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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. madelefant

    Let Chris Hedges at this fox host (Chris is a graduate of Harvard Divinity school). He goes right at the fake Christians.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  2. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Wemen and children(gangs) RULE in da Banana Republic of America.

    "Isa 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."

    September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  3. wahiwriters

    The words "under God" were not added to the pledge until 1954. Anyone who thinks our founding fathers put it in there are just wrong and more than likely Faux "News" addicts that spend their days trolling CNN.com.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  4. James Napoli

    typical right wing stuff ... my way or the highway ... I guess she is more equal than those who do not share her beliefs ... and justice for all? not in her world ... if they diagree she wants them out of the country ... pathetic

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

    Oh if only Dana Perino's mom had been tricked into an abortion pill.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  6. Boerseun

    If you are an Atheist why do you care about " under God" you don't believe in God anyway? To you it's just a fairytale so relax and let us be.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      so let's change it to under Thor ...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • JustSarah

        I prefer Odin myself, but Thor would do.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why did the christians not just leave it alone and force their god on all of we the people. Put things back the way they were and you will not hear about it any more.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • cedar rapids

      because whilst god may not exist, followers most certainly do.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • CosmicC

      We are not asking you to disavow your belief in god, which is the equivalent of what you are asking of us in the pledge. All we are asking is what we are due; that the government, in all it's forms, remain neutral with respect to both your belief and ours.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  7. denver

    Fun fact:
    Francis Bellamy, the guy who wrote the original pledge of allegiance in 1892, was a Baptist minister. If a Baptist Minister knew better than to put god in the pledge, how nutty were the people who put it in there in 1954, and how crazy are the people who will defend it to the death today?

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

      I don't know Denver,"ONE NATION UNDER NOBODY", it just dosnt have that ring to it.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • denver

        Which is why we should go back to the original version instead of some stupid version you make up that nobody is asking for.

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

          Denver,thats fine by me,but how does that change anything for you?

          September 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  8. Get on Da Jeebus

    What kind of mental illness makes someone want to force everyone else to pledge allegiance to their imaginary sky daddy?

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

    All liberals are terrorists.

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

      Boring, obvious troll.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      feeble trolling ...

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • doobzz

      Weak.

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

      Time to feed the troll:
      Every morning the Trids got up, ate breakfast, and marched over the bridge to Tridville to work. One morning, a troll moved in under the bridge. When the Trids tried to cross the bridge, the troll climbed up and kicked the Trids all the way back to their homes. The Trids decided to take the day off in hopes that the troll would go away, but the next morning the troll once again climbed up onto the bridge and kicked them back to their homes. In desperation, the Trids decided to ask the Rabbi for help. So the next morning the Rabbi walked across the bridge several times but never saw the troll. He went home believing the troll had indeed moved on. When the Trids tried to cross the bridge afterward, the troll climbed up again and kicked the Trids back home. The Rabbi returned to the bridge and called out for the troll. When the troll appeared, the Rabbi asked why he was allowed to cross the bridge but not the Trids. The troll replied, "Silly Rabbi, kicks are for Trids."

      September 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  10. cjb

    I for one am sick and tired of a small minority telling the huge majority how to do things. This country was founded on religious freedom and the atheists are trying to take that away. I'm with Dana on this one.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      cjb
      Check your history. It was the christians who changed things from the way they were and forced their god on all Americans. The atheists are just trying to put things back the way they were.

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

        Rich,freedom of religion allows us to reject or embrace any and all religons as we please, as obviously, you have done.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          It allows you to follow your own personal faith but not to push that faith on others.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          ingtrm
          Freedom of religion does not allow you to force belief on others. The pledge is no place for the government to ask the question and then answer it, is there a god?. The government clearly violated the first amendment, and it needs to change.

          Next, remove the lie in god we trust from our money. Why do you want a lie as the national motto?

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

      Hilarious.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Trent

      Atheists are trying to gain the same religious liberties that you religious types have been coddled with for centuries.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      oh the irony!

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

      Someday you'll meet up with Reality. I hope that goes well!

      September 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • caileigh

      actually, last i checked the atheists were trying to assert their freedom of religion by not being forced into one they don't agree with

      September 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  11. grieferkiller

    Only 7% of members of the National Academy of Sciences profess belief in a "god". Imagine how screwed America would be without the vast majority of its thinkers that are responsible for breakthroughs in technology and medicine that keeps our economic engine chugging along, and keeps many of us alive. It's really about time that religious twits like Dana Perino faced the facts, and gave up their childish security blanket of religion.

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

      81% of America is Judeo Christian. Then there are the others. It is 3% atheist and so you have the right to your opinion, but you can't keep make up facts. nice try, heathen.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • sam

        'Heathen'? Really? Why don't you just go all the way and go with 'infidel'?

        September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        those numbers are quite correct. you go back into your bubble. the real world is frightening for you given your bronze age voodoo beliefs

        September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • D

        What does the overall percentage have to do in comparison to the percentage of a subset? Sounds like someone didn't understand the OP (and threw in an insult to boot, too!)

        September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        "you can't keep make up facts"

        You mean like christians do?

        September 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • JustSarah

        Interesting choice of words with "heathen" as many who practice neo-norse paganism have embraced that terminology as their own and used it to express their beliefs. Furthermore, "heathen" is used for populations who believe in multiple gods, not atheists. Nice try, though.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • doobzz

        He was referring to the percentage of believers in the National Academy of Sciences, not the entire USA.

        You get an F in reading comprehension on this one.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  12. lasy guy

    The [pledge already says "and to the Republicans for which it stands" so I guess the people haters already dominate it.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  13. Bishop Hairy Palms

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christian
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

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

      [standing ovation]

      September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  14. Gomez

    I agree

    September 10, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  15. Nuh Uuuuhhhhh

    As we become more educated, well-versed in scientific principles, and our intellect evolves as a culture, atheism will be the new norm. People will align their beliefs to that which is based in concrete evidence, rather than fairy tales, at which point, we can look at the ridiculous Christians and say, "no, YOU don't have to live here. Perhaps Saudi Arabia is better suited to your paradigm of civilization.

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

      You can always just kill yourself too.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
      • Nuh Uuuuhhhhh

        An infantile response to the coming changes.

        September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • CJ

      Christians robbed this country from harmless polytheists and pagans. They persecuted them and immigrant nonbelievers for 200 hundred years. Now slowly education and evidence is undermining their autocracy and aristocracy of ignorance.

      They will lash out. Those fake smiles will go. Those large bellies will shake.

      We will prevail, and so will true goodness, free of religion.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  16. CJ

    Time to organize fellow loathers of religious aggression:

    http://americanhumanist.org/

    The religious right will kill us given the chance. Really.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  17. TheWayISeeIt

    Who cares what the pledge says, just dont say it. However, they have no problem with the word "god" on their money. They trust god when they spend it.

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

      Good grief, they don't trust god just because they spend money–they don't really have a choice, do they? And that's another consti.tutional issue that will be taken up some day. You remember the Consti.tution, don't you?

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

      Yes, but my kids have to stand there while 50% of the people parrot idiocy in front of them.

      That's not fair. Or legal. Its theocratic.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I don't want "god" on the money or anywhere else connected with our gov't. And you shouldn't either.

      How about "in Allah we trust".... would you like that?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Hear This

      " they have no problem with the word "god" on their money"

      There most certainly is a problem with that too, but it is somewhat far down on the list of things to address at this time.

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

      " However, they have no problem with the word "god" on their money. They trust god when they spend it."

      I don't have a choice in the matter. If I want to buy food, I have to use the legal tender of the USA. That doesn't mean I trust your god or anyone else's god. It only means I've been forced to use the only means available to survive.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Phil

    PSSST, GOD IS IMAGINARY. Just FYI.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Jaki Pendol

      You mean like Santa Claus? NOOOO......

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  19. seanster5977

    There is a distinct difference from endorsing a religion and saying under God. God can mean a number of things. It doesn't say In Jesus name. It says under God. So if you are atheists can then decide if God can mean to them the sovereign power of the nation, or the sky or whatever. But it is ridiculous to attempt to appease everyone that gets their poor little feelings in a bind.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      God denotes an imaginary sentient creature that no one can show exists.

      Would you like it if the statement said under Satan, or in Satan we trust?

      It is that offensive.

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

      "There is a distinct difference from endorsing a religion and saying under God."

      No. The pledge says the U.S. is under God. How is that not an endorsement of a particular religion? Or even of religion in general?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • George

      So you'd have no problem with your little feelings if it was changed to say "under Allah", I suppose?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • CJ

      So do you mind if we start school with a denunciation of obscurantist mythology? Or would it bother you?

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Thatguy100

      Your hypothesis is interesting. But if I say "ok, i will say under god, but since the president is the head of the government, I'm just going to define obama as God." Watch the christains vocally flay you alive for blasphemy, obscentiy, deification of a human, etc. As well as the conservatives who will give you an earful for "you just worship obama you liberal sheep!"

      Sorry, just redefining god for each person doesn't work. Words have meaning. And the word "god", while ill-defined, is a deity, which is religious, which his denied active participation in government.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • D

      Fuzzing the definition of the word is not the right answer. The proper thing to do would be to restore the pledge to it's original form by removing that phrase.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Philip

      Your comment would be more legitimate if the Christians didn't insist that the name of their god is God.

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

      There used to be an on-going debate over who was god; Clapton, Page, Beck, or Hendrix. The problem with the debate is that the answer was McLaughlin.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  20. meadowmuffin

    ...under Allah, under God, under Ronald McDonald, or the Grimmice...Faith is one thing, religion something totaly different. I have faith in something greater than myself, yet as far as religion goes... no thanks... I refuse to follow the teachings of a magical man in the sky that encourages hate, unacceptance, slavery, and inequality. Which is what basicaly every organized religion is all about.The Pledge of Allegiance should be about support for the country and the people in it...not about religion...state and religion should be seperate. Christianity is not the only religion in the world.

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

      Amen!

      September 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
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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.