof is to prove that something exists not that it doesn't exist.
Using your same logic, can you prove to me that we aren't created by the great Flying Spaghetti Monster? Prove to me that such a creation does not exist.
Do you see the fallacy in your own stance?
This doesn't make any sense. The default position is the non-belief in a god. If you're born and locked into a room devoid of religious indoctrination your entire life, you will not emerge from the room believing in god, let alone any established religion. Atheism is simply the rejection of beliefs put forward by other people based on a lack of evidence. Atheism is not an assertion of the non-existance of god. These are two very different things.
Atheism is not the assertion or claim that there is no gods, it's the stance that the person does not believe in a god/gods. If you don't know the difference, go ask a logic professor.
You don't have to prove the non-existence of something. The burden of proof is on the one who states something does exist.
Johnny America: It sounds like Bootyfunk is saying that Atheism uses empirical evidence as the methodology for its claims, while Religion doesn't have a methodology.
Completely false. The existence or non existence of a god (theistic *or* deistic) are not equally provable or disprovable. I can tell you that there is a microscopic teapot in the middle of the asteroid belt inside of which lives a little elf who sings campfire songs to the comets and fires neutrinos out of his ears. You can't prove me wrong, but you can be pretty certain that it is exceedingly unlikely. Similarly, whether or not god exists is not a 50/50 shot. While I can no more prove to a 100% certainty that god does not exists than you can disprove my teapot, with just a little bit of math and good helping pf physics, it can be shown that the likelihood of her (why be chauvinist?) existence is considerably lower than 50%.
OK angry masses of ignorant trolls....read the comment to which I responded..
."Bootyfunk-wrong. atheism follows empirical evidence."
I asked for this evidence.....I have seen none. That statement is invalid. That is how it works. Keep on raging all you want, but take your public school level debate skills to another board if you cannot understand a Proposition/Evidence format.
The funny thing about atheists are that they think they are smart because they listened to someone once and think they came up with the idea on their own. If you want to look at religion in a scientific manner then you need to recognize the Theory of God. The theory that there was something before the "big bang". Astronomer Hugh Ross is a prominent scientist who wrote a book about this. I suggest you educate yourself on the things you attempt to argue about. Next time you will do a lot better.
Considering you completely ignored the responses and reasserted you're incorrect position shows the shallow nature of your argument.
The Mormons could've at least used a better color for their special underwear. White = skid marks. Unless they wear regular underwear under their special underwear.
God does not believe in Atheists
Therefore they do not exist.
bet you wish it was that easy, lol. too bad god never existed.
Does anyone really need an ideology or scripture more complex than, "Try Not to be Jerks Toward One Another"?
To All Atheists. Iran wants you. They will offer you free daily meals and life you will love. If you leave right away you will get a bonus, Let me offer you a hint....the US is a Christian nation. If you don't like it, then leave.
It is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian Nation. I know it makes you feel all fuzzy inside to repeat that nonsense, but it is in fact nonsense.
Wrong pin head.
I would sooner fill the Grand Canyon with Christian corpses before leaving MY land.
Your cult is on its way out. It's around the three thousandth God we have killed, yet we still live.
All the believers in all the dead Gods said the same thing, yet their gods still went in the trash heap of time, just as your will.
I repeat. This land is my land, it's not your land....la la la
This is a Christian nation like it or not... it;s reality.
@LicenseToSteal – We are back to this "if you don't like it, then leave". That is the argument of the shallow-minded, the people who have nothing to add and who must immediately resort to this nonsense.
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..." – Treaty of Tripoli. We are NOT a Christian Nation and never have been.
Is Iran really the bar you want to use to set the example of how Americans should behave? Iran is a Muslim nation; America is a nation consisting mostly of Christians. Please understand that there is a difference between the two besides the religions themselves.
Not a christian nation. Will never be a christian nation. Sorry dude.
Someone that claims the U.S. is a Christian nation has a lot more in common with Iran and than Atheist.
I REALLY DON'T LIKE these ads for 1 reason. They are attempting to destroy someones faith. Why? Why would you do that. Instead of talking positively about their point of view, they are putting others down to make validate their beliefs. It's sad. And childish, really.
Obviously these "reasonable" people have nothing positive to say or promote.
But what if their point of view is completely foolish, as is with those who believe in gods, angels, demons, etc.?
"Putting others down to validate their beliefs" you say. Atheists do not have beliefs. They do not believe in a god. And then talking about "putting others down". As if Christians are not good at that all by themselves.
Agreed 100%. My only request is that people don't associate all atheists with the actions of the vocal minority.
Whether against religion or not. Billboards like these are the wrong way to go about it. I would be just as upset seeing one bashing atheists. I consider myself an agnostic but I dont think it is my right or duty to get others to see my point of view. Just let people be.
It seems like you're trying to gets others to see your point of view RIGHT NOW !!!
Maybe you should put up an agnostic billboard?