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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. liz

    Yes actual I do have to live here I'm a Brooklyn girl born and raised everything I know and love including my country is here. So I suggest Dana you just suck it up because us atheist are HERE to stay !

    September 10, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • j

      Well, as long as you're here, let's go ahead and say the pledge of allegiance together....1, 2, 3, I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, Under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all....AMEN!!!!

      September 10, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  2. sick of christian phonies

    "Love it or leave it" has been a mantra of the mindless right for decades. No further thought process necessary, just say it, or print it on your shirt or bumper sticker.
    I notice she offered no legal rebuttal or statement that may advance the position of her side- just her hot air.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:23 am |
  3. Kev

    Dana is sooooo Hot!!!! She can say what ever she likes. I wish she would wear a bikini on the show.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • Leif

      Hot on the outside, nuclear winter on the inside.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:25 am |
  4. WASP

    let's have PERINO prove her "god" as elijah did? if she fails, then we get to off her as elijah did the the followers of BAAL.

    1 KINGS 18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
    37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
    38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
    39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
    40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:12 am |
  5. Leif

    And Fox News has just demonstrated its bias against atheists, if that wasn't already obvious.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • saggyroy

      It may be biased, but it is fair and balanced.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:13 am |
      • WASP

        @saggy: please explain how you can be BIAS and FAIR?

        ummmmm i don't think those words fit in the same sentence. :p

        September 10, 2013 at 6:16 am |
        • Leif

          He might have been being sarcastic.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:18 am |
        • WASP

          that's why i hate comps, never can tell unless they point it out.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:35 am |
  6. Frank

    As an Atheist, I can't understand why Atheists are like this. What power do words have over you if you don't believe? To me it's a simple matter of History. This country was founded by Christians, so our Money has "In God We Trust", our pledge has "One Nation under God" and our Oath in court is to "tell the whole truth so help me God". If I start a NEW religion and we worship STOP signs, you gonna have them all changed to "Halt" signs because you don't believe? If you don't believe, it should hold no power over you. The only time I have issue with Christians is when they try and ram their beliefs down my throat. Get over it....it's just a phrase.....

    September 10, 2013 at 6:06 am |
    • saggyroy

      But you also have to pay attention to faith based things that shape and influence public policy. Education, war, who can marry who etc. I bet the next nuclear war won't be started by an atheist ideology, but by some country "under god(s)".

      September 10, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • bulkyrhiane

      Ironically, both of you has the same (valid) points. Saggy was right, we should "pay attention to faith based things that shape and influence public policy". But I also agree with Frank, "it's just a phrase" stop being militant.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • CafeenMan

      "Rammed down your throat"??? That is rich. Atheists are not forcing you to believe anything you don't want to. It's Christians trying to legislate their beliefs unto everyone by inserting nonsense into schools and into laws. You think you can punch people and when they punch you back they were at fault and you're the victim.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:12 am |
      • milkymaid

        cafeen man...take a remdial class in basic reading comprehension, ASAP! You're lack of such skill is astounding.

        September 10, 2013 at 7:37 am |
        • milkymaid

          Your*

          September 10, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  7. Leif

    Why not replace the phrase "under god" with "under the universe"? Everybody believes that the universe exists and that it is bigger than the planet Earth. Theologians believe that god is omnipresent...another way to say that god is the universe.

    September 10, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • WASP

      I prefer replacing it with........................que music " UNDER THE SEA" XD
      ROFLMFAO!

      September 10, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • G to the T

      You are confusing omnipresence with pantheism. Most christians don't believe god is the universe, they believe he created it (and is therefore separate from it).

      September 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    christians sure hate facts.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:56 am |
  9. HotAirAce

    I don't have a problem with references to some god, provided its existence is proven (hasn't been done so far) or "alleged god" is used.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  10. Tom LI

    if this nation isnt Xtian enough, Perino can go find one that is.

    and how weak is that old cliche?

    September 10, 2013 at 5:40 am |
  11. Rock-N-Roll

    Instead of " Under God " make it " Surrounded by God " .The last has double meaning,and no escape either way taken. 🙂

    September 10, 2013 at 5:28 am |
    • Mirosal

      either way, it would still imply that there IS a god and our government endorses that belief. The phrase wasn't added until 1954 (thanks Joe McCarthy R-WI). So up until that point, we weren't under "god"? And now we are?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:44 am |
  12. Nicholas

    This is just the kind of terribly ignorant outbursts one comes to expect of a news network that is widely known for destroying the rules of journalism by stating their personal agendas, an creating shows on the basis of just that. Fox news has butchered journalists good names much like they are now doing by making the assumption that genuine examples of Atheism are the ones that are calling for these changes. They are not. While true Atheists do hold the view that there is no higher existence, they realize respecting other's religious views and choices is only realistic if they are to expect coexistence and respect for their own rights. That is what actual Atheism is about (though not necessarily how it is defined). What are cited in these stories are not Atheists, they are immature children (of all ages) who fail miserably at trying to be smarter than the entire world. I personally am not an atheist, but I have several friends who are (whose beliefs I respect and who return the favor to mine). Every religion and culture on earth has idiots that do and call for stupid things like this. Christians, Islamics, Muslims, Judaist, every other and the obvious Atheism. But thank God or not that we have "reporters" like those on Fox to help create more stereotypes and assumptions detrimental to humanity.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:19 am |
  13. ElmerGantry

    And a false equivalentcy fallacy.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Uggggh, this was meant for a earlier comment.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:03 am |
  14. Saudis own Fox News

    Ms. Perino should leave the U.S. and take that Saudi owned ( fox) channel with her!

    September 10, 2013 at 4:59 am |
  15. INGODWETRUST

    Kind of ironic that most Atheists are liberals too. HHHMMM Not too hard to figure this group out. Believe what you want or dont believe what you want BUT STOP SHOVING YOUR NON BELIEFS/ BELIEFS DOWN EVERYONE ELSES THROAT. If that is your charter behind your decision to non believe then thats fine but keep it to yourself. Are you that arrogant that you think believers acutally care what you have to say??? Get over yourselves. Oh wait.... That is what your NON belief system is all about -YOU. That sucks. I'd rather believe in something that may not exist than to spend my life trying to bring other people down. So far that is all i have read on this blog which is dominated by atheists. I bet you all believe that YOUR president is doing a bang up job too. Living in denial has consequences. It's not a get out jail free card.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:52 am |
    • Flappy

      I get tired of Atheists ringing my doorbell on Saturday morning and shoving their beliefs down my throat. Oh wait thats not Atheists that's Christians.

      However I do agree with you that living in denial does have consequences.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:18 am |
      • NooYawkah

        Those are Jehovah's Witnesses who are a religion unto themselves. I don't agree with them but I can easily send them on their way or not answer the door. One, or at most, two rings of the doorbell and they're gone. I don't need to sue them to get rid of them. Grow up, complainers.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:10 am |
        • WASP

          @NOO: however i find it so much more fun to turn my waterhose on them............................especially in the winter. 🙂

          that normally gets them running.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • TheBob

      Typical religious m0r0n who is too stupid and brainwashed to realize that it's the believers who shove their god down everyone's throat.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:28 am |
      • skytag

        The fact that he had to take a swipe at liberals tells me he's just another brainwashed right-wing hater. He obviously hates liberals and atheists, probably gays and more than likely isn't fond of minorities.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:44 am |
    • skytag

      Is that kind of animosity what your belief in God has done for you? More proof there is no god.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:39 am |
    • Anita

      Actually I am atheist and Republican (leaning libertarian though).

      September 10, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Paul Graff

      How exactly are atheists shoving their non-belief down your throat? If anything it is Christians like Ms. Perino with their incessant whining about non-existent "wars on Christmas" whenever some business instructs its employees to wish their customers happy holidays who are attempting to shove their beliefs down someone else's throat. And that's not to mention school prayer or the posting of the Ten Commandments on public property. Every time someone dares to question the propriety of school-led prayer or the posting of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of a courthouse, Christians start making their whine.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:30 am |
  16. Dave

    I like how the one lady at the end makes the comment that the athiests are trying to inflict their beliefs on others. Does anyone else see the irony in that statement? Requirering 'under god' is in fact inflicting christian beliefs on those that may not be christian. Why do christians seem to believe that my rights end where their faith begins?

    September 10, 2013 at 4:45 am |
    • skytag

      It's called being self-absorbed.

      It's kind of like having a neighbor who plays loud music at two o'clock in the morning and when you ask him to turn it down he claims you're trying to infringe on his rights.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:09 am |
      • G to the T

        EXACTLY!!!!

        September 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  17. skytag

    My views tend to fall pretty much in moderate land, and I've been an independent since I left the Republican party. That said, I find on a personal level I like liberals better than I like what passes for a "conservative" in America today.

    At the moment I'm thinking of the fact that whenever I hear someone say, "If you don't like __ you don't have to live here" it's always someone on the right. I never hear liberals talk that way. Atheists, liberals, people who support universal health care, people who support gay marriage, even blacks, they can all leave the country so folks on the fight can finally love America.

    They're always professing their love for America, but they really don't. They love some sanitized version of America that doesn't exist. I don't know exactly what the America they love is like. Obviously it doesn't have liberals in it. Maybe it's like 1950s America. Maybe it doesn't have blacks or Muslims or poor people or gays in it. Maybe everyone in it pays income tax and no one is on food stamps. Maybe everyone has an above average IQ, they're all Christians and they all have "good jobs." Maybe in the America they love Democrats have made all the mistakes, Republicans have never made a mistake, and Republicans win all the elections.

    Whatever characterizes the America they love, the point is that it's not this America, the America where we have people of all political persuasions, where we have smart people and dumb people, lazy people and industrious people, liberals and conservatives, straight people and gay people, atheists and Muslims. This America, the real America, an America where businesses need to be regulated, we need to pay taxes to fund government and liberals, gay people, and atheists aren't going anywhere, is not all to their liking.

    The sad thing is that in the end they're just dooming themselves to a life of frustration because they'll never be able to get the real America to be like the one they need to be happy.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  18. SouthernFriedInfidel

    Indeed, us atheists do have a choice of what country to live in... as do blacks, women, Gays, sick people, poor people and any other group that the GOP doesn't like to relate with. But is inviting us to leave and check out the advantages of life across the borders really a smart move?

    September 10, 2013 at 4:15 am |
    • Mopper

      Well, where would you go anyways. Even Canada has Old Testament versus etched on the walls of its Parliament Buildings, and Heaven forbid, the G word is mentioned in their National anthem.The Mexicans are Catholics and probably have crucifixes universally flaunted , Why every where you look poor oppressed atheist darlings would be offended. Imagine having to go thru life offended. Perhaps what atheists (whining ones that is) should do is escape their field of gravity and see study about people who had endured real oppression. Ie 20th Century Blacks, Jew and non-Muslims in Muslim lands etc..

      September 10, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  19. FFOGHORN

    Perhaps we should print "The World Is Flat" on our currency.

    Why are Republicans so angry and nasty? They all need a good therapist or a candy bar or something. Sheesh!!!

    September 10, 2013 at 4:00 am |
  20. Mel Stricker

    I am NOT an atheist and I do not see why 'Under God' should be in the Pledge since it was not originally there.

    How about changing the National Anthem.

    Lets see, We can change 'Oh say can you see,by the Dawn's early light' to ' Oh say can you see by the back light of my smartphone'. Let's just bring that anthem up to day.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • Michael

      You get the "Best Comment of the Day" award, as far as I am concerned.

      September 10, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • Seth

      Awesome comment!!

      September 10, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • saggyroy

      "...by the drones early light...."

      September 10, 2013 at 6:08 am |
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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.