Atheist billboard attacks Romney’s faith, but Mormons say it's misleading
This billboard on wheels, sponsored by American Atheists, will follow the Romney campaign throughout southern Florida.
October 21st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Atheist billboard attacks Romney’s faith, but Mormons say it's misleading

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When he campaigns in southern Florida on Monday, Mitt Romney will have an unwelcome traveling partner: a mobile billboard attacking his religion.

The billboard on wheels, sponsored by American Atheists, attacks the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its treatment of African-Americans and gays, though the church says the attacks are inaccurate.

The billboard, which American Atheists says will follow the Romney campaign for seven days, features two messages on Mormonism: “No Blacks Allowed (until 1978)” and “No Gays Allowed (Current).”

The first line is a reference to the church’s practice of denying lay priesthood to black male members until 1978.

Though the church did not allow black male members to be ordained before that year - when the church head says he received a revelation to reverse the policy - it did allow blacks and members of all racial and ethnic groups to be church members. According to The Second Book of Nephi, a part of Mormon doctrine, “Black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.”

The billboard’s second line refers to what American Atheists President David Silverman says is the religion's “intolerance” and “bigotry” when it comes to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

But the church denies such categorizations. It accepts gay members, though church doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed and the church strongly opposes same-sex marriage. Some gay rights activists say the church is subtly growing friendlier toward the LGBT community, including voicing support for some gay rights.

"People are surely free to disagree with us on the facts," Dale Jones, a church spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to CNN. "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."

Jones continued: "We would be happy to introduce the (American Atheists president) to any of our millions of members of different ethnicity who would be happy to educate him on our racial diversity."

Silverman denies the billboard, which is costing the group $8,000, is an attack on Romney specifically. A spokeswoman for the Romney campaign said she would not comment on the sign.

“Nobody seems to be talking about the implications of having a very religious Mormon president,” Silverman said. “There are a lot of things about Mormons that people don’t know, including the fact that racism is an important part of their dogma.”

The LDS Church has largely tried to stay out of the politics surrounding the presidential campaign, even though it has received increased attention due to Romney’s candidacy. This billboard, writes Jones, is "obviously" about the "personal politics" of American Atheists.

"We have consistently kept out of the political campaign," Jones wrote. "People can see this (billboard) for what it is."

American Atheists has a long history in using billboards to call out religion and get its message out. During the political conventions in August and September, the group put up billboards attacking Mormonism and Christianity, taking aim at the faith of both presidential candidates.

This mobile billboard, however, is a departure from the standard American Atheist tactic of multiple billboards on multiple religions. According to Silverman, this is because Romney’s faith hasn’t been addressed enough in the 2012 election.

“We all understand the implications of having a Christian president. We do not understand the implications of having a Mormon president,” Silverman said. “We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Florida • Homosexuality • Mitt Romney • Politics • Race

soundoff (2,468 Responses)
  1. ronvan

    WE HAVE LOST OUR SIGHT!! Is there ANY religion that does NOT have skeleton's in their closet? IN THE NAME OF RELIGION, millions have been tortured, killed, etc.! Soooo, what are we really commenting on? FAITH & BELEIF guide us throughout life. EVERY person makes their OWN decisions on a daily basis. Atheists, christians, etc., beleive and have faith that their points are the right ones! Our religious "tools / books" provide stories that either renew our faith and beleifs, or provides "evidence" for non beleivers. And while I, personally, beleive in my savior, it does not mean I go blindly running about trying, or wasting, my time trying to convince others. I always have questions as to why my savior just doesn't wipe us out because of what we do, BUT, I still have faith & beleive that, maybe, just maybe, he is waiting for US to wake up and help / change ourselves!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Well that was quite a screed!


      October 24, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • sam stone

      "wipe us out for what we do"?

      are you talking about the temerity of us living our lives?

      October 24, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • End Religion

      @Ron'sCreepyVan: " I always have questions as to why my savior just doesn't wipe us out because of what we do, BUT, I still have faith & beleive that, maybe, just maybe, he is waiting for US to wake up and help / change ourselves!"

      He hasn't wiped out us because he's waiting. He's been waiting for 2000 years. He will go on waiting. Set your alarm to go off at eternity.

      October 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  2. Aristocles

    Shame on atheists for discriminating against people of ALL faiths!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Shame on people of all faiths for believing absolute nonsense. Unless of course someone has a novel, and for the first time successful, proof that any gods exist.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Andy

      As opposed to Christians who discriminate against people of ALL other faiths? We treat all baseless belief equally. Most of us also criticize mediums, those who believe they've been reincarnated, homeopathic healers, astrologers, witches, people claiming to be alien abductees and similar people, so you needn't take it personally.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • End Religion

      Shame on me for reading this post!

      October 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  3. no, darling

    Dudes&Dudettes, before you discuss any further – Romney says BATTLEFIELD EARTH is his favorite book!
    Think about it.

    October 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Andy

      Battlefield Earth was OK for the first 300 pages or so, but then it drones on for another 700 odd pages. No wonder he likes it, it sounds like one of his speeches! 🙂

      October 24, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • no, darling

      The author of battlefield earth is L Ron Hubbard, the founder of one of the most notorious religious cults of modern history.
      Do some research, you'll be AMAZED what does on in the broad daylight in the United States of America.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Andy

      Before Scientology L Ron Hubbard was a pulp fiction writer, paid by the word, which explains why Battlefield Earth is so needlessly long.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • no, darling

      battlefield earth was published in 1982, well after some of Scientology's most sinister outings – for example, Operation Snowwhite.
      Look it up and let your jaw drop.

      October 24, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • laodegan

      Yet Battlefield Earth makes no reference whatsoever to Scientology. I read the book when I was a youth and enjoyed it. It didn't age well, but most pulp fiction ages poorly.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  4. Completely Ignorant

    What I can't understand is why people see the need to attack a Presidential candidate for his beliefs. Attacking the Mormon church on the grounds that they didn't allow African Americans to hold leadership positions (which was changed some years ago) is akin to attacking the catholic church for the crusades. But people don't do that. But by all means, let's attack the Mormons, they teach marriage between a man and a woman! How disgusting!!!

    October 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why do you find it so disturbing that people attack your candidate for attempting to deny the rights to others that he, you, and others enjoy with regard to marriage?

      October 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • This is why

      Today's news: "Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said Tuesday when a woman is impregnated during a r.ape, "it's something God intended . . . Mourdock's comments come two months after embattled Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said during a television interview that women's bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate r.ape."

      October 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Completely Ignorant

      Based on your previous response and the name calling therein, I just wanted to inform you that I won't be engaging you in any sort of discussion. People who call names are generally people who don't discuss. They argue and attack. As such, I bid you good night.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • This is why

      You didn't answer mine. I provided evidence.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Completely Ignorant

      That was not meant for you "this is why". However, I don't really see the correlation between your response and my original post. It had nothing to do with abortion. Am I missing something?

      October 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • laodegan

      Don't try to understand them. They have no real agenda. They have no beliefs. All they know how to do is be d*cks to anyone who has faith in something.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • This is why

      It should be entirely obvious that if the belief system of any candidate is capable of producing such insane and monsterous ideas, and those ideas are their basis for running the government, then they should be in the public discussion and used to decide votes.

      In the case of Romney, there are embedded in Mormonism some beliefs such as the role of women and the status of other races that are deeply disturbing. There are temple practices that, at least until recently, had men swearing oaths to take vengeance on the U.S. Government for what happened to Joseph Smith. There was (and probably still is) a belief that the Mormon church will take control of America in the event of social chaos and build a theocracy.

      These are Mormon beliefs, or have been. Romney fails to tell anything about what he believes, so he may well hold beliefs that Americans would not want in a president, yet he hides them so we cannot know.

      You see, ad hominem is not a fallacy when the character of the person in question actually is relevant to what is being discussed.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Reality


      Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, BO also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

      One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

      Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

      Warren Buffett, THE AGNOSTIC, for President !!!!
      Bill Gates, THE AGNOSTIC for VP !!!!

      October 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • laodegan

      Yes, but you are forgetting one very important difference between Romney and the atheists. Romney isn't a complete d*ck.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Andy

      We have confidence in things that have proof backing them up. You should try it some time.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • laodegan

      Wow, you atheists don't even know what atheism means. Andy, you just described an agnostic. What sort of proof do you have to back up your position? The fact is you have no proof Andy. That's what makes you an atheist. Just as theists have no proof of their belief. Atheists and theists are virtually the same in their groundless faith. But there is one major difference. There are plenty of very nice religious folks out there. But all atheists are complete d*cks.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • End Religion

      Pot, meet kettle.

      Once it is understood that atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a “third way” between atheism and theism. The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not.

      Thus, it is clear that agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism. A person can believe in a god (theism) without claiming to know for sure if that god exists; the result is agnostic theism. On the other hand, a person can disbelieve in gods (atheism) without claiming to know for sure that no gods can or do exist; the result is agnostic atheism.

      October 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • laodegan

      Wow, that was like pointing to passages in the bible to prove other passages in the bible. In other words, you still have no proof. Atheism is as much whimsical fancy as you believe theist faith to be. And again, you still haven't refuted the fact that as an atheist, your only goal in life is to be a complete d*ck to all who disagree with you.

      October 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

    Who cares what the atheist folks think...given the vast majority is religious, it seems to me they are the ones out of the norm. Of course reading their comments on this thread...one knows why.

    October 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yup, one does. They're usually the folks who don't misspell simple words or fvck up punctuation or syntax. Your pals, conversely, do everything possible to make themselves look like complete cretins. And you're no exception, Kruddy.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Obviously

      In Nazi Germany, decent people were the vast minority.

      Majority don't mean right.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • laodegan

      Honestly, nobody cares but the atheists. And since they are nothing but a bunch of d*cks, nobody cares that they care.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • So impressed

      That was truly profound and eloquent, laodegan. You must have been the captain of the Harvard Debate Team.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • laodegan

      Thanks buddy! That really means a lot coming from an atheist. You must have really worked hard on trying to be civil and not be a complete d*ck. Oh. Wait. That was sarcasm. Darn it.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Andy

      Yeah, who cares what minorities think. Atheists, blacks, Jews, evangelicals ... men. Why listen to the opinions of any of these minorities?

      October 24, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  6. David

    I heard their entire atheist group has those "Tolerance" bumper stickers on their cars. Does anyone else find that ironic...?

    October 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "I heard..."

      No, you didn't. You couldn't hear a thing if your life depended on it, unless it spoke to you in tones of Mitt Romney's voice.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • End Religion

      You can't expect us to have "We Eat Babies" on a bumper sticker. We need to market ourselves as loving, just like religion. Once you join the club though, guard those babies. We're hungry!

      October 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • The Four Fluffy Kittens of the Apocalypse Go on a Murder Rampage* (*after tea and crumpets and a nice nap)

      Is that really anymore disingenuous that calling Jesus a god of love when he intended to wipe out the planet and send most of the inhabitants to eternal torture because they wouldn't become his toadies?

      October 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      speaking of crummy little toadies, it is getting close to xmas. I bring you the Scott Farkus Affair...


      October 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  7. gamgee

    Mitt Romney's favourite books:
    The Bible.
    And Battlefield Earth (by Scientology's own L Ron Hubbard).
    This is really true (it is on his facebook page and he also has repeatedly said this in interviews over the last 6 years).
    How can a future president of the U.S. be so naive about Scientology?

    Absolutely shocking!
    CNN – why are you guys not all over this?

    October 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    October 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  9. End Religion


    October 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  10. GayAtheist

    Mormons are so perverted. Ever hear about that Warren Jeffs guy?


    October 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Completely Ignorant

      I find it humorous to see the lengths to which people will go to denounce a religion they do not completely understand. On a similar note, Ifind it sad that anyone feels a need to denounce any religion.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I find it telling that those who claim they're secure in their beliefs find those who challenge them so completely threatening.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • scifigal2k

      Try again.....Warren Jeffs wasn't a Mormon. He was a member of a sect that was kicked out of the Mormon church about a hundred years ago.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • laodegan

      Wow, every single mormon is perverted? Sort of like how every gay person is perverted? Or does the term "sweeping generalization" not mean anything to an atheist? Wait, nevermind. You atheists shouls be quite familiar with sweeping generalizations. After all, every single one of you is a complete d*ck.

      October 24, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      laodegan: And you're a good christian...right? Highly unlikely given how you make a generalization based on lack of knowledge and lack of education. Do facts frighten you? Does living in the 21st century where there is evidence to prove your buybull wrong scare you? You do realize that only children and schizophrenics have imaginary friends...right? You might want to seek some serious help yourself before bashing people you know nothing about!! Now given that you seem to be a firm believer, it is your belief in hell and the way you're acting it is you will be enjoying it. Grow up...you only look like an ass here!

      October 24, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • laodegan

      @TruthPrevails... What gave you the impression I consider myself a good Christian? You just refuted a position I have never taken. Thank you for proving my point, by the way. Every single one of you, nothing but complete d*cks.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  11. ronald Regonzo

    This is REALLY what mormons believe! They can't deny it, even thought it makes them mad.


    October 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. pastmorm

    And here's another experience...

    October 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  13. Jesus Christ

    And this....


    October 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  14. Jesus Christ

    Oh and there is this...


    October 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  15. just sayin

    Don't you love how helpful I am?


    October 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  16. just sayin

    Even more truth!


    October 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  17. just sayin

    Seek the truth!


    October 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  18. just sayin

    I think that I am Jesus Christ. I think maybe I really am and that I am God's only true son. I believe I can fly, oh yeah, I can fly...I believe I can touch the sky. I can fly!

    October 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  19. just sayin

    There's nothing...um, wrong...with giving millions to pass Prop 8. Doesn't mean anything. LOL

    October 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  20. just sayin

    What they mean by 'misleading' is "Yeah...it's true, but we need a chance to put some qualifiers on it, talk around it, change the subject, accuse someone of persecuting our religion...etc."

    October 23, 2012 at 5:31 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.