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. realitybriar

    I think Dana Perino needs to re-read the 1st Amendmend, and not read into it something that isn't there.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  2. Intriqued Mind

    I have a feeling that a lot of these people who claim to be atheists, are in fact agnostics. The average person probably doesn't know the difference between the two either. Agnostics, such as myself, don't have a belief system and don't claim to know whether or not a deity exists whereas Atheists believe that there is no such thing as a deity or all-powerful creator.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      ahhhh ... no.

      a lot of these people who claim to be atheists, are in fact atheists. And we all know the difference.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • Intriqued Mind

        I don't believe the average person could tell you the difference between those two words. The fact that it wasn't used once in this article also hints at that.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Gnosis and belief are two exclusive spectra. It is possible for one to be both agnostic and atheist.

          gnosticism
          .
          .
          theism.........atheism
          .
          .
          agnosticism

          You seem to be conflating the definition of so-called "strong atheism," which is a subset of atheism, with atheism in general.

          Atheism is simply a statement of a lack of belief. It is not a statement of belief. Most atheists fall into this category. If you wanted to use gnosticism vs agnosticism and theism vs atheism as two spectra to describe this position, the category would be "agnostic atheist." A typical statement about belief in gods would be: "I see no reason to believe in gods due to a lack of evidence of their existence. Without evidence, knowledge is both impossible and irrelevant."

          "Strong atheists" take the statement of disbelief one step further and claim to know there are no gods. Using the same spectra to describe this position, this category would be "gnostic atheist." A typical belief statement would be" "The overwhelming lack of evidence for gods has convinced me that there are no gods."

          Someone who loosely follows a religion but has doubts or someone who tends to identify as "spiritual but not religious" would most likely fit into the category of agnostic theist. A typical belief statement: "I want to believe in the divinity and love promised by Jesus, and I think there is some supernatural force acting in the universe, but I have some major issues with what my religion claims and behavior that is prescribes."

          Finally, someone who is thoroughly convinced of the validity of their religion's claims, like many fundamentalist christians, muslims, and jews, would likely fall under the category of gnostic theist. A typical belief statement: "The bible is the inerrant word of god, and it must be followed."

          September 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Gnosis and belief are two exclusive spectra. It is possible for one to be both agnostic and atheist.

          gnosticism
          .
          .
          theism.........atheism
          .
          .
          agnosticism

          You seem to be conflating the definition of so-called "strong atheism," which is a subset of atheism, with atheism in general.

          Atheism is simply a statement of a lack of belief. It is not a statement of belief. Most atheists fall into this category. If you wanted to use gnosticism vs agnosticism and theism vs atheism as two spectra to describe this position, the category would be "agnostic atheist." A typical statement about belief in gods would be: "I see no reason to believe in gods due to a lack of evidence of their existence. Without evidence, knowledge is both impossible and irrelevant."

          "Strong atheists" take the statement of disbelief one step further and claim to know there are no gods. Using the same spectra to describe this position, this category would be "gnostic atheist." A typical belief statement would be" "The overwhelming lack of evidence for gods has convinced me that there are no gods."

          Someone who loosely follows a religion but has doubts or someone who tends to identify as "spiritual but not religious" would most likely fit into the category of agnostic theist. A typical belief statement: "I want to believe in the divinity and love promised by Jesus, and I think there is some supernatural force acting in the universe, but I have some major issues with what my religion claims and behavior that it prescribes."

          Finally, someone who is thoroughly convinced of the validity of their religion's claims, like many fundamentalist christians, muslims, and jews, would likely fall under the category of gnostic theist. A typical belief statement: "The bible is the inerrant word of god, and it must be followed."

          September 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          Gnosis and belief are two exclusive spectra. It is possible for one to be both agnostic and atheist.

          gnosticism
          .
          .
          theism.........atheism
          .
          .
          agnosticism

          gnostic theist – My religion and associated dogma is absolutely true
          agnostic theist – I believe in god(s), and if religious, believe in the core principals of my religion.
          agnostic atheist – I do not believe in gods. I am infinitesimally-to-somewhat open to the possibility that god(s) exist, but suitable evidence has not been provide to justify belief.
          gnostic atheist – The lack of existing evidence, along with other factors such as the gross errors and contradictions present in various religions' sacred texts, have led me to believe there are no gods.

          September 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • CosmicC

      As an atheist my gut reaction is to disagree. However, since I only know what is in my own mind, I will only speak for myself and say that I am NOT an agnostic.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • G to the T

        So you KNOW there is no god and feel it's possible to prove there isn't? I am an agnostic atheist so I'd be very interested to hear how you arrived at such a certainty.

        September 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  3. joebob

    "Atheists 'don't have to live here" 'Neither do Fox hosts!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • A in Pa

      She's very powerful, you know. God has her back.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  4. LeRoy Johnson

    DARN RIGHT ... MOVE to RUSSIA!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  5. Church of Suicidal

    Can you imagine how these American Taliban would react if the person next to them at a ballgame was Muslim and said "under Allah"? It's not just atheists they'd like to remove from our society.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • lerianis

      Exactly. The sad fact of the matter is that 90% of Americans would not give a bleep if someone did that.

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

      I am a staunch Atheist. That being said, although Muslims and Atheists are not connected religiously in any way, both groups are targets of hate for Christians in America. Both groups are ostracized and treated as if our rights do not matter. Whenever something offends a Muslim or an Atheist, Christians go nuts, claiming we are whining. But whenever Christians find something offensive, it's immediately removed and Christians say "shame on you" to everyone else. It's easier to identify with Muslims and I don't dislike them per se because we (atheists and muslims) suffer persecution from Christians.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • Crashman

        And Jews and Budhists and Hindus and anyone else who isn't Christian. I was raised Catholic, but left because of the hate that's taught by the church. If you're gay you're a sinner (unless you're a priest). If you divorce, even because of abuse, you're a sinner. If you re-marry, you're a sinner. If you believe the teachings of another faith, you're a sinner. This doesn't sound like what Jesus taught.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  6. Scott

    I was born in this country. I love my country.

    One of the things I love about my country is the freedom of religion; including the freedom to not participate in a religion.

    Another thing I love about my country is free speech; including the right of this idiot to express her exasperation.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  7. Jim Moore

    Fascists don't have to live here either.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  8. Amy

    Sigh, The pledge itself was written by a religious person. SMH can you anti religious people get an education in history..

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

      Hi Amy,
      The pledge was composed in 1892. The phrase "under god" was added in 1954 because people were afraid of Communism. We had a pledge w/o "under god" for longer than we've had the current version.

      Smack your head a little harder and drive some facts into it.

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

      Hey, here's an idea: why don't we restore the pledge to its ORIGINAL version ... you know, the version that didn't include that phrase!

      September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Epic Fail Amy!

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

      Sigh, Amy, I wish you knew what you were talking about.

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

      True, and he was adament about leaving god out of it. It was added during the red scare long after he had died.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Hear This

      Amy,

      Yes, the Pledge was composed by a Baptist minister, who was also a socialist, btw - he did not include the phrase "under God" in it.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Republicrat

      Yes that's right. And when he wrote it, he didn't include the words "under God". That was added by Congress in 1954 following an effort to get it added by an Illinois lawyer.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Jenn

      It may have been written by a religious person (who was also a socialist), but it didn't include "under God" until 1954- half a century later. And even then, the addition took a serious debate in congress.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  9. arthurrrrr

    since Gods existence is incredibly EASY to prove, that makes atheists look pretty darn silly doesn't it!!!!

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

      Why do RELIGIOUS people always try to accentuate their POINT with BLOCK CAPS. Also, please demonstrate how to prove the existence of your god.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • FactCheck

      Perhaps even easier than constructing a grammatically correct English sentence. At least I hope it is, since you were not up to that task.

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

      If you can easily prove your chosen deity. I suggest contacting the Nobel Prize Committee, as they may have an award waiting for you.

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

      How is it incredibly easy to prove? Seriously, try to prove it? You will not be able to, because the truth is that your belief in 'god' is based on 'faith'..... which is the same thing that makes people jump off cliffs and think that they can fly, i.e. it's insanity.

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

      Then prove it. Right now. Produce this god. Not a book, not a speech, not a figurine. Produce this god right now.

      Oh right. You can't.

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

      And yet, no one has proven the existence of God. As soon as you define a God, it is pretty easy to refute that particular God exists.

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

      I have to assume this is sarcasm.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Republicrat

      Since its obvious that pigs DO INDEED FLY, it's easy to explain the rise in the price of bacon!
      You see how easy it is to make a silly point when you start with a false premise?

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • IronGland

      If it is so EASY to prove god exists, then prove it. Either way, in the US we are supposed to have freedom of religion. Since not everyone believes in the same deity, and some don't believe in any, "under god" should be removed from the pledge, since it is a show of patriotism and not a prayer. It puts the atheist in a catch-22...Say the pledge and you are going against your principles, but don't say it and you are unpatriotic. In a land that proclaims freedom of religion, you should not be able to impose your beliefs on others under the guise of patriotism.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  10. RF

    Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Aren't we ALL allowed freedom of religion? And no, I'm not even Athiest.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • LeRoy Johnson

      FOX is neither church nor state, goofus.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  11. george t hibs

    OK, where do we stop with this? Do we send the Black folks somewhere else because they wanted equality? What about the Mexicans, send them all back to Mexico? What's next? The gays, then the Jews, then the Catholics? Where do this end? Nazi Germany??

    September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  12. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Hey Meeester, wanna buy a flag and support da socie cause??

    September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      most feeble troll I've ever come across ...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  13. eflows

    Ignorant religious fascists also don't have to live here. There's a whole huge swath of the Middle East they'd find much more agreeable.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • lerianis

      Personally, I believe that they should not be allowed to live anywhere unless they are willing to sign an agreement saying that they will not, through the sword or otherwise, try to force their religious tenets on other people.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • A in Pa

      Then they can fight over who's God is the real God and who does God agree with, which scriptue is correct, who's prophet is correct. I'm sure they'll find those folks very reasonable.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  14. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    The socies LUV their neighbors stuff as their own. Focus on da flag. Focus on da flag.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  15. A in Pa

    What is right is that we not have to swear allegiance to your God, while pledging allegiance to OUR country.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  16. She's right

    Everything leftists say and do is pathetic. I wish they were not allowed to have an opinion. That would be awesome.

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

      That's cool. We'll defend your right to free speech even though you're dumb.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • She's right

        You won't defend anything. I'm sure of it.

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

          That's nice. Like I said, I stand behind your right to say incredibly stupid things. Carry on.

          September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • John (not McCain)

          It'll be a much safer, freer and cleaner world once you aren't in it.

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

      I find your opinion insulting.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • She's right

        Ask me if I care.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Roshi

      It's un-american to want to take people's opinions away...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • She's right

        Too bad.

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

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  17. Danibeth

    Wasn't that why your ancestors left Europe? BIGOT!

    September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  18. pdqbach

    Dana Perino has every right to express her opinion. Our country was founded by people seeking freedom to worship and freedom from religious persecution. Fascist like "Sly" are one of the reasons we had to fight WWII. Evil is always waiting at the gates, and progtards know that communism cannot exist where there is freedom of religion.

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

      Communism /= to lack of religion in the slightest and no country in the WORLD has ever had communism/socialism.

      China = Elitist.
      Russia = Elitist.
      Soviet-era Russia = Elitist.
      Need I keep on going?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Republicrat

      Communism is a political, economic and social power structure and has absolutely nothing to do with the presence or lack of religious liberty in any way. There is no reason whatsoever that communism cannot exist in state with religious freedom.

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

    Bigotry from the Fake News Channel once again. You Dana,can go live somewhere else and leave us with one less bigot.

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

      Look at the ratings for Fox.......

      September 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • Roshi

        lol that's like saying "look at the ratings for the jersey shore". just because a lot of people watch it, doesn't mean the show has any substance worth watching...

        September 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  20. 1984

    . I have a right in this country to worship as I please.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Agreed. You do not however, have the right to use a government backed pledge to try and force me to proclaim my fealty to your or anyone's God/god.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • seanster5977

        Then make God be whatever it is for you. It doesn't mean you have to change the principles of a nation because you get your sensitive feelings hurt. God doesn't mean religion unless you make it mean religion.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          So when the red scare pressured our congress to add "Under God" in 1954 that wasn't "changing the principles of a nation"?

          September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'God doesn't mean religion unless you make it mean religion.'

          er, yes it does actually.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • Crashman

          What could "God" possibly mean other than religion? But if that's true, then change the word God to Allah. You're ok with that, right? Because it doesn't mean anything religious either.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
      • Maxwycisk

        Amen

        September 10, 2013 at 11:53 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.