Atheist group removes billboards targeting presidential candidates' religious faith
American Atheists says it took down billboards critical of the candidates' religions in Charlotte, North Carolina, after threats.
August 27th, 2012
09:55 AM ET

Atheist group removes billboards targeting presidential candidates' religious faith

By Dan Gilgoff and Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - An atheist group that raised a pair of billboards taking aim at the presidential candidates’ religion at the site of next month’s Democratic National Convention has pulled the signs after what the group called a “large volume of threats.”

The billboards, sponsored by American Atheists, took aim at Mormonism and Christianity and went up this month in Charlotte, North Carolina, which will play host to the Democratic convention.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and President Barack Obama is also a Christian.

The billboard targeting Christianity featured 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.’ ”

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The billboard targeting Mormonism lambasted - and, Mormons would say, distorted - specific Mormon doctrines: "God is a Space Alien, Baptizes Dead People, Big Money, Big Bigotry.”

The Mormon billboard featured a man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments.

American Atheists said the billboards provoked a “large volume of threats” by phone and e-mail and that the group reported the threats to police.

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“It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately,” Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ managing director, said in a statement last week.

“No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny - and this includes religion in all forms,” Knief said. “We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”

American Atheists had wanted to put the anti-Mormon billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with this week's Republican National Convention.

When no billboard company in the city would lease the group space for such a sign, American Atheists President David Silverman said the organization decided to focus solely on the Democrats in Charlotte.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Politics

soundoff (1,780 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Whos to say the atheists arent calling in the threats?

    August 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Ben

      If they are calling in the threats than why take down their own billboards?

      August 28, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Jim

      To say the mean old christians arent being nice to them and blow things way out of proportion as usual.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  2. Tom Joad

    Hurricane Issac might be showing us that maybe there is a God pointing out , during their convention , the apathetic incompetence that was on display with Katrina. The Texas Village Idiot flying over New Orleans looking out the window is an iconic photo.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  3. Lamar

    The above billboard is full of Lies (Why am I not surprised) –
    Claim: God is Sadistic – Fact: God is Love (those who state otherwise don't know or understand the bible)
    Claim: Useless Savior – Fact: Not – Our Savior has Saved millions
    Claim: 30,000 versions of Truth – Fact: There is only one Truth
    Claim: Promotes Hate – Fact: Promotes True Love, prohibits acts against True Love (e.g. sodomy)

    Satan is the Father of Lies. This Billboard is full of lies. Therefore Athiests are the spawn of Satan and promoters of Hate against Christians.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • Ben

      This is why I'm inclined to side with the atheists; they don't believe that you guys are evil, just that you are stupid

      August 28, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Dane

      God is not love. Read the bible. God supports genocide, hate, woman abuse, pedophilia, incest, and slavery. Off the top of my head I can cite Matthew 2:18 regarding the slavery claim. God didn't know that the world was round, despite making it. For some strange reason the earth is only 6-thousand years old, despite empirical data that supports its being 4.6 billion years old. Stories such as Noah's Ark are directly RIPPED OFF from ancient tales circa 2,000 or later BC in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Go to a museum, realize that evolution is FACT. Enlighten yourself. Read a history book, talk to a geologist, research SCIENCE. Stop taking the lazy man's route, instead QUESTION the universe. You sicken me.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • Gary

      @Ben: LMFAO!

      August 28, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • JWoody907

      If every Christian who declared another Christian "wasn't a Christian" was to vanish, there'd be none left. (And I think the world would be a lot better place!)

      FACT: There's 30,000 stories, hell, even the Christians can't get together on the subject, the Church of England, Mormonism, Catholicism, LDS etc etc etc.
      FACT: The bible is a book written by people hundreds of years after the events it supposedly covers in 1st person. Completely discrediting the entire book as ridiculous fantasy
      FACT: Religion has been the source of more wars and death than any other cause on the face of the planet. More than starvation, more than non-religious war, etc etc etc. Your "savior" is a mass murderer. Worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin all put together.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:05 am |
  4. ironwolf56

    I have nothing against atheism or atheists in general. Many of them are perfectly nice people. No, what I can't stand is the hypocrisy of many atheists who proselytize their own beliefs. They can't stand evangelists of various faiths, yet they engage in much of the same obnoxious behaviors: belittling others, being smarmy and superior, and so on. You can be a humble Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, atheist, or whatever; you can also be an insufferable d-bag no matter what you believe (or don't believe) in, and that's when people start to get annoyed by you. So don't sit there and say "well these mindless theists only hate us because we're rational and pointing out their flaws," they hate you because you're an obnoxious tool that thinks you're superior to everyone; same reason people dislike radical jerks of faith.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  5. Alan

    I personally believe that there is a God and he gave us science to to make sense of his creation. I find this world and science to be too amazing to have ultimately come to existence out of nothing. I believe in an afterlife, if only because it seems like our consciousness too incredible and peculiar to simply expire when our mortal bodies do. I'm a Christian because that's what I feel in my heart is right, but I can't fault anybody else for believing otherwise. Perhaps God does have many manifestations and other religions are right for other people too. I honestly don't worry too much about it. I don't believe in theocracy because I think people should choose their religion, not be pressured into it.

    The hate that comes from other people who call themselves Christian embarrasses me greatly and deeply saddens me. I honestly don't understand how a person could read the gospels and take away from it the idea that they should be hating gays and people of other religions, when Jesus spent most of his time with societies unwanted, criticizing a religious elite overly preoccupied with legalism.

    Some view the Bible as contradictory. Some view it through the lens of dogmatic interpretation. I see it as intentionally enigmatic, and the study of the Bible has challenged me in many ultimately positive ways. My understanding of God's commandments gives me something to strive for personally, and I feel accountable in my thoughts and conduct not just to myself, my family, and society, but also to a higher power.

    Anyway, just some thoughts from a Christian who loves science, eschews hate, and simply tries to live by example.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Chevy

      Nicely said. Thank you

      August 28, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  6. truth

    Hate and Bigotry beget hate and bigotry. Always has, always will.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  7. DFW Dann

    My proposal to replace the billboard.

    This Billboard Removed Under Threats by Christians Displaying Their Practice of the Fundamental Tenet of their Religion to Love Thy Neighbor and Do Good Unto Those Who Curse You is Not as Important as Intimidating Those Who Disagree with Them.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • Lamar

      How about the Billboard was removed on account of the fact that it promotes Hate Against Christians through slander

      August 28, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • Dane

      Slander? Why don't you actually READ A BIBLE. I despise people like you. God is supposedly responsible for altering warfare, wiping out entire civilizations, and mass amounts of genocide. You are a fool if you believe in a two-thousand year old religion. Go back to school and educate yourself.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:56 am |
  8. JWoody907

    Funny, the Christians have no problem repressing other religions and atheists free speech on their beliefs, but the minute someone exercises their freedom of speech to attack the silliness of Christianity suddenly it's death threats and claims that others are attacking their religion.

    Interesting that Christianity is still the #1 religion in the world by population, but atheism is the #2 "belief system" and is growing.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • Lamar

      The Billboard is a prime exhibit of hate against christians via the instrument of lies and deception, the only morality of athiesm

      August 28, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • JWoody907

      HAHAHA are you saying Christians are moral?
      Consider what the definition of morality is: it's doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

      Christians consider there's an all powerful deity looking over their shoulder constantly who will send them to a fiery hell if they don't behave. That's being good or being punished.
      Atheists do the right thing because it's the right thing. That's morality.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:55 am |
  9. ffacts

    not interesting

    August 28, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  10. rocinante

    Interesting. There's an anti-Muslim ad that runs all over San Francisco funded by a Jewish group, and I guess its a free speech issue that the ad can't be taken down even though many people find it highly offensive. I wonder why the atheists are having so much trouble running their ad.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  11. steven harnack

    So in the city that the Republicans chose to showcase their philosophy, the free-market rejects the free exchange and expression of ideas. Just par for the Party of Hypocrites.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      You cannot offend republicans, they might take their business away.
      Being the official Party of God, they will punish Tampa worse than Sodom and Gemorrah.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  12. /B/tardHer0

    Goodnight Ben!
    Sorry about your penis.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:59 am |
  13. /B/tardHer0

    Sharpie in the pooper.
    You know you want to.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:57 am |
  14. /B/tardHer0


    Oh wait, never mind. You already know everything.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  15. /B/tardHer0

    Ben knows the secrets of the universe! Respawning in 3...2...1...

    August 28, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  16. /B/tardHer0

    Why are you still lurking Ben? You know you want to get back to Halo and those Cheetos! NOM NOM NOM

    August 28, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  17. /B/tardHer0

    Ben wins GOLD at the US Special Olympics!!! Proving once again Rtards love to argue online!

    August 28, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  18. /B/tardHer0

    Ben, the Google warrior!

    August 28, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  19. Joe

    Both Mormonism and Christianity are evil religions. It's a shame that American Atheists are cowards.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Lamar

      Cowards and Liars.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • Dane

      Lamar, you are a tool-bag. Do me a favor and actually READ your bible.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  20. jdoe

    lordnimrond: I'm not arguing against that. But from a personal, observational standpoint, the universal in its current form did not exist before you were born, and ceases to exist after you die.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:45 am |
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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.