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. Dyslexic doG

    This morning there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.

    John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

    Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

    Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

    John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    from Jhuger.com

    September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  2. John

    The "Pledge of Allegiance" was written by a Socialist and was then used to sell flags to schools, it is not heritage or history, it is a marketing gimmick that was very successful. The "under god" portion was added during the Cold War, ironically enough, to remind people that Communists are godless, and it was adopted by your grandfathers, not your forefathers. Not only is the "under god" portion of a pledge that we require children to make offensive to anyone who does not believe in god, and therefor a violation of the separation between church and state; the entire pledge itself is an archaic throw back to a more ignorant and fearful time, so why don't we just do away with the whole stupid thing, considering that true loyalty and patriotism comes from a more meaningful place inside us than a mandatory pledge that children drone through every single day of elementary school.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  3. Travis

    I'll never forget a certain moment a few years ago, in the lunch room of a company of 220 people in San Diego, CA where I worked. A lady said "you have freedom of religion in this country, but we are a Christian nation with Christian values and it should be reflected in our laws". Then I looked at who was sitting at the table- one Muslim, two Laotian Buddhists, two atheists, an agnostic, and a Jewish man. It made me smirk. It was a smirky day.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Even Simpler

    Restore the original phrase which was patriotic without swearing to a religion you may not be part of.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  5. kllund

    Atheists are as much Americans as anyone else. Many of us have fought and died for this country as did Americans from many different faiths. We have sent our sons and daughters to war. We have lived here, worked for, and paid taxes like everyone else in order to build a great country. Everyone who disagrees with you ,Dana Perrino, is not going to leave this country we all helped build so get used to the ideas of others. Atheist or not I would be very afraid of a country led by the antiquated, simple, and ignorant ideas of those of the FOX, Faux, news mindset.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  6. My Dog is a jealous Dog

    How about some speculation about what this country would be like if all the atheists left. I would like to hear from both sides on this – it should be interesting.

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

      If we had no atheists, well we'd have no country. There are plenty of gravestones in veterans cemeteries, founding fathers, who had no religion, or were against religion. Thomas Paine for example was reviled for his attacks on religion, but his attacks on the british were why the revolution succeeded, and his words were read by Washington to his army.

      Note that the people who wanted to have separation of church and state were religious, they wanted to have their OWN religion and escape the church of england, the lutherans, and the catholics who used government to punish anyone not siding with God as they saw it. The american religion is largely focused on "baptism" issues for which they had to flee europe.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        I totally agree that this country would not even be here if not for atheists, but my thought experiment is about what would happen now if every atheist in this country up and left. I envision something like the South Park episode where all the adults were driven out of town.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  7. D-Day

    Soon, kids won't be allowed to read the Declaration of Independence in school either.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Fool. If God were eliminated from it I bet fools like you would lash out and try to ban it all together because it doesn't have "God" in it. Oh waaa waaaa. Cry a little more.

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

        Uh, there's no mention of "God" in the Declaration of Independence. #justsayin

        September 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • kllund

      Atheists are as much Americans as anyone else. Many of us have fought and died for this country as did Americans from many different faiths. We have sent our sons and daughters to war. We have lived here, worked for, and paid taxes like everyone else in order to build a great country. Everyone who disagrees with you ,Dana Perrino, is not going to leave this country we all helped build so get used to the ideas of others. Atheist or not I would be very afraid of a country led by the antiquated, simple, and ignorant ideas of those of the FOX, Faux, news mindset.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  8. 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 12:01 pm |
  9. Ricardo

    Maybe we should kick every minority out of our country ... or better yet, add every majjority to our pledge and currency.

    So help us white, male, brown-eyed, god!

    September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  10. SmartPotato

    Obviously this person has never heard of the First Amendment, that whole part about not making ANY laws respecting ANY religion... Religious people are free to worship how and what they wish, but they are NOT allowed to force others, such as children, in places that involve taxpayer dollars. Such as schools.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      SP ... you're awesome!

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

    Look it's simple. Don't want to say "under God"? How about, while reciting the pledge, keep your yap shut at that point in the pledge? I almost guarantee the student had nothing to do with this...it was either all the parents idea for their 15 minutes of fame OR they put the poor kid up to it.

    Better yet, just keep your yap shut and stop all these narcissistic, frivolous lawsuits and get an actual LIFE.

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

      It's simple: if you want to live in a country that brain-washes children into a religious cult via public schooling, move to a country that does. This lawsuit is NOT frivolous; we're sick of your religion and your whining. SHUT UP.

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

      Even simpler: restore the pledge to its original version by removing that line and all of this is settled!

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

      Or we could put "under Ganesh" in the pledge and you can just keep your yap shut when it comes up.

      Works both ways, cracker.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Mikp
      When I was 7 and in second grade I refused to recite the pledge because of the reference. It did not come from my parents or anyone else. I got in trouble with the school until my father (a presbyterian) straightened out the school. I have not said it since, and look forward to the day the pledge is returned to we the people, not we the people that think there are gods.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'MikeP – Look it's simple. Don't want to say "under God"? How about, while reciting the pledge, keep your yap shut at that point in the pledge?'

      Why should a person be forced to make a choice whilst saying the pledge to their country? Does that actually sound right to you?

      September 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • cleareye1

        The "pledge" is for the simple folks and is ultimately meaningless. It is just a waste of time.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Jason

    Agreed!!! We don't persecute you because you're an atheist. We don't ask you to change your ideas and believe in a God. Don't ask us to change our traditions/beliefs. There's more important things to turn your attention to.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Oh please you have been persecuting people for years.

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

        Heh.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Reese

      Traditions? "under God" wasn't even added into the pledge until the 50's under Eisenhower as a response to the cold war. Dude, do your homework.

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

      Actually, you have for thousands of years. And most recently, ask the Native Americans. Wow. It's amazing how uneducated fundamentalists are.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • doobzz

      "We don't persecute you because you're an atheist. We don't ask you to change your ideas and believe in a God. "

      Liar.

      I don't bring up my non belief unless asked. When I say that I don't believe in any deities, 99% of the time I'm told how wrong I am and how I'm going to hell. When I state that I don't believe in hell either, the venom and hatred flows out of these good Christians who are following their loving god's example.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Agreed!!! We don't persecute you because you're an atheist. We don't ask you to change your ideas and believe in a God. '

      this was sarcasm right?

      September 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  13. StormySyndrome

    I guess by her very own remark...Christians don't have to live here either.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  14. Kevin

    And if Christians are tired of the 'War on Christmas' and other such fabrications, they don't have to live here

    September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  15. Marcus Aurelius

    Now which religion are they wanting to separate from the state? Islam? Judaism? Christianity? Its freedom of Religion last I checked. This "under God" applies to many religions. Not one. The only people who want freedom "from" religion vs "of" religion are Atheists.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      How about Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious groups that believe differently in the United States. We do not need a telling the people of this nation to include God in the pledge. It is highly illegal because it shows favoritism toward one religious group above all else.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Praise Jeebus Ya'll!

      Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion.

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

      Let's not forget that "under God" wasn't even added until 1954. And also the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist minister. I don't think Conservatives or Christians know this.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • jony3322

      There is a religion which do not worship God or Gods. Do your research and you can find out that religion is one of the largest religion in the world.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • JustSarah

      What if you are pagan and worship multiple gods/goddess? Wouldn't "under God" be offensive to this population as well?

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

      Have you even READ the First Amendment? It's illegal for the government to make laws respecting ANY religion, and people who do not believe in your flying spaghetti monster cult don't want it forced down their or their children's throats.

      Take a look at Jefferson's letters, Jefferson's writings. Hell, take a look at ANY of the Founding Fathers' writings. You, sir, are dead wrong.

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

        That's why the Texas School Board is trying to write Jefferson out of the history books.

        September 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Jumpin' Jupiter

      Do you know that every M.D. (medical doctor) pledges:

      "I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath#English_translation.2C_version_1

      September 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  16. She's right

    Too many trolls on this blog spewing junk. Just another day on CNN I guess.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      I've read some of your comments and I agree that it must be a typical troll day for you.

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

      Why are you complaining about yourself?

      September 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • G to the T

      Sorry... my irony meter just exploded. Could you repeat that?

      September 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  17. cjb

    GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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

      Still trying to convince yourself?

      September 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • jony3322

      Can I say Bodhisattvas bless America? In case you don't know we see God or Gods are the one who are still in the life cycles of reborn just like human.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  18. Lionly Lamb

    Islamists are becoming entrenched within America's countryside...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv1npwOZ0lk&feature=player_detailpage

    September 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Oh shut up troll. Just because you can't control the nation doesn't mean another religion is going to. We are secular and will always be secular.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Lionly Lamb

        Sired troll...

        What EXACTLY do you mean when you incite the word "secular"..? What is it you attribute secularism to..?

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

          Countering all intolerance, Christian, Muslim or otherwise. Two sides of the same ugly coin.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • SmartPotato

          The First Amendment pretty much establishes our secularism. Geez, you should actually read it sometime.

          September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  19. Patriotic

    Very simple – if you don't want to say "Under God" then don't say it. That's your right.

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

      Read the fifty responses to this already. We have to stand in school/work while you lot parrot your madrasas mundanities. Its insulting.

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

      Ironic that your call yourself Patriotic when you seem unconcerned with the Const.itution.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • SmartPotato

      It's very simple, if you want to say it under your own breath, that's your right. Meanwhile, quit trying to force your bigoted, racist, judgmental religion down every child's throat in the classroom. UGH.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  20. realitybriar

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

    September 10, 2013 at 11:56 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.