First on CNN: Atheists ratchet up rhetoric, use billboards to attack Republican politicians
March 3rd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

First on CNN: Atheists ratchet up rhetoric, use billboards to attack Republican politicians

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – An atheist organization known for being provocative plans to take that reputation to the next level this week by putting up seven billboards that call out prominent politicians and religious leaders.

American Atheists plans to target three Republican politicians: former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former House Speak Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

The seven signs will go up around Dallas and Austin, Texas.

In one billboard, a picture of Palin is featured on the left, with a quote attributed to her. "We should create law based on the God of the Bible," the quote reads. Underneath the graphic is a tag line "GO GODLESS INSTEAD."

The billboard, however, misquotes Palin. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O'Reilly, Palin addressed the growth in American secularism by saying America's founding fathers "would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments," not "should."

Each of the billboards has a similar format and includes a pitch for the group’s 50th anniversary convention in Austin.

Santorum is condemned for when he told an Iowa crowd last November that, "our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God's law," while Gingrich is criticized for a remark he made at a CNN debate on October 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. "How can I trust you with power if you don't pray," Gingrich posited.

Virginia Davis, spokeswoman for Santorum, thanked American Atheists for the publicity.

"At a time when many are trying to remove God from the public square, the senator is appreciative of someone helping him very publicly express his strong belief that we are one nation under God," Davis wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

American Atheists President David Silverman, however, sees the billboards as a way to shame the targets.

"We at American Atheists are shaming these leaders for their bigoted and backwards remarks and attitudes, and conveying a message to today's atheists that we need not take it anymore," Silverman wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

Two religious leaders, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor at the First Baptist Dallas, and Benedict XVI, now the pope emeritus, also are featured on billboards.

Jeffress' billboard includes a quote the pastor said during a 2008 sermon titled, "Gay Is Not OK." "What they [homosexuals] do is filthy," reads the billboard. Under the quote is the phrase "Go Godless Instead" and a rainbow flag, a symbol of gay rights.

This will be the only ad placed in Dallas, featured in a busy stretch of Interstate 30 and only a few miles from Jeffress' large church.

The First Baptist Church of Dallas is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jeffress, who has been in its pulpit since 2007, is no stranger to controversy, including comments about Judiasm and Catholicism. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington in October 2011, Jeffress told reporters he believed Mormonism was a cult, expressing a personal position and one held by his denomination. The move was seen as a particular slight to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a lifelong Mormon.

The billboard featuring Benedict XVI, who stepped down Thursday, cites a New York Times article entitled, "Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys." "The Church Protected Priests Who Abused Children," reads the billboard.

Silverman says the group plans to spend $25,000 on the billboards, which will go up on Monday and remain up for the rest of March.

"Everyone should be allowed to profess their faith, of course, but that does not shield them from criticism," Silverman wrote. "Everyone has the responsibility to lead moral lives, and 'It's my religion' is not an excuse for bigotry or immorality."

Silverman continued: "Some Americans seem to think that bigotry in the name of religion is somehow permissible. It is not. We hope that the believers of Austin place anti-atheist bigotry in the same category as anti-Semitism or racism - a relic of the past that needs to be jettisoned for all the right reasons."

Six of the billboards will be dispersed around the Austin area, with four placed on high traffic freeways.

This is not the first time American Atheists has used billboards to get its message out.

Last March, the group targeted Muslims and Jews with billboards that called God a "myth" in both Arabic and Hebrew.

In November 2010, the same group posted a billboard around the holiday season that read, "You KNOW it's a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON."

Silverman, who has been criticized for this in-your-face atheism, has long defended the tactic, saying that the confrontation is meant to "grow the cause and benefit the country."

"That's why companies buy billboards - to get attention," Silverman wrote.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope • Rick Santorum • Sarah Palin

soundoff (3,513 Responses)
  1. 12ax7

    I can't believe this. I all of the pages posted here, and also read when i last posted yesterday and i noticed the time indicated by some Atheists posts. Tom Tom and Bootyfunk and their followers haven't even slept all night. They posted from yesterday afternoon thru all evening and all night and then going thru this morning. It clearly proves that these Atheists have no life and no job. Oh and by the way i'm posting from my work. I have to work for a living Atheists, which obviously you people are too lazy to do the same. Nice try Atheists in trying to turn believers into non-believers, no one will listen to you since you just don't have a job and probably be living of your parents support or are being supported by the State.

    March 4, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • midwest rail

      Yesterday was Sunday, genius. Did you work yesterday ?

      March 4, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • LOL!

      posting while at work is stealing, guess you don't understand the bible at all. Yet here you are judging others what a hypocrite.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:41 am |
    • sec

      someone doesn't understand time zones and thinks everyone sleeps and wakes up at the same time. that's cute.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • 12ax7

      No i don't work on Sunday, i'm talking about this morning. They posted continuously from yesterday afternoon thru the evening and all night and are still here this morning.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Pete

      "someone doesn't understand time zones and thinks everyone sleeps and wakes up at the same time"

      xtians think everything revolves around them.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • midwest rail

      It is 7:44 central time – I see none of their posts today in the "recent comments". Yesterday was Sunday. Do you expect that the jobs they have require them to work on Sunday merely because they are non-believers ?

      March 4, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • 12ax7

      Oh the Legion of Atheists morons comes to the rescue. Time zone my @ss, there's only an hour difference from where i'm at and where these low lifer Atheists are. And yes i'm posting from my job, you got a problem with that?

      March 4, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Steve

      Yo! moron, this is an entertainment blog. People can post all day long if they want too for entertainment. Don't like it, move on.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Steve

      "And yes i'm posting from my job, you got a problem with that?"

      Your employer is ok with you posting on an entertainment site while working? Really? This is in the job description they hired you for? Doubt it, you're stealing.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Aydin

      12ax7, On most of these sites late night posters can be anything from self-employed, students, retired folk, late shift workers who can't sleep, contractors who works intermittent schedules or, sometimes, unemployed. But there are a lot of reasons people have time to post at odd hours including just being on vacation or being home sick. You really don't know anyone's deal unless you know them. We all know now you're willing to post on internet sites on your employers time – if you were self-employed you would understand how schdeules vary.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • 12ax7


      I am the employer you imbecile.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Steve

      Sure you are. Even if you are, then your setting a really bad example for your employees and you better never fire them for surging the web at work, hypocrite.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Science

      Glad I never work with you !


      March 4, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Aydin


      "I am the employer you imbecile."

      If that's true then you're just a biased idiot because anyone who is self-employed knows that businesses have their own schedules and people take vacations. You really are making an ass of yourself.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • End Religion

      A few reasons why are religious people so stupid:
      – do not understand Sunday is a day off for many people
      – they feel it's honorable to post on hobby/interest blogs while at work
      – do not understand time zones and/or that web sites may be accessed 24/7 by international visitors
      – do not understand that even within a single time zone humans may have different sleep habits

      March 4, 2013 at 10:01 am |

      "End Religion

      A few reasons why are religious people so stupid"


      March 4, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • End Religion

      oops, forgot a word...

      March 4, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  2. Honey Badger Dont Care

    How is it an attack to simply put someone else's words on a billboard? Sounds like some people have a persecution complex.

    March 4, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Pete

      Some Christians just don't feel like they're on the right track unless they feel persecuted, which translates to provoking people until they speak out against them.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:37 am |
  3. SoldierOfConscience

    Stalin atheist
    Pot Pol atheist

    March 4, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • End Religion

      SOC idiot

      March 4, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Aydin

      Hitler Christian
      Idi Amin Muslim
      D.F. Malan (founder or apartheid SA) – Christian minister

      March 4, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • sam stone

      Stalin and Pol Pot......power hungry madmen

      SOC.....drama queen

      March 4, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Stalin – 5 years in a Russian orthodox seminary
      Pol Pot – 8 years in Catholic school

      March 4, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Either of those would do it, Doc Vestibule. Most people would be atheist after quite a bit less.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Stalin mustache
      HitIer mustache
      Pol pot facial hair

      Must be the mustache

      March 4, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • yo

      "End Religion SOC idiot"

      this is the loud mouth that despises namecalling

      March 4, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • yo

      "sam stone Stalin and Pol Pot......power hungry madmen SOC.....drama queen"

      sam is another loud mouth always crying he ain't treated fairly

      March 4, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • .

      You is a liar. Sam never complains about anything except lying Christians. As you can see, he's justified.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • sam stone

      yo.....you are a lying gash. point out ONCE where i have complained about not being treated fairly. just once, big mouth

      March 4, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • End Religion

      yo, feel free to suck the snotty end of my fuck stick.

      March 4, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Hitler

      "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."

      March 4, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Aydin


      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison"

      Hitler was a Christian – he just had very specific ideas about what that meant. And they weren't pretty.

      March 4, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Hitler

      "We follow not Christ, but Horst Wessel,
      Away with incense and Holy Water,
      The Church can go hang for all we care,
      The Swastika brings salvation on Earth. "

      March 4, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  4. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Do not donate any money to American Atheists. Tis just another "non-profit" using a cause as a front for a tax-free investment company.

    Said group's founder, Dave Silverman pays himself $100,000+ /yr out of about $500,000 in donations. Said group has an investment portfolio of over a million dollars. And Silverman pays no taxes on the interest, dividends or capital gains on these investments. (guidestar.org)

    In place of your donation, simply send the following to family and friends.

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’?Atheists' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.



    March 4, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • All the Gods are just Myths

      Reality. To be honest you sound a little creepy. Maybe you should lighten it up a little. I thought your supposed to believe in eternal happiness.

      March 4, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Reality

      Presenting the facts is creepy??

      March 4, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Iconoclast

      There is not a few weeks that goes by where American Atheists is not making news in its strong effort to affect change.

      March 4, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  5. Science

    Maybe next billboard should read

    Hey God why can't you get put of the soup bowl ?

    How Did Early Primordial Cells Evolve?


    Better education than the bible .

    March 4, 2013 at 5:08 am |
    • HarryGP

      Are you suggesting science made life? How did men make themselves? What is your point?

      1CR 1:27-29
      "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

      March 4, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Science

      Fact = Evolution =Truth


      March 4, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Science

      oops to early for post

      Should say..... get out of soup bowl.


      March 4, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  6. BeverlyNC

    Go after this hypocritical "Christian" Republicans. They are the ones who want to destroy Medicare, Social Security and leave Seniors with nothing. They are the ones who want to kill education and take away pre-K programs so ALL children start on an even level when they reach kindergarten. They are the ones who use racist, nasty comments about the poor on welfare and call them "takers" when in fact the Federal government spends 10 times more on corporate tax loopholes and "corporate welfare" in subsidies to oil companies, the sugar and corn industries and many others. Republicans teach "exclusion" which is the opposite of what Jesus taught. Jesus lived among the poor, the sick. the homeless and offered them hope, food, healing, and respect as human beings. Republicans are NOT "Christians". God would not know them. They more resemble the moneychangers in the Temple Jesus threw out for cheating the People an defling the House of God. It's no wonder the Republican Party is dying – they are self-destructing from their own hate and intolerance.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:16 am |
    • Aydin

      Beverly, you are right about the Republican misunderstanding of poverty. They try to justify this with a "self-help" economics that models reality less than their own self-interests. The only thing I don't agree with is that all kids are on the same footing as they enter kindergarten. Education starts much earlier and children’s skills and atti_tudes to learning already differ widely by the time they reach kindergarten. To improve quality of learning for all, parents need to be able to provide the best possible home environments for learning and mothers need full and appropriate prenatal care as well as appropriate nutrition and lifestyle options before pregnancy. Parents also need the rights to limit family size as they choose, so they can focus their attention on the number of children they can afford, not just financially but emotionally, to raise.

      March 4, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  7. Lost

    Zeitgeist. Join it!

    March 4, 2013 at 3:57 am |
    • lol??

      Are you talkin' some kind of "modern" marriage??

      March 4, 2013 at 4:04 am |
  8. Jesus is a Myth

    This is nice, but none of these politicians hold any public office right now, and most likely won't ever again. Start going after the loonies that are affecting public policy right now.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • lol??

      Always vote the "in" out. Anyone that wants to be a lifetime servant has to be scammin' the system.The indentured servants wouldn't have gone for that deal.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:58 am |
  9. aimas

    As an athiest, I get tired of seeing the billboards where I live for the churches or that play on the milk commericial theme ("got faith?"). I'm glad that an organization is willing to show the hypocrisy of the moral church. WIll this convince people? Maybe, probaby not. Will it create thought and controversy? I think the number of comments shows that.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:51 am |
    • lol??

      1) What's a moral church??
      2) Why do you prefer an immoral church??
      3) Got answers??

      March 4, 2013 at 3:54 am |
  10. Kona

    Cuz Repulicans are stupid and hate smart people who don't believe in the Great Sky Daddy!

    March 4, 2013 at 3:47 am |
    • lol??

      You have no worries about bein' hated. Relax.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • .

      So lol?? admits she hates. What a good little Christian she isn't.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  11. JJ

    It's about time atheists opened fire straight at these hypocrites.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • lol??

      What are you, some kind of hypercritic??

      March 4, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • .

      No, we leave that job to you, lol??, since you're so...um..."good" at it.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  12. Pablums

    ... has CNN.com become the official mouthpiece for David Silverman's organization? Do a quick search and see how many times CNN.com has run articles about this guy, and atheism in general.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:28 am |
    • All the Gods are just Myths

      Wow Pablums. I guess we can't pull the wool over your eyes. You figured it out. Yes there is a conspiracy against you theists that us atheist collaborated with CNN. I'm sorry you got us on that one. We were having so much fun.

      March 4, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • End Religion

      Pablum must have somehow missed the 25 Pope articles in a row.

      March 4, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  13. zedd

    oh Zeus! oh Pluto! i pray that you will burn the filthy christians in the fire of hades.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • lol??

      Ze use has some oddball ideas 'bout s*e*x*.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:44 am |
    • .

      Which lol?? uses at her job at the Bunny Ranch.

      March 4, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  14. SisterChromatid

    I'm sure religion has done some good, but that doesn't make me think it's true. Scientology has supposedly helped lots of people get off drugs– that doesn't make it true! Some of the very nicest people I know are Muslims; that doesn't make their beliefs true. I care about what is true. There is no evidence that consciousness of any sort can exist without a brain. If there was such evidence, scientists would be testing it to find out more.

    Unless or until there is such evidence, all believers in the supernatural are in the same boat as far as the truth is concerned.

    March 4, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Pablums

      faith defies evidence... that's kind of the whole point...

      March 4, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • lol??

      The race walked off the same boat. Thanks for the reminder.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  15. Bootyfunk

    Atheists fighting the good fight against ignorance and h.omophobia. Yay!!!

    March 4, 2013 at 2:22 am |
    • lol??

      You sound ignorant, Bible bigot.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:48 am |
    • .

      What's the matter, lollsabout? Slow noght on the corner?

      March 4, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  16. whatgod?

    Nice billboards. There have been studies concluding that religious people have lower IQs. Religion probably gets in the way of humanity's progress on all fronts. To quote Einstein:
    "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
    Yep, religion is a crutch for the weak.

    March 4, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • All the Gods are just Myths

      It's no wonder that we have so many dangerous cults . The smart con men (or woman). Saw an oppurtunity with all the money the Churches ware generating with their crazy BS. They wanted a piece of it to. I remember Christopher Hitchens once said " all you need to do is get someone to call you reverend before your name and you can get away with anything"

      March 4, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • NClaw441

      whatgod?– I don't know about your statistics on the intelligence of Christians as a whole, maybe they are right. However, there are some very intelligent people who are Christians, whose intelligence you could not question. Is the intelligence level of the believer your basis for determining whether there is a God or not? It seems to me that whether God exists or not is a question not dependent on what people, intelligent or not, believe. He either exists or He does not. If a stupid person believes the sky is blue, does that make it any less true, or any more true if a smart person believes it, or if a poll supports the "theory" of a blue sky?

      March 4, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Aydin

      NClaw441, I'm an atheist and I agree. Yes, on average atheists register higher IQs but there's a lot more going on, including a lot of dumb atheists and a lot of smart religious folk. There is a role for pointing out the higher education and IQ of atheists, such as when Christians wrongly claim the opposite or when discussing analytic skills and education, but is not, in itself, an argument for atheism.

      March 4, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  17. Clint

    "would" "should", doesn't matter, because they didn't. We shouldn't either.

    March 4, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  18. Think for yourself

    All religions are mind control cults.

    March 4, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • Sara

      They should take the $25,000 and spend it to help the poor, feed the hungry, or invest in education. What a waste of money to promote absence of belief.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      promoting absence of belief = thinking for yourself

      they are attempting to deprogram people in a cult - christianity. it's not wasteful at all to teach people they can rely on themselves instead of an invisible sky fairy. but then again, i'm pro cognitive thinking.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Sara: Tell that same thing to all the churches that do the same thing or go door to door or stand on street corners.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • End Religion

      Sara, probably would have donated it if we didn't have to constantly fight against religion's encroachment into government.

      March 4, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • dobie

      all atheists are lying pieces of crap

      March 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  19. 1inchpunch

    As God is diminished, so grows the government to replace Him.

    March 4, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • CommonSenseSam

      Now, replace the word "government" with the word "education" and you might be on to something.

      March 4, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • Travis

      Well said commonsense. Think of where we would be if mankind had embraced education instead of religion long ago.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • lol??

      Education and gubmint are joined at da hip. That's why either has a hard time walkin'.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • End Religion

      education and lolly aren't joined at all

      March 4, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  20. NewAtheismNotSoMuch

    @SisterChromatid it's true that Christians have had a sorted past and have blame to share... but there is no new found human perfection in atheism... which has no creed. Atheism is not a cure to the problems in the world. It will not end violence, or greed, or lead to greater compassion for our fellow humans... (e.g. Ayn Rand, Stalin, Pol Pot). It will carry with it the same imperfections any religion is capable of producing because imperfect men are involved.

    You point our Christian sins to push your biased agenda... but fail to take into account the good religion has done (which is substantial).

    March 4, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • skytag

      Atheism is not a cure for the world's problems, but neither is religion, and at least atheism doesn't make people stupid and teach them to reject facts, reason, and logic. If religion were going to solve the world's problems the world wouldn't have any problems.

      And by the way, the word is "sordid," not "sorted"

      March 4, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • CommonSenseSam

      If atheism has an agenda then it is to promote evidence-based free thinking.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • skytag

      Religion has done a lot of good, but not because there is a God. Religions accomplish good by encouraging people to be better members of society, cooperate to accomplish good things, and making people afraid to do bad things and not do good things.

      The problem is that since none of the divine or spiritual basis for them is true there is no divine influence keeping its people from doing bad things with good intentions. Nazi Germany was overwhelmingly Catholic, and while the Catholic church opposed Nazi policies, it and its nonexistent God were unable to counter the influence of Nazi propaganda.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:52 am |
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