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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. Logically Framed

    Ya gotta admit, Dana Peroxide rarely fails to amuse and entertain. OK, so she's not particularly bright, she is fun.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  2. Karen

    Ironic that the Pledge of Allegiance, originally written to celebrate Columbus Day and to reignite our nation's waning commitment to unity following the Civil War, would create such divisiveness. Perhaps it would be instructive for all of us to take a breath and contemplate the meaning of this phrase from the original 1892 version by Francis Bellamy: "one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    September 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • me_2

      AMEN

      September 10, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  3. jim g

    it is not faith, nor belief, it is ignorance. i don't want to pledge allegance to adult fairy tales.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • JimK57

      So don't. Pretty simple huh?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  4. John

    OH MY GOD I JUST DON'T CARE

    September 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • ME II

      I hear your concern. Try to calm yourself.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • JimK57

      I agree, it is such a waste of time.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        And yet the christians wasted everyones time by having congress illegally pass the legislation in the first place.
        It is worth the time to set things right.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • ensense

          Ashamed to say that it was one of your fellow dems who did it.

          September 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  5. jim g

    "If these people don't like it, they don't have to live here," Perino added. She could be the leader of the christian nazi party.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Logically Framed

      You mean she's not?

      Can Dana Peroxide ever open her pie hold without putting her foot in it?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  6. vancouverron

    Change "under god" to "over god", and I'd be ok with it.

    Actually, as a Canadian, I wish they'd change the "god keep our land glorious and free" so I can sing along to the national anthem again.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  7. Logically Framed

    But to be fair here, folks, no one ever said Dana Perino was particularly bright, well-informed, or rational.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Well, there you go...you two have something in common.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • 666

        theres uncouth talking to herself again

        September 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • 616

          Obviously not because you responded you twit.

          September 9, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  8. James

    What gets me is how people act as though the "under God" phrase is some sacred thing written by the founding fathers themselves. It wasn't in the pledge or on our money either throughout the majority of our nation's existence. It was added in relatively recent times near the start of the cold war in the 1950s, part of the red scare against the godless communists. Honestly it seems a bit silly, and it is somewhat contrary to separation of church and state, something the founding fathers *did* explicitly declare.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Logically Framed

      On the other hand, James, part of modern conservatism is making sure NOT to understand what our founding fathers stood for.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • knewagirl

      Well put!

      September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Brad

      How dare you speak the truth. We cant scare anyone nor try to call the battered minority if you call us out with something as silly as the truth.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  9. jim g

    the point is that we that do not believe in a god, nor religion, do not wish to be forced to pledge allegiance to something we do not believe in.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • JimK57

      It might be time to man up and stop crying. There are bigger problems in the world.

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

        Spoken like a true dictatorial theocrat!

        September 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • M. callahana

        So manning up now means allowing other people to force views on me. That is manning up. Good to have my sense of what it means to be a man so completely dissed. It is not whining to insist that ones rights be respected, it may however be whining to complain that someone else has a problem with conforming to your stands. Whine away macho man.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        So tell Fox and Dana.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  10. trufladino

    In light of so many important things going on which have real consequences for people, it's always nice to see an article on a matter that has no consequence whatsoever whichever side you come down on it. The only pity is that it is wasting judicial resources which might be put to better use.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • JimK57

      I agree. We are becoming a nation of infants.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  11. ted

    Onward christian Nazis.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  12. De Odorizer

    "if these people really don't like it, they don't have to live here."
    A fine example of democratic thinking that is.
    It's a remark worthy of King George (either the third, or the one of the Bush kind).... Hey that's why we created this new country: so we can push anyone out who doesn't conform, or better punish 'em, fry them at the stake, oh, sorry, electrical chair...
    We have come sooo far...

    September 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  13. AtheistsLLosers

    Who wants a stupid insulting clown and sect leader Bill Maher world anyway?

    September 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • ME II

      Huh? What Bill Mahar got to do with anything?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
      • AtheistsLLosers

        He's a moron just like any atheists out there.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
        • Patriot

          Well you sure made your argument. I'm ready to pray to your fake god now.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • ME II

          So are Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, etc. What's your point?

          September 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
        • Don Lee

          takes one to know one, moron.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The irony of this troll calling someone else a stupid insulting clown....

      September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  14. ColoradoVet

    Which God?

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

      The fake one. All gods are false.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  15. LeRoy_Was_Here

    The original author of the Pledge of Allegiance would have been TOTALLY opposed to adding the phrase 'under God'.

    It is like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.

    September 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  16. SMART1

    To deny the existence of a creator is the DUMBEST thing you could possibly do.
    Everything in existence, all things around you wherever you may be at any giving time
    were created. Everyone should be able to grasp the concept that you don't get SOMETHING
    from NOTHING. What kind of person goes around in life spending their time saying GOD is
    not real, and let's take any reference to GOD and make it illegal, and by the way don't you
    dare say merry christmas, etc.???? A very sad,pathetic, and EVIL person indeed. Surely
    GOD must be laughing at the ignorance of atheism just as hard as I am. Please find another country
    you spiritually devoid robot minded demon atheists and move to it as quickly as possible so us NORMAL
    people can enjoy our lives with your NEGATIVE vibes far removed from our POSITIVE ones.

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

      Quantum mechanics says that you can indeed get something from nothing. Virtual particles are constantly popping in and out of existence. The entire Universe may have originated as a quantum fluctuation. These ideas are being taken very seriously by physicsts today. So your basic premise is wrong.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
      • Rett

        Doesnt quantum physics also recognize that there are things that transcend matter and motion and can not be measured? I have always been baffled at those who deny the existence of a creative being because there is no scientific proof of one. Is science equipped to prove the existence of something that has no mass or matter or any physical properties?

        September 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
        • stevef00

          And I've always been baffled by those people that suggest that just because science hasn't completely solved all the answers, they jump to the rather odd conclusion that it must have been something that waved a magic wand! Try to take in the fact that 99% of all living things that have been here on earth are now extinct. What kind of a creator can't keep his creations alive??

          September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Rett

          steve, it is equally baffling and i would suggest unscientific to completely dismiss something just because science has not provided the answer

          September 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • ME II

      No one is suggesting making references to God illegal, just governmental endorsement of religion, which is already illegal.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • AtheistsLLosers

      @Smart1

      Nicely said, i totally agree with you.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • James

      I'm not going to argue whether or not a creator exists, I don't know for sure one way or another and neither does anyone else. I will argue that our secular government cannot endorse any one specific religion, escaping that was why people came here in the first place.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Lovecrafty

      Hey Smart 1. Explain how a pair of 3 toed sloths got off Noah's Ark and walked to South America at 6.5 feet per MINUTE. Explain why your God sent a bear to maul 42 children for simply making fun of a man's bald head. These, and thousands of other, insane concepts fill your Bible and it is for those reasons I personally cannot believe in your God. Reading the Bible is the best thing to promote Atheism!

      September 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
      • Patriot

        This. Anyone who's actually studied the bible objectively knows it's such BS.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      You have no evidence of deliberate creation and you have no evidence for a god being the creator.
      The law of the USA includes separation of church and state so the paranoia of the 50's should be removed from the currency and the pledge. You wouldn't want it to say "In Allah we trust" on the currency would you?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Evolution is a joke

      So called "evolution" is a joke. Of course the universe didn't just come from nowhere. Everyone knows that the universe was made by Lord Brahma the Creator, maintained by Lord Vishnu the Preserver and will be destroyed by Lord Shiva. Every Hindu preschooler knows this.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • QS

      You may be beyond help. You have my pity.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • goddog

      If there were a god it would be the biggest, greatest something of all... yet you want to give it a pass? Who created god? Oh... it's always existed? How do you not smell your own BS?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • CV

      your screen name and your ignorant post is laughable to say the least.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Atheeist

      Uh..you believe a God just existed out of nothing right? You believe God had no creator correct? Imbecile...

      September 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  17. M.E.

    I know it will never happen, but I hope "under god" is dropped. It was awkward and embarrassing to say when I was a kid and I don't want my kids to have to awkwardly mumble their way through it someday too. Unfortunately, it seems our country is coming closer to becoming a theocracy every year, so it's probably hopeless.

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

      That's actually not true, thankfully. While the loudest and most extreme seem to get the most attention, thus their theocratic message is the one we hear the most, the statistics show that the fastest growing "religious" group are those who identify as "none"! 🙂

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

        Statistics? That's a science, you can't use science on these people.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  18. jon

    That is always their answer: If you don't like it – get out. How stupid is that? If they don't like it – THEY should get out.

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

      There's nothing stupid in that. It's a sign that people are getting tired of hearing atheists whining on just about everything.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        We're only resisting the encroachment of religion into education, law, currency, society, etc. Separation of church and state.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
      • QS

        If religious people are getting tired of hearing from us, that simply means we haven't been talking enough!

        September 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
      • Patriot

        Merry Xmas. Yes I took the christ out.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • Rett

          Yes you did but i am guessing you dated the last check you wrote 2013.....wonder where that number came from?

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

          Yes, obviously, the fact that someone changed the calendar 2000 years ago proves that Jesus is the son of god. Are people really this stupid?

          September 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Rett

          johnny, of course the calendar does not prove Christs divinity. It does speak to the impact He has had. Even you would have to admit that.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Erik

        Were you (or would you have been, depending on your age) annoyed at the blacks whining that the back of the bus is less comfortable or that the water in their water fountain tastes funny?

        People complaining about an injustice only looks like whining if you are a bigot.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  19. Baal

    "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. I"

    BULLSHRIMP!!!

    Anything acknowledging servitude or allegience to a mythical Cloud Being IS PRAYING!!!

    PERIOD!!!

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

      Good point. If it is saying 'under god' then it is a prayer.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  20. guy

    Seriously, why do atheists care so much about this? It is quite obvious that the "state" is not using the pledge to force religion down people's throats. If anything it stands as a remnant and a rather good reminder of America's history, where we have come from and how far we have gone.

    "...under God; Ha, remember that McCarthy debacle?"

    It feels like the more zealous atheists just constantly try to indirectly push their dogma on others 😐

    September 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Baal

      Ok guy, lets all start praying to Allah, and see how comfortable YOU are with it....

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

        Eh...fine? You an pray to whatever god you wish.

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

          NO he's saying to replace Undergod with Under Alah. Do you not see the connection here? This is something we would make fun of Iran for.

          September 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • Ace

        ok Baal, your not forced to pray to God or anything, you and other atheists hear the word God and you say that we're trying to make you become Christian, when it's really you guys forcing your beliefs on everybody else.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Texas does.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • M.E.

      I don't want it because I don't want my kids being forced in school to say something they don't believe in. I know exactly how awkward it is since I had to do it as a kid myself. Isn't the whole point of adulthood trying to make things better for your kids? It's not pushing ideas on others, it's about protecting our kids from having ideas pushed on them.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Renee Marie Jones

      Oh, yes, the state IS using the pledge to force religion down people's throats. Congress said very clearly that the purpose of adding "under God" to the pledge was to turn the pledge into a Christian prayer. When I went to school is was not optional. Refusing to bow one's head and pray, or refusal to say the pledge was considered a disruption of class and one was treated the same way as people who threw things or *actually* disrupted the class. Christian bullies are so used to having their way they don't even notice their own bullying anymore.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • AtheistsLLosers

      Well said Guy. I agree with you.

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

        We've read some of your other posts...and we don't exactly hold you up as an example of intelligence.

        September 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Josh

      I'm an atheist but I don't really mind or care much about stuff like this. At the same time, I also don't buy into arguments that something done during a witchhunt in the '50s is somehow worth remembering as part of our heritage.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
      • guy

        Personally I think it is important to know, shameful or not history is history, and we should acknowledge and learn from it. The ol' "one that does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it".

        September 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • James

      Why do Christians care so much about it? Is removing "under God" from the pledge going to somehow harm you or your personal beliefs? Nobody is proposing to add "under no God" or other such silliness. What is proposed is to return the pledge to its original pre-cold-war form.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • guy

        It's not, but "under God" has been a part of the pledge for more than half of it's existence, it just seems rather callous to just remove it

        September 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • doobzz

          Having your callouses removed is a healthy thing.

          September 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • QS

      The "state" added the phrase to combat communism.....by using one specific religion to identify those who did not believe in it.

      Man, how completely naive you people are.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • guy

        Well...yes, that's why I called it the McCarthy debacle

        September 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Jim

      "It feels like the more zealous atheists just constantly try to indirectly push their dogma on others"

      It obviously feels like that to you, but to atheists (and I am one) it feels more like resisting when religious zealots are DIRECTLY pushing their dogma on us.

      September 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "It feels like the more zealous atheists just constantly try to indirectly push their dogma on others"

      Exactly which dogma was that again?

      September 9, 2013 at 6:35 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.