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. Sick Rantorum

    One Nation, Under Allah

    September 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Patriot


      September 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Alex

    Someone should inform Ms Perino that the pledge was written by a socialist baptist minister. That ought upset her little world.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Observer

      We should take it easy on Ms. Perino. The poor woman had to spend a couple of years trying to make excuses for all of Bush's bungling.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  3. Darwin was right

    Yeah! Kick out all the atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses (especially them!!), Mormons, Quakers, Unitarians, etc. ete. etc., in other words, everyone who doesn't exactly agree with YOU! AMERICA, WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY (but only for the RIGHT people).

    September 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Akira

      The typical, one each WASP agrees with you wholeheartedly.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • james

      JWs have gone to court and won more cases for our freedoms than any of the others on your list. Look it up and see what they have done for you and I, not just them, to give us all freedom of speech, assembly etc. Amazing what they have done but this is probably not even going to be seen by anyone except you if you look back here.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  4. The Doctor

    AMEN! Pack 'em up and ship 'em out! If the ingrates are so unhappy, let them find their "prosperity" elsewhere... if they can't even be thankful for the roots and foundations that got them their freedom to continually be unhappy and complain with how things work. ^_^

    September 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • sly

      Ha ha ha – it is so fun to kick religious ass.

      We always win.

      We won on abortion.
      We won on gay marriage.
      We won on removing white gods from courthouses.
      We won on health care.

      We win every battle with you religious minority nuts. Face it – religious folks just don't know how to fight, while us athiests sure can kick your butts all over town.

      Fun. Ha ha ha ha .

      September 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • SLY !!

        Sly, You sound like you are retarded...

        September 10, 2013 at 4:29 am |
        • me_2

          kinda like the Pot calling the kettle Black

          September 10, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • Gman10

        You won't win on judgement day!

        September 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • Gingeet

          Oh yeah, let's just wait for that to come around... Hey wasn't judgement day just last year or was it a couple of years before that or a few or 100, 125, 160 years before that? There have been so many now I can't keep up! Why don't you take your meds and then possibly get a clue afterwards.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Mark in Atlanta

      Yes! That's just what CoE Britain said to the Pilgrims. And we all know how that turned out!

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

      Prosperity has everything to do with greed and capitalism and absolutely nothing to do with cult zealots.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  5. us_1776

    Hilarious !!

    This country was founded by secularist atheists !!

    That is why we have to principle of Separation of Church and State. One of the most brilliant governing concepts in the history of mankind.

    And as for the Pledge. Fox needs to do a little research.

    Here is the Pledge BEFORE the extremist McCarthy mo rons in the 1950's SCREWED with it:

    "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."

    Can be said without any problem by people of ALL religions or no religion. And that was the whole point.


    September 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "This country was founded by secularist atheists !!"

      Might be better to say that the government was founded by them. The country has always been dominated by a christian majority.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • us_1776

        Not immediately. Many Unitarians were among some of the first. And they were not Christian. Plus many many Jews. Plus the African slaves who were almost 100% non-Christian. Plus the Native Americans who were nearly 100% non-Christian.

        The myth is that most of the early settlers were Christians but this is just not the case.


        September 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • Lycidas

          I think it's fair to say though that the majority of those that settled in this "country" were Christian though. I don't exactly count native americans because I am sure they didn't count themselves as part of the nation/colonies back in the day.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Also one should keep in mind that those who came from Europe to "found" a nation had already "found" nations established when they arrived, they just discounted them as barbarians, dehumanized them and murdered them if they got in the way.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Lycidas

          Typical human behavior.

          But to play the devil's advocate, the native americans didn't exactly have "nations" in the way most Europeans would have recognized. I am sure to the Europeans, they seemed little better than the Bronze Age desert dwellers that atheists love to make fun of on here.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
        • TheDukeOfHighwayJ

          And the early settlers who WERE christian were famous for mandating/enforcing their own particular sect of christianity.
          That guy from Rhode Island being the notable exception.

          September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  6. Akira

    We ought to turn "count the tired stereotypes" into a drinking game, except between the article AND the comments we'd all end up with alcohol poisoning.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Such is life on the belief blog.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  7. t3chn0ph0b3

    If you don't like that religious freedom means freedom from religion, you can leave the country.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  8. Big Kahuna

    Don't care sorry.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  9. Apple Bush

    This country freaks me out sometimes.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • joe

      calm down. 10s of millions of athiests and agnostics in this country.

      Just because one crazy fundamentalist christian pops off is no reason to go off the deep end.

      September 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  10. BIlly W

    And I'll continue skipping that useless part of the pledge. Christians don't have to live here, either.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  11. Robyn

    How about Fox Hosts don't have to live here, and please don't.

    Maybe you could find a nice underground bunker somewhere
    where you could be all alone with your fear, hate, greed, and ignorance.
    I'm pretty sure you would find that much more to your liking
    than the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  12. brian

    I personally having the "under god" is not a deal breaker, and hate it when people go on about such things, and prefer to keep things how they were originally, if the writer composed it included God or omitted God, it should be respected as such. Having God in the Declaration of Independence for example is needed to get what the writer wanted to say across.

    "Under god" was added in 1954, the original pledge was from 1892 and was perfectly good without that primarily religious addition.


    When a revision does nothing but add the words "under god", that makes me think the revision has a primarily religious motivation, and an attempt to distort the original meaning to support an particular religion. It makes it seem like this was the aim of the founders, when it was actually changed in the McCarthy era.

    In this case it seems like religion intruded on the pledge, and omitting such would make the pledge more inclusive instead of more divisive. Since these two words are a recent addition, and is Superfluous unless your aim is to state our country is "Under God" instead of "Under the People (who are but under and not under god)".

    September 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam

      I highly approve of this post.

      September 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • ko

        as a christian, i am not opposed to taking out under God from the pledge. this country has strayed far from Christian principles anyway. what i would suggest is that as Christians, we stop pledge allegiance to this country

        September 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • brian

          I would prefer to follow Jesus than to be a Christian, far too much lawyering of what the bible means happens in religion. ( and quite a bit of his message is against leaders of religion who use it for their own ends )

          September 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • G to the T

          If you are no longer willing to pledge your allegence to america, then perhaps it is you that should be leaving? May I recommend one of the Theocracies? I'm sure they'd love to have you.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • RC

        I heartily agree.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • JP

      The original didn't have "Under God," and you clearly didn't read the part of the article that explains this. It was added during the "Red Scare" and was part of McCarthyism and the whole "Godless Communist" rant.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
      • brian

        Well i did, but then i reviewed secondary sources - do you actually trust CNN to be accurate - journalism is far too yellow anymore.

        I actually always thought this was ridiculous, I've always said under God myself. But now that I know this was added during the red scare, well this makes me think that it's not an issue of a few trying to get every bit of God out, but rather Congress deciding to add God to something which was fine without it in an effort to marginalize godless communists.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  13. mike

    Well if Religious people really have some magic know-how of Eternal Force/s communicating with them directly -fine. But when you FOX programs insult and put down atheists and agnostics -while you refuse to think at all. Go right ahead with your religion that says there is some Eternal Hell, Eternal Heaven, et al -you keep drumming that insanity into kids.
    But other people do not. Nor do we pray for an "edge", or insist their own version of Religion is the correct one, while miracles for some go on here on Earth...

    September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  14. Dennis

    Here is the reality....I don't know and neither do you!!

    September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • ml

      PERFECT! Absolutely 100% agree.
      And there is NOTHING wrong with "I don't know".

      September 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  15. sly

    Ho ho ho – another day of amusment from humans that think there is some fat white man in the clouds.

    Ho ho ho – us scientists laugh together whenever we meet a God-Ster.

    I did meet Santa Claus last winter though – a very charming person, and yes, He did come down my chimney, provide some presents, and then flew away on his reindeer.

    You are really quite stupid if you do not believe my story, because not only is it true, but it is widely written about in many many books. Just like your God.

    Ho ho ho! Can't teach ignorance now can you?

    September 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • me_2


      When Santa came last year...I opened all my presents...not only did I have the Easter Bunny...but the Loch Ness Monster.
      The bunny pooped all over my house and the monster ate the entire dinner.....worse part....the both left before helping to clean up.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  16. QS

    Religious self-righeousness at its finest! I have a hard time differentiating between which is worse sometimes....religion, or conservatism.

    In the end though it seems the two simply walk hand-in-hand....over other people!

    September 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  17. DustyOnes

    Amen. Atheists can leave or behave.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • QS

      Actually we prefer the third option....stay and cause religious people as much grief and frustration as humanly possible!

      September 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • DustyOnes

        Why are most atheists gay and communist?

        September 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • sam

          This little troll is just too precious for this world! Look at his attempts at the same old tired phrases.

          September 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • BIlly W

          Because it makes faux-spiritual neo-cons squirm.

          September 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • uos_spo6

          Why do most believers accept folklore as empirical truth? if you are a believer, you carry a communicable thought disease that is a threat to the entire human race. Destroy belief and save the world.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • me_2


          how long do you practice being stupid before you post online...or is this something you can just do spur of the moment?

          September 10, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Troll spotter

      Here's another one!

      September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Sane Person

      If your magical sky fairy wanted us gone, I'm sure he would have made it happen already. Or, can he not do that? Or maybe, he just isnt there.

      September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • DustyOnes

        Atheist prove that God exist. We don't want you completely gone. We want you happy, in Egypt.

        September 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • niknak

          Was that English you were attempting to write?

          September 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • ml

          your stupidity is truly something to behold.
          boggles the mind.

          September 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • sam

      Oh no, please, explain what 'behave' means.

      September 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Since the phrase "under god" was only added to the plege in 1954 due to fear mongering senators like Joe McCarthy who accused 3/4 of congress of being communists and said he had a list. Needless to say after spending 1.2 million dollars in the 50's and comping up empty handed why should we want to embrace this already fear tainted phrase today? I am nto an Atheist I am a Pagan, I believe in muliple gods lead by the Goddess.Why cant the pledge say "under all gods" or somthing like that? my answer is because ANY religious reference is stupid. It is best to just leave it alone rather than discriminate against the the Goddess right? or against folks that dont believe in any god? AFter all we are ALL Americans and I dont think my children should be pressured by his peers and teachers to recite a relgion he is not familiar with. Leave religion and god/goddess OUT of our schools and Government buildings.

      September 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • AtheistsLLosers


      September 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • doobzz

      Interesting name you have there. You must have been inspired while playing with your balls.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Observer

      DustyOnes must be a troll. It doesn't seem possible anyone could say such ignorant things without faking it.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
      • me_2

        He trains like a marathon runner....he is in for the long haul. Not just a burst of it and done...like a sprinter

        September 10, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • mike

      Or you will murder and enslave them like the original christians that settled this country. good role models

      September 10, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  18. Observer

    It's Fox News. People don't expect intelligence from them.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Sounds like you watch very little Fox News and what you do watch is editorial based shows. Either that or you get all your Fox exposure from Comedy Central.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
      • Observer


        I have watched enough to see their total lack of honesty. For instance, when Obama said that we should reduce the huge subsidies we pay to the record-profit-making oil companies, their headline was "Obama Trashes Oil Companies".

        Within minutes of announcing the re-election of Barack Obama, the dimwits at Fox were already spreading the LIE that this was the "worst any re-elected president had ever done".

        No integrity. No honesty. Fox News.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • brian

        lol, actually watching them is like Comedy Central.

        Just watching them during election night was priceless ( and they did re-hash it on Comedy Central because it was hilarious, I was very happy I chose to focus on them during election night so I got to experience it first hand )

        The problem is CNN is just trying to do anything to get ratings, MSNBC is so left wing they are nuts, and Fox is just as nutty to the right. The basic problems is there is only so much "New" in a day, and they talk about a half hours worth of "New" for 24 hours. I mean Comedy Central managed to shut down Crossfire, then they bring it back while Jon Stewart is on leave for 3 months – that right there is funny. The problem is the news is only regulated by ratings and satire, and i tend to flip which . Saying if we don't like the pledge we should leave the country is actually asking for satire, didn't they say they would leave the country if ObamaCare/Obama/whatever they don't like goes into effect.

        I actually like O'Reilly, of course my favorite is when he is on Daily Show or he has Jon Stewart on his show. I think he is about the only one on Fox News who enjoys such interviews, and probably one of the few who is smart enough to handle himself.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  19. mom

    You are not welcome in The Fox News States of Murica

    September 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  20. Mike

    I get tired of the religious nuts on Fox spewing their hate.

    September 9, 2013 at 5:40 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.