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.
About this blog
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.
A lot of wasted time for something that ultimately shouldn't matter where atheists are concerned.
We loathe racisim and bigotry in any form, be it Christianity or any other.
It needs to go!
The preservation of civilization, and the protection of innocent children is everyone's responsibility. Peace.
As soon as religious lunacy is removed from politics and affairs of the state it won't matter. As soon as you are laughed at for declairing you are a person of faith it won't matter. As soon as any politician is laughed off the stage for claiming "god" speaks to them it won't matter. Until these things come to pass..... IT MATTERS.
"We (assuming you mean atheists) loathe bigotry in any form," yet atheists on these boards are extremely bigoted towards persons of faith. Does that make you self-loathing or are you perfectly fine with hypocrisy?
What a loathsome dove William Demuth is. What any of the atheist filth think is irrelevant. They've tied a nice noose and the drop has already started.
All I am saying is that Atheist.org needs to hire a better graphic designer. Any 12 year old with photoshop could design that. lol!
"We (assuming you mean atheists) loathe bigotry in any form," yet atheists on these boards are extremely bigoted towards persons of faith.
When your beliefs divide and marginalize people simply because your fairy book tells you so, then yes I am EXTREMELY bigoted towards anyone who follows that BS. WITH A CAPITAL B.
@Sighs for modern atheis: “"We (assuming you mean atheists) loathe bigotry in any form," yet atheists on these boards are extremely bigoted towards persons of faith. “
We hate the hypocritec, irrational, self-righteous, thoughtless, closed minded and companionless behavior of theists not the person, you know like Christians that hate the sin but love the sinner
You know, I'm getting sick and tired of these atheists pushing their beliefs down my throat. Hypocrites are the worst kind of people.
You know what is funny? Sick and tired christians who can't stand people's opinions which do not match not their own.
Listening to a christian complain about ideas being shoved down their throat is music to my militant Atheistic ears.
No one is pushing it down your throat, they are expressing an opinion, so are you really sick and tired of freedom of expression?
In time, we may be shoving a bayonet down your throat.
Remember, a Religious Holy War swings both ways, and we have the technology and science sectors on our side!
@sixin, yeah it's pretty tacky, kinda like all those Christian hypocrites, so full of Jesus' love.
Well, I feel that your ideas are life-destroying gibberish and poison the minds of innocent little children. I also feel that being "religious" somehow gives you a right to push hatred, misogyny, and contempt for life with little or no criticism. So, I will ridicule and humiliate any religious idea at any time and THAT is my right-get it?
Again to the nitty-gritty:
"John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.
The Situation Today
Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed." J. Somerville
It is very disturbing that religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.
If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world. – Hitchens
If atheists are against all presidential candidates and all present and past presidents because they believe in God, then why don't they form their own party and promote their own candidate? Surely atheists money could be better spent grooming and promoting a person who shares their own beliefs, than on billboards against both current candidates.
Of course, we know the answer to that. The percentage of atheists in the USA is so low they wouldn't even get 1% of the vote.
19.2% of the US population are unbelievers.
Actually, the percentage of actual atheists is quite low (about 4% according to a recent Pew poll, but those without a religious affiliation registered at 16%) yet because it is taboo and one can lose friends or a job (or your life, if Muslim) we will likely NEVER know the true figure. I recently found out that my Dad is a non-believer-despite the fact that he attends church each Sunday, prays at meals, etc. According to him, he just does it out of "habit" and tradition. So, what exactly WAS your point?
Chritian counting again!
First Republican ticket without a Protestant on it EVER, yet you guys still think you are winning.
Jesus is going down for the count
What if that one dude who was on the fence decided that he wanted to quit the religion because he read a little more? Then that 1% would grow. How many on the fence people are there? How many kids of pastors are afraid to mention their own doubts or disbeliefs because their family wouldn't like it? These billboards do better than political parties...
you miss the point. Atheists are not trying to get you to vote for one candidate or another. It is the Republican party that has hijacked religion and the flag. Athiests are trying to tell all those people in religions who don't believe but stay in "the club" so as not to alienate themselves from friends and family, that there are nearly 20% of the population that know as they do that there is no God.
Actually you are on the right track in a certain sense – how about a movement that is non-religious, non-partisan, and actually represents the interests of the people, instead of the interests of a religion, political party or industry? These people would lead by example, and not rest on the fact they have a particular religious belief. This is truly bonafide.
Bottom line – the next great human epiphany will be the realization that religion is bunk, and now we can finally move forward as a species.
I think we're in agreement here then.I know of a nubmer of single issues that could certainly make sure I do NOT vote for a candidate.And I know a few issues that would make it very likely I've vote for a candidate.But I can not think of any single issue that would guarantee I'd vote for a candidate (with the possible exception of that issue being they are me).While on one level I can feel for the argument of single issue voting, I think when it really comes down to it, when Eddie Tabash and others make this case it always falls well short.
There may or may not be a God, but there sure are (and have been) a lot of religions. Most of them claim supremacy on the absolute truth and yet most are doctrinally incompatibile. Religions provide a secular framework on which one can hang one's personal spirtual needs and that's fine with me, but religions don't provide much enlightenment on God. .
They cannot all be right, but they can all be wrong.
That includes the "ism", atheism. Atheists either KNOW (no need for faith) that there is no God or atheists have FAITH (God cannot be disproved) that there is no God. There is the same possibility that you can be wrong.
To wolfpack. You are right, I should have made it clear that atheism is essentially a religion. Personally, I believe that some type of timeless ephemeral force pulls this whole place together. I don't have any idea what it is but most religions just look goofy and self-serving to me.
Thanks for reading my post.
Half the Christians in the USA don't even believe. They are just happy and safe in their club and don't want to upset their friends and family pointing out how nonsensical christianity is.
If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world. – Hitchens.
The fact is that people are turning away from religion in droves, but I'm sure that somewhere in some "holy book" that was predicted, right? Aside, I wonder how well the Mayan calendar apocalypse books will be selling on Dec. 22?
Another 10 or 20 generations and the human race will look on your God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. What a giggle!
To dyslexic. It will take a lot longer than that to eliminate religion in general. Humans appear to look for non-material causes for the things they don't understand, I suspect there may have been a selective advantage to that behavior before we developed processes for formally investigating phenomena..
I wouldn't miss any of the reliigions though.
This seems like an awful lot of effort put into something you don't believe in....
wonder why others get upset with evangelists while this is perfectly okay? Encouraging your belief or non-belief has the same intention.
Because the result from our efforts lead to the truth, where theirs leads to ongoing ignorance. Bulb over the head go on yet?
because Athiests don't change a country's laws to opress other people like the christian taliban are doing here in the US.
who decides that? unless you've resurrected from the dead to let us all know on CNN what happens after life... then awesome, thanks for the freebie
atheists didn't establish this countries laws either... do your research. 😉
all the founding fathers were secualrists and at least Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and even George Washington were Deists. They wanted the running of this country to be free from the insanity of religion.
and I quote,
"In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that Powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance?" – Franklin
i guess even deists need alittle help sometimes...
As a self proclaimed agnostic, I agree that religion has no place in politics. As for the existence of God, our minds have limits to what we understand. To view religion as a destructive force in the world is plausible. If you flat out reject anything greater than yourself, it is can be said that you have created a shortcut to thinking. To quote Einstein, "My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment."
Bottom line, the war between atheists and believers will never be won.
The last man pushing the last button amidst the radiactive rubble wins!!
No one wins. You are forgotten. You are turned into rubble. Your life meant nothing.
What is frustrating is arrogance on either side of the issue. If you disagree with someone ...just disagree. When people can actually sit in the same room, have meaningful conversations and still get along this world will be a better place.
The main problem of atheists and right-wing religious types is that they confuse religion with God.
God is not religion.
Religions are man-made.
God is very much the product of man's imagination.
And so is God.
Where do you get your concept of God from? If you say the bible ( a book written and edited by men) you adhere to a belief in a god created by men.
Who are they trying to kid? Atheism is very much a religion.
James, would you so kind to prove your statement, thank you!
You mean like not collecting stamps is a hobby?
Like bald is a hair color?
Like naked is a fashion?
Dippy little theist spouting sillines again!
You're absolutely right! Just like how NOT collecting stamps is my new hobby!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?
I would describe Atheism as a faith system. Atheist have 100% faith that there is nothing. Thiest have faith that there is a something. Faith is placed in something even if it is nothing.
Where do atheists go to church?
Who is the Atheist Pope?
If atheism is a religion, are atheists tax-exempt?
If life on mars is lucky, Satan was there, giving a species higher thought, something Yahweh didn't want humans to have.
Definitely not comments from an atheist. The only question is whether you KNOW Satan exists or whether you have FAITH that he exists. One can only hope it is the latter as there is time to choose another path.
OK, where is the attack on Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.. I smell gross bigotry and larger ignorance. Thank God we were not made in your image.
I guess you didn't read the article. They already did billboards telling Muslims and Jews that they are living a myth.
Please stop parroting common falsehoods. Islam and other religions are criticized all the time; you just only notice when it's done against Christianity, especially because it's the majority religion in the West.
Which presidential candidates are Islamic, Buddhist or Hindu?
Billboards were placed in Muslim and Jewish neighborhoods. Buddhism doesn't have deities, and Hindus never started a war. It's a little harder to knock a religion when they don't start wars or try to shove their reliefs down your throat. I think most atheists are more the "live and let live" type than the ignoramus' posting these billboards. They give atheists a bad name, IMHO.
Did you NOT read the article?? They are talking about the presidential candidate's religions (Mormonism/Christianity). Seems like everyone else missed this too.....
Belief is not a choice. Some people are put together in a way that makes it virtually impossible for them not to believe in God. Others of us find it virtually impossible to believe in God. There's nothing inherently evil in either sort of person. However, it is unsettling to nonbelievers that believers have so much power in the world. I respect their right to believe and I respect that they probably cannot change their belief, but I do not respect their belief itself. The truth of reality is probably far beyond anything that any of our puny minds can grasp. Believers can't accept this. They espouse simplistic answers to incredibly complex and profound questions. It's just not satisfying or interesting and it is not intellectually cogent.
Actually, we can lay it all at the feet of either childhood indoctrination, or herd mentality.
Belief IS a choice. These poor unfortunate children have been indoctrinated from the very day they were born into believing in a magical homicidal dictator in the clouds that is a peeping tom watching everything you ever do, say, or think.
If you raised a child in a vacuum with no mention of god or gods or goddesses the kid wouldn't "believe" in any of them.
We instill our values into the next generation and that includes the fallacy of theism unfortunately.
We all know that Obummer is a muslim atheist who wants to overturn this country. His socialism approach will sink these country. He isn't evern a reel american. This is a christain nation and we wont allow tthat it gets distroyed.
Haha, very funny, never heard that one before...hey, when does your shift at McD's start? Are you going to be late??
Selson Blue is good for dandruff and Lions.
Wow dude, you might want to check your spelling and grammar before going on a rant. Makes you look stupid actually.
A Muslim athiest? Good one. Are those the only "bad words" you know along with the evil "socialism"? I'm surprised you didn't throw in a "gay" as well. When you have something of substance to add, the comment board will be here.
"This is a christain nation and we wont allow tthat it gets distroyed."
Hardly a x-tian nation but ok
Learn how to spell.....
a muslim atheist? is that a contradiction in terms? Do you even know what socialism is? I seriously doubt it because Obama is no where even close to being a socialist and even if he was that would mean he is what the bible says you're supposed to be. a perfect socialist would be a perfect Christian.
Is being called a Muslim supposed to be an insult these days? "Har Har My Religion is slightly less idiotic than your religion" is basically what it comes down to. Oh Lord Zeus why don't you smite all these non believers with your mighty lightning bolts.
Nothing until it corrupts the education of children leaving them ill prepared for employment in our scientifically and technologically advanced society" – Agreed. That would fall under the cause harm clause I put after my original statement.
There are two kinds of Christians. Those that know that there is a God and those that have faith that there is a God. There are two kinds of atheists. Those that know that there is no God and those that have faith that there is no God. As God can be neither proved or disproved by science (ask Stephen Hawking about gravity), there is no point in arguing with those from either side who claim that they KNOW. Both are intolerant of any position but their own and usually devolve into trolls. Peace to all those of faith, and to the trolls as well.
Actually Atheists don't believe there is no god, and don't have faith there is no god. Atheists just object to believing in something that is in most current religions presented in a juvenile way (i.e. some bearded guy who is torturing everyone to test them, or some multi-armed elephant, or whatever), presented without out proof (and sometimes in direct conflict with common observations such as the age of the Earth) and object to the divisiveness caused by religion as mostly practiced today.
Atheists just believe that "we don't know" and that it is silly and even dangerous to claim you know something that you don't.
"Atheists just believe that "we don't know" and that it is silly and even dangerous to claim you know something that you don't."
Obviously you haven't been here long...there are plenty of atheists that claim to know there is no god.
"Atheists just believe that "we don't know" and that it is silly and even dangerous to claim you know something that you don't." I am OK with that type of atheism, but there are atheists who claim they KNOW that there is no God and will not tolerate my faith in the existence of God even I confirm that I do not know He exists. If I knew He existed, there would be no need for the definition of faith. My problem with the atheists who KNOW (what they cannot prove) is that they are intolerant of my faith.
Atheist are very angry people, that we can all agree on. Just think..... in your lifetime you will get your answer if there is a God. All you can do is mock people that don't agree with you, modern day cyber bullies. You might number many on this blog page but in reality your numbers are quite small. God Bless
Thanks for the passive aggression, I'll hold it close to my heart forever.
Why would anyone want to spend eternity with a deity who has mass-murdered babies and toddlers many times?
so glad you're keeping count
"All you can do is mock people that don't agree with you"
That sounds like the Christian agenda in a nutshell.
No I think we are all just tired of people of faith going on and on about how good they are simply because they have this faith, when in fact people should be judged by their actions and not by their beliefs. I know fundamentalist Christians who treat people with disdain simply because they are non-believers. Or how about the Christian right who think the less advantaged shouldn't have access to universal health care? It's dumbfounding how people of religion cannot see the disunity and hate they bring to the world. Pathetic, really.
"in your lifetime you will get your answer if there is a God."
Funny, people have been saying that for 2000+ years now and we still dont know. My advice to you is to hold your breath until you get your answer.
Pot, meet Kettle.
At first I was a bit upset by this billboard. I thought it was crass, tacky and mean-spirited. (I still do.)
Then, just for grins I put "Christian billboard" into Google, Images.
WOW!!! It's worth the 10 seconds.
Here's a good one from the nutter file:
"Attention Lunatic Atheists & their Lawyers
Anti-God is Anti-American
Anti-American is Treason
Traitors Lead to Civil War"
I still believe we've come a long way from the Code of Hammurabi (an eye for an eye etc) but the Google search gave me more perspective.
Some of them are super special, all right. But they're ok, because they're just...defending their beliefs.
Traitors Lead to Civil War"
Lets hope so, so that we'll FINALLY get to eradicate all of you moronic theists that keep holding the human race back in the stone ages with your fairy tale BS.
I'm not a fan of American Atheists in general just because of the way they insert all sorts of extra meaning into the definition of "atheism", which just requires the rest of us (atheists) to have to work harder to clarify the actual definition to theists.
Let's not get all into "civil war" talk. Nobody wants to steal your religion or force you to believe one thing or another. Everyone just wants people to stop mixing politics with religion – stop lobbying government, stop giving preference to any religion over another or lack of religion, stop giving funding to religious groups of any nature, stop spreading lies over public forums, stop placing religious artifacts and slogans on public property, money, and oaths, and start paying taxes like any other income generating group. There, easy...
While you were debating which chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I landed on Mars.
did God create life there too? Did they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil yet?
i dont get it. seemed like the non-religious were the ones debating the sandwiches, no?
Did you just "happen" to land on Mars, or were there intelligent people behind it.
While you were in Mars scraping samples into test tubes, we built society on Earth. 😉