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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. 3monkies

    Everybody on this panel disgusts me… Do they even understand how hypocritical the things they're saying are?

    September 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  2. Heath

    "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."

    September 10, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • t

      .....very nice Heathrow..............Now, let's see you do something original,......like a story about Donald Trump.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  3. Michael

    The first thing men must understand is that it is a lie that all men are equal .
    All men are created equal . This does not make them equal . I am not equal with a line backer or a highly advanced Dr.
    And that's ok.
    A non believer is not the same as a believer.
    We don't perceive the world the same
    A believer is in the world not of the world .
    A non believer is of the world meaning leaving God out of the equation .
    We are not the same are brains are not the same. We answer to a higher authority you answer to your own ego.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Mark

      Prove your higher authority exists and is not just a figment of
      your imagination.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • G to the T

      That's fine – but question is which government best represents all the people in our country?

      A) A government that is decidedly christian in disposition or B) one that isn't disposed to any religion at all?

      Considering the wide differences in beliefs and non-beliefs, I would say that B is the best option for everyone involved.

      September 11, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  4. Gotta Luv Me

    Kill yourself or move, atheists!

    September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Mo

      I agree..... Praise ALLAH!

      September 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
      • Informed

        Praise Muhammad, the only true prophet of god.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  5. Informed

    Fox News – not surprising at all coming from these blowhards. Perhaps it is Perino who would feel more comfortable moving to a country more in line with her way of thinking, say Saudi Arabia or perhaps Iran, where they openly encourage non-believers to leave. Saudi Arabia even has a law that states that non-religious (i.e.Muslim) people are not even allowed into Mecca! Go Perino!

    September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  6. Gotta Luv Me

    Atheists commit suicide more than religious people, why try to bother removing "under God" with the pledge?

    September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • csorp001

      HAAHAHAAAHHAAAA....oh, you're serious...my bad.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Kevin Collins

      Actually, you're completely wrong on that - more religious people than atheists commit suicide because they think they'll be "going to a better place." By the way, are you saying you have no problem with atheists committing suicide? My, how Christian of you!

      September 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  7. Donnie the Lion

    Keep up the good work, Fox....alienating another demographic whose size is drastically underestimated.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  8. atheists KEEP OUT!

    FYI..there are plenty inhabited places in Canada.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Feel free to move there, then. We Americans are staying right here.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • SouthernCelt

        They already did once. They were called Tories and went to New Brunswick or so their mural says.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Naaah, too cold, eh? 🙂

      September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  9. thc

    i pledge allegiance to the flag of the federal states of america to the democracy for which it stands on nation under god without liberty and injustice for all

    September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Informed

      You do realize the 'under god' phrase was added not out of respect of a deity but to catch communists. Read up on history.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:03 am |
      • Mark

        If that's the case why the argument? What's the big deal
        about communism now?

        September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
        • SouthernCelt

          China?

          September 10, 2013 at 9:09 am |
        • Mark

          What about China? We do so much business with them we
          ignore their politics. Who in this country is worried about
          the communism of China right now?

          September 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • Informed

          The pledge did not originally have the phrase in it, and the pledge should be returned to its original (intended) state.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  10. Gotta Luv Me

    Every single atheist is demon possessed.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Informed

      What a silly comment. Grow up. Atheists don't believe in silly fairy tales about monsters and talking snakes and neither should anyone over the age of 12. Grow up seriously or grow some.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  11. 3olivez3

    I agree with the the comments in this video. Maybe I should watch Fox more often... You whiners who are 'offended' by "God" being in the pledge and on our currency, feel free to move.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      THose that want to live in a theocracy can move too. I hear Iran is taking applications.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Heath

        We don't live in a Theocracy, your comment is stupid.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
        • Informed

          The comment was valid. Your response was poorly thought out and uninformed.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • Heath

          Okay, since you said so.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Would you want "Under Allah" on the pledge and on our currancy?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Heath

        It isn't.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
        • Informed

          It may one day.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
        • Heath

          Highly unlikely.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • G to the T

          Not the point Heath (and I'm pretty sure you know it).

          September 11, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Informed

      The voice of the religious right – we are all equal, except those who don't toe the line. Then you are an outcast. How christian of you. Not surprising though.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
      • Heath

        I didn't claim to be a Christian.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • sparky

      the same was said before "God" was on our currency or in the pledge genius

      September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  12. Alf

    They are all Foxtremists. If you don't do as I say, leave the country. Freedom of speech as long as you thump the bible while doing so. The funny thing is, the right to free speech is what keeps the Foxtremists on air. How ironic.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Heath

      I bet many of you wouldn't mind getting rid of that freedom... Having the Freedom of Speech and Religion is a terrible thing isn't it.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
      • G to the T

        OF COURSE NOT!

        Only the most extreme would every argue for the removal of these liberties. In fact, it's these very liberties we're trying to defend. Christians have been a majority in this country for so long that they just assume that everything accords to their worldview. While that may be the case now, it's VERY possible they won't be the majority later. But defending civil and religious liberties now, we are trying to PROTECT YOU against that possibility. Is that really too hard to understand? That a government that endorses no faith is better for everyone because you never know which end of the majority you may end up?

        September 11, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  13. JD

    There are two thoughts that keep getting passed over in all this zealotry. First, the Pledge of Allegiance was originally written without the phrase "under God" in it. It was added.
    The second thought is even harder for some people to understand. The phrase "under God" does NOT unite us or speak to the harmony of difference this country is based on. The pledge was actually written by a Francis Bellamy, a socialist, who was trying to unify the country with a unifying pledge for everyone. The originial was simple and inclusive.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  14. Human-being

    Perhaps atheists working in places that play Fox news should sue for discrimination and bullying as any company that plays it is bullying its employees to be christian and discriminating against them for not allowing them religious freedom.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      And just think, the Right to Free Speech was given to you by a bunch of Christians 🙂

      September 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • Heath

        I wouldn't say they were all Christians, but they all certainly believed in God. Opinions varied on whom or what God was, thus the "Freedom of Religion" was introduced.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  15. SouthernCelt

    Not that deep but still Southern ('American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God' as my belt buckle says). How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? As many that want to.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • G to the T

      In my experience, angels don't dance. But the best answer is "depends on the tune".

      September 11, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  16. Texas Anne

    History of the Pledge (perhaps the Bellamy family should sue the government?):

    The Pledge of Allegiance

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

    In its original form it read:

    "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:

    "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

    "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."

    September 10, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  17. IslandAtheist

    Would Bill Gates and Warren Buffet take their money with them?

    September 10, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Agnosticsm isn't atheism

      We could care less if they'll include Tom & Jerry in the POA. We would rather spend our time & money with our family and doing charity than fussing on things that we are less or don't believe.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • vincastar

      Bill Gates converted to Catholicism. And fyi he never claimed athiesm but showed agnostic ideas in the past. However recently he donated money because "it is God's work". Clearly the man is christian. He considers himself Catholic.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Melinda Gates considers herself Catholic, but the RCC doesn't think much of the Gates' since they're widely distributing contraceptives in the areas of the world where the Catholics are trying very hard to convert the pagans.

        September 11, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  18. kns

    I am so looking forward to the day when the fake made-up cartoon known as god, or jehova, or allah, or buddah, or jesus, or rush limbaugh, disappears from the lexicon of American thought and all people who believe in that nonsense apologize to the rest of us because they were wrong. Imagine all the people....

    September 10, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Badly-Bent

      I would have liked your post but, there is no like button!

      September 10, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Never going to happen. Get over it.

      September 10, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Shockwave

      On the contrary. I can't wait for the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that God is love and love has come for us all.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:00 am |
      • sl

        Amen. Then who'll be sorry.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • Anymoose

        Nobody expects the inquisition.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Double R

      You're going to be waiting in vain. Christianity as survived more than 2000 years, I'm pretty sure it will out live you. Unless Christ returns before then, and at that point you won't have to worry. The planet will be yours, and all the Christians will have gone home to glory. You can come with us if you like.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • ReligionIsBS

        Double R,

        Its been 2000 years. Your made up god isnt coming back.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • Debthebrush1

        AMEN TO THAT!

        September 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
      • Anymoose

        And the other 2/3rds of the world population, which your god supposedly made as well, are going to hell. Brilliant! You're going to be worm food like the rest of us. There is no santa clause, there is no easter bunny, and there is no happy reunion with your dead grandma in the clouds.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
      • Tram_McDooley

        Christianity has survived 2,000 years because Jesus ain't coming back. Neither is Osiris.

        I'm sorry you've staked your hopes on a piece of 2nd century creative writing that shares its narrative elements with all the other myths of that time, but you don't have to persist in ignorance and darkness your whole life. There's still time to gain your freedom!

        September 10, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • Natrldiver

          You may try to say Got is not returning, but it is written that no man knows the day nor the hour of the return.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Natrldiver

      Better to be a person of faith and find that there is no God than to be a non-believer and find out God does exist. What an atheist lacks is faith. Mankind has been trying for centuries to debunk religion but each time they think they get close, people of faith ask the simple question. How did it originate?

      I have given up asking non-believers why is so hard to have faith and have come to accept that not everyone will believe. Just like every form of religion or lack thereof, there are extremists who would rather spread hate and tear down others in fear rather than simply respect an individuals belief.

      God today has become a multifaceted word. In using the words 'In God we trust' could mean any number of things. For people of faith that could mean Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus Christ, etc. For others that could be money or some other idol to which they place their faith in.

      For those who are so against religion and do whatever they can to dismantle the faith of people, remember that religion has been around just as long as mankind. No matter how hard you try to tear it down, you can never dismantle it. There are things that just cannot be explained. That is why it is called faith.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  19. mercfan

    First people need to understand why the pledged was changed in the first place. It’s no coincidence that the pledge was changed in 1954, it was the height of McCarthyism and just a year after the Rosenberg’s were executed.

    I agree with JW said, that Fox is preaching to the choir. However, it’s still disturbing to think about what that quote means – that if you don’t think the same way as the us (the majority), then you should leave. It’s not difficult to see why bullying in schools is such a problem.

    I’m still flabbergasted that a major news outlet like Fox can turn their back on the true meaning of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment , just to keep up ratings. Without these clauses, if we force the atheists to recite the pledge with God in it, then it’s conceivable that one day the government could outlaw religions like Catholicism and Mormonism.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Smarter than U

      Facts are merely speedbumps to FOX. Minor inconveniences that are essentially ignored.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Double R

      @ mercfan

      There is no law that states you HAVE to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. So if you have a choice in the matter, how are rights being violated? If the gov't was saying recite the pledge or face punishment then I can understand. Just don't say it or remove "under God" yourself.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        "Why not just not say it"

        I've heard that one a thousand times. Why did they add it there in the first place? It was clearly added in violation of the first amendment, but because of the religious majority, no one has had the guts to acknowledge it and stand up to the religious people and identify that pledging allegience to your country has nothing to do with religious beliefs. The christians went too far. If the pastor that wrote it didn't include any reference to any god, why would you change it, so that it excludes amany of we the people. It is the official pledge, and needs to represent all Americans, not just those with delusions of deities.

        It is offensive, and was put there illegally, just like the lie on our money. That needs to go as well.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Anymoose

      The "majority" is a statistical observation. It does not imply correctness. Just saying.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  20. Starscream

    Your god is a sick mother ****** , mine doesn't exist , and Shannon , if my plane crashes , I pray god its on your head.

    September 10, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Lots of Pots calling Kettles around here. Don't you people have anything better to do?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
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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.