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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
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(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. Orygun Duck

    In Rationality We Trust.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Vik100

      YOUR rationality??? sorry! I do not trust.

      September 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • G to the T

      Even better "Mind Your Business"

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  2. Charles

    Is in even necessary to extrapolate? Blacks don't have to live here. Gays don't have to live here. Neither do Jews. Or Muslims. Or Hispanics. Or Chinese. Or Irish. Or Italians. Or Scots, Germans, English. How far back shall we have to go before we run out of poor, tired, and downtrodden?

    September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      The Statue of Liberty was payback from the French for unpaid war debts. Then they make the POOR pay fer it!! The Lady is a Trojan seller. BBBBbwaaaaaaaaahahahahha

      September 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • Jericho

        Nice revisionist history, moron. Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaa

        September 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  3. Mark L.

    As if one more reason were necessary, Fox News proves why the BBC is way, way better.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      BBC are a bunch of champagne socialists.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  4. OnlyAMatterOfTime

    It was added in the 1950s. It doesnt belong. Religious freedom means religious freedom , for all. That phrase has to be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, and I am sure it will be soon, rightly so. Any christians who want to continue to say that the US is a christian country, and pull out their stupid "proof", all of which Ive read and it don't add up, THEY can leave the country, only too happy for u to go, go found your own christian country if you want, this country aint it. Hey, whatever you want, Muslims also want to live by religious-based law. Really, fine, go make it happen. But not in this country you won't. War first.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Vik100

      It's only been over 2,000 years of Christianity and according to Jesus himself.. The powers of evil will not overcome it!... It's only a matter of time for who?

      September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • 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 10:33 pm |
        • Vik100

          I am a Christian and believe wholeheartedly not because of what you or others think but because of my experience with God. It's a personal experience. Yet I'm not trying in the least to ask you to convert.. You on the other hand are trying to convince me to become an unbeliever.. Can you convince me not to love my father?? Can I convince you to reject your father?

          September 9, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
      • Dave

        Religion, probably the cause of most of the wars and killings for the last 2000 or so years.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Power and wealth are the causes of 99% of wars.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
      • OnlyAMatterOfTime

        Didnt mean to sound apocolyptic – To clarify – only a matter of time before that phrase is removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

        And JGGG – No establishment of religion – that means laws are not based on a religion, that MEANS Freedom from religion.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • Justin

        Jesus was NOT referring to the USA when he said that. Also, Jesus was not advocating for any kindom of man, he was referring to the kingdom of heaven.... "render unto Caeser what is Caeser's and unto God what is God's" ring a bell?

        September 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • JGGG

      There is a big difference between Freedom of Religion and Freedom from religion.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        But they are both interlinked.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Yes, free and unrestrained there's no limit to the harm religion might do.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Define free and unrestrained? Why shouldn't religions be free and unrestrained in a secular society?

          September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Because free and unrestrained relgion could bring an end to your secular society.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I don't see how.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
      • Greyhound37

        JGGG,
        Could you explain how you can have freedom of without freedom from?

        September 9, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      The US wasn't even a hunert years old and da socies were already attackin'.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Vic

      Christianity is not about Law, it is about Faith!

      September 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Arguing about a socie pledge is a diversionary tactic from the god of this wurld.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    aaahhh it's Monday.

    two of the Christians I spoke with yesterday argued and argued and finally thought ... and then realized the foolishness of their bronze age voodoo religion and became atheists. I can't tell you the joy that came from hearing them think for themselves and shake of the shackles that had bound them. little by little sanity is returning to the world.

    so much work to do but such a worthy cause. my goal is 2 again next Sunday.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Vik100

      LOL – somebody drowning in his own lies.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
      • Outer Banks

        Vik,
        I haven't yet seen you defend any statement you make. You just move on.

        You're scared and no fun!

        September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        truth. actually happened. I average 20 to 25 people a year rescued from the bubble and into the real world. 2 was a good day for me but on a sunday it's especially satisfying.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
        • boredofceleb

          Give us a try. Convince this audience with the same words and let's see if you can draw in a few more. Curious as to how you are so successful at reversing the dogmatic minds.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  6. Mark Peterson

    In 1953, when I was in the third grade, we pledged "one nation, indivisible..."; in 1954, when I was in the fourth grade, we pledged "one nation, under God, indivisible...".
    Did God insert that phrase during the summer vacation? Don't you think He would have come up with it a long time before 1954?

    September 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Vik100

      honestly.. you never left the 3rd grade.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • Observer

        Vik100,

        "Honestly"? You don't know what the word "honestly" means.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Justin

      It is funny how many "conservatives" think the pledge and our money both always referenced God. Many also think the founding fathers meant "All men are created equal"..... As they wrote that many held slaves, Native American men were not considered equal, and women were far from being able to vote at the time.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  7. Kenman

    Well, no wonder you have all the usual suspects attacking and mocking Christianity, and Fox, along with you on your "Belief" blog, since you're removing all the comments like my previous ones! Pathetic!

    September 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Do you realize that everybody at Fox is in on the joke? Murdoch made the most outrageously Christian conservative channel because he knew idiot fundies and easily offended liberals, which combined make up about 80% of the country, would lap it up. It's all an in-joke to make money. And it worked.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • Justin

        While at the same time having the Fox television channel which is totally offensive to the Fox news crowd.... The funniest thing was when "The Family Guy" show on fox television was being ripped on Fox News for making fun of a special needs child that said her Mom was the governor of Alaska. Murdoch plays both sides and profits either way.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  8. Doris

    "[If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope."

    – Thomas Jefferson

    September 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  9. Me

    "I'll believe in god when you give me enough proof."
    – Me

    September 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Vik100

      nobody is gonna give you anything.. you look for it yourself.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • OOO

        He isn't making any claim. There is nothing for him to prove.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        more hokey, greeting card sayings.
        like safety blankets for Christians.
        they can spit them out on demand.
        and somehow think that they proved a point.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        He'd be looking for a very long time seeing as what he's looking for doesn't exist.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
      • Observer

        Vik100,

        Christians have been looking for irrefutable PROOF of God's existence for thousands of years. So far: zip, nada, nothing, zilch, none, nill. Wishful thinking doesn't count.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • Vik100

          Christians have been looking??? YOu don't understand Christianity sir. True Christians are Christians because they have found Christ. Not everyone who claims to be Christian is one.. one clear example.. Obama.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
        • Observer

          Vik100,

          That's okay. I knew you couldn't prove God exists anyway.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Obama not a Christian? Vik100 knows things that only his Christ can know. Vik100 must be a Christian indeed.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • Vik100

          What? YOu want me to bring him down from Heaven for you??

          September 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
        • Vik100

          Observer: We call ourselves Christians because we FOLLOW the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity is a way of life not just a religion. Anyone claiming to be a Christian but not following Jesus teachings IS NOT a Christian.. simple as that. Obama claims to be a Christian but what he does goes against Christianity.. one simple example.. Promoting the slaughtering of innocent unborn babies... Totally and completely against the teachings of Jesus.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
        • Observer

          Vik100

          "What? YOu want me to bring him down from Heaven for you??"

          God could take less than FIVE SECONDS to prove he exists. A simple oral announcement to the whole world would do it, but asking God to take 5 seconds to save BILLIONS of souls is asking too much of him.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Observer

          Vik100,

          Abortion? Read a Bible someday. The word "abortion" is NOT in it. Keep fantasizing that it is there.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • OnlyAMatterOfTime

          vIK100 – Living a way of life according to teachings of Jesus is YOUR CHOICE here in America. Obama as president of America MUST support laws that honor the freedom of religion, meaning he MUST support laws without regard to what Jesus taught christians to do. Because many in this country do NOT abide by Jesjs's teachings. Obama has chosen to be president of this country and has found he can do that despite the choices his own family may make given their religion. This is as it should be. What do you not understand about this? Do you think no christian can be president of a secular country?

          September 9, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
        • Vik100

          Observer: Thou shall not kill!! Is that on the bible?

          September 9, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
        • Observer

          Vik100

          "Observer: Thou shall not kill!! Is that on the bible?"

          Yep. Actions speak louder than words. The Bible says that at one point God torturously killed EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby, and fetus on the face of the earth.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • dwl

      How can you show proof of "love"? It is not tangible

      September 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I may be mistaken, but loyalty oaths can't be required of Americans. Let the pledge fade away along with its subservience to an undefined God – the same God, I trust, that Americans are asked to trust in.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Vik100

      Atheist trying to explain faith.. WT...!

      September 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Loyalty oaths are like something out of a fascist or communist state.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  11. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    Could we stop all this quoting nonsense please? The Founding Fathers were as contradictory as the Bible itself.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      nothing is as contradictory as the bible itself

      September 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  12. Doris

    "If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England."

    – Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, while in London, 3 June 1772)

    September 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  13. Doris

    "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."

    – James Madison

    September 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  14. Dyslexic doG

    Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”

    ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

    September 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Vik100

      "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."

      Thomas Jefferson

      September 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Robert

        1802 January 1. (Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut). "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

        September 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • Observer

        Vik100,

        Thanks for quoting Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was not a Christian. He did believe in a different God, one that never sent a son to earth.

        Jefferson thought the Bible was full of so much nonsense that he edited it down to 50 pages.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
        • Vik100

          Thomas Jefferson
          3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

          "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."
          –Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

          September 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Torquemada

      Did Thomas Jefferson really write "then" when he meant "than"? Looks like a bogus quote to me.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  15. Mark in Atlanta

    Let's just stick with the Pledge as written without the 1960's addition of "under God." Do that, and everyone is cool. Except Texans, who seem to think they are doing the rest of us a favor by not seceding.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Alan

      So, what, no Mississippi?

      September 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  16. MrScott

    You want to be an atheist – fine. You want to be a Christian – that's fine to. You want to be gay – OK. Don't shove any of them down someone else's throat like the GLBT are trying to do. (what you do in the bedroom is your business and it should stay in the bedroom)

    September 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      And what one does in a church should remain there, too!

      September 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
      • Alan

        Good point.

        September 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • MrsScott

      but u don't do nothin' in the bedroom honey

      September 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        LOLOL

        September 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Mark in Atlanta

      You make it sound like someone wanting the same legal, social, and tax rights a straight person enjoys is forcing their organ down your gullet. I think those two things are not quite the same. Unless the LGBT community is suggesting that we add "vigorously gay" to the Pledge the way a bunch of southern bigots added "under God." I would be against that.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • M

      No, we atheists will be a strong voice against your bigotry and hatred.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Poor MrScott. Fairness and equality really must bother you. You're probably still mad that women and blacks get to vote.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      What they do in the bedroom is irrelevant to recognizing their right to enter into a civil contract.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • jsdfjsf

      You can't "want" to be gay, you just are or you aren't.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  17. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.”

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

    “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise…without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    1823 April 11. (Jefferson to John Adams). "The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."

    --Thomas Jefferson

    September 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • M

      Sounds a lot like Thomas Paine, but Mr. Paine was not as kind.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  18. Doris

    "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. "

    – Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785

    September 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  19. Doris

    "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history. "

    – John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816

    September 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Mark in Atlanta

      Good stuff, Doris.

      September 9, 2013 at 10:15 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.