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. Bootyfunk

    Mormonism is just as lame as any other christian religion. no difference. the pillars of christianity are guilt, fear and ignorance.

    get up off your knees and think for yourself.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  2. Happy


    October 22, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  3. saggyroy

    They should have a line about the magic underwear.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:26 am |
  4. doctore0

    Religion is nothing but primitive tribalism create to create lots and lots of small kings(pastors)

    October 22, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  5. Bob

    Joseph Smith was gay.

    October 22, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  6. Stephen Buck

    Hey Atheist,
    Why the concern about what Mormons or any other religion believes? We are just bug in a big universe, what happens here is of little consequence. Life has no meaning. If we do or do not find joy in our time here it is of no significance. Dying sooner than later gets over the pain of dying that much sooner. Suicide is no big deal, Right? Why should we care if any group or person is discriminated against? Ultimately life is a non sequitur.
    I guess you believe in some kind of humanism but humanism is religious principles without God. You can do better than this. A sense of justice, caring of the sick is a waste of precious time. Why bother? Please don’t tell me people by nature are concerned and loving. Christians can hardly get these principles into their heads, what part of atheism demands fairness?
    Why do you hold religious persons feet to the fire when it really does make any difference in the scheme of our insignificant existence. Does it give you a purpose in life?
    Your motto can only be life is hard then you die.

    October 22, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Bob

      We atheists, do believe life has a purpose. We just don't think a magic man in the sky sets that purpose. We don't need the threat of Hell or the gift of Heaven in order to "be good". We don't need magic in order to be decent human beings. Only the weak minded and children need such things.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • saggyroy

      We don't want you ruining our enjoyment of the time we have here. Wasting time and resources to serve an imaginary war god. Getting a free pass for crimes because you believe. Starting wars and promoting violence. I am talking about all of you: Christians, Muslims, Hindus et al....

      October 22, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • WASP

      @BUCK: i can't speak for other atheists, but where i find meaning in life is my children and if i can make someone smile at least once during the day.
      i want to see a better world for my children, they say hind sight is 20/20 and that's true. we can either choose to live in the past and hope (aka have faith) that when we die things will be better or we can look forward to what humans can accomplish today. the past is done, nothing can change that but waiting for "a savior" hasn't ever helped anyone.
      i try everyday to make people smile or laugh if i can because in that moment i know they aren't worrying about bills, or problems they have in their lives, for that single moment i know they are happy and that makes me happy.

      as far as the suicide thing, no one should take their own life. i do have one admission on that standing however; if a person is terminally ill they should have the right to choose how they leave this world. would you truly want to visit your mother everyday and watch her slowly die of terminal brain cancer or another illness that could take years for her to pass or would you prefer her not to suffer? that is the measure of compassion and love.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • jason

      actually many scientists and athiests do care about our race and planet very much thats why we want to see people open up thier minds and think for themselves and drop this religious ignorance that kept us in the darkages for so long . we don't have to believe in a religion to be ourselves and care for our fellow man that just comes naturally and when we see religious nuts killing each other it is definitely a concern of ours

      October 22, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • OneTruth

      You got the motto right though. That's a start. Now if only you could rid yourself of the superstition.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  7. queenbee

    I had some black friends who belonged to the Mormon church before 1973–the thing is, they were allowed in the church before then, BUT they also were told that they were meant to be separate and had been declared perpetual slaves for other men, by God. Clarify THAT.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Terminator Jesus

      Mormons just wanted some janitors.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  8. Atheist

    Meh. I probably would have said something about Smith being a con-artist. Or maybe just a pic with caption: Romney standing outside your door saying "Have you found Jesus?" That would be enough to scare away just about any potential voter.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:23 am |
  9. Stephen Buck

    More persons in the United States are against gay marriage than support it. Why single out Mormons??

    October 22, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  10. Sam

    Direct quote from the Book of Mormon which is considered scripture by the Mormons:

    "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." (2 Nephi 5:21)

    October 22, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Kev

      Interesting verse to post. Now would you care to mention how throughout the Book of Mormon that in comparing the two groups mentioned here, the fairer complected Nephites and the not so fair complected Lamanites, that there were more times than not that it was the fairer complected Nephites that were under greater condemnation from God than the Lamanites because of the greater wickedness of the Nephites, and that in the end it was the Nephites who were wiped out and faced genocide.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Kev

      Behold the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you... (Book of Mormon, Jacob 4:5)

      October 22, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • The way it really is

      There were never any Nephites, there were never any Lamanites. There is no evidence that these cultures ever existed, because like horses and steel in pre-Columbian America, Smith totally invented them.

      "The bare facts of the matter are that noting, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in a New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormom, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to oour hemisphere." Michael Coe, pre-eminant authority in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican studies.

      The Book of Mormon is a con. Most everybody knows it, and they know who the con man was. Sadly, some rubes still fall for it, despite it's obvious lack of veracity.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • Kev

      Actually, most of what has been excavated in Mesoamerican archeology comes from the classic and post-classic periods, which mostly post-dates the Book of Mormon period, so to say that just because they haven't made solid conclusions verifying the Book of Mormon means that the Book of Mormon is invalid is jumping to conclusions.

      However, there actually were pre-Columbian horses in the Americas, and there has been verified sources of well skilled metallurgy that would have included bronze. Although, nothing has been found regarding iron or steel production, if that knowledge became lost by the end of the Book of Mormon period, at about the end of the fourth century, just how much iron or steel would have even been around that wouldn't have been completely oxidized just even by the time of the first Spanish exploration over a thousand years later?

      October 22, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Christians have a lot to defend just with Creation "science" and biblical archaeology . Mormons have inherited these problems and a whopping new set of outright lies about civilization on the American continent that they feel they have to defend. One would expect Christianity and Mormonism to at least greatly revise what they claim as evidence mounts that what they have believed is false. Somehow they don't.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Kev sez:
      "Actually, most of what has been excavated in Mesoamerican archeology comes from the classic and post-classic periods, which mostly post-dates the Book of Mormon period, so to say that just because they haven't made solid conclusions verifying the Book of Mormon means that the Book of Mormon is invalid is jumping to conclusions."

      It absolutly astounds me that people you this as 'logic'. One can just as easily say the following:
      Acutally most of what has been excavated from Never Never land comes from the Walt Disney period which mostly post-dates Tinkerbell, so to say the just becaue they haven't made solid conslusions verifying Faries means that Fairies don't exist is jumping to conslusions

      Athiests DON'T believe in the Book of mormon for the same reason that Mormons don't believe in Fairies. Why is this so difficult to understand?

      October 22, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Kev

      So, Brother Maynard, Where is the Neverland excavation site taking place?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Ah I see
      so the entire morman religion is validated because you haven't found any evidence in a real place as opposed to me not finding any evidince in a fictious place

      I'm a beliver now ..

      October 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Kev

      Well Brother Maynard, it looks like we are in a bit of a quandary here. I can't prove my side and you can't prove your side. It looks like it does boil down to faith and seeking with sincerity your own personal conclusion based both studying and prayer to find out for.yourself.

      (Referring to the Book of Mormon: Moroni 10:3-5 and in the New Testament: James 1:5-6)

      October 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  11. Reality

    And another ad obviously not supported by the Obama re-election gurus:----


    October 22, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • OneTruth

      Are you on the Texas school board. Total lack of comprehension and critical thinking. Total nonsense.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Misleading as in not pointing people to the one true faith?

    October 22, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  13. What does word Christianity means, hinduism, fabrication of hindu Jew's, criminal secular, A word without any traslation.

    Tom, Tom, the Goat's Son
    your hindu filthy french is still the same as your hinduism, ignorance. hindu, ignorant goon.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  14. What does word Christianity means, hinduism, fabrication of hindu Jew's, criminal secular, A word without any traslation.

    goons, racists, deny mosque at ground zero, we need Bill Board too.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  15. James Fairbanks

    This is nothing more than "hate" speech directed at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is not about Romney. It does not accurately describe Romney's faith nor his personal beliefs. If someone wants to learn about the Church, its doctrine (past and current) they can do so on its official website, or visit one of our worship services. As far as Romney is concerned, they have his record as Governor, and his personal life to ascertain his values.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  16. Bill Kilpatrick

    American Atheists had every right to question aspects of LDS beliefs and how they might affect Romney's fairness as president. But to put up a billboard that says that blacks couldn't be Mormons until 1978, or that gays can't be members today, is sloppy, inaccurate and misleading.

    This is too bad, because an atheist approach – which subjects policy questions to strict standards of logic and reason – could have added something to the great political debate of the day. There's something to be said about piercing the shroud that faith sometimes creates, when it comes to asking hard questions about policy. Unfortunately, American Atheists is so caught up in its own thunder that it would prefer a provocative sign to a smart one.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Kev

      Except American Atheists are not questioning the LDS church, they making accusations. And based on the amount of content in the ad there doesn't appear to be any in depth logical analysis. It's flatly blunt, very brief, and very misleading.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • bignevermo

      the billboard to me is not misleading...sure black people could be members before 1978...but not 'real" members...no endowments for them..no priesthood...and those thing are the defining doctrines of that church...and Brigham Young was an extremely prejudiced president of the church that he declared that anyone marrying a black would be killed...no real reason to be a black person in that church...even today there are no blacks anywhere in the upper hierarchy...i wonder how many blacks are church members here in the US? How many openly gay pepople are in any position of authority? I mean a gay person who is not celibate? the church is no friend to gays...they even used shock therepy on students at BYU!!! K feel free to refute! 🙂

      October 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Kev

      Well bignevermo, it's a shame that marriages can't be done in the temple because women don't hold the priesthood; oh wait a minute!! They do go to the temple, figure out that logic. There has also been blacks as well as latinos and Asians that have been general authorities in the church, I've attended two wards or congregations which was led by a black bishop, I've also attended certain wards in the states where blacks made up nearly half of the ward. That's not to say those types of wards are common, but they are out there and they are growing.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  17. What does word Christianity means, hinduism, fabrication of hindu Jew's, criminal secular, A word without any traslation.

    my mormon goon father, filthy, denier of truth absolute, ALLAH, corruption of Theen or Navi, his mormon ass hurts.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  18. tnfreethinker

    Silverman's tactics make me uneasy, yet amused.

    October 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    October 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • The 9/11 hijackers

      Prayer worked flawlessly for us. Everything went exactly as we wanted, and better than we hoped.

      Prayer works!

      October 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • truth be told

      Muslims never pray to God their god is a demonic impersonation, an idol.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is it a Gaul that has gall?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • just sayin

      Allah is actually Billy Idol?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Jehovah's Fight Club Admiinistrator

      No, silly. He's Eric Idle. Get it straight.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Rolph Eczema

      Eric Idle comment to a religious whack: "When you are stupid, there is nothing to be done."

      October 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Wakeup

      Are you serious?! Neither are religious wars that kill children because of a difference of opinion on which fake god to believe in!! You are an idiot!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • bignevermo

      TRuth...I hate to inform you but...............Islam prays to the same God as Christians and Jews! Jesus is revered in the Q'uran. These three religions(Jews,Christians< Islams) are all called:
      Abrahamic religions...The God of Abraham...so...if you are praying to God...you are praying to the same God as the Islamists!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • OneTruth

      tbt. Strangely enough, that's what other religions say about your god.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    October 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Osama bin Laden

      Prayer really worked for me!

      Proven, in NYC

      October 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • truth be told

      Muslims do not pray to God. allah is not God.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is he a Gaul? Or does he drink gall? Or have a lot of gall, like you, Turdistan?

      October 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      God speaks to me through the dog next door. He tells me to kill.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • nope


      October 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      The faithful know the voice of God. God bless

      October 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, poor nope the dope. Get a rope. No hope for the dope nope.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

      Nope is pope of dopes on a rope. Facts make nope mope.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • just sayin

      The faithful know God's voice when he orders them to drown their children.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot

      October 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
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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.