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. Ismael

    Mormons "shun” former members, casting them out of social circles, refusing to do business with them, and giving them dirty looks. This includes their own family.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Oliver Cowdry

      Very true my friend!

      October 22, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • EdwardTr

      this is a cult behavior

      October 22, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  2. Archie Bunker

    A traveling billboard intended only to disrupt someone's life and damage someone's faith and credibility is a example of an obsessive need to hate.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Oliver Cowdry

      If you were ripped off in a scam, wouldn't you be compelled to warn others?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • EdwardTr

      The people of faith have been and continue to call us atheists evil, immoral, satan worshipers etc, talk about prejudice there. Most of us simply believe in human goodness without the need for a mythical creature. Oh, and how are the billboards inaccurate?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  3. rightsaid

    Romeny's Mormon faith is non-sensical, as are the faiths of Obama and nearly all leaders around the world. This is just something that we atheists have to live with for the time being. Romney has so much more to answer for, but his church's history of bigotry is fair game.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Tyler Durden

      Reverend White.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Tyler Durden

      Reverend Wright. Both candidates have religious ties that have a history of bigotry. (Sorry about the previous typo... I need my morning coffee.)

      October 22, 2012 at 7:47 am |
  4. babooph

    Christians now have other Gods before them ,violating the 10 commandments for their vile politics& are comfortable with Satan as Jesus brother,next they can wear the magic undies...I LOVE IT!!!

    October 22, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 22, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • EdwardTr

      Do good because its the human thing to do, not because you are afraid of, or looking for a reward from.. the man in the sky.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  6. If aetheists only knew...

    They are a creation, and a masonic one at that. Enjoy the programming.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • ripcord

      ooooohhhhhh scary masons. if you believe in a god why would masons, mortal animals scare you. masons trump your god? weak

      October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Trptlead

    Oh those atheists, they never stop talking about God.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • RD

      Yeah, we do talk about lots of other things besides gods – perhaps you just don't notice or pay attention. Do you actually know any atheists, or just "know" what you hear from the media?

      October 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  8. Oliver Cowdry

    What the article doesn't tell you about this little tidbit from Second Nephi, it was during a time in the story when the black skinned Lamanites accepted Christ and became righteous. But latter they became that loathsome people cursed with a black skin.

    And [God] 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. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities." (2 Nephi 5:21)

    October 22, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  9. Colin

    The belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, chose a small nomadic group of Jews from the 200 million people then alive to be his "favored people" provided they followed some rural laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine equals Judaism.

    Judaism PLUS a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made equals Christianity.

    Christianity PLUS a belief that aliens from other planets mated with humans who will one day be gods, that post mortem baptisms send people to a heaven, that the Israelis colonized America and that magic underwear will protect you from evil equals Mormonism.

    I guess Mormons take the gold for utterly stupid beliefs. One can imagine Brigham Young standing on a pedestal, accepting his medal and humbly proclaiming, “If my beliefs are even more childish and ridiculous than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • nope


      October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Oliver Cowdry

      But then again, if your Mormon, what you describe fits perfectly with the plurality of Gods doctrine. Search Mormon and The External Progression of Man doctrine. In Mormonism, there are countless numbers of Gods, even you can become God.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Thomas

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Although I must disagree with one point: Scientology defeats even Mormonism with ease in the race for ignorant, outlandish beliefs.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  10. Colin

    "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."

    Brigham Young

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.”

    Brigham Young

    October 22, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • nope


      October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  11. Harry Reid Fan

    You'll notice how you only are hearing this because a republican candidate is a mormon, Harry Reid is a mormon yet the atheists didn't follow him around the country openly slamming him for his religious beliefs. This is the sort of thing that ONLY happens to republicans.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Jim

      Well of course.

      Whatever it takes man, whatever it takes.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  12. Hof

    Have you ever noticed that you never see atheists following Muslims?

    October 22, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Jim

      Because these radicals are cowards.

      Unfortunately, most atheists do follow Muslims in one sense. They refuse to call out the hideous and sub-human behavior of the radical elements of their own group. Either you are for persuasion and civility or you are not.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You'd know this how??? We think they're just as bat shit crazy as any other belief in the supernatural deities.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Did you hear the one about the Canadian that minded its own F'n business?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:35 am |

      You are so wrong, I am an Atheist and detest Islam in all of it's facets so do many of my co non believers, you appear to be by your comment a person blinded by right wing ideology and butt hurt Christianity crying about what you believe to be discrimination , by not being allowed to shove your brand of nonsense down other peoples throats exactly the way Muslims complain about being discriminated against. Both of your religions make me want to puke to your credit Islam is more distasteful sort of like the difference between cat crap and cow poop.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      You won't the ass hole thinks it has something to say regarding another countries politics? Its own country doesn't need its input.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • WASP

      @hof: have you forgotten the billboards in jewish and muslim neighborhoods? now i remember a bunch of christian extremeists protesting the building of a peaceful muslim mosque in NYC for no reason at all.......atheists had nothing to do with the mosque because it wasn't bothering us.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Captain Dodney Ass Rangerfield: Did you buy the rights to CNN? Didn't think so! Now go back to the bridge little troll!

      October 22, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • EdwardTr

      You will, when one runs for president. We simply want to be free not to believe.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  13. William

    So because they are atheists they are going to follow Romney around and be disruptive. More just more selective intolerance of the left. They will point a finger and slander others without seeing the bias in themselves. Just like the flea-bags from OWS, CNN will praise a group of bigots.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • EdwardTr

      If the shoe fits.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  14. 1word

    Any religion that doesn't show love to all races is not of the God that created this world. Either you show love to all or expect to receive Judgment!

    Revelation 21:27
    King James Version (KJV)

    27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      The nice thing is Atheists show love to all (in most cases) and we're not fearing judgement from an imaginary creature either way.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • nope

      @liar prefails

      October 22, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • truth be told

      Atheists showing "love" have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      TBT: Proof please??? We kill no-one in the name of an imaginary friend, that would be christians and muslims and any other group that thinks their imaginary friend is superior to all other.

      Nopw: Still smoking the crack pipe I see...you may want to try an actual response instead of sounding like a 2 year old child.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  15. lincoln douglas

    "If you believe in God, you have chosen to reject Allah, Vishnu, Budda, Waheguru and all of the thousands of other gods that other people worship today. It is quite likely that you rejected these other gods without ever looking into their religions or reading their books. You simply absorbed the dominant faith in your home or in the society you grew up in. "

    "In other words, each religious person on earth today arbitrarily rejects thousands of gods as imaginary, many of which he/she has never even heard of, and arbitrarily chooses to "believe" in one of them. "

    ""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

    October 22, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • 1word

      No other religion shows the lineage of family members and the creation of the world until Christ was born. When these other religions show that, I'll consider their God. lol

      October 22, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      1word: Can you provide the lineage for your imaginary friend god? When you do that we'll have reason to believe in your god.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • EdwardTr

      Lincoln, very nicely put.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • my2cents

      Allah is the same god as judaism, and christianity

      October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  16. Oliver Cowdry

    A few decades from now, you won't see these bits of scripture anymore. The Church will quietly and discreetly remove them, not all at once, but a little at a time, without drawing attention.

    Book of Mormon

    ". . . 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)."

    Book of Moses (Pearl of Great Price)

    ". . . there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people . . . (Moses 7:8)."

    "And . . . they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them (Moses 7:22)."

    Book of Abraham (Pearl of Great Price)

    ". . . from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land (Abraham 1:24)."

    "Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, . . . Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, . . . but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. "Now, Pharaoh being of the lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, . . . (Abraham 1:26-27)."

    These few tidbits of scripture represent a small portion of the many scattered throughout the Book of Mormon and other Church scripture. The Church leadership lies about its past and its doctrines, that’s the maddening part of the whole thing with Mormonism.

    The Church growth will mainly come from members of record or the conversion of uneducated people from 3rd world countries. The more educated, the more likely people will have access to resources, which they can read regarding the Church. No matter how many times FARMS will twist the truth; they will never be able to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  17. Brian

    Regardless of your personal beliefs, bigotry is wrong. Where's the atheist outrage against the bigots claiming to represent them?

    October 22, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Jim

      Unfortunately, atheists are like Muslims in one way, they generally don't point out the hypocrites of their own religious belief. Just like when terrorists attack others and most Muslims are silent, atheists do likewise.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • William

      Or the protests against Islam and what they do to women. We all have read it right here on CNN what they do to gays. Not a peep from Leftists, OWS, Code Pink, Obama, Pelosi, Reid or the rest. Their selective hatred is starting to look more like persecution and i am sure if Obama loses they will become even more violent.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Tom

      At what point did taking a stand against intolerance become bigotry?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  18. hoosier1234

    To atheists, the only acceptable hate crime is Christian (or Mormon) bashing.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • freetime1

      The truth is not bashing, it is the truth. Facts all way are a good thing even if some do not like them. Now the bible does some bashing that is not truth based. How do you feel about that lol?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Rednip

      Seemingly to many Christians such 'bashing' is the only type you care about, using hue and cry worthy of a murder. Clearly right wing crybabies can dish it out a lot better than they can 'take it'

      October 22, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  19. AGeek

    What astounds me is how religious folks can't seem to wrap their fu(%ing heads around the concept of the separation of church and state. I don't care WHAT you believe in private and on your own time, but if you bring it up in the discussion politics or the governance of the US, I'm quite likely to immediately discount anything you're saying and consider you a direct threat to the country to the point of being an act of sedition, worthy of charges and federal imprisonment. I am SO sick of you ignorant fu(%ks. The US was not founded on, has never been, and is not now, based on any theocratic principles or even any religion. If you want to keep pushing that crap, don't be shocked by the fallout.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • hoosier1234

      "The US was not founded on, has never been, and is not now, based on any theocratic principles or even any religion."

      You need a good American History book, my friend.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • BigBear

      Athiests believe in one god: themselves. It's as much a religion as any other. And just as you have shown, tries to force it's tenets on others as much as any other, also. Get over yourself. Shutup and vote.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Rukidding

      Romney is not bringing his religion in. It "your" group of hypocritical atheists that are. So just so I have this straight. When a Christian Muslim or Jew mention tenants of their religion it is wrong but if an atheist brings it up it's ok? And you call this tolerance? If a white did this to a black it would be called racism. So what is it called when an atheist does it? See us Christians have no issue with you being atheist. We have a problem with you trying to force us to be

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • freetime1


      October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Nick

      Thats rich. You're really going to say Christians don't try and force their beliefs on others but the problem is that atheist do? I'm not an atheist but this statement sounds silly even to me. I guess black people, native Americans, and those living in central and south America all became Christians by themselves. Don't suspend your brain function while your mouth (or in this case your fingers) is moving.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  20. Ace

    Like Gandhi once said about Atheists: “It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists.”

    October 22, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Pokydoke

      We don't fight against your god we fight against your need to impose your brand of morality based on the fantasy and fiction which your religion is based upon

      October 22, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • kenneth

      We fight you because you tend to vote for ignorant politicians, which directly effects us all.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Sane Person

      You're confused, as most of you are. Religion exists. Bigotry, hatred, inequality exist. That is what they fight against. They fight against the laws based in fables. Also, Gandhi wasnt christian, he was Hindu, believing in millions of gods.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Mirosal

      As Gandhi once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

      October 22, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Jim

      This is wonderful.

      Radical atheists continue to show what desperate and animalistic kind of people they are.

      The religion of intolerance that is radical atheism.

      Unfortunately, these idiots are tarnishing the reputation of all atheists.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Brian

      Atheism is just as much a religion as christianity is. There is no evidence God does not exist either. So it is all based upon faith. So basically atheists are pushing their beliefs on government.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Mirosal

      Brian, look up the meaning of the word "religion" in ANY dictionary... then, after having an adult help you with the words, please explain to us just HOW Atheism fits into the definition of "religion". Calling Atheism a religion is like saying NOT collecting stamps is a hobby, or that abstinence is a se'xual position.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • leftover

      There's no proof Ghandi ever said that.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • EdwardTr

      @Jim, we atheists want people to be free to believe or not to believe and remove the prejudice people of faith have against us. The need for this you illustrate beautifully with your comments.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |
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