home
RSS
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. Doris

    "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

    – John Adams [from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)]

    September 10, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  2. God

    For God so loved the world, that he drowned everyone on it.

    And atheist wonder WHY somebody would worship a god like that...

    September 10, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  3. Skeptimist

    I was in the 6th grade when the change was made and recall our teacher dutifully drilling the class to get it right. It didn't bother me because I had long since become skilled at lip-synching through the whole ritual of "opening exercises" as I daydreamed about recess and the girls who had recently begun to fill out those tight sweaters. That was one of the more valuable elements of my formal education and frequently sustained me through 60 years of obligatory military and corporate life. I like to think of it as the 'art of graceful disregard'; a congenial alternative to elevating nonsense to the level of a lawsuit.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  4. Vic

    Isn't it ironic that "under God" was added to the "Pledge of Allegiance" in 1954 during the "Cold War" to prevent "communism" in the first place and now atheists are calling to omit it?! It seems like another "Cold War!" I am afraid "In God We Trust" is next! I can't help it feeling it's like defacing America!

    September 10, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • sybaris

      Which God?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
      • Vic

        America is of a predominantly Christian Heritage, so it is the Christian God.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:48 am |
        • Thoth

          Yeah...those pesky diests that drafted most of the early legislation like the Const.itution generally rejected the mystical aspects of Christianity....

          September 10, 2013 at 9:52 am |
        • sybaris

          That doesn't really follow the premise of equality stated in the Declaration of Independence

          September 10, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • Vic

          We are talking about "heritage" and not "state religion!"

          September 10, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • G to the T

          So you feel that 1954 is already a part of our heritege?

          September 11, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • midwest rail

      Returning the pledge to its original and intended form is not defacing anything.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • BU2B

      "In God we trust" should be next. That's another thing that was added that should not have been.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • America the beautiful!

      If the atheists don't like to say one nation under God, they have the right not to say it. One family making a fuss is a waste of tax dollars.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • G to the T

        So you honestly feel that a pledge meant to unite us all as americans should be said differently by different people depending on their prefereces? Interesting...

        September 11, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • acidgrin0

        Doesn't matter. The OFFICIAL pledge states a belief in god, and that is exclusive.

        September 11, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Thoth

      What's ironic is that you are blind to the fact that your post indicates American values didn't begin until 160 years after the country was founded.... You know, that whole Revolutionary War thingy...where the founders had plenty of opportunity to insert religion into government, but ultimately went with e pluribus unum instead.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • Vic

        "e pluribus unum" was never officially the motto of the United States while "In God We Trust" is officially the motto of the United States.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:52 am |
        • Thoth

          Vic I never claimed it was the official motto ... just stated that that's the mindset they were under – which by all accounts is correct. You claim Christianity as America's heritage – fine – but we have never 'officially' been a Christian nation. In fact there is legislation which states that the US was by no means founded on Christianity.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Vic

          I understand your point.

          What I am trying to say is that the United States is a Christian Nation by the vast majority of its people and not by the form of its government. I believe it was a brilliant resolution to keep the Federal Government separate from the Church so they don't cross each other but that doesn't mean the people running it don't necessarily believe in God.

          So, "Under God" and "In God We Trust" are not mere coincidences but reflection of the will of the people. After all, the US government is "of the people by the people for the people."

          September 10, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • G to the T

          But by your same point Vic putting these statements on money and in our pledge EXCLUDE members of the society and so aren't representative of the nation, only those that happen to be a majority at the moment.

          September 11, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Vic
          Why are you pruod of the lie on our money?
          I do not trust in gods, and yet I am one of we, making the statement a lie. It should not represent our nation, and since it is a lie, it is not a motto at all.

          Why do you think it is OK for the christians to hijack symbols of our nation, forcing everyone who does not share your belief to have a lie as our motto and have no pledge of allegience, something that was to unite the people, but the christians hijacked it, excluding and seperating the people?

          September 11, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • acidgrin0

          And, big surprise, both "In God We Trust" and "...Under God..." were adopted at about the same time, nearly 200 years after the founding.

          September 11, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • John Remelius

      Where's the irony in that statement...?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • Vic

        With all due respect, the irony is that "under God" was added because of atheists!

        September 10, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • pazke

          It would only be irony if the athiests were the ones fighting for it to stay.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • Thoth

          How is it ironic that something which was pushed by evangelicals in the 50's is now being questioned by Atheists? Do you understand irony? It might be ironic if Atheists in the 50's pushed to have it added, and now were pushing to remove it... but that's not the case.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • Vic

          Irony of a different sort. America DID NOT endorse "communism" yesterday, and America DOES NOT endorse "communism" today!

          September 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • G to the T

          Please don't conflate a lack of belief in god with the espousal of Marxist theories. It's not only disingenuous, it makes you look like a fool that doesn't know any better.

          September 11, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  5. Jimbob

    Take "under god" out of the pledge unless you can prove his existence.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • mrjackson777

      Leave "under God " untill you can prove he doesn't exist.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
      • Jstic

        Impossible to prove a negative. I'd like to agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Not up to the one saying it doesn't exist to prove it, the burden of proof lies on the one making the claim.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • jring76

        That makes no sense at all... People are suppose to just sit back and support it because you have faith he exists? Burden of proof is on the one with the undying faith. There's no need for us to prove God doesn't exist, it seems pretty obvious to me that a man written book, written hundreds of years after any profit and re-translated and modified several times over the centuries really has no solid base. If you have something other than the bible, feelings or faith, I would love to hear it.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • K.Truitt

      Leave it there unless you can't

      September 10, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • Glenn

        The proper response is, "if noone can back up their claim to proposition X or counterproposition Y then leave out references to proposition X or counterproposition Y". In other words don't say "under nation under god" or "one nation under no god", just "one nation"

        September 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  6. James

    I don't believe in Santa Claus and yet every Christmas I see his image everywhere AND it doesn't bother me. Why do atheists fight so hard against something they don't believe exists? There is a big difference between not believing in God and the apparent "anger" towards him.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Felix

      Nobody is angry at your god if they don't believe in him–that's an idiotic idea. Atheists would be fine with treating your god like Santa Claus, except there aren't any Santa believers trying to push Santa-based legislation on everyone else.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Jstic

      Santa Claus is for kids, probably something you don't understand also.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      No income tax return for you this year, James.

      Just a lump of coal.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • sybaris

      Christian lawmakers don't introduce and pass legislation based on the whims of Santa Claus and "Twas The Night Before Christmas".

      How did you miss that?!

      September 10, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • truthprevails1

      A belief in Santa is not used to deny other people equal rights or to tell them how they should and shouldn't live their lives.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • pazke

      So it's okay with you if we insert the phrase 'Under Santa Claus' right after the 'Under God'?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  7. BU2B

    A nation under "god" is divisible.

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

      <>.

      Exactly! Comment of the day. It's the intrinsic and necessary *divisiveness* of religion that is the core of the problem here. The "current form" (since the 1950s) of the pledge specifically excludes about a fifth of our population. The original form was perfect and excluded nobody.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  8. SixDegrees

    Ronald Reagan and his "Big Tent" Conservatism would be tossed out on its ear by people like this.

    They've still got a big tent. But it's mostly empty.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  9. Ralph

    or their just conning everyone who will believe them

    September 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  10. John

    America was intended to be a land for freedom of religious conscience and practice. I suggest those who would have it otherwise, like Dana Perino, be the ones to leave. Heck, if you're that Christian or whatever, go to Jerusalem or Vatican City – that makes a heck of a lot more sense.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  11. thc

    I pledge allegiance to the flag of the federal states of america, and to the democracy for which it stands one nation under god, divisible, without liberty, and injustice for all,

    September 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  12. Thoth

    Some Christians seem to only believe in freedom for themselves. For everyone else it's 'do as we say, or leave'....

    September 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  13. irunner

    Those who want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy don't have to live here either. I'm sure Iran or Saudi Arabia would love to have you.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • ten green bottles

      sure n.korea or cuba will welcome you, what's your point?

      September 10, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • Jstic

        His point is that if Dana Perino doesn't like it, SHE can leave.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  14. What if Putin is correct?

    I wonder if cnn will do any stories on the Day of Atonement or the Feast of Tabernacles? After all, these are among the appointed times that YHWH deemed as important. Satan has cleverly replaced those times with false days like Christmas and Easter. Cnn does lots of stories on those false replacement days. If people want to celebrate the birthday of Yeshua(Jesus), they should observe the Feast of Tabernacles because that is when He was born-not December 25.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • What if Putin is correct?

      If you want to observe His death, burial, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit; then you should observe the biblical appointed times of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost-in that order. Easter is Satan's replacement day-after all, it is him who seeks to "change times and laws". He's done a good job at deceiving millions into observing false days and ignoring the ones that YHWH said were important to HIM.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Rita Mueller

      I agree with you, but no one really knows the exact date Jesus' was born, so you choose the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate His birth and most choose Dec. 25th. I really don't think our Lord and Savior cares about such silly things, If He really cared about the time, He would of told us His birth date. Just love the Lord with all your mind, heart and soul and He will be pleased.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • What if Putin is correct?

      Rita, All due respect, but I don't think it is silly. He did tell us the time but you have to do some searching to put the pieces of the puzzle together. May I suggest watching the Feast of Tabernacles on the link provided or at least read the PDF notes on it. This Mark Biltz makes a strong case for a Feast of Tabernacles birth:
      http://www.elshaddaiministries.us/messages/2012_feasts.html

      Regarding the subst.itution of a pagan day for YHWH's day, He tells us not to worship Him in pagan ways(Deut 12:30-31: Deut 12:4; Jer 10:2-4). Hope this helps:)

      September 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  15. Ralph

    If someone says, I'm hearing someone in my head, they get locked up for being nuts. But when someone says I'm hearing god in my head, some think their the sanest person on the planet. When someone says I'm seeing someone but no one else can see him, they get locked up and are given crazy pills. But when someone says, I see god or the virgin Mary, but no one else can, their given a church and money, to support their craziness. You can't have it two ways, if someone sees anyone and no one else can see or hear them, they've either been brainwashed or their nuts.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  16. TAK

    Replace 'atheist' with any other label in that Fox news rant; 'black', 'jew', 'gay'. How would that go over? They'd all be fired, even from Fox, and possibly investigated for hate crimes. Atheists are last group that it is ok to oppress in this country.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  17. Citizen88

    Okay! I think we're getting a tidbit out of control with tying up the legal system with personal agendas disguised as a fight for equality. Several men & women have given their lives to uphold some of the values that make us Americans, they did not die so every tom-dick-&-harry could wage war on American values. If we continue to allow this movement and similar movements to persist pretty soon there will be no more United States of America.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • ForGod

      I am a Christian and I do not believe in shoving it down people's throats so I don't think "under god" should be anywhere but my church, my home and my bible.

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

        you are a good Christian. I am not a believer, at all. but folks like you have my support.
        believe what you will, just leave me the **** alone, thank you.

        cheers ForGod and thank you for being one of the sane people of the world.

        JusDav

        September 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Hard Corps

      Sorry, but Christianity is not an American value. You'll always have freedom of religion in America, but dont force your religion on my kids.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Thoth

      I'm an atheist. I served and fought to protect FREEDOM for America. Freedom is the greatest American value...at least that's what people claim.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        HOOAH

        September 10, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Ralph

      I lived through world war 11 and we did not say "under god" and somehow we won and we wee all patriotic.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      When you say 'American values,' what you really mean is YOUR christian values... right? Screw everyone else...

      September 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Bob

      American values includes the right to challenge and change the way our government and society functions. "Under God" is not an American value. It's more American to challenge that slogan than it would be to simply leave the country.

      Vigorous debate is an American value. Upending societies norms is an American Value. Challenging authority is an American Value. Telling people to leave the country if we don't like what they believe is something completely un-american and frankly childish. American is not a click, we don't exclude people that think or act different than the majority.

      We debate, we discuss, sometimes we riot. We try to make the country more inclusive rather than exclusive.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Rita Mueller

      Amen!!!

      September 10, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  18. kamanalono

    Truths are constants that have never had a beginning, will never have an end, go on forever in every direction, cannot be distorted or destroyed, and can be repeatedly reproduced or replicated.

    Lie’s are inconstants that cannot be proved, demonstrated or reproduced. It is a lie, for example, that there are such things as gods, angels, prophets, saviors, messiahs or miracles.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  19. Vincent

    Neither to Christians or any other faith.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  20. HenryMiller

    Religion is just ignorance wrapped in self-righteousness and it mystifies me why some take such great pride in exhibiting that ignorance.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:30 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
Advertisement
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.