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First on CNN: Atheist group targets presidential candidates' faith with billboards
A billboard criticizing Christianity is going up in Charlotte, North Carolina, host city of the upcoming Democratic National Convention.
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Christianity • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (7,477 Responses)
  1. Bootyfunk

    christians put out thousands of billboards/signs bashing atheists and non-belief. now christians cry because atheists do it back.

    boohoohoo!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sighs for modern atheism

      Funny that atheists are against Christians doing it, then turn around and do it themselves. Funny that they whine about being hated and insulted, then turn around and give it right back. Nothing like hypocrisy to get your message across.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • BOB

      No we are laughing because the billboard is so ridiculous. It looks like something a neophyte scientologist might have put together as a class project.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • bp

      You overlook one little detail: when atheists hate, they do so for themselves. When Christians hate, it's because their God has told them they should do so.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  2. Anita Hanjab

    Why can members of the academy of science of which over 90% declare themselvees atheists, put a rover on mars, yet America is possibly prepared to elect a man who believes is god is a space alien and hand over the launch codes to apocalyptic weaponry. That be some f'd up.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • bp

      Just never forget that God created man in his own image, so any and all other life forms (including those on Mars or other planets) are inferior and must accept the word of the One True God or they will be exterminated or enslaved. That model worked well on Earth for many centuries, so Christians will want to apply it beyond here as well.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  3. Sighs for modern atheism

    Gone are the days when atheists were intelligent and not massive hypocrites. When presented with arguments, these modern atheists no longer attempt to disprove the argument but instead post their opinion as if it were universally accepted fact. Instead of reasoning with people, modern atheists act like children, laughing and mocking those who differ with them. There are a few rare exceptions, but this seems to be the rule now and we're all worse off for it.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Clyde M

      Many do, I agree.

      However, the same is true of both sides and many of the "arguments" put forward not only don't require "disproving" since they have been disproven time and time again and are still getting used somehow, but don't require "disproof" because no "actual proof" was ever put forth to support them to begin with. You cannot "disprove" arguments for which there simply is no basis in reality–rationally or otherwise.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Sighs for modern atheism' is an instance of the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      August 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Storm71

      Right on the money. Nothing but haters and who screams the loudest. I've seen it time and time again. People making their opinion a fact.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Sighs for modern atheism

      *yawn* You might want to take a look at that website yourself before you come back here.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  4. BOB

    AmericanAthesits just spent their yearly budget on the Billboard. One Billboard.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  5. redlace

    There are terms for fanatical people who maintain a persistent belief in something that has been proven false. Regarding people who still insist that Obama is not a natural-born American citizen, we use the pejorative term "birthers."

    I think it's about time we likewise coined a term for fanatical adherants to any of the thousands of religious and spiritual sects around the world. Rather than feeling obligated to address multiple groups by name, and thereby lend them some degree of credibility, simply lump all of them under the banner of "faithers."
    Use of lower case is intentional.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • bp

      Good point. It's important to remember that not all people of faith are hateful bigots. They should be extended more consideration than many of them give to others.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • jimmer

      I prefer religiots

      August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  6. BOB

    That billboard is so well done!!! My second grade daughter could have done a better job with the layout...but then again I guess the Atheists just have "faith" their message of intolerance will come accross.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • sigh..

      Honest advice, bob.. you have already embarrassed yourself beyond redemption.. stop embarrassing your religion as well any further..

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Your daughter could likely write a more consistent and rational story than the Bible. The difference here is no one is executing anyone over whether they believe in that the bible board says. Try to raise the bar a little would you?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • bp

      Your daughter presumably also believes that women have 1 less rib then men, and the Sun revolves around the Earth, both concepts that the Church promoted and defended for centuries.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'BOB' contains instances of the ad hominem fallacy and the circ-umstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Alex

      Right on BOB! Great post.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • BOB

      You do not know my religion, do you? Such vast hypocrisy is almost unbelievable if it were not so evident.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  7. slimjim

    Oh Lawd!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  8. Jimmy

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oScCgxuId98&w=640&h=360]

    August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  9. Pappa Smurf

    Funny how the Athiest complain about how much money in the chruches have and are greedy, and even this billboard says "big money". Yet go to the website and you can find how to donate to the athiest cause.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • umm..

      whats funny about it? athiest organizations do not get govt help, you know..

      August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • bp

      Unlike the Catholic Church, they are not using the money collected for the purpose of harboring, protecting and enabling pedophiles.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • ME II

      "...at a cost of roughly $15,000. "

      yeah, "big money". /sarcasm

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Funny how you also believe in smurfs.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Clyde M

      Are you really going to make that argument? Really? You want to hold a picture of the Vatican up next to one of the American Atheists headquarters and ask that question again?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  10. Jimmy

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oScCgxuId98&w=420&h=315]

    August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  11. David in NC

    So the people who believe in magical sky fairies without one iota of proof are calling atheists unreasonable? I think not.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Snow

      don't forget the immortal being who monitors every living organism in existence in the entire universe .. 24/7.. simultaneously.. their thoughts too.. ah!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Snow
      Don’t forget he created those organisms and knows everything they are going to ever do. While at the same time calling it free will. In the real world if a manufacturer creates something that is harmful they are held responsible. If they do so with full knowledge that it is harmful they are held to a more sever consequence. So..when are we going to start holding the all knowing all powerful creator responsible?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  12. bp

    Just because the Catholic Church has defended the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, genocide and Nazism does not make those things right. Neither does harboring and enabling pedophiles.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  13. Manhammer

    As a person who isn't religious myself, I don't understand why there are so many Atheists out there who go out of their way to bash and ridicule other people's beliefs. Why does an Atheist care what another person's beliefs are? Other people's beliefs have no impact on an Atheist's life. When Atheists do this they just look like jerks, not clever.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Mike

      No impact? What planet are you living on?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Sue

      Manhammer, wow, you are stuck in ignorant wrongthink. Do you actually believe Christian "thinking" and dogma has not impacted the laws we have to live by? Really? Get your head out of your back orifice.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • rotfogel

      Well, to answer you question: when a person/religions beliefs infringe upon rights of Americans, that religion/belief is toxic and needs to be addressed at the minimum. That's when Atheists get upset. They could care less what you actually believe, no matter how moronic it is in reality. Look, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus are great ideas, but they're not real.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Ron

      Why care you ask? Pretty simple. People in power make laws that affect everyone and should not include religious leanings of any kind, that's why. Keep the church (anyone's) out of politics period.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • ME II

      @Manhammer,
      "Other people's beliefs have no impact on an Atheist's life."
      Missouri Amendment 2, Proposition 8, stem-cell research, Creationism/ID in science class. gay marriage. etc.

      Doesn't seem like "no impact" to me.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • fintastic

      @manhammer "Other people's beliefs have no impact on an Atheist's life"

      are you serious? Is this your first time on these blogs? Forcing your religious beliefs into law... there's your answer.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Unbelievable

      When that person is the President, and he believes gay people should be vilified because his religion says so, I would say that matters.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Logic

      Atheists usually do not have to go out of their way. Religious nuts kind of set the ball on the tee for them.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Manhammer

      Then your problems are with lawmakers, and not with Religion in itself. Don't vote for those people then. But why insult people's beliefs who aren't in a position of power?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • RyanWI

      Because Atheism (as opposed to little "a" atheism) is a religion like any other. They seek converts for the same reason any other religious group does.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Jim

      New's flash: Some religious people infringe on others' rights through legislation.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jim

      @manhammer, Really? Do you actually think before you make a post? Just the lawmakers? You realize the we have a representative democracy and that those religious people vote in the lawmakers, that legislate on behalf of their beliefs.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Clyde M

      "Why does an Atheist care what another person's beliefs are? Other people's beliefs have no impact on an Atheist's life."

      This seriously makes me question how much of a non-believer you are because the beliefs of the religious impact my life CONSTANTLY. Ever heard of blue laws? I cannot buy beer until certain times on Sunday because people want Sunday mornings to be kept pure for church. heck, I cannot even legally buy a car on Sunday in many places because a bunch of Christians got together and decided MY doing so would violate THEIR notion of the Sabbath. My own state Consti tution states that I CANNOT legally hold public office UNLESS I am willing to profess a belief in a higher power. From abortion to divorce to gay marriage, the number of political issues where religious people use their beliefs (and dollars) in order to influence secular law and policy are too many to be mentioned. Religious people vote to infuse their beliefs into secular law constantly so as to impact the lives, liberty, rights, and property of those who do not share their particular belief system or moral code. I had to fight to keep Christian-based creationism out of my child's public school science class. The list goes on and on.

      The beliefs of the religious most certainly DO impact my life and they do so daily.

      THAT is why I care what they believe. THAT is why I fight back against it's intrusion into the public sphere. When their beliefs no longer affect me, I won't care what they believe. But so long as they use those beliefs like a club to impinge upon the LEGAL rights of others through the FORCE of law...then yeah, I'm going to care about that.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Clyde M

      @Manhammer: "Then your problems are with lawmakers, and not with Religion in itself. Don't vote for those people then. But why insult people's beliefs who aren't in a position of power?"

      Except that simply isn't true.
      First, the law-makers BELIEVE these things, too. Maybe people not in power believe them, but so do those in power, so "insulting" them is still "valid."
      Second, those in power in our republic pander to the masses. Even if they don't share the same beliefs as their const ituents, they often cater to their consti tuents beliefs to get votes and stay in power. In other words, the people not in power ARE the people in power in many places.
      Third, many issues are not decided by law-makers, but public voting. The people "not in power" ARE going into voting booths and voting on issues like abortion and gay marriage and stem cell research based primarily–if not solely many times–on their religious beliefs. Not all laws come from law-makers.
      Fourth, religion often DOES infuse itself into law and politics. I can't count the times ministers preached about public policy from the podium and encouraged church members to go out and vote this way or that. Or the times churches led the way to pass–or prevent the passage of–laws. Heck, a significant portion of the Proposition 8 stuff in California was bankrolled and promoted by Mormon churches, charities, and interests. So to say I shouldn't have a problem with religion is disingenuous at best.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  14. Jimmy

    .

    August 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  15. Jimmy
    August 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Why Ditch Religion

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA53vCC_MIk&w=640&h=360]

    August 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      And yet another cool video!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUFUujSNpEU&w=640&h=360]

      August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  17. edsr of Dallas

    Atheism is another CULT! They claim you have to worship to have a cult! You worship NOTHING and therefore you do worship something! You are a cult....as bad a cult as ever was! Satan LOVES Atheists!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Atheism is not a religion

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8U_JveHS8E&w=640&h=360]

      August 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • rotfogel

      Thank you for pointing out to the world how dumb you are. You are like a child with a huge ridiculous imagination. Religion is for the weak minded who are too afraid of truth. Sad but very very true.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • merlynleroy

      "You worship NOTHING"

      To quote a Gahan Wilson cartoon, "Is nothing sacred?"

      August 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  18. Simon C

    "The fact is: it is impossible that all religions are right, therefore they must be wrong" – paraphrasing A.E.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • John

      I think the quote said that you must assume you are wrong.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  19. John

    Atheists – the universe was created sinply by a huge explosion – kind of like an explosion in a printing press resulting in an unabridged dictionary! Yup – that's gonna happen!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Sue

      John, that nonsense of yours has been thoroughly debunked.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP3AY0iHEUA&w=640&h=360]

      August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Richard

      John, In the beginning there was light. Light from a huge explosion,maybe?

      August 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  20. Jeffery Jay Lowder

    American Atheists doesn't speak for all atheists. I've publicly criticized this ad here: http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2012/08/american-atheists-doesnt-speak-for-this.html

    August 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • BOB

      I respect that postion. You are very right in your thinking. Hard to see any positives from that billboard from the Atheist position. It is simply intolerant and preachy.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:03 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.