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. shawbrooke

    What! Somebody disagreed with an atheist! Shocking! Of course I'm being sarcastic.

    Anyone who touts free speech needs to understand that people mostly agree with the speaker.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  2. AtheistHuman

    Love it! Put it back up... The God squad is all talk, and no action.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • truth be told

      Prayer brought them down .

      August 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You make baby jesus cry when you lie. Death threats brought them down. Be honest about it.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • truth be told

      Odd as it seems no threats are quoted, no sources but the words of proven liars to substantiate the allegations. What one atheist lies to the rest swear to.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      If the tables were turned, TBT would be up in arms about the threats, even if someone brought his own current arguments to bear.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • truth be told

      Please describe these turning tables you are on about. Where are they in this story?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did you have trouble figuring out what "if" means, TuBeTop?

      August 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @truth be told

      So I think we can add disingenuous to the list of things you are.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • truth be told

      When caught in your own lie shoot the opposition. Probably how atheist Stalin started his reign of terror.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Awww how cute. The little troll can't even recognize a lie. Well makes sense considering that he continues to pop them out and thinks it's truth. People ask what the harm of religion is, take a look at TBT, HeavenSent, Hitler, Pope Innocent (LOL such an appropriate name) XIII.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  3. wlmmlr

    truth be told
    Truth must be a word you do not understand. You have no proof that there were no threats but you keep saying it anyway. Time to change your name to Lie Be Told....Over and Over.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • truth be told

      To be an atheist you must first be an accomplished liar. It is a no brainer that this whole business is atheistic fraud.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  4. Reality

    Expressing my freedom of speech and liberty from all forms of religion with my personal billboard:–>>>

    -only for the new members of the blog:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    August 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • ....


      August 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Reality

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(Ditto for Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • ....


      August 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  5. Silent Athiest

    Tell me, why does the Christian majority see fit to deny the freedom of speech to a minority?

    August 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • truth be told

      You've been had, no one denied anything, what you have here is so called atheists whining to extend their 15 minutes while avoiding paying additional rental on the signs.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm |

    Atheism is only another fundamentalist point of view. I wish to clarify one point. The Blessed Cheese Maker has accused me of being either "ignorant or dishonest" for claiming both to be agnostic and seeing miracles. I do claim to be agnostic, defined as a belief that some things can not be known. Being agnostic does not preclude my having a spiritual life, in fact being agnostic allows me to practice my own faith, faith is not knowing, it is something more powerful. Faith will carry me where knowledge can not. I do not go to church. I do not have any idea what God is or is not, nor do I care so much, I suppose I will find out soon enough. Just as I have a physical self, a mental self, an emotional self, I also have a spiritual self. I nurture this spiritual self so that I am allowed to never lose sight of this amazing mystery that is life. The Atheist questions God, he wants proof. demanding that God reveal himself, "Show me the Sun coming up at night",he says. Does the Sun not come up out of the night every morning? And still you see no miracles. Could it be that those who have no spiritual life are blind, even jaded to the miracles all around them ? How sad. So you see, I find "Not knowing" or even needing to know, rich. I believe it is by design that there is no god walking among us, correcting our every move like puppets. I believe not knowing allows me to exercise free will, to choose to create my own relationship with Life. To claim agnosticism is to live as a seeker, "Seek and you shall find" the verb is seek. I believe we are not here to find but to seek. Seeking requires an opened mind. Therefore I am not closed or threatened by your spiritual belief. I do not require that you ascribe to what I believe. Agnosticism is the road to peaceful coexistence. Imagine the Agnostic puts up a billboard it would read : I JUST DON'T KNOW. Peace. In a debate You know you have won the argument when your opponent resorts to personal attacks.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      you've taken some pretty aggressive stands for an agnostic. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."

      But we'll leave that line of thought.

      You said here: "Atheism is only another fundamentalist point of view"

      Let's look at the online OED for fundamentalism, n

      a. A religious movement, which orig. became active among various Protestant bodies in the United States after the war of 1914–1918, based on strict adherence to certain tenets (e.g. the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be fundamental to the Christian faith; the beliefs of this movement;

      b. In other religions, esp. Islam, a similarly strict adherence to ancient or fundamental doctrines, with no concessions to modern developments in thought or customs.

      fundaˈmentalist n. an adherent of fundamentalism; also, an economic or political doctrinaire

      Clearly none these definitions apply to atheism, because there is no doctrine for an atheist to be fundamental about. There is no sacred text, no hagiography.

      Perhaps the word you are looking for is zealot.

      2. One who is zealous or full of zeal; one who pursues his object with passionate ardour; usually in disparaging sense, one who is carried away by excess of zeal; an immoderate partisan, a fanatical enthusiast.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Many of us here could fairly be called zealous.

      You get that way when people attack you all the time.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  7. Entil'za

    “large volume of threats.”

    More like, "we didn't stir the pot up enough but saying we have been threatened will give us another 15 minutes on the news.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  8. SolderOfConscience

    Typical of atheists. how hateful.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      Really, Soldier? As opposed to the Christian billboards threatening non-believers with hell?

      August 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Typical of Christians, delusions of persecution.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • truth be told

      So tell us sam lest we think you delusional, where in this story are the "Christian" billboards?

      August 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      are you trying to pretend that there have never been billboards either attacking atheists directly or threatening passers by with damnation?

      Whether they are in the article or not is entirely moot.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • truth be told

      Not pretending anything just asking sammy to prove his accusation.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  9. evil_atheist

    Hey Silverman – way to bend to public pressure. You don't negotiate with terrorists, nor do you give in to their demands. Am I being too harsh? Are deat threats not a form of terrorism? This country will continue to be a mindless theocracy until atheists grow a pair and stand up to ignorance.

    August 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • veggiedude

      "You don't negotiate with terrorists, nor do you give in to their demands"

      If that were true, the Irish would still be bombing N.Ireland and London and any other British target they choose. The truth is, you can have to talk to the enemy. Diplomacy is better than war.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • CARLOS

      How are you any different than any other fundamentalist ?

      August 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  10. Dax

    I wonder how many threats religious people get when they post billboards promoting their magical thinking.... hmmmm....

    August 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  11. The Essence of Christianity


    August 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Nope. That's a stupid analogy unless the character played by Eastwood has a daddy who has an eternal torture pit that he's going to torture everybody in unless they believe what Eastwood did without a single shred of proof. What a stupid god.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  12. bill walker

    IT IS IS HARD TO HAVE AN INTELLIGENT DISCUSSION ON THE TOPIC OF RELIGION. " Religious controversies are always more productive of irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause." . George Washington, letter to Edw. Newenham, 6-2-1792

    August 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      nice quote. A bit self-evident, but it goes to show that nothing really changes.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Good afternoon prayer-bot.

      Still forgeting the first law of robotics:

      1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

      Your bad advice means it's time to shut down now.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      August 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Troll Alert

      People with dementia can repeat themselves over and over again, by telling a repeat a word or phrase.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • truth be told

      @troll we notice you are repeating yourself a lot. Self diagnosis or an unintended scream for help?

      August 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things".

      The evidence against your statements concerning prayer and atheism is overwhelming. Perhaps I can help by knowing how you arrived at these falsehoods.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • truth be told

      The fact that atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries goes in the unhealthy column. And the millions of lives changed by prayer goes in the prayer column. Does that help?

      August 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @truth be told

      Once more I feel obliged to say "Bullshit".

      You did a better job yesterday of sticking to something closer to established fact. So why the recidivism back into this vile prevarication:

      "atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries"

      August 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • veggiedude

      Religion is the worse thing for other living things on the planet. It's the weapon of choice to rule and exploit all others.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  14. ufadoof

    Christians leaving death threats. How "christians" of you.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • truth be told

      There were no threats. So called atheists are known to be publicity seeking liars.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • J.W

      There were no threats. I am sure it was probably a lie. Or somebody probably said I will pray for you and they interpreted that as a threat.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      tbt: only to inbred fvcks like you

      August 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • truth be told

      No just about everyone recognizes atheist wanna bees for the liars they are.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  15. Paul

    FYI Mormonism is a form of Christianity. This wording in the faith of Obama and Romney is a bit odd because both men are Christian.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mormons are not Christians, Mormonism was founded in protest of Christianity.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • bill walker

      " I have found Christian dogma unintelligible Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies." Benjamin Franklin ( Deist,- li8ke our first six presidents )

      August 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • veggiedude

      Mormonism is not a true christian religion – it believes Jesus was a space alien.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • wlmmlr

      Mormonism was a scam similar to Scientology. Those golden tablets that the illiterate man could read but only behind a curtain so no one could see? This is hilarious. He was convicted for trying to defraud others earlier in his career under a different and more normal scheme. Took him awhile to realize that religion was the best scam going.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  16. Brooklyn Boy

    Little wonder they received so many threats,
    Nothing if more inflamatory than the truth.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  17. Collin

    Strawman Arguments, AWAAAAAAY!

    August 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Mr. Black

    Is that what Jesus would have done....threaten them?

    August 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • TheRationale

      Jesus was a master at making threats.

      "Follow me or go to hell forever."

      So yeah it's not entirely out of character.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jorge

      Jesus didnt actually use those word.

      He meant 'Follow love, or you will spend your time gnashing your teeth (in your daily angers) and feeling other crappy feelings. Feeling that are not felt when loving existence.'

      You think an all merciful god would send something to 'hell' forever? That wouldnt be love, reread the whole text, your interpretation is not congruent with the context of the story

      August 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • truth be told

      could you give us a chapter and verse on that one please.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  19. MNFree

    So in order to sway one to an opinion is by insulting their belief first? Looks like some people forgot to take Marketing 101...or the message wasn't meant to turn people atheist, but to further already atheistic people to become more atheist. That's why the Bible is a pretty good selling book...it makes people feel loved, not ridiculed.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Bad ideas must be scrutinized, ridiculed, and brought out into the bright light of day in order to be revealed as nonsense. Religious beliefs are not above scrutiny-who told you they were? Is it written somewhere that ridiculing bad ideas-even religious ones is wrong? Please educate me here.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • TheRationale

      Ah, actually, the conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity may have something to do with it. They had swords, you know.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jeanie

      Please read the threats. Then, consider this:
      “I’ll tell you what you did with Atheists for about 1500 years. You outlawed them from the universities or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or their writings of any kind, drove them into exile, humiliated them, seized their properties, arrested them for blasphemy. You dehumanized them with beatings and exquisite torture, gouged out their eyes, slit their tongues, stretched, crushed, or broke their limbs, tore off breasts if they were women, crushed their scrotums if they were men, imprisoned them, stabbed them, disemboweled the, hung them, burnt them alive. And you have nerve enough to complain to me that I laugh at you.”
      Dr. Madalyn Murray O’Hair
      And you call those billboards bullying? Please...

      August 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Milton

      I think the Bible itself is the best marketing piece for atheism I've ever read. I don't see how anyone can actually read the Bible all the way through and say, "no, I don't think so" when they finish it.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Wow

      Athiesm just seems angry. I would rather believe in the flying spaghetti monster blinked me into existance and that all I see is a construct of my imagination than be that angry all the time.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  20. TheRationale

    Too stupid to think of an intelligent response so they resort to violence. How Christian.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Or at least threats of violence.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • truth be told

      No violence, no threats just so called atheists trying to drum up more attention for themselves.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:29 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.