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. sigmond seamonster

    David Silverman's hatred of Christianity and Jesus Christ is part of his job description as he is employed by American Atheists. However, it would be safe to assume that on Saturdays his attendance at synagogue is entirely another matter. And, as following the Torah, safe to assume that what he says during the work week has no accountability as a personal "sin" to him personally.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • sam stone

      American Atheists have attacked Judaism and Islam, siggy.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  2. Paul

    I think it's all about disposition – "turn the other cheek and then the other" – Simply put, what is the intent of the discussion or argument? Shock, win, antagonize, 15 minutes – all this is pathetic from any position and not truthful. All great innovation and invention has come from the mind before it's reality so the idea of God should be no different for the atheist or theist – there is no time clock. The atheist should be burdened with proof of claim in my opinion because the underlying message in theism, although divergent, is one of a question and not dictatorial. The idea of irreducibly complex systems has long been a point of controversy – the atheists like Dawkin believe in complete randomness. The wing, being a zero sum example since nothing can "evolve" randomly when falling from a cliff and grow a wing, feathers, hollow bone structure. Now, the "scientific" contention is that the wing formed on Chukar like creatures who ran up and down steep slopes using vestiges for balance that formed into wings – this is in fact where they live. Problem with randomness – this is saying that the environment and self contained (random) biology somewhat communicated with the environment – that's not random and zebras would grow wings if it was random. Why do scientists cloud their thinking with the issue of God – follow the truth. Creationists? 6000 years old? Well the big bang theory pretty much blew that up – 1929 right after the Scopes trial. Who is credited with the concept and proof? George Lamaitre – A Jesuit priest and he was not moonlighting but still on the job with the Vatican – I'll gladly listen to the atheist when there is coherent communication – don't even need proof – just talking coherent discussion.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  3. blah blah blah will you people get a life and stop telling others what to think!

    I'd like to point out that while atheists claim to have disproved the possible existence of any potential supreme being or intelligent designer through the use of logic and reason, there is no way to prove definitively whether or not something beyond the scope of our human experience and interactions with this universe actually exists. To criticize someone for their belief in a "God" based solely on a lack of evidence proving that there is such a thing is no different than a religious zealot expressing his view that atheists are going to be eternally damned and then citing the numerous unsubstantiated claims made throughout various religious texts.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Nitrogen

      That's why most atheists don't attempt to prove the non-existence of a deity. Usually we just say that making the assumption that a god exists is totally unnecessary.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  4. Jimalim

    What is the billboard trying to accomplish? According to the article they had political intentions, but the billboard itself is just bashing spirituality.

    Just more Atheist hate speech...they are worse then Nazi's.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  5. Urafkntool

    One thing wrong about what they said: Obozo is a Kenyan muslim.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Andacar

      Useaflockandrool evidently forgot his meds this morning...

      August 29, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Urafkntool

      nice example of leftist intellectualism

      August 29, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  6. Reality


    For $99, you can find out if you ar part Neaderthal- not kidding:

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

    " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

    "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

    Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

    It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

    For your $99 and a DNA swab:

    "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

    August 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  7. BOGUS treAtheists

    On the other news.."Chick-fil-A was also heavily perssured and threatened NOT by phone and e-mails but by 'REAL' threats from outraged LGBT community and people in power. They are harrased by barrage of boycott campaigns; by expressed threat of denying business permits and entries in some states by state's officials.

    They are moved but aren't shaken. Unlike these bunch of dingbats who are handily get flopped by "E-mails and Phonecalls"?.

    Oh c'mon, get real people! I can make my voice husky and tell somebody that I'm Rod Stewart, or wear a mask and say I'm Batman.

    August 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • lol


      August 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  8. There ain't any threat

    The real cause was, difficulties on providing for the lease.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • lol


      August 28, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  9. JA

    Religious (read: Christian) billboard goes up. Little to no whining that no one hears about.

    Atheist billboard goes up. Christians lose their s*** and scream as if they had just sat on a tip-up rusty railroad spike.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • tony

      Yup, they turned the other shriek.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Paul

      That statement shows likely personality disorder. Being for something does not make a statement against anything. Like people who believe marriage is a man and woman can actually have not hatred for Gay and Lesbian – What religious billboard? If it proclaims judgement of going to hell like the crackpot Westboro's agreed – this billboard was salacious, rude, unnecessary for any point, and just plain hatred. Jesus Loves You, if seen as an attack, would be a sure sign of a mind disorder.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  10. An Atheist

    btw, christians and mormons, all i gotta say is if you want some, come get some.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • What???

      It is easy to sound tough on the internet!!!... Whoooo I ssshaking in my boots! You just don't know and you prove the old saying "ignorance is bliss".

      August 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  11. An Atheist

    personally i wish more religious people would threaten me, this way i could make them, try to make good on their threats. this idea that the religious have the only rights to express themselves in this country is absurd. every time i see a billboard with a fetus or one guaranteeing hell if youre not saved, im just as offended. i dont threaten any of them. btw im sure jesus and the rest of the get along gang, really support threats and hatred, for jesus said, kill all the non believers, and anyone makes fun of me should surely die as well. right?

    August 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Paul

      I'm Catholic and any "human" (lose term) who guarantees hell is not consistent with anything about Christianity. I'd knock this and that billboard down.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  12. ImmorAtheists

    "At least be honest."

    Honesty is one of the moral values, expecting it from atheists makes you like a dog barking at the moon.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • JA

      As if Christians are any more honest.

      August 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • ImmorAtheists

      Nope, it's just atheists can't be honest.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • tony

      All babies born lie like crazy until they learn religion from an adult at age around 10, right?

      August 29, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  13. TomPaine

    Those billboards were a stupid idea. Mocking the beliefs of others just makes you look mean and self-superior; not very persuasive.

    August 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Maya

      If there was a contest for missing the point, you would've just won it.

      August 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Jimalim

      Maya is the one who misses the point. You are spot on Tom. This Atheist billboard was just hate speech.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  14. Darnet

    So much of these posts are about as good as bathroom stall writing, especially from a lot of the atheists here. Very immature, seemingly written by adolescents. If you are going to have an argument about against faith have a good one. And that goes for people of faith too, have something intellectual to say.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      i got no problem with people having faith. faith can be a good thing. i have a problem with people saying theirs is the objectively correct god, and then blathering some empty proxy threat

      August 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Golub

      There are no good arguments for faith.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • truth be told

      you are the best argument for faith that has come along in quite awhile. Self righteous free speech denying hater and bigot who would want to be you?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Lexe

      Golub, do you believe in gravity ? Faith as defined in the Bible::Hebrews 11:1

      August 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Maya

      The only thing worse than people who make pointless comments are the people who try to make themselves seem superior by making pointless comments telling everyone else how pointless their comments are.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Today's moment of Zen provided by... Mia

      August 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Vera

      I personally didn't care for the billboard but to those who believe that atheism is not good for children or any living things (to quote a previous writer) and that prayer changes everything and that science and evolution are bogus, try this out: next time you, your spouse or your child get really really sick, don't go to the doctor....say a prayer, God will provide and hope for the best.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • truth be told

      since prayer is the reason science and medicine have expanded and both are a gift from God why would you want someone to bypass them?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • truth be told

      In the past 100 years atheists have tortured and murdered more people than were killed in all previous centuries. Is murder a healthy thing for children vera?

      August 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Karen

      "truth be told", The killings you refer to were not done by any dictate or tenet of atheism. For comparison, Christianity and Islam both mandate the death penalty for various "offences", and Christianity then promises eternal torture if you did anything wrong in your few decades of mortal life.

      So, no thanks. I'll stay an atheist.

      And Pinocchio would have been a better name choice for you. You must have a very long nose after all your repeated lies.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Golub

      CNN should start blocking 'truth be told"s IP. Let's start reporting abuse on her. CNN will act if enough of us do it.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • truth be told

      Freedom of speech advocate. What you deny one you deny all.

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

      Stalin murdered 24 million people as an atheist without pity or remorse because as an atheist he was his own final authority. And Stalin was not alone, every time an atheist has ruled millions have been murdered. There has never been a benevolent atheist dictator but there have been many willing and anxious to torture and murder their fellow man.

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

      Karen that is the belief you espouse and the company you are associated with. Hope you never have power as well.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • JA

      @truth be told:

      Really? Like who? Hitler? Sorry, but he was a Christian. Stalin and Mao? Sorry, but paranoid communist policy was what got people killed ("omg leik I think Boris is a spy, put a bullet in his brainpan just to be safe!!1").

      August 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • JA

      Oops, forgot Mao ("hey, let's make all our farmers be steel workers and build 100,000 foundries in their fields to fuel the Great Leap Forward!! oh wait what? 40 million people died because they had no food and the Great Leap Forward failed because I don't know how to run a country for crap? oh well, live and learn!!1)

      August 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • truth be told

      all those leaders you mentioned in your almost unreadable posts were atheists.You aren't bright enough to know the difference, so we'll spare you the history.

      August 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Maya

      Two words: prove it.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      don't encourage @truth be told.

      You won't get anything helpful.

      August 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • tony

      Biggest Death tolls in the last 100m years were WW I and WW II. Then there was Asian Flu, and the Bubonic Plague earlier and of course Noah's Flood which destroyed the whole world population except for about 30.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • truth be told

      Wars caused by atheists and still below the atheist murder total estimated at over a billion people. Noahs flood? though asked no one seems able to give an accurate number as to the number of people involved.
      did you catch this?It is proof, also consider the proofs ja submitted even before you asked – names of just a few of the atheist murderers

      August 29, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      "Wars caused by atheists and still below the atheist murder total estimated at over a billion people."

      Why do you persist with this crap? Your claims are 'wrong' in both meanings of the word.

      Total WW2 deaths from all causes, including civilians, was less than 80M. Where do you come at a billion people? If you said that the cvmulative non-war, 20th century excess deaths in totalitarian countries (including famines) was 100M, I would not argue with you. But a billion? This is off by at least a factor of 10.

      Your assertion of a billion is beyond laughable. The global population in 1950 was 2.55 billion.

      You seem to have a problem with math. The conventional (American) definition of a billion is 1000 million.

      August 29, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  16. terrymcmanus

    They didn't question religion, they mocked it. They are their own worst enemies.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • skeptic

      Stupid beliefs should be mocked.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Gordy

      Yes, stupid beliefs should be mocked: like believing that buggery is "normal".

      August 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      gordy: did you find it abnormal? maybe you didn't use enough lube

      August 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  17. Mitchell Moore

    The atheists sounded surprised that the protesters "responded with vitriol, threats and hate speech...". Isn't that always the Christian way?

    August 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Asif

      Yes they "sounded surprise". As if, t'wasn't their real intent for wasting their very limited resources with those billboards.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  18. relmfoxdale

    While I don't agree with threatening people for expressing themselves, I'm no fan of those billboards, either ("promotes hate?"). Still, I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. And junk.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  19. zometimer

    I agree that this is mocking faith. It would happen much less is people were able to keep their relgious views to themselves. Dont want an abortion, dont have one. Pro-life=No self defense, no war, no weapons, no death penalty.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • relmfoxdale

      Ah yes...the old "It's OK if you're pro-life, but don't impose it on others" bit. It doesn't make a lick of sense, I'm afraid. Like if I said, "I don't approve of murdering little old ladies for their purses, but if other people want to do it, that's OK." Huh?

      August 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  20. Chris

    The atheists say that purpose of the billboards was to promote the separation of church and state. Garbage. These billboards simply mock faith. Good ploy, say you have a noble cause them just attack. At least be honest.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • ImmorAtheists

      "At least be honest."

      Honesty is a moral value of a person, expecting it from atheists make you like a dog barking at the moon.

      August 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • tony

      You can put pro faith billboards outside all churches, but not anti faith billboards anywhere???

      And this a "free" country??? Looks like the lies have it.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm sorry that you find free speech to be offensive. I see signs on churches and on the sides of freeways that condemn me to hell if I don't believe exactly what that sign says. I could find them offensive, but they don't bother me, because I believe in the First Amendment.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:38 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.