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. Daleks

    The holy rollers who made these threats did a good job of proving the point of the ad. Religious nuts tell you religion is about love, then get violent when you call them out on the lie.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  2. Simon Cohen

    It looks like religious people will not hesitate to use their second amendment rights (to "protect" their religion) and kill first amendment users, such as people of other religions or atheists. Their god must be really very weak if it can't prevent "blasphemy".

    August 28, 2012 at 6:55 am |
  3. Mormon in Utah

    I think If Mitt Romney is elected, we will get many converts to Mormonism from other Faiths and even the atheists. Once the President of the United States is a practising Mormon, the Book of Mormon will be in every school around the world

    August 28, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • logtaads

      Complete nonsense.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • AuntySocial

      I, for one, certainly hope not.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Daleks

      Yes, I remember all those mass conversions when he became governor. They held them at Fenway, didn't they? Or maybe those were Yankee games.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  4. GaryB

    The problem is, you have some atheists who are essentially atheist evangelicals. That is, they are absolutely convinced that their belief (or lack of belief) system is the one true belief system, and they won't rest until they can convince everyone they meet that their way is the only one true path. In that respect, they can be just as annoying as any religious proselytizer.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • drjc

      Christian Taliban issues fatwa, declares jihad on infidels.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Max

      There are three invisible, undetectable leprechauns living under my staircase running the world. So far NONE of my friends have been able to disprove the existence of the leprechauns so they must really be there.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Gezellig

      "There are three invisible, undetectable leprechauns living under my staircase running the world. So far NONE of my friends have been able to disprove the existence of the leprechauns so they must really be there."

      Hey, if that is your belief system, fine by me. But for the record, (a) I don't know of any religions that do that...i.e. conclude that their belief system is true BECAUSE you can't prove it isn't, (b) if I became obsessed with mocking your belief in leprechauns, that might indicate that something is not right with ME, and (c) if I was addicted to mentally pleasuring myself by my belief in my own smug sophistication, I might start to wonder why I need to constantly reestablish my sense of superiority. I wouldn't commit to atheism until I vastly expanded my knowledge of modern physics, theology and philosophy. I mean, if you want to ridicule the "crazy" ideals of religion, pit them against much of what is coming out of modern physics; not to mention its involvement in string theory, which generates no testable predictions and is not falsifiable,. Unfortunately, most atheists I see today wouldn't know Mrs. Blavatsky from Mrs. Butterworth, and approach atheism like they are teenagers smoking cigarettes behind the high school gym thinking they look adult.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  5. Michael

    So as Christians/Mormons your faith is so deep that it can't stand up to a couple of billboards that have the truth on them. Mormons do believe in magic underwear and baptizing the dead. There are also a great number of Mormons who practice Polygamy. I don't know about 30,000+ versions of the truth but there are quite a few ancient religions that Christianity borrowed the bulk of it's stories from. So the Atheists do the responsible thing and take down the billboards before all the bible thumpers go get their guns. Doesn't sound to me like the Atheists were being unreasonable at all this is just another reason to abolish all organized religions!

    August 28, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  6. John

    I have no problem with a group attacking a presidential candidate on his belief in fairy tales. I do have a problem with a sign that looks like it was made by a 5th grader like these do.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  7. kookoolarue

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

    What's the "also" in there for? Is this saying that Obama is a Mormon AND a Christian? This is weird phrasing.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • John

      How is that weird phrasing? Yes, Romney is a Mormon and a Christian.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Willie

      Mormon is not Christian but the paper is trying to seed the belief that it is

      August 28, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • rbnjorlfl

      Yeah, I thought that was kind of an awkward way to put it, too. I get what they were doing though; Mormonism is technically a branch of Christianity, so by putting "President Barack Obama is also a Christian, they're trying to unnecessarily emphasize that Mormonism is part of Christianity due to dum8@sses like Willie somehow thinking that it's not. Christian: One who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore they are Christian. It's sad when an Athiest (i.e. me) knows more about your religion than you do, Willie.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • God is a man made delusion

      Actually Mormanism is a form of Christianity.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  8. kevininjc

    Of course the rest of the civilized democracies across the planet all think we're completely nuts to make religion such a big deal in the area of elections / politics.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:02 am |
  9. Brett

    haha. Oh, how quickly Christians will betray their 10 Commandments...

    August 28, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  10. CD

    I thought they were amusing and largely correct. So Christians, Mormons, anyone of faith can say whtever they want, but can't take it as soon as they are made fun of. These same people who made threats probably criticize Muslims for gretting angry when someone offends them by saying something about Mohammed or Allah.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Religion does have special privileges. In any other domain, the absolute lack of any evidence, over an extended period of time, would cause such claims to be discarded. One can only hope religion soon takes its rightful place beside astrology.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  11. NoTags

    It's OK if an atheist doesn't want to believe in God or Jesus, but why do atheists feel threatened if others believe? Obviously, atheists do feel threatened or they wouldn't find it necessary to erect billboards critical of religion and try to recruit believers to their organization.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • JWoody907

      So the atheists put up a billboard against Christianity and the Christians issue death threats.

      Who sounds like the threatened party here?

      August 28, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Toby Dana

      so does that mean that Christians feel threatened because they also erect billboards and try to get people to believe in their craziness? You are right...we are VERY AFRAID of you. People who believe in absurdities, commit atrocities. More people have been killed in the name of religion than anything else in human history.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      By your logic believers that put up signs to recruit new cult members must feel threatened...

      August 28, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • CD

      The people who made threats are behaving like Muslims who feel offended, and I will bet they are the first to criticize them...

      August 28, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • mjbrin

      Atheists feel harrassed because all evangeilcal Christians are taught to "save" others and I as a Catholic feel harrassed by Jehovah Wiittnesses every Saturday. They feel threatened because real threats have been made by the same evangelical Christians as the Catholic Church did to Jews in the past. So far I have not read one threat or condemnation from an Altheist. If you do not approve of a Christian calling with threats please make that statement otherwise by not doing so you are approving it. Christ never taught that.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • VaHeel79

      Atheists are threatened by a growing cadre of legislators all over the country who are enacting legislation, laws and regulations based not on fact and precedent but on their "faith" guided by a book full of contradictory fables and myths, many of which support slavery, murder and misogyny all labeled as THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO GOD without a shred of evidence.Threatened? How about "under siege"?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • God is a man made delusion

      Perhaps they feel threatened because they were threatened?
      Think then type...

      August 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  12. Mieper101

    The truth hurts....

    August 28, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  13. Geo

    These religious right just reinforce the atheists message with their threats.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • logtaads

      Lol... that's it?

      August 28, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  14. kithill1

    Atheism: Sadistic German (Austrian) Nationalist atheist kills well over 6 million people simply because of their culture and religion. Socialist/Communist Atheists kill millions, oppresses more in the name of totalitarian socialist ideal society. Hyper-communist wipes out millions of intellectuals and professionals all in the name of starting an anti-religious & anti-freedom political cult in South East Asia. American far-right atheist political hacks dupe American people into believing reports about WMB so they can secure lucrative contracts for wealthy friends. I think you'll find that mankind and extreme beliefs are the common denominators here, not a particular belief system.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • CanMan33

      Just a note, Hitler's crimes were done in the name of Christianity. Also everything else you listed does not come close to what was done in the name of Christianity

      August 28, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • John

      Wow! You need to read your history. Hitler was a Catholic, not an atheist!

      August 28, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Steve

      You're clueless. The far right Americans you speak of regarding WMBs (sic) are all fanatical Christians, not atheists!

      August 28, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  15. Jude N

    The new atheists would perhaps be more influential if their marketing involved more science and less hatred for Christianity

    August 28, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • God is a man made delusion

      Jude, Atheists don't hate Christianity, we just don't believe in it. We also don't hate Santa or the Easter Bunny. I think if you look at the situation objectively you'll find the hatred flowing the the other direction. When have you read a story about thousands of atheists threatening a Christian organization over a billboard.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  16. Karloff

    That's nice–religionists making threats against atheists. Good thing their practicing the sacred tenets of their delusions.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • Karloff

      Oops–that's "they're." My bad.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • AtheistJoe

      Thought provoking post jerkarloff. Im sure they havent heard that one before. Why dont you astound us with your superior intellect you whiney repugnant nit wit. The bill boards were a stupid idea and whomever thought of it should be made to sit in a catholic church service for the rest of his life.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • Pushover1234

      Still got it wrong....try "their"

      August 28, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • Karloff

      Pushover: No, it's "they're" as in "good thing they are practicing...." As for AtheistJoe–well, a little more evolving would help you.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • logtaads

      You guys are so funny. You attack the very essence of how some people define their life and then wonder why they respond in a hostile manner.

      It's one thing to spout your self-righteous crap, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. The hate filled attacks that these billboards represented were not appreciated and as a result received "in-kind" responses.

      While I do not support or advocate violence, there are consequences to every action. Some people are very passionate about their beliefs and so you have to tred lightly when insulting them.

      That being said, I am really disappointed at how the two groups lacked the conviction and moral courage to stand up to the bullying and threats and quickly decided to take the messages down.

      If you are going to spout that kind of hate message then you should have the back-bone to stand up for your supposed beliefs.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • mjbrin

      this is for Loggtads, did i miss something? where on these billboards was there a hate filled message? also as a Catholic I am questioned many times by other Christians about my religion should I respond in a hostile manner?

      August 28, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  17. Caspar Mulders

    "Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a moron, and President Barack Obama is also a cretin."

    August 28, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • Jim

      See this is what I mean. Either there are sn.ot nosed little , just got done spa.n.kin.g it 15 yr olds on here posting. Or the Atheists are a bunch of elit.i.st nu.c.kle draggers.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • Karloff

      Jim: Judging from your comment, you have a little more evolving to do.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  18. azrael

    You can question religion all you want...... but when you do it..... do so in a manner thats a tad more thought provoking and not out right provoking.......

    August 28, 2012 at 4:43 am |
  19. Surthurfurd

    So which Peace Loving, God inspired, person is calling in death threats?

    August 28, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • Jim

      The Atheists did it themselves to try and get some sympathy from everyone because the mean old christians are picking on them and they want to feel special to.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • logtaads

      Jim, I love your comment. You can mock those folks all you want but they got those messages removed. Maybe the group that posted it should examine its beliefs because it seems to me that they can't be too comitted to their core beliefs.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  20. worldcares


    Without religion, man would not have evolved to study Science.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse | Reply


    The human existed before any religious books and bibles were ever written.
    Fear of nature's forces, fear of the meteor or falling star is what started the primitive religious rituals. As man became more civilized, religious beliefs became more prominent.
    Religion is what civilized man so he could go on to study Science.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse | Reply


    I believe in creationism, but not the strict, 24-hour day version...I realize that science has proven the Earth is much older than 6,000 years, and I won't try to argue with facts given by science. God created the Earth over a long period of time in my belief, allowing evolution to occur to a degree. I don't agree with the old "humans evolved from monkeys" deal though, for 2 reasons. 1, God created man and woman himself, it did not happen on its own. 2, if monkeys (or primates or whatever) became humans, why isn't that still happening? I know that the two versions of the world's origin can and do work hand-in-hand in reality, and who knows for certain how God played it all out? Maybe modern science is wrong and the world really is only 6,000 years old...maybe God created primates to turn into humans, and the first to become man was Adam...maybe the Big Bang theory was God on the first day creating the heavens and the universe...the fact is, I don't know. I know a rough, undetailed account that the Bible provides (or maybe it is an exactly perfect and literal account). I'm not going to worry too much about it though, because that knowledge is not required to gain access to heaven. I'm a 17-year-old Christian, and believe me, having being taught creationism hasn't tainted my views. Everyone makes their own decision at some point, so as much as I love Bill Nye, I disagree with him on this topic, as parents should teach their children however they want and in high school the kids will make their own choices.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:24 am | Report abuse | Reply



    Enjoy learning.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |


    Bill is obviously a native to the Pacific NW. People there are too smart to believe in creationism. However, they're not smart enough to figure out the realistic probability of taking all the parts of a Boeing 747 and passing them through a hurricane and having the plane being fully assembled? What's the chances of that occurring? I guess science is going to have to hit them over the head for being idiots for and trying to "Lean on their own understanding."

    August 28, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse | Reply


    The human existed before any religious books and bibles were ever written.
    Fear of nature's forces, fear of the meteor or falling star is what started the primitive religious rituals. As man became more civilized, religious beliefs became more prominent.

    You would not be here, to comment, if it were not for religion.
    Do you believe in yourself?

    August 28, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • Jim

      Who says we are civilized? We are the same as we were when we were created, broken!

      August 28, 2012 at 4:55 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.