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Conventions leave atheists asking: What political party represents me?
A voice vote to change the DNC party platform turned to chaos Wednesday night.
September 6th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Conventions leave atheists asking: What political party represents me?

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – This convention season has not been good for atheists.

The word "God" was reinserted in the Democratic platform after it had been removed. A plan to raise atheist billboards in the convention cities was stymied by opponents. And though there were preachers and rabbis and other religious leaders opening and closing each day of each convention, there wasn’t an avowed atheist talking up unbelief on either convention’s speaking list.

The political lockout has left many nonbelievers asking, “What political party represents me?”

“We are deeply saddened by the exclusion of a large number of Americans by both parties,” said Teresa MacBain, a spokeswoman for the group American Atheists, in an interview on Thursday. “It amazes me that in modern-day America, so much prejudice still exists.”

After word spread Wednesday that Democrats left God out of their platform, atheists rejoiced. “Truly amazing news,” wrote Loren Miller on Atheist Nexus, a popular atheist blog. “The Republicans remain in the firm grasp of right-wing Christian religiosity, and I really don't know what it's going to take to free them from it.”

But the convention committee immediately received huge pressure get God back in the platform. Even President Obama, according to CNN reporting, said, “Why on earth would that have been taken out?” when he first heard of the omission.

In an awkward session that required three voice votes on the convention floor, the Democrats opted to add “God” back to the platform.

For atheists, the Democrats were seen to be taking away a hard-fought victory. “We had 24 hours of joy as we felt (that) finally our government values all people,” said MacBain. “But that was short-lived. The vote last night angered many atheists and left them feeling excluded once again.”

Online, atheist websites and Facebook pages went from upbeat to downcast as news spread of the platform revision.

“Obama was the first president to acknowledge non believers,” Mark Musante wrote on the American Atheists’ Facebook page. “I wish he would stick to his guns.”

Musante was referring to Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech, when the president said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”

Beverly Sitherwood, on the Friendly Atheist blog Facebook page, accused the Democrats of “Pandering for power.”

Some atheist leaders used the platform defeat as a rallying call.

“I guess a tiny step was too much to ask for,” David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, told CNN. “This was a clear message to the 16% of the voting population - we don’t count. Well, guess what, Dems - we do. And we vote.”

Silverman says that 16% of the voting public identify as nonbelievers. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 12% of the electorate in 2008 was made up of people with no religious affiliation, though experts say the number of avowed atheists is much smaller.

While acknowledging atheists, Obama has given platforms to high-profile religious leaders, including Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor who prayed at his inauguration, and Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is giving the final prayer of the convention on Thursday night.

American Atheists’ plans to raise billboards ridiculing the presidential candidates’ faith ended in failure. After the group put up billboards in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, last month, it quickly removed them due to “physical threats to not only our staff, but the billboard company as well.”

American Atheists had also planned on a billboard in Tampa, Florida, to coincide with the Republican National Convention there. But American Atheists said that all the billboard companies in Tampa rejected a sign taking aim at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

Perhaps because of the Republican Party’s ties to conservative Christianity, atheists tend to be Democrats. According to a 2012 Pew study, 71% of Americans who identified as atheist were Democrats.

“The Republicans who spoke at the RNC seemed more like televangelists than politicians,” MacBain said. “The message was clear from the RNC: Get God, or get out.”

The Republican’s 2012 platform mentions God 12 times, many of which describe the “God-given” rights that the Republican Party says are inherent to the American idea.

Though most atheist groups claim that there are closeted atheists serving as representatives and senators, only one has come out as such.

In September 2007, Rep. Pete Stark, Democrat of California, affirmed his atheism in a speech at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • God • Politics

soundoff (3,922 Responses)
  1. Andy

    Cry me a river, atheists.

    September 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • tgregory

      How about replacing Zeus in the convention instead of God? Or do you not...believe...in Zeus?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Dave

      Any pity we have is not reserved for us, but for you. We're not the ones who believe in sky daddies and evil monsters.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  2. CP

    Oh get over yourselves!! You chose to be an atheist so you get to choose your political party. Next subject.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Dave

      As our minority grows, so will our voice. The conversation isn't over because you think it is, but you are certainly free to see yourself out of it.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  3. JJBABE

    LOL...WOW I don't care what you believe in but to feel left out because I mentioned God a few times...Get over yourself! Obama has his rights to his beliefs just like atheist have their rights to believe what they want!

    September 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • todd in DC

      That really isn't the point. THe point is that religion and politics aren't supposed to mix.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • david o

      According to who is religion and politics not supposed to mix. Seperation of church and state was invisioned to avoid the type of state churches of Europe namely the Church of England that dictated that everyone must worship and what their doctrines must be. Seperating religion and politics for a religious person is impossible, because many of their political views stem from religion.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • secular politics, not a religious state

      David o: we have a democracy, not a theocracy. In western Europe, they have actually managed to keep religion out of their governments. "Freedom of religion" also means...freedom FROM religion. If you don't want the US government to become largely Muslim or Hindu or even Atheist, I don't want our governement to be any kind of religion either. Keep your religion but keep it out of the government. Don't ask, don't tell would be a good policy here. No? That can't be done? You probably think that's fair if you force it on other people though.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  4. tgregory

    Vote Libertarian. It's open to all beliefs/non-beliefs because people should be free to live this one life we have however we wish, so long as we don't infringe on the rights of others.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Nicole

      y's... Vote for a radical dissassembling of government because they sorta kinda might support your religious beliefs, despite being a group full of fundamentalist Christians.

      Sounds like a fabulous idea.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  5. techie

    Atheism is a religion. Just like the Christians telling the Muslims and the Muslims telling the Christians they are better than each other, the Atheist exist to tell the believers they are better than them. And just like all the religions before them the states that support the atheism religion have engaged in their own massacres and genocides, i.e. the Soviet Union and the Ukranians...Atheism is what the protestants were to the catholics during the dark ages but far less elequent...and socialist (which is why they are die-hard democrats) so rather then having the equivilant of the "protestant work ethic" they have "the government needs to support me".... LOL you won't believe in the bible or the Koran but you will still believe in socialism.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • todd in DC

      If Atheism is a religion, then turning off the TV is changing the channel

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • niknak

      Please try to read the definition of ahteism before you post your drivel.
      Being an atheist is the exact opposite of being an theist, who believes in god.
      Atheism is being without god, therefore it is NOT a religion, get it?
      By your definition then, not collecting stamps is the same kind of hobby as collecting them.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • techie

      It behaves exactly like a religion, you have an organizaion, you state your purpose, you make fun of people who think differently then you do, you massacre people when you have power. A religion by any other name is still a religion.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • tgregory

      Saying atheism is a religion is like saying not having cancer is also a disease. Atheists live like everyone else, they just don't believe in an invisible being(s) that no one has ever seen or knows to exist.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Godless Conservative

      Not all atheists are socialists. I'm ridiculously conservative, fiscally, and have no religious faith. Nor do I live to tell believers that they're wrong. Granted, I may be THINKING that you're a dupe, but it's your choice. And in the US, you have every right (and my full support) to that choice.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • LP

      Atheism is not a religion. There is no deity and there is no worship. There is no heirarchy of leadership, there is no congregation, there is no holy book, there is no ritualistic tradition. And as Steve Martin so eloquently pointed out: "Atheists Ain't Got No Songs". The simple definition of "atheist" is "without a god". That can hardly be construed as a religion.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Seriously?

      Please... please... go back to high school and take a religion 101 class (college may be too advanced for you). Please get yourself a diploma or a GED before you try to make any kind of comment "citing sources".

      September 7, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • techie

      Religion is about cultural beliefs or just beliefs in general that are spiritually based...not necessarily God. So yes Atheism is still a religion, you have a belief you all follow that says God does not exist...and it is "spiritually" based. So lacking a God does not mean you are not involved in a religion.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Rigel54

      Atheism is not a religion. It does not require faith, only reason and observation. Atheism IS better, because is does not assume as true something for which it does not demand, or have, evidence. Humans (including atheists) have massacred people. Atheism has not, nor have such massacres been done in the name of atheism. Power and control are common reasons. Religion cannot make the same claim, for many massacres have occurred under that banner. The Communist philosophies under which millions were massacred may have rejected religion, but that had nothing to do with the killings.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • techie

      You sound like the Christians or the Muslims when they say "they were not true Christians/Muslims that massacred those people"... You even follow their excuses. "Atheism didn't masscre anybody people did"... Atheism is who "you" are, just like Christianity/Muslim is who "they" are. And just like a relgion that gets upset when you say their God does not exist, you are getting upset when somebody tells you you are just like "they" are. "We have met the enemy and they are us"

      September 7, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Rigel54

      Techie, Techie: There is nothing,nothing at all, spiritual about atheism. Atheism rejects the spiritual. You cannot make a thing true just by asserting it. Atheism rejects the supernatural. A philosophy, a worldview, a belief in how humanity should be organized or behave, is not spiritual in and of itself. Under your claim capitalism would be a religion, along with countless clubs and societies.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • techie

      but capitalism isn't based on spirituality.. Atheism takes direct aim at other religions and falls into the same traps all the other religions fall into. You can't escape by saying we don't have a magic book.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Trechie

      I don't think you really understand what atheism is. If you answer "no" to the question, "is there a god?" then you are an atheist. It has nothing to do with political philosophy. Neither is it a religion insofar as being an atheist involves no set of beliefs, no dogma, no organization, and no common sacred texts. Atheism is the position that one doesn't believe gods exists. Nothing more, nothing less. I'd suggest trying make sure you actually know what you are talking about before spewing forth your opinion.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Ray

      Wow – this is one of the dumber posts I've read so far.

      "Atheism is a religion."
      ** Not really. The rejection of religion is not in itself a religion.
      "Just like the Christians telling the Muslims and the Muslims telling the Christians they are better than each other, the Atheist exist to tell the believers they are better than them."
      ** Atheists do not exist to tell others that they are better. What they do want is to remove religion from government as much as possible so that each individual is free to believe what he or she wants. They also do not want to see scientific progress hindered by the dogma of this or that religion.
      "And just like all the religions before them the states that support the atheism religion have engaged in their own massacres and genocides, i.e. the Soviet Union and the Ukranians..."
      ** Those people were not massacred "in the name of Atheism." They were massacred primarily for political reasons, not religious. But many people HAVE been massacred in the name of Christianity, Islam, etc.
      "Atheism is what the protestants were to the catholics during the dark ages but far less elequent...and socialist (which is why they are die-hard democrats) so rather then having the equivilant of the "protestant work ethic" they have "the government needs to support me".... "
      ** This point is too convoluted to even counter, but suffice it to say that you are mixing your religions with your methods of economic organization. And not all atheists are democrats (like myself).
      "LOL you won't believe in the bible or the Koran but you will still believe in socialism."
      ** See above point. Too convoluted to try to counter.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • techie

      You are naive or just trying to duck responsiblity for your faith. Atheism is only about saying there is "No" God???, hardly, you want to push an agenda, you want to be recognized. You quack like a duck, you act like a duck, you are a duck.

      September 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • techie

      Ray, buddy, read all the pts first then post...skim reading isn't going to help your cause.

      September 7, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Rigel54

      Techie, THERE IS NO FAITH IN ATHEISM, that's the point. Faith is belief without evidence. Atheism is the rejection of the concept of gods for LACK OF EVIDENCE. To the extent that atheists do seek recognition, it is to restrain the broad, deep, and persistent discrimination and persecution that we face. Beyond that, many of us have a hope for a human future where decisions are made not on the delusions of primitive mystics, ancient legends of primitive tribes, or fairy tale dreams, but on evidence and human values. Most of us are smart enough to know those things cannot be gained by force or intimidation, indeed, those things violate our values (though not those of many religious). We hold our values not because we are afraid of being tortured for eternity by a benevolent and loving god, but because they make sense, and are good for us and humanity.

      September 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  6. Matt

    Try the Libertarian and Green parties, when the establishment parties want your vote, they'll court it. Until then, so long as you vote establishment, there's no incentive to address your concerns.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  7. liz

    I am a Democrat and an Atheist and I will defend an individuals right to believe in a supreme being but it is time we as Atheist demand the same respect. I was very unhappy when the references to God and Jerusalem were inserted into the platform and I will let my President,Senators and Representative know. Also while I have resisted joining any group representing Atheist I think the time has come we must stand and demand to be counted. We too are Americans.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • julnor

      The reference to Jerusalem has nothing to do with religion. It is an issue of international relations with Isreal.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • niknak

      No, including Isreal in the platform was to keep the American Jewish donors to keep on donating.
      You can't win an election without large sums of money, and the Jewish community has alot of it to give when it comes to supporting Isreal.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Godless Conservative

      Julnor –
      References to Jerusalem has EVERYTHING to do with religion. If it weren't for the Judeo-Christian culture and Christian guilt/protection of "God's Chosen People," Israel would mean doodly-squat to the US.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  8. Martin Blankenship

    Sounds like they should make their own party instead of complaining because they can't get representation in the others!

    September 7, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • secular politics, not a religious state

      The U.S. government is supposed to be secular. There should be NO mention or invocation of ANY religion in government functions, including atheism. Get religion out of our government!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Brandon

      the last thing we need is MORE parties. They are the reason all of this is going on. They've got everyone too busy picking a side rather than saying "Hey....we're better off just addressing the issues rather than determining who's on each side." We're spending too much time picking the team, and not enough time playing the game.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  9. Susan

    I think the point is that atheists are tired of having god (lowercase) and religion shoved down their throats. Personally I\'m agnostic bordering on atheist because to me god seems like a leprechaun or unicorn. Actually unicorns are in fact biologically possible. I don\'t need a god to make me whole, or to treat my fellow humans with dignity. However I don\'t really care if others have their beliefs as long as they aren\'t trying to convert me.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Atheists are bad liars

      Susan, maybe unicorns didn't want to evolve knowing so many atheists would exist in the end days?

      September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Rigel54

      I'm an atheist, but I don't care whether unbelief is mentioned at the convention. We have bigger fish to fry, and if flaunting that particular part of the Democratic big tent will reduce the chance of universal healthcare, sensible foreign policy, fair taxation, and technological development, then just don't! The bane of the Democratic party is the profusion of shrieking single issue groups. If we get enough of them, they'll alienate everyone! At least the Republicans seem to be developing the same problem!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Rigel54

      Oooooooooh! The END DAYS! They've been predicted as imminent ever since "priests" realized their power in manipulating people. Humanity will indeed have its end days, but they will come when we poison our world through negligence, incinerate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust, or when the sun goes nova (thankfully, that will be another 4-5 billion years!). They don't require outside help.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  10. Thomas

    F- GOD and the religions! I could care less and I could care less about their ridiculous platforms that mean absolutely nothing.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Gunsmoke Jackson

      Seriously, pull the underwear from your buttcrack.. To earn respect you must also be respectful.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Atheists are bad liars

      Thomas, thank you for proving what atheists are all about.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • niknak

      I say phuck god too.
      Same for shiva, thor, the tooth fairy, and all other man made boogiemen.
      You want to believe in voodoo, fine, but leave it out of politics and stop trying to convert us to your unfounded beliefs.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  11. Josh

    A birthday is actually a proven event. Religion is not. Religion is an opinion. Not believing in it is also an opinion. I celebrate my birthday because I'm pretty sure it happened.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Atheists are bad liars

      Thanks for proving atheism breeds ignorance.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • secular politics, not a religious state

      Yo "bad liars" commentor: please respond to posts with praise for or objections concerning the content of the post. When you choose to respond with rhetoric that is unrelated or a sweeping generalization, it doesn't accomplish anything except to make you look bad. A.k.a. responds with "yo mama!".

      Your tune will change when a strong Hindu comes to power and starts legislating pro-Hindu laws "because it's the word of Shiva!" or a strong Muslim comes to power and insists on invoking "Allah" in both public addresses and legislation and making the country change to Sharia law. Sharia law imposed on you is like conservative Christian values shoved upon me. Neither of us likes that. Keep religion out and we can all live our lives.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • iWillNotLose

      Josh,

      i'm sure you are aware that science is part theory...ie, Big Bang, etc, but atheists still believe in science.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  12. chris

    Atheists don't believe in a religion. Why do they recognize themselves as a "group". That's like saying why is no party recognizing us "non-pedefiles". Atheists are a f*king joke!

    September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      sorry??? You believe in a magical sky fairy and Atheists believe in proven science ... and the Atheists are a joke?!?!

      ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... good one. Thanks, I needed that. ha ha ha ha ha ha ...

      September 7, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • JP

      The real joke here is you, moron.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      good comeback JP. Brilliant stuff!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Dave

      It's a group, kinda like a union.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • chris

      I don't believe in religion either, but I'd rather keep it to myself than try to reap the benefits of a religious group. You can't classify yourself when you don't subscribe to it. Good luck being recognized as a credible group in the conventions fluffers!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Atheists are bad liars

      Oh, it's proven science now? How many billions of dollars are spent on theories that flop?

      September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Ed

      "Group" is a pretty generic term, it indicates people associated through some common idea or activity. There are actual organizations, but most atheists aren't putting up billboards.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Dave

      Atheists are bad liars: name one of those theories that supposedly have had so much $ spent on them?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Burt

      Atheists are just binge drinkers that are too hung over to get up on Sunday mornings. Am I right Chris? It's easy to call yourself atheist when in reality your just lazy slobs who too self centered to give your time and money to anything else. Praise the lord.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • chris

      You nailed it Burt. They're too lazy to put any effort into a cause, yet want to be recognized as a group. In these conventions, politicians don't even single out one specific religion, they just hit key points, like reading a horoscope. The point of being an atheist is to not be part of anything religious...leave it at that. If you want attention, come out of the closet, you know they all want to anyway!

      September 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  13. pam

    Obama is such a hypocrite! When he changed his mind about gay marriage he lost a lot black preachers and their congregations. That is why he wants to make sure he adds God to speeches.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Let me guess: 4 hours a day, every day of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh? Yeah, thought so.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Amniculi

      Maybe more...

      September 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Kana

      People have a right to change their minds. As we learn new information we are able to make decisions. Not looking at several opinions and getting all the facts is close minded and will retard your growth.
      Knowledge is power, something a number of our ELECTED officials want to control bu not providing or manipulating the facts.
      Look things up and be informed, keep an open mind, you may learn something.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Ed

      Nothing in your comment implies hypocracy.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  14. Josh

    As an Atheist, I'm not entirely offended by this. It's politics. If 95% of the country didn't believe in God, they wouldn't have God in their platform. If they did, they wouldn't get elected. I shake my head everytime a politician makes a reference to God because either A) he believes in that silliness or B) he doesn't but is pandering to the majority.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • dave

      Atheists like myself are also intelligent enough to realize that even recognizing atheists in a country full of silly religious people would be political suicide. I can guarantee that there are extremely intelligent members of Congress who are internally atheist but externally religious for that exact reason. I don't blame them. Time will destroy all religions. No one worships Zeus or Apollo anymore and eventually as time passes without any evidence of the gods that are worshiped today, they will pass too. Time is on the atheists side.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Josh

      Dave – I absolutely agree. I would however love to hear what some of these public figures really think on the matter.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  15. tuvia

    ----
    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOLE GO

    Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo speech

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance

    September 7, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Dave

      Zionists sound just as crazy as the Chinese saying they have sovereignty over a rock 1000 miles from their shores, or the Muslims claiming every square inch that has ever been ruled by Muslims. Religion is a waste, faith is a mental illness.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  16. Chris

    Does nobody find it disturbing that the billboards had to be removed due to physical threats of violence? Talk about hypocritical. Jesus didn't preach to his followers that they should defend his teachings with violence or threats of violence, did he?

    September 7, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Amniculi

      Jesus also said he came with a sword. Never known a sword to be used for peaceful purposes...

      September 7, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • niknak

      If jesus came back today and tried to teach his message of unconditional love and all that, the fundies would have him hanged.
      THAT is absolutely the last thing fundies want. They have become a group of racist, uneducated, backward killers, as evidenced by them shooting up abortion clinincs and shooting doctors in the back late at night at their homes.
      Religious people scare me. They force other people to believe what they believe and kill them if they don't.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  17. Denise

    I have been an athiest for a long time and quite honestly, the conventions ignoring us is just a non-issue for me. I know what I believe, I live what I believe, and demanding others recognize what I believe is just not that important at this stage of the game. I am content to quietly make my piece and wait as the rest of the world catches up. There will always be religious folks who think of themselves as better, more worthy and less accepting of athiests – that is the very core of many religions. I firmly believe in separation of church and state and believe that one day we will get God out of our government, but there are more pressing issues at this time and I am content to wait while those issues are dealt with. I know what I am and what I believe and how I live, so insisting upon public recognition is simply not necessary now.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Chris

      Couldn't have said it better.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Josh

      Perfectly stated, Denise.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Mike from CT

      "I live what I believe?"

      Can you please share that belief so I can catch up.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Amniculi

      Mike, contrary to popular opinion, religion does not have a monopoly on the word "belief". As an atheist I believe in family, science, and many other thing just as strongly, if not more, than you believe in your mythical sky gods.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • badlobbyist

      Totally agreed. No one issue voting. While I too wish we would separate church and state completely, there are much bigger issues to deal with.
      Atheists not voting for Obama because of this or saying that they don't have a pretty clear choice between parties is like the gay voter saying that because Obama didn't introduce legislation to repeal DOMA he's voting for Romney.
      Don't worry, evolution works. It just takes a bit of time!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Ray

      Nicely stated

      September 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Easy Amni,
      Nowhere did I infere that belief was only religion... as amatter of fact just the opposite because I asked the OP to share their beliefs.

      Now what does it mean to believe in family and science, I think I believe in family and science also, so how do we differ?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    Consider these quotes, and how you might feel if you lived in a country where these sentiments were mainstream:

    “Our leader was not elected…he was appointed by Allah.”
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of Allah…must be denied citizenship."
    “I, your Provincial Governor, do hereby proclaim… a day of prayer and fasting for our country.”
    “Allah called me to this government position…my family fasted for three days to make sure it was true.”
    “"I would not put a Christian among my advisors, or in my government."
    “(our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on Allah of the Qur’an and Sharia Law, it’s pretty simple.”
    “I hope I will live to see the day when…we won't have any public schools. The Mosques will have taken over them over again and Imams will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
    “There will never be world peace until Allah's house and Allah's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world."

    These statements should rightfully alarm you. Now consider this, YOU DO live in that country, and these are not Taliban quotes. In the above quotes the religious references have been changed. They are quotes from prominent, politically powerful Americans who would establish religious control over America’s government. Here are the actual quotes:

    “George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States, he was appointed by God.” –Lt. General William Boykin, US Army
    “Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship." –Gary North, Inst.itute for Christian Economics
    “I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim August 6, 2011, to be A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation.” –Rick Perry, Texas Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “God called me to run for this office, and my husband fasted for 3 days to make sure it was true.” –Michelle Bachman, US Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate
    “"I would not put a Muslim in my cabinet, or in my administration." –Herman Cain, Republican Presidential Candidate
    “(Our founding doc.uments) are quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple.” –Sarah Palin
    I hope I will live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken over them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" – Jerry Falwell
    There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world." –Pat Robertson

    These statements should be no more frightening in an Islamic or a Christian context – this kind of rhetoric is a serious threat no matter who it comes from. Theocracy is dangerous no matter whose God is invoked. We hear these things from pious politicians every day and are likely desensitized to them, but even momentary consideration reveals them to be un-American to the core. Religious fundamentalists make no secret of their goal of controlling our government and establishing their narrow beliefs as law. We must not let that happen – not here, not in our country.

    It happens in small steps – the Ten Commandments in courthouses, prayer and creationism (“Intelligent Design”) in schools, revising science, history, and civics textbooks in Texas, State-endorsed prayer rallies, faith-based initiatives, and on and on – and because these steps may individually seem harmless, many people underestimate their consequences. That is why we must stay alert and fight to keep church and state separate. We should shudder whenever a politician or policymaker alludes to his or her religious beliefs as a justification for public policy. We should be deeply suspi.cious of anyone who claims to be chosen by God to lead us. We should aggressively defend our free society against any religious group who would hope to gain control over it.

    Do not underestimate the importance of defending the separation of church and state. Stand up for it at every opportunity with your voice and your vote.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Isn't freedom great, that people can express their views and still you can live peacefully beside them in spite of their views.

      Don't be frighten of freedom, for that leads to tyranny

      September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Dave

      No, Mike: if those people are actively working toward those nasty goals, they need to be stopped. There's nothing funny about tyranny.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      exactly Dave!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Mike from CT

      But Dave those people

      like
      Gary North, Inst.itute for Christian Economics
      Sarah Palin
      Pat Robertson
      Jerry Falwell

      are not working towards a goal but sharing their freedom of expression

      So to surpress them is the tyranny

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Drewid

      so who is going to save us from your own delusional moral code. Here's one for you "You can justify you means yourself, but one day you will be judged by your means". Would you rather there be total anarchy because thats what it sounds like you want?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Dave

      No anarchy, just common sense. Our morality does not derive from god, it never did.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Ray

      Well, I agree with your point, but you can't really include quotations from non-elected religious leaders – they are expected to spout out things like that.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • TTRRCC

      Excellent!

      September 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Drewid

      whos common sense, your common sense? My common sense, 350 million Americans common sense? You do not seem to have a good grasp on reality just like your friend GOP word association friend. You stick to your beliefs, Ill stick to mine, its your choice to listen and get upset just the same as it is mine. Catch my drift?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  19. GOP Word Association

    WORD = GOP Association
    Old People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Sick People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Poor People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Female People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-white People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-christian People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Unemployed People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Gay People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Glob of cells in a womb = Something we PRETEND to care about just to get votes.
    Gun Control = Something ELSE we PRETEND to care about to get dumb redneck votes.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Drewid

      do you ever tire of copying and pasting?

      September 7, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  20. Layla

    I find it hilarious that athiests have basically created an organized religion of non-believers for themselves. How do you represent a negative? That is like saying we need laws to protect unicorns or leprechauns. No, they don't exist. Why do we need to protect non-beliefs. Its like celebrating an un-birthday.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Charles

      I take offence at that. Who said unicorns don't exist? I have faith that they do. Seems as logical as any story I've heard from the religious folk.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Chris

      so we don't need laws to "protect God" (e.g. religion) because He doesn't exist? Whew, glad that's settled!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Archived

      Yeah, you just answered your own question. There are laws that protect religion, which by all accounts is man made.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Josh

      A birthday is actually a proven event. Religion is not. Religion is an opinion. Not believing in it is also an opinion. I celebrate my birthday because I'm pretty sure it happened.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Dave

      My right to believe that there is no god or other deity is what is being protected.

      Faith is a mental illness, akin to paranoid schizophrenia.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Frankenstein

      Layla, your point is not very well thought out. If you thought about it clearly, without emotion, you would realize that atheism is a distinct belief that the universe was created a certain way, as is any other religion. Atheists are a diverse group that believe devoutly in one form of universal creation or another, but it just so happens that none of those beliefs involve god. So, the only "non-belief" part of atheism is in god, the rest of this faith is a belief that the universe was still created someway, somehow, with vastly differing views, all of which come down to anecdotal scientific evidence and faith too. So don't be a bigot and judge atheists as lesser folks because they don't believe in your god, that's just tasteless!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • enfilmigult

      Don't be obtuse. Such laws aren't to protect "a negative," they're to protect *people* who have a certain belief about the origin and purpose of life. You know, like religious people, who think God created it, and atheists, who believe it's a scientific phenomenon. Atheism isn't just about what you DON'T think is true, for goodness' sake. It's not the Church of Incuriosity.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

      – Stephen Roberts

      September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Gina

      How is being Atheist representing a negative? It's a non-belief in God. I can only assume that could be interpreted as negative by someone who does. LOL I mean, if you're a Christian, can a Hindu call your beliefs negative because you believe in Jesus Christ? They don't believe in Jesus Christ. America should protect the rights of all citizens regardless of their beliefs. I could have sworn that's what the 1st Amendment was for. Call me crazy. Your analogies don't even make sense. Protect unicorns and leprechauns? What does that have to do with protecting a citizen's right to NOT worship? We are never going to get anywhere in this country if we continue to discriminate against people who are different than ourselves. Stop assuming someone's character based on their beliefs. Trust me, there are a lot of law-breaking, bad people out there who identify themeselves as Christians and there are a lot of law-abiding, good people in the world who who identify themselves as Atheists. Get over yourself. You're not better than the next person because you talk to an invisible person and they don't.

      September 7, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Ray

      Your analogy is a bad one. Our laws do not protect religions or beliefs, they protect the people who hold those beliefs. So even if atheism is the absence of belief (as you would define it), the people who hold that belief (or lack of belief) are quite real.

      September 7, 2012 at 10:19 am |
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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.