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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. ozob

    The usual ridiculous nonsense we get from the media. Everyone who is a citizen of the United States has a right to live here and express their opinions as they see fit. That's the whole basis of the nation actually, and if a talking head doesn't get that, they need to revisit their civics class, as well as taking a course in basic logic.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Ken

      But the problem with a few voicing their opinion is that the few get the attention and the rights of many get trampled. Perhaps Dana was a tad harsh in her reasoning... But, basically she is right. If you do not like your surroundings.. Move. Personally I am fed up with the PC BS. All we see anymore is a dime valued as if it is a C-Note.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • G to the T

        Ken – it was PC BS that put "under god" in the oath to begin with. Why wouldn't you be favor of it being taken back out? (is it because it happens to coincide with your own beliefs?)

        September 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  2. UGH. EW

    Athiest can just not say it, they are not forced to say the pledge. No body forces the words under God in their mouth. Stop being babys. and grow up, it was made like that its going to stay like that while you visit hell (:

    September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Such a good loving christian-NOT!

      September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Hear This

      UGH. EW

      Yep, that name describes your language skills. It seems that you are quite stupid.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "Christians can just not say it, they are not forced to say the pledge. No body forces the words under Allah in their mouth. Stop being babys. and grow up"

      I wonder if the Christian Taliban would stand for "Under Allah" in the pledge...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • To truthprevails 1

      Athiest do need to burn in hel, and i am a GREAT christian bc i believe in that!

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  3. Steve

    I agree with her. Since when is atheism considered a religion? This has NOTHING to do with religious liberty.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Joe

      Religious Liberty includes freedom from religion as well. How would you feel if your state added the words "allahu akbar" into the state motto.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  4. Marie

    This country was founded on Christian principles, not atheist principles. However, no one is forcing atheists to say the words "under God". What are you scared of that you can't bear to even hear the name of God?

    September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • lerianis

      Hate to tell you this, but this country was founded on SECULAR principles, not religious ones.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Momof3

      Maybe since the DOI states that Americans are endowed by 'their Creator' with certain unalienable Rights, we should change the Pledge to say "...one Nation, under (insert your Creator here), Indivisible...".

      September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  5. PCN

    Athiests have a right to live here but they have no right to impose their beliefs, or lack of, to a society that was founded on the principles of the belief in God. They are a fringe and radical minority that should be ignored. I actually feel sorry for them but to each their own.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Jo

      Radical minority? What's radical about asking for equal rights and freedom from religion? "The militant atheist" concept is a myth, all we do is voicing our opinions on boards like these and pursuing equal rights through courts. Nothing radical or militant about that my friend.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  6. smartaz

    Might as well scrap the "indivisible" part too. That apparently is just a lie.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  7. wes

    Nobody is forcing them to say it. It is what this nation was founded on. If it offends them that we say Under God, what else offends them? Our churches, crosses, us praying? How does it not infringe on our beliefs? If this nation turns away from that belief and removes under God from the pledge of allegiance, I can promise you my children will not stop saying it.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Joe

      "Under God" was added in 1954. To claim something about the founders' intentions in regards to the words "under God" is either ignorant or dishonest.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Michae Means

      And that's fine. Good for you and your children. Regardless, it comes to light now because in years past anyone saying that they didn't believe in God, or didn't want to say "Amen" and so forth were persecuted. There have been atheist and non-believers throughout time. Now they can speak without being forced to leave their community. Reverse the situation, and say that the majority of people that wrote our laws wanted to say "Hail Satan", but you wanted to say "Amen" – see how that works?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  8. She's right

    Bravo

    September 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  9. Maxwycisk

    To any Jacka.s out there who tells me i don't have to live here if i don't like something: YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE AT ALL! Jacka,s!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  10. Lionly Lamb

    The unholiest measures of the Islamic Quran is in its double talking of first saying peacefulness and then secondly reiterating that criminals of each and every onslaught shall be accosted in like mannerisms... For example, a thief shall have their hand cut off and a homosexual shall be killed...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgsrnmzxEUY&feature=player_embedded

    September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • sybaris

      Yeah, the christian god allegedly stopping the sun from going down so Joshua could continue murdering women, children and animals for another day is so much more humane.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • Lionly Lamb

        So then Sybaris...

        You are for Sharia Laws to be enacted here in the USA or..?

        September 10, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • sybaris

          red herring

          making a comparison does not garner favor with one or the other

          Regardless, the rumors of impending Shraria law in the U.S. is just internet and email swill drummed up by xenophobes, racists and other anonymous cads.

          Reseacrh is your friend, don't let other people make you look stupid and ignorant.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Chiil Out

      That concept, "an eye for an eye", has been around long before Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Read the Hammurabi Code (1770 BC). Cutting off a thief's hands is one of the oldest laws known to man. Not making an argument for either side, just an observation.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Lionly Lamb

        Shall we "bring back" that which the American ways of living their Life have long tried to be swayed away from..? Should Sharia law become the way for the Americans whose only ways are for a more subtle way of vengeance upon those who are found disobeying state and federal laws..? Will we become a nation of Quran lovers and follow Sharia Laws or..?

        September 10, 2013 at 11:52 am |
        • Momof3

          How about we just follow the Laws that are set in the Const.itution? Since they don't specifically mention any gods, we just leave him/her/them out of our government? See how easy that was...?

          September 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Chiil Out

          Well, not when 77% of Americans are Christian. If a Muslim majority wins someday, though doubtful, I guess we either convert to Islam, suffer the consequences, or find a different country.

          Good thing for you America isn't governed by a religious group. The Pledge is not a law. Americans can say it or not. But I fear the day America is predominately atheist. Atheist are more closely aligned with Sharia law than Christianity is. I would have to fight just to wear my Jesus t-shirt in public. Name one American law that restricts an atheist's right to practice their "religious" beliefs. Atheism is a religious belief, just a belief in no god. Atheism has already done much to restrict where and when my kids can practice their religion. What does Christianity do now to RESTRICT atheists from practicing theirs?

          September 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  11. JDM

    Good for her. While I don't agree one bit with here statement, we happen to live in America. I'm glad people can publicly voice their opinion. You know, the whole free speech thing.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • sybaris

      Please, please, please, please go to a radio station, buy some air time and say the "N" word 100 times.

      See how long your freedom of speech lasts.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Michae Means

        Why don't you people understand freedom of speech? Seriously. You can say WHAT YOU WANT all day long and the GOVERNMENT will not prosecute you for it. That does not mean that someone won't kick out all of your teeth or that the corporation running a radio station won't dump you. I am more than sure you cannot run through your work place shouting the F word and expect to keep your job.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • sybaris

          I can and I do

          September 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Laura

    If she doesn't like athiests maybe she should live somewhere else. Like Iran. They are pretty big on religion there.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Iamrightandyouarewrong

      It's not a religious statement dumb Athiest. It corresponds to the principles of our founding fathers.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Michae Means

        And what principles are those? Please, elaborate.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  13. Dick Tater

    Someone should sue Obama and his party. They are illegally forcing everyone to buy health insurance even if they don't use it or want it. This is a total BS scam.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • denver

      Why don't you pray for relief?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Michae Means

      Have you sued your state for requiring you to have car insurance? Why should I have to pay for my healthcare and you just step into an emergency room with Medicaid and get it free? Why should hospitals eat the cost of your healthcare?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • sybaris

      Please Mr. Tater do some of your own research and stop regurgitating anonymously written emails posing half witted arguments against the AHA. It makes you look stupid and ignorant.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  14. Chiil Out

    Don't look now, but making laws that exclude God, or any other deity, is a religion in itself. Atheism is a BELIEF in no God. That religious belief infringes on the rights of those Americans who should be free to practice their own religions when atheistic belief becomes a law that infringes on my right to practice my own religion.

    "God" is not a religion. Catholicism, Protestant, Islam, Hindu....those are "religions".

    Now, I guess we better censor any political references to ghosts and aliens since they aren't real either, right? Defund all Mars projects since they are searching for alien life on other planets. That's how ridiculous atheist sound. More people on this planet have reported seeing God than ET. But, atheists have no problem funding budgets that scan the heavens (pun intended) for ET life. I recommend anger management or counseling.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Atheism isnt a religion. Do you beleive in sata clause? No? So, is not beleiving in santa clause your religion? Is not beleiving in pixies your religion? Why is it so hard for christians to think logically?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • *

        *Claus, not clause

        September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Ed

      Being atheistic is just as strong a statement as one a fundamentalist might proclaim. HOWEVER, that being said, EVERYONE has the right to LEGALLY live in this country. Black, white, Christian, Jew, Islamic, Atheist, purple w/ pink polkadots, WHATEVER. Don't believe it, then don 't say those two words.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • AtheistFools

      @ Chill Out

      Beautifully said.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Nuh Uuuuhhhhh

      Wrong. Atheism is not the "belief" that there is no god. Atheism is founded on the scientific principle that states no evidence of god exists.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • AtheistFools

        Wrong, atheism is a form of belief. Like it or not, it still is.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Nuh Uuuuhhhhh

          The whole purpose of science is to eliminate "belief." Knowledge is based upon what you can observe. You can't observe god. You can't prove that god exists. It has nothing to do with belief.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Chiil Out

        ALL science begins with a belief. Belief urges people to prove their belief. That's why we have Mars rovers and space probes. That's why scientists still battle the virus although everything in science says, so far, it can't be beat. Belief is why archeologists dig for historic treasures, and often dig in the wrong places. Without belief, science would still be in the stone age. Tell the first person who tested the parachute that science isn't about belief!

        One thing I notice about most atheists I encounter...they have forgotten what it means to dream the impossible. I truly feel sorry for you all.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • cleareye1

          You were doing well until the end. It is only the non-religious believer who truly can imagine the impossible and to actually work towards achieving it.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • Chiil Out

        And no evidence supports that God doesn't exist either. Agnostic would be the scientific stance on this issue. That's why atheism IS a religious belief because there is no scientific evidence to support God does or does not exist. Otherwise, every atheist would be agnostic.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • G to the T

          Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. One speaks to knowledge (there's no way to "KNOW" that god exists) vs. belief (based on the lack evidence for the existence of a god, I don't believe there is one).

          Belief is (or at least should) always be conditional and open to change with the revelation of new data.

          That's why I'm an agnostic atheist. I know there is no way to prove it either way (from our end anyways) but based on the data I've reviewed, I don't feel there's enough evidence to take that "leap" into belief, so I'm an atheist.

          Does that help?

          September 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • DC

      HILARIOUS!!!

      What is this lawsuit doing to prevent you from going to church and praying? Why is the government and the schools making my children say anything about a God that they do not believe in? How about this: let's change the pledge to be inclusive of all religions, so we'll say "one nation under god, allah, yahweh, ganesh, and superman"...Then I'd allow it...But Christians think that the only religion on the planet is theirs, and they're correct and everyone else is wrong, so we have to deal with saying god in the pledge of our allegiance to this great country, which sponsors freedom of and from religion.

      You said: "God" is not a religion. Catholicism, Protestant, Islam, Hindu....those are "religions"....

      god is the magical person that christians worship. Islam has Allah. Jews have Yahweh. Hindus have millions of them. So if you want to have a freedom of religion, mention all of the gods that we all worship.

      So you think the Mars thing is only to search for life on other planets? Wow, and here all this time I thought we were just educating ourselves on what our surrounding planets were like once we had our feet on the ground.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • Chiil Out

        You would "allow it"?? Don't look now but everything you are accusing Christians of is exactly what you're doing. The only difference is that Christians don't have laws that restrict your right to practice your religious belief (which atheism is, a religious-based belief in the absence of god).

        September 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • Jo

          Your mind is so blocked that it's a complete waste of time and effort to try to explain anything to you. Enjoy your ignorance and we'll pursue our rights through courts. Have a good day.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ben

      I seriously can't tell if you're really this dumb or if you actually believe what you're saying. Is not collecting stamps a hobby?

      Which "God" do you think they mean when they say "In God we Trust?" Vishnu? Thor? Poseidon? You and I both know they are referring to the Christian-Judeo god, Yahweh. Furthermore, no one is suggesting we put "We do not believe in gods" on our money. We're saying to leave religion out of it altogether. Praise God in church if you want. No one is stopping you. But having the government declare that we are all god-fearing people is a clear and direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Momof3

      I think that you're missing the main point...and that is:

      In a nation of religious freedom (if that's what we’re truly going for in America), if you can't/won't/aren't going to mention ALL gods that are worshipped in your nation, then you shouldn't mention ANY of them.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  15. Matt

    Hey Dana, neither do you.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  16. WVLady65

    GOOD FOR YOU DANA! Telling the truth ALWAYS GETS PEOPLE IN HOT WATER! As long as you say what the left wants to hear you are okay with them, but, the minute you start telling the truth about anything, you are branded A RACIST AND/OR A RADICAL. There is no truth these days, only what the left wants told. AGAIN, THANKS DANA FOR TELLING THE TRUTH!!!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's right!
      America was built by Christians, for Christians!
      It's not like the Founding Fathers would ever say something so stupid as to imply that all men are equal, nor would the 2nd president ever sign a treaty that starts off with a statement like "As the government of the Unites States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

      September 10, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        Very true Doc. Just because our founding fathers were deists does not mean that they founded the nation on any religion. It's like if your Church has a softball team, they may all be Christians but they play the game with softball rules that have nothing to do with their religion. Even though our founders were deists and some Christians, they wrote the rules for American society for everyone, not just the religious.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Michae Means

        "built by Christians, for Christians" – Christians that: held slaves, burned women alive for witchery, thought that women shouldn't vote or have rights, waged war based on God, nearly wiped out an entire population of indigenous people...shall we continue? Because based on your comment you could also say "It was built by rich, white people, for rich white people".

        September 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          You didn't read the rest of my comment, did you?

          September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      You obviously meant "truthiness" instead of truth. It's that truth you just feeeeel is right with your overweight bible belt gut.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    There's an old saying amongst cultures visited by missionaries:
    "When the white man came, we had the land and he had the Bible. Now we have the Bible and he has the land."

    September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      And what is really sad is that the Christian see's that as a good deal for the natives...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  18. janer52

    Fox News/Noise. What more is there to say? Clueless extremists. Great combination.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  19. sly

    Nazi Dogs like Perino and Fox should be eliminated from America, using force would be most desireable.

    How about one big Sarin chemical bomb dropped on whereever Fox studios are? That would be ironic, since the NeoCon's are too gutless to do anything about it.

    Remove Fox using force. What the heck do we all have our weapons for?

    September 10, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • AtheistFools

      And that is an atheist view of a perfect world?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • denver

        One in which the state was completely neutral on the matter of religion. That'd be a good start.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • Momof3

        @AtheistFools – so is it your perfect world that has no atheists? Who would the xtians hate if there were no atheists?

        September 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • G to the T

          Historically, I'd guess the jews, but Islam would probably be first on their list

          September 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • BigPun

      I'd rather see someone remove you by force...can think of a lot of ways to hide the body of a filthy troll like you.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • AtheistFools

        Well well well. Here are atheists showing their real colors.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • LN

      That's a really horrid threat to make. I'm an atheist, but I don't wish that on anyone. Really, grow up. Threatening people makes you no better...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  20. Owl Creek Observer

    Looks like CNN has more people commenting on this worthless article today than they normally have watching their alleged news network.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Crashman

      And yet here you are...

      September 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
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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.