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.
If this were against Judaism, it would be called hate speech.
Very good and if it was against black people it would be called racism.
Now this is a toughy, but what would it be called if it were against gay people?
Search your back Belief Blog articles, they have posted billboards against Jews.
And they attempted to errect on a Jewish-owned property and called the old lady a "bigot" when the latter had invoked her right to say "NO".
robert,60 million people have perished ,, died, been slaughtered,,in the name of religion.40 million civilians,20 million soldiers.we are trying to stop the hate ,the lies,the delusuonal zombie psychotic teachings of you idiots.
Fighting hate with intolerance and hatred .... there's a plan.
Ever notice how many groups in history, including the Faithful, who claim that peace can only come when those that do not look, believe or love the same are gone from society?
who is considered the greatest scientist to have ever live? Sir Isaac Newton [unorthodox Christian]
atheists are always full of lulz.
i always hear the funny anecdotes about the spaghetti-god-monster, but rarely retorts about Newton as a theologian.
or Einstein for that matter... but i digress.
heh, the irony.
Einstein was no theologian
Actually if you learned to read, it's been addressed a lot. Whether or not newton was a theologian does not diminish his contribution to science nor does his personal views on religion in any way effect mine. The same can be said for Einstein. If we dig a little deeper, when Newton was alive, being an atheist was unheard of, or rather any atheist daring to publicly say he was one would be outcasted, so Newton was a christian because you had to be in order to be taken seriously. It's possible to speculate on just HOW christian he was, but again it's besides the point because his contribution to science is in no way diminished by his religious leanings.
Einstein was a man who had his faith questioned by all sorts of people. He had disdain for the general atheist because he looked at the stars and found a rhythm and beauty that couldn't have come (he believed) from pure chance. He also didn't follow any specific religion and believed that "God" was a cold, uncaring god that was invested in the universe at a macro level but couldn't care less about the subatomic particles that we presumably look like to such a gigantic being. But again, I digress, Einstein's theories and contribution to science has nothing to do with religion and in no way makes atheists hypocrites for reaping the benefits of famous scientists who had different views than they did. Get it?
Newton is recognized for discovering the Laws of Motion but hardly considered the greatest scientist. But his religious views are hardly surprising since most people are indoctrinated into some religious belief by their parents from childhood. All Newton did was expose the mathematics of motion. If he hadn't done it then somebody else would have eventually figured it out. Why? Because nature can be modeled mathematically.
That's what science is. The creation of models to describe and predict things we observe in reality. You will notice Newton didn't come up with a definitive explanation for God. Like most people he compartmentalized his religious beliefs as unquestionable axioms. Most do not scrutinize their beliefs in the same way they do every other aspect of their lives or the natural world because no satisfactory answers are forthcoming and in many ways such pursuits have long been considered taboo or blasphemous.
Even Newton was victim to religion. Take his work in defining orbits of pairs of bodies. He could perfectly describe two objects acting on each other, but couldn't take the next step in complexity to describe the motions of all the planets in our solar system, so he gave up and said it was God who made all the little corrections necessary to keep the solar system on course. Later on, mathematicians used the very calculus Newton created to perfectly describe the motions of all the planets. Wasn't god after all. So, I don't know what point you were trying to make by somehow tying Newton to theism. It just shows that even histories greatest minds can be hindered by a belief in god. Thanks for making our point for us.
Atheists posting billboards charging Christianity with hate show they are full of lie and deceit. Uninterested in truth at all. Christ taught us to love even the enemy who mistreats and despises us. Such atheists are all about hate, treachery, and deceit.
Says the guy ignoring the countless acts of violence christianity has inflicted upon the world
Robert: And theists show they are pompous a$$es.
Atheism is the most illogical, divisive, destructive, and intolerant religion on the planet. And atheists have been responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years. Far, farm more than all other religions combined for all of recorded history. Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, ect.
I thought lying was a sin?
Robert, please expand on this claim, preferably with sources.
somehow 4chan memes have turned into 'facts' about religion. anyone want to argue Newton's view on religion? yeh thought not.
It is quite irrational to believe that the universe either created itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing or that the universe is eternal, based on the things we now know as fact. The fact is the universe had a definitive beginning. COBE satellite and Hubble telescope observations have proven this. The universe having a definite beginning is the death knell of atheism as any pretense of a rational religion. Additionally, the laws of thermodynamics indicate the universe is not eternal.
Atheism is an irrational religion that conflicts with known science.
First of all, boy, athiesm is not a relligion. Secondly, those people you mentioned were not atheists. They were maniacs who were their own gods. Divisive? They are not the ones purporting to speak for god. Get off your knees, b1tch
Really, bobby? How rational it is to believe a creator has to be synonymous with a god?
wow. none of them killed people in the NAME of a religion or atheism. they did it for their own benefit. unlike religious types that kill in the name of their made up diety.
so stop posting half truths.
Athiesm does not purport to be ANY sort of religion. Gosh. pull your head out of your a$$
Robert, you are so far beyond help it just makes me sad. Also, please stop quoting things you clearly don't understand, you're like a child taught to use copy and paste and given a large textbook. You might be able to use fancy big words but your content is that of a 13 year old trying to sound smart.
Every society built on atheism has been a bastion of mass murder and corruption. Atheism has nothing of merit to offer the world. Thousands of studies show theists are have fewer mental illnesses, commit suicide less, and are more charitable than non-theists.
The US Supreme Court and the 7th District Court rightly declared atheism to be a religion. It is a statement of faith to say, "God does not exist." Atheists can offer nothing but their faith in defense of their dogma.
Now I know you're a liar. There has never been any country "built on atheism". If you want to use North Korea, China, Russia as an example, you would of course be dead wrong, as they were or are communist, which I'm sure your tiny brain can't understand the difference, but rest as.sured that they are quite different.
Also your "stats" are bullish.it. please cite studies showing that christians, percentage wise, are those things.
Robert: Atheism is not the belief in no god as much as it is no belief in a god. Tne difference is subtle, and I suspect it is lost on you.
Robert: Is lack of belief in leprechauns a religion?
This is from the same court that allowed the separate but equal policy to go into effect and condoned slavery, furthermore just because a court deems something to be true doesn't automatically make it so. In the eyes of the LAW atheism is a protected religion so people like you can't go after atheists with impunity, in the real world though, atheism is no more a religion than bald is a hair color
If Stalin, Pol Pot, etc were just maniacs why can't I use that same argument for bin Laden and Hitler?
You absolutely can use the same argument for those people. They were maniacs and clearly not representatives of most people from their religions. The difference though is that they still killed in the name of their religion, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot.... all these men didn't kill in the name of atheism and are immediately disqualified the same way you would disqualify me saying, "Christianity is bad because look at Osama bin Laden killing all those people". they just don't fit.
I always like this argument because it shows how weak you are in your critical thinking skills. You say Atheists killed all these people, however you miss two HUGELY important points...
1) How many people have believers killed? This is important to get a relative score between the two groups.
2) You have failed to define cause and effect. Did these Atheists kill BECAUSE of their Atheistic views? Or did they kill for other reasons. (HINT: It was other reasons like controlling the population, etc.)
Come back when you can have a serious discussion.
6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations; (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 87)
Some things in the bible are definitely questionable. But I don't think its my place to question it. Its may place to believe or not. And thats it. Its what you believe. I do believe in a higher power. But people think because their religious they think they can just use GOD or JESUS as their personal genie. And thats not true at all. And also religious people love to tell non religious people how they'll burn in hell for all eternity. Have you met any half religious people? They go clubbing, they curse, they drink, they have s3x without being married, then go to church on Sunday acting holier than thou.
How can you reconcile blindly choosing to believe without any questions? Do you make that leap in every facet of your life? If not, why with only respect to what you are taught out of an ancient text which is contradictory, bigoted and supports murder and genocide?
How can you not question?
I have a problem with the fundementals of the religion. I don't need the fine details. Telling me basically, "you were born a sinner" sounds wrong. so everything else in nature gets a pass for being born correctly, but man...... Ohh-ho-hoooo, you m'boy are a SINNER. Even as a weeeeeeee little-itty-bitty babe. That never made sense to me. I mean, if I was raised like Arnold Schwarzenegger on 'Twins', you telling me I'm a dirty ol' sinner? If that's the case, nobody catches a break in life.
That's probably the most heartbreaking post I've read in a while. You recognize there are questionable parts of the bible but have been programmed to believe you can't question those and the only thing you're allowed to do is believe or not believe. I mean, it's one thing for a person to at least stand by the bible whether allegorically or literally. They've questioned it and came out believing, but this post....... when you know there's something wrong there and still willfully ignore it and continue to believe is just about the worst thing I've ever heard.
The men who flew the planes into buildings on 9/11 believed. They prayed. They read scripture. They worshiped. They had faith. They apparently didn't think it was their place to question either, so they didn't question.
As a living, breathing, sentient, "free will" human being, isn't it not only your right but also your obligation to question everything? I wholly welcome you to question Atheism. If you find flaws in the Atheist view, I'd welcome it and we would all learn from it. It's your very questioning that makes Atheism stronger. It's a lot like science that way. Conversely, NOT questioning your faith any more than you'd question a used car salesman is odd. Here's something you're willing to commit your whole self...your life...to believing and following. I think it deserves a good poke with a stick before you give it a green light.
The issue that Cain has is with other Christians. He said it over and over. In some ways the questionable parts are often the parts so twist-able that it allows men like Rev Terry Jones to justify their actions. At the same time the same Bible allowed ones like Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa and many of us to justify the positive actions they do for society.
Reason77, mentioned the 9/11 terrorist who believed and did what they did that horrible day. The Koran also lead many Muslims to protect Jewish populations in their countries for hundreds of years. Simply because they believed, they prayed, read the Koran and had Faith that their actions were without question correct.
Cain mentioned half Christians and I do not understand that term except when it is being muttered by someone who believes that their Faith is at a higher level than another's.
Cain, …. question. I know my definition of “clubbing” … what is yours?
Kinda makes me question why folks think the bible is such a great reference for how we should live with it's ambiguity, almost child-like extremes of emotion, and issues with translation and interpretation. Why rely on an insanely complex book that literally thousands of people have worked to translate, interpret, and understand with limited success. Why rely on legions of pastors and priests and deacons and bishops and cardinals and popes and rabbis and imams to talk to us in metaphors and parables? Why not keep it very, very simple. Give people freedom first to live their lives as they see fit. Follow the golden rule. Positively affect others as much as possible. Do not harm others. Try not to harm yourself. That pretty much sums up 95% of what the bible SHOULD say. No need for fantastic stories and miracles and voodoo. That just obscures the truth within the "truth".
>>>”Why rely on an insanely complex book that literally thousands of people have worked to translate, interpret, and understand with limited success. “
The translations and interpretations of what they feel God's message is, has had great success. Some times in extremely positive ways and some interpretations in horrible ways, but just because two people or groups can not agree on a single interpretation, how is this limited success?
Since you asked the question I will try to give my best answer LongHorn. You list the Bible as a “insanely complex book”. This was once the stance of the churches before ones like Martin Luther came along, that the Bible was too confusing for the common man to understand and that it was the duty of the clergy to tell them what the text meant. Then slowly more and more people learned to read and discovered that the Bible is not complex at all unless you wish it to be. For example my favorite passage deals with Capital Punishment. You know, the caste the first stone text. Was there any parting of the Red Sea , someone rising from the grave... no it was a simple response and one of the most important parts of the Holy text. Here is a testimony that Jesus wanted us Christians to know that it is not our place to chastise sinners for we all F'up regularly.
LongHorn, if the Bible is too complex and difficult for you that you expect all of us to have the same degree of turmoil then I must respectfully disagree.
There must be some force that God has to answer to in the Bible. He can't even go without getting himself killed as a sacrafice for himself (already weird?). And he required these sacrafices BEFORE Jesus did the do. Maybe God eats sacrafice-sandwiches. Like... maybe he was hungry. So God needed a soul-Snickers in the form of bloody animal, then later, Jesus sacrafices. Jesus was the sandwich to end all sandwiches. PB & J (plenty-o bullish and jesus)
I know this makes no sense..... but this is what happens when you try to make sense of it.
I'd lay off on the crack for a while
If you go into a study without being objective then yes, it would not make sense.
@Greyhound – Keeps me active and it makes my coat nice-n-shiny!
88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88)
Let me know when the contradictory and convoluted statements in the bible make any sense to you or whether they actually have a point. The bible is no better than a children's comic book.
At the end of the story, the villain is defeated by the superhero and the good people are saved. Time to grow up, christards.
average death metal lyrics, but they will work. tuning my guitar...
Shows how much you "know" about the Bible confused face. Doctrine and Covenants is a Mormon book, there is no doctrine and covenants in the Bible LOL!!
No but really. How can you discredit something that you've never read? I thought "intelligent" folk actually do their research instead of just believing what someone told them?
Atheist philosopy of Ayn Rand = Paul Ryan Medicare and budget plan and social Darwinism of Repubs.
Sign on Atheists and push granny over the cliff....
No atheist is going to agree with another atheist on every point. it seems like you are self appointing Ayn Rand as some sort of Leader of atheists. Almost like our prophet... right? Atheists have run out of breath everywhere saying this, but I'll say it anyway; Atheism is not a system of beliefs, It is a lackof belief that many people have in common, but it is not a basis of an all encompassing ideaology like religions and spiritual beliefs. Yes most people who are Atheist belive in a lot of the same politcal beliefs and such, but that is not a result of their Atheism...
Some notable Atheist "philosophers" : Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong. Their influence upon modern history is undeniable. You can claim that their "Atheism" was meaningless to their philosphies, but this is untrue. In every case Atheism was a central component of their philosophy and its logical consequences.
Everyone should be judged based on their own merits and actions. I don't hate anyone simply because of their religion. I, as an atheist, have met many polite and well meaning christians, muslims, Jews, Taoist's etc. I have also met Atheist's that can be just as ignorant and hot headed as many theists. I don't care if you believe in a god, and I don't care if you don't. I look at the world around me through a lens (just like everybody else) and I (just like everybody else) think that my lens is the clearest of them all. The only difference is I don't have a lack of evidence to support my non-claim, where the theist has a complete lack of evidence, and a lack of understanding of the burden of proof. Anyways... These billboards are political, and I don't know about you but I have noticed that politics very rarely associates with politeness. If it were me I would have put up something actually informative about the Bible and Mormonism. Maybe about how Joseph smith was accused of fraud for using his seer stone to look for "buried treasure". Or the Mountain meadow massacre... Just saying.
Seriously? You spend half of your post saying you don't mind other peoples religion and faith, and then turn around on the attack? If you really didn't care then let it go, cause to us you seem silly too.
Love the criticism from James Martin about the billboards not arguing against the existence of God. Reverend my ass – moron is more like it. Apparently he thinks free speech for atheists should be limited to just that one topic, and no other. And how convenient THAT would be for morons like him who don't understand that it's up to THEM to prove the case for God's existence – it not up to Atheists to prove a negative. And I'm still waiting for that proof, "reverend".
Why do people not allow A-theists to erect billboards when Mormons and Christians erect them all the time.
You wouldn't get turned away by a skin-head if you were black, but being A-theist just isn't right, right?
This is the same conflict that they had before in Rights. If a person owns a billboard and refuses to rent it out to a group or insti'tution that holds views counter to his or her own, should the law compel them to allow such. For example, if a person is anti military does not support Americas military actions and owned a billboard and the Marine Corp wanted to put up a recruiting poster. Do you feel it is wrong for this person to reject the Military s contract to use the billboard?
29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
30 Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity.
31 And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them. (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 13)
I see quoting a book written by a con-man and thief. Excellent
If I was going to use the word "sadistic" I would choose an image a little bit scarier than toast.
I have to admit, the pictures of the Jesus toast and the magic underwear are really funny.
Hey jimmer...Did you see that CNN pulled our BLOG (OLYMPIANS TWITTER GOD)...I replied to you last night and now I can't find it anywhere...Can you?
David SILVERMAN......hmmmmmmm I wonder.....
Exactly, his wife had a saltlife sticker on thier minivan, that means surf boards. Silver man, surf board. It can only mean Galactus has been heralded.
"Religion is silly and religion has components that are inherently divisive" -says the man who put up giant billboards with "jesus toast" that are clearly intended to divide people. Kettle Much???
I did answer higplainsparson, but it seems my comments won't appear. Oh well. I have other things to do.
It won't help anyway. The guy is convinced that Jesus rules the US and the Const itution is just a rag.