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September 9th, 2013
03:29 PM ET

Fox News host: Atheists 'don't have to live here'

By Daniel BurkeCNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - Fox News pundit Dana Perino said she's "tired" of atheists attempting to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, adding, "if these people really don't like it, they don't have to live here."

The co-host of Fox's "The Five" was referring to a suit brought by the American Humanist Association in Massachusetts, where the state's Supreme Judicial Court heard a challenge to the pledge on Wednesday.

The group's executive director, Roy Speckhardt, called the suit "the first challenge of its kind," but Perino begged to differ.

Perino, who was White House press secretary for George W. Bush from 2007-2009, said she recalled working at the Justice Department in 2001 "and a lawsuit like this came through."

The former Bush spokeswoman added that "before the day had finished the United States Senate and the House of Representatives had both passed resolutions saying that they were for keeping ‘under God’ in the pledge."

"If these people don't like it, they don't have to live here," Perino added.

David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, called Perino's comments "bigotry."

"I, for one, am tired of those Christians, like Ms. Perino, who think that equality is somehow un-American," Silverman said. "If Ms. Perino doesn't like being only equal, it is she who will have to leave America to some other country that doesn't value religious liberty."

READ MORE: Famous Atheists and Their Beliefs 

In 2002, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with atheist Michael Newdow who argued that the words "under God" in the pledge amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. The Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

Congress added the words "under God" in 1954 amid the red scare over the Soviet Union. In November 2002, after the Newdow ruling, Congress passed a law reaffirming "under God" in the pledge.

Greg Gutfeld, another co-host on "The Five," continued the discussion after Perino, saying the Pledge of Allegiance "is not a prayer, it's a patriotic exercise. In a sense, it's basically saying: Thanks for giving us the freedom to be an atheist."

The Massachusetts case, which was brought by an unidentified family of a student at a school in suburban Boston, will be argued on the premise that the pledge violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.

READ MORE: Behold, the Six Types of Atheists

It is the first such case to be tried on the state level: All previous attempts have been argued in federal court on the grounds that "under God" was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state.

CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • News media • Schools • TV

soundoff (7,255 Responses)
  1. Dyslexic doG

    Jesus was just David Koresh 2000 years earlier. A sociopathic conman with a good story and lots of charisma. All this foolishness, without a shred of proof, has sprung up from there.

    utter, mind numbing nonsense.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Doris

      And Paul was the Joseph Smith of his day.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        well said!!!

        September 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Kevin

      No, I think he was a socialist rabble-rouser humanist trying to obtain rights for the oppressed in his society. The religious and political powers didn't appreciate that none too much, so they killed him in the most brutal way possible as an example, to keep control of the masses. That's right, Jesus was a socialist. It's weird to me that the most fervent Christians are those who rally AGAINST the religion's stated values of love, compassion, and sharing. I'm so glad to have stepped away from the religious hypocracy to become an atheist.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  2. crappygovernment

    Tolerance of everything = amorality = not Christianity, you airheads!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      So you want a theocracy during the crusades type government?

      September 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  3. Relictus

    Christian Conservatives ... scoring more points for Atheism every day!
    Thank you for the bigotry of your followers, oh Lord!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Rett

      You keeping score?

      September 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  4. Required

    Religious types and militant Athiests alike: Apatheism. Seriously, try it, you'll love it.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Relictus

      I'm lovin' it =)

      September 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    the Christian Taliban has spoken ... thank you FOX News for the broadcast.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  6. Alan

    Why doesn't she leave? She is the one who is too weak to deal with a differing opinion.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  7. JT

    This is nonsense. If you don't like it, don't say it!!! In MN, students are not punished for not saying the pledge. They have the right to choose NOT to say it. I bet there are a lot more people who WANT it to be in there than do not...

    September 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • G to the T

      Popularity is irrelevant. It's a matter of equal representation. The pre 1950's version was more inclusive so it just makes sense to go back (not take away) to the original language. You may not believe it, but we are trying to PROTECT religious liberty, not destroy it.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  8. crappygovernment

    Americans are sick of all the Anti-Church, anti-America, anti-traditional family New World Order crowd! Find another country, comrades! Your days are numbered in the USA. Why tolerate anything if Tebow won't be tolerated?

    September 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Tanker

      Special Olympics Bronze Medal Winner.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      I'm not a communist foolish one. I am a full blooded United States citizen and have always been one since my family arrived in the 1880s

      September 9, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  9. Mike C

    So, when Christians added the phrase because they were feeling insecure, that was okay. But when atheists try to restore the pledge to its original form, they "don't have to live here". That's not hypocritical at all... I was hoping Perino was the one person in the Bush staff that wasn't an idiot. I guess I was wrong there. Well, what can one expect from a bunch of people who believe 2000 year old fairy tales are true? Hypocrisy is the probably the least of their character flaws.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  10. Keith

    Under God, Under Santa Clause, Under the Tooth Fairy, it's all the same. I'm an atheist and couldn't care less. BTW, as a 30-year active duty veteran, I think I'll stay in this country. About what you'd expect from a "former Bush spokesperson".

    September 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      thanks for your service Keith!

      September 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
      • tony

        Aye Aye

        September 10, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  11. noillusion

    Your religions are not for mature people, they are childish. I'd love to leave this place.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  12. Atheist, me?

    Where in the Bible was it forbidden
    for cousins to marry and in which
    country are cousins forbidden to
    marry that you wud accuse Noah’s
    family of incest!
    Another biblical blunder, Observer!
    It takes time to understand the
    story. Give yourself time!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Adam and Eve had 2 sons ... you work out where the rest of us came from ...

      September 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
      • Mike C

        They had daughters too, but they were 'not worth mentioning' since women were considered property by those 'wise' old tales. But that doesn't make the story any less gross, does it?

        September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  13. Tanker

    The religious love America so much they are willing to destroy the Bill of Rights to keep it perfect!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • James Madison

      Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
      • Tanker

        The purpose of the seperation of Church and State was to protect the Church from the State.

        Now, we are trying to protect the State from the Church...

        September 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
        • G to the T

          Yup – it has to work both ways or it's meaningless for everyone.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "The purpose of the seperation of Church and State was to protect the Church from the State"

          Only for minority churches. The bigger problem was the majority churches. The primary reason for the wall of separation was (and is) to prevent citizens being forced to be part of a church that they don't want to belong to – and to prevent them from being taxed to support religious purposes.

          Originally in colonies like Virginia and Massachusetts, there was no separation of church and state. The Congregational church in Massachusetts was not disestablished until 1833.

          September 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    Dana Perino. Card carrying member of the Christian Taliban.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  15. crappygovernment

    What about an international homeland for atheists and gay supremacists so that they won't ruin the laws of other countries?

    September 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      separation of church and state you tool!

      September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        If the majority doesn't want it it is tyranny, Trotsky!

        September 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          HAHAHAHAHA!!! You are a fool. We have laws put into place to insure ALL have the rights of others, that includes minorities. WE AREN'T A THEOCRACY OR DICTATORSHIP.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          Gay supremacy, atheism and multiculturalism = all parts of Communism, you airheads!

          September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          Let's put it to a national referendum vote to see! If 10% or less boss around 90% we are slaves to an oligarchy!

          September 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          crappygovernment you will lose just like the conservatives lost when Obama became President. The minorities have a voice just like everyone else and when did it become bossing people around when they are fighting FOR THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS. You must hate the fact that African Americans gained the right to vote did you and other minority groups gained the right to vote in the 50s and 60s huh?

          September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          Beggars can't be choosers! America will collapse at its current pace and a massive race war will break out! Good luck!

          September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          crappygovernment study your history better you fool. Many Atheists fled communist countries because they disagreed with that political party. Study your history you fool.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          Tebowhating communists slaughtered tens of millions of Christians in their Russian gulags. Now their inbred red diaper babies are trying their schemes on Tebow, as America's foremost Christian!

          September 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          Are you admitting to be a racist troll crappygovernment?

          September 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
        • G to the T

          OMG – you do realize we have a Bill of Rights to specifically protect minorities? The founders knew that true democracy (the kind you're espousing) boiled down to "mob rule". Some mechanism was needed to ensure people like you weren't able to do just what you are hoping will happen! Now which of us is acting "un-american"?

          September 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          Let's vote on it in a referendum, Trostky!

          September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      What you don't like our secular government? Why don't you move to the Vatican then

      September 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • M

      Hmmm. "international homeland for atheists and gay supremacists." Religious bigotry does not serve you well if you are trying to persuade, unless you're also KKK.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        Take the hint that you aren't wanted in America! We hate getting bossed around by defective red diaper babies, comrade!

        September 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
        • M

          Wow. Don't you get tired of carrying all of that hate? I mean, that must take a lot of energy. How is it that my sense of humanity through atheism is stronger than your hate through your religion?

          September 9, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
        • crappygovernment

          tolerance of everything = amorality

          September 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Mike C

      You've got a lot in common with King George III from 18th century England? Remember what happened to him? Hint: the people who left his country to find freedom from prejudice eventually kicked his ass and collapsed his empire, eventually becoming the greatest country on earth, until small-minded idiots took over the government, started two ridiculous wars, and crashed the economy. That's probably not the best side to be on...

      September 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  16. brad1001

    At least in America you are free to believe or not believe. Why isn't that enough?

    September 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • noillusion

      Because beliefs have no validity; they're just beliefs. Beliefs are not progressive.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  17. Hooligan

    what an arrogant and elitest thing to say.

    And for the record, YOU don't have to live here either.

    Forcing impressionable children to acknowledge a deity in PUBLIC SCHOOL infringes on the separation of church and state.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • M

      Indeed it does.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!!!

      September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  18. getalife

    Next thing you know Athiest will want their own national holiday! Oh wait, they already have one: April 1st!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • M

      No, we don't need a holiday because we enjoy the reality of every day.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      More trollish comments. Remember the one holiday we have called the 4th of July? Guess what? That is when I celebrate my freedom by getting rid of the law that shows favoritism toward one religion only.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
      • getalife

        And what religion would that be? When I was in school a Christian student couldn't bring in a Bible or pray before lunch, but a fellow student who happened to be Muslam was allowed to pray at the same time everyday. A student who was an Athiest was allowed to say whatever she wanted against religions. And if anyone said anything about, they were a bigot. Seem fair?

        September 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          Getalife you know what law it is you fool. Now you are just spouting random stuff to avoid the topic at hand.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          that memory exists only inside your head ... because it never happened. Make up a better lie next time.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
      • getalife

        Yeah ok, freedom, but you know what? Students weren't required to say the pledge! Some did, some didn't. Some said every word, and some left something out. I don't think it's an issue.

        September 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          Then get rid of the law. That simple.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      did you think that one up all by yourself? Oh well done!

      September 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Illinois SA

      Yes, we fools who believe in science, evolution and find it a little farfetched that a virgin got pregnant, some guy put 2 of every animal on a boat he built himself, someone walked on water, died, came back to life only to fly up into the sky after showing himself and someone else parted an entire sea...WE are the fools? Mmmm hmmm.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  19. kaligaclark

    Since 'under god' was NEVER in the original pledge of allegiance, then I say let those that want tarnish the original move! If they had wanted 'under god' in the original they would have WRITTEN it that way!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Illinois SA

      Shhh...the blind followers don't like little facts like that.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  20. devin

    Ah the atheists, that minuscule but vocal 2% of the world's population.

    September 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • niknak

      Ah the believer, those who still cling onto their sky fairy myth, even though they don't have a shred of proof, even after 2000 years.

      September 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
      • Rett

        What proof do you want?

        September 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
        • M

          I'll be honest .... a very small miracle would do. Say, pick up a grain of sand on my kitchen floor and levitate to the counter top. I mean, if God is all powerful, then this tiny use of power would instantly win me over.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          I say open up the ocean like Moses did would be sufficient.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
        • Doris

          You know if he could make a Rye Manhattan appear next to me here (two cherries, chilled martini glass, straight up) within the next ten seconds then you've got a new customer.

          September 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          any proof. any proof!!!

          that's what annoys atheists. that you Christians believe this fanciful story with 0% proof and then seem shocked that any rational person would doubt your fairy tale.

          it would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic!

          September 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • Rett

          Whew, i struck a nerve.....jesusnsaid if one came back from the dead some would not believe. Here is a question for the science folks out there. Does anything that does not have mass or matter exist? Is science equped to prove the existence of something that has no physical properties? does a christians evidence for their belief have to match your standard for it to be true? You are at the same loss to disprove God as anyone else is to prove his existence.

          September 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • tony

      Who are most of the 1% who own and rule our lives. You don't really believe people who's wealth wouldn't pass through a 1000 times larger eye of the needle, care about "faith" do you

      September 9, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
      • Dippy

        Whose, not who's.

        September 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
        • tony

          Yup! I've been away from grammar school too long. 🙁

          September 10, 2013 at 12:02 am |
        • RC

          Awww-look WHO'S back. SHUT UP!!

          September 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Inquiry and verification in the mindset of the believer - how does it work?

      Let's peek inside and take a look:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c

      September 9, 2013 at 9:32 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.