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September 9th, 2013
03:29 PM ET

Fox News host: Atheists 'don't have to live here'

By Daniel BurkeCNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Fox News pundit Dana Perino said she's "tired" of atheists attempting to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, adding, "if these people really don't like it, they don't have to live here."

The co-host of Fox's "The Five" was referring to a suit brought by the American Humanist Association in Massachusetts, where the state's Supreme Judicial Court heard a challenge to the pledge on Wednesday.

The group's executive director, Roy Speckhardt, called the suit "the first challenge of its kind," but Perino begged to differ.

Perino, who was White House press secretary for George W. Bush from 2007-2009, said she recalled working at the Justice Department in 2001 "and a lawsuit like this came through."

The former Bush spokeswoman added that "before the day had finished the United States Senate and the House of Representatives had both passed resolutions saying that they were for keeping ‘under God’ in the pledge."

"If these people don't like it, they don't have to live here," Perino added.

David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, called Perino's comments "bigotry."

"I, for one, am tired of those Christians, like Ms. Perino, who think that equality is somehow un-American," Silverman said. "If Ms. Perino doesn't like being only equal, it is she who will have to leave America to some other country that doesn't value religious liberty."

READ MORE: Famous Atheists and Their Beliefs 

In 2002, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with atheist Michael Newdow who argued that the words "under God" in the pledge amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. The Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

Congress added the words "under God" in 1954 amid the red scare over the Soviet Union. In November 2002, after the Newdow ruling, Congress passed a law reaffirming "under God" in the pledge.

Greg Gutfeld, another co-host on "The Five," continued the discussion after Perino, saying the Pledge of Allegiance "is not a prayer, it's a patriotic exercise. In a sense, it's basically saying: Thanks for giving us the freedom to be an atheist."

The Massachusetts case, which was brought by an unidentified family of a student at a school in suburban Boston, will be argued on the premise that the pledge violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.

READ MORE: Behold, the Six Types of Atheists

It is the first such case to be tried on the state level: All previous attempts have been argued in federal court on the grounds that "under God" was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state.

CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • News media • Schools • TV

soundoff (7,255 Responses)
  1. ReligionIsBS

    I say we cange it to one nation under allah and if the christians dont like it, then they can just skip that part. Who's with me?

    September 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  2. Justin

    What is wrong with adding a word instead of removing any ....Add the word "MY" ONE NATION UNDER MY GOD.... since this nation is of many faiths with many Gods it could ring true for all who recite the pledge!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • QS

      Except for those who believe in no god.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • tom

        They would insert "under no God". Seems like a ridiculous situation that can easily be solved by omitting any reference.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • HA25

          You get we're talking about 8 year olds. "Simply" inserting "under no God" is not part of their reasoning capability. The brainwashing starts early, Tom.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • Justin

        Een athests have a belief in something bigger than themselves ...that is a God.....has nothing to do with believing in religion even if they are referring to themselves as their own god MY would be a fitting word to insert

        September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Wrong...flat out wrong. God implies a sentient being, and no one has ever shown one to exist. I am an example of you being wrong.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  3. gregorysnd

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931) it goes as follows...I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    in 1942 it was modified to "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

    The phrase "under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954

    Obviously there is a lot of drama over something that has been modified at least 2 times from the original... Fox should think about what they say before the spew it out.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  4. L van Zyl

    I agree, LEAVE it in. If they don't like it, they don't have to say that part.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • infinitusmaximus

      no

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

      What if they want to insert "under no God"? Seems like a contentious environment and not an appropriate or necessary way for school kids to start their day..

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

      Maybe we should say "under nobody" then?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • k

      Or take it out and we can say it if we want.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Matt StL

      Or you can just revert to the original version which did not have "under God" in the first place. It was added during the McCarthyism Era out of fear and propaganda.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Sherry

    The phrase under god was not in the original pledge, it wasn't even added until the 1950's. I do not believe it should be in there. I am an original American. My ancestors came on the Mayflower, some even "married" Native Americans. This is the United States of America, not the United States of god.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Name*JGM

      This is not for liberals to decide for all of us.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • doobzz

        Nor is it for the religious to decide.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  6. McLarnan

    As long as there are people who think this way, and live their lives by these thoughts, humanity will not be able to evolve to the amazing powerful beings we're meant to be. Look at Jesus, he's pretty much been made into "God" by us, because of the incredible things he did. However, you're just as capable of everything he did as he was, and so am I. "Faith can move a mountain"...there is truth in your Bible, it's just been mixed up to keep us dumb, ha. As long as you continue to believe the media and fail to look inside yourselves for answers, you're screwed. I'm not saying there is no "God force"...it's within all of us, and sure the 10 commandments are very good guidelines to live by, but there's no big man in the sky controlling us, if there were,first of all, the obvious...we'd be able to find him, also... what a never ending pain in the neck he would have set himself up for. Welcome to free will. Welcome to 2013, we have discovered universes outside of our own, many of your ancient ways of thinking just don't make sense anymore. Time to evolve. For lack of a better term....quit being mindless sheep, put a little logic into your day.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  7. Creed

    Read the history of the Pledge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance

    Under God was added many years after the original pledge was proposed by Bellamy in 1892.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  8. Brad

    7B people overcrowding the planet, govt scandal around every corner, economy in the toilet, WW3 any day now, gas prices so high you can barely afford to get to work to earn the money to buy the gas to get you to work and mention athiest or god and all of a sudden everyone is an activist.

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

      Looks like god is doing a crappy job managing his planet and followers. Perhaps we should impeach him out of the pledge.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Don H

    the words under god was never in our pledge of allegiance until the 1950's which means it should be removed and returned to it's original form. Just like coins should be returned to it's original form, the words in god we trust was never on any coins until the 1940's.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  10. infinitusmaximus

    'under God' implies our political decisions are in keeping with God's will.
    REMOVE IT AS THIS IS A MISREPRESENTATION OF GOD
    separate church and state!! and church and feds.
    and while you are at it make churches pay tax.

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

      and if you want to accurately change it should read- one nation OVER God

      September 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  11. finman1966

    Here is the problem for atheists. They claim they fall under the protection of freedom of religion to advocate their view. Religion is defined as an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the supernatural, and to spirituality. I have never heard an atheist relate anything regarding the creation of the universe or a Creator, etc., to anything other than evolution and the big bang theory- as they note these are all proven by the scientific method- not the supernatural or for that matter anything to do with spirituality. With that being said, what they are advocating is not freedom of religion which the the freedom to relate to a Creator as one wishes, but freedom from religion, meaning they are not forced to worship. I completely agree with Dana Perino- if the atheists don't like the pledge, then move. While you are at, they obviously won't need any of their money that says "In God We Trust" and I will be happy to help them out by taking all of that off their hands. Finally, I believe in God- what about MY rights being violated? What about the fact that I don't like the paradigm shift to a secular nation- where is the ACLU to defend me????

    September 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Brad

      Or if atheists dont like the pledge, we lobby to get it changed back to the original form which was just fine until the 50s congress had the under god BS installed to combat communism. back then we should have said if Christians don't like the pledge then tough.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • nimitta

      Ha! That's only a problem because you're making it one. Freedom of religion is legally understood to include the freedom to practice a religion, not practice it, or reject it entirely. If that weren't the case, there would be a whole lotta non-observant Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and other nominal believers under attack by bigoted fundamentalists like Perino!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  12. 1brelliott1

    Kudos to Dana Perrino for standing up against the measly few who will end up taking all of our rights away in the US. We need people who are high up there in the media department, someone they always want to interview, to be recognized standing up for God. If we Christians don't, who will? I am sure God is very disappointed in His believers who sit back with folded hands asking Him for advice on how to handle this. Stand up to it dammit! I am a Christian and I just swore. That tells you how disgusted I am with US Christian citizens. I do not hide from the truth of God. Anyone who knows me on FB or other websites or knows my book, Courage Times Three, about having the faith and trust in God to carry us, knows I stand up for God. Christians of the world? It's time to stand....

    September 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Brad

      Im sure if there is a god he could care less what you are doing. How can he be all powerful if something as lowly in his eyes as a human concerns him.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • 1brelliott1

        Because He created us. Sorry you have not received the gift of eternal salvation. It's never too late. Embrace Him in your world and you will see exactly what I mean.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Barbara

      Exactly what rights are being taken away from you?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • 1brelliott1

        I believe in the right to marry a man and I am a woman. Yes, God is the one who created marriage between men and women, not humans. so, humans cannot change God's laws. All of my rights are worthless without the blessings from God.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • G to the T

          That makes zero sense. Are you trying to say that you cannot get married for some reason? Because that's the only way your rights would be limited, is if someone said you COULDN"T get married.

          So...?

          September 13, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Lin

      Not everyone one who is an American has the same God. God doesn't belong in our government it belongs in the church of your choice and in your home.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • 1brelliott1

        Our country was founded on the basis of God Almighty. Sorry you feel that way. I stand up for my Go in every aspect of life.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • G to the T

          Your country was founded on the principle of "no taxation without representation" – does that sound familiar at all?

          September 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • doobzz

      "Anyone who knows me on FB or other websites or knows my book, Courage Times Three, about having the faith and trust in God to carry us, knows I stand up for God. Christians of the world? It's time to stand...."

      Stealing advertising space from CNN to pimp your book is a sin. You're going to burn in hell.

      BTW, I read a preview of your three week old, self-published book on Amazon. It sucks, amateurish crapola.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        His fb page is crap also.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • McLarnan

      You honestly believe the words you type? You have a mind of your own, use it. There is no logic in that, at all. What honestly makes you think the creator of the universe cares what the people in America...on Earth, are chanting before school? Seriously, this is not an attack on God or Christians, honestly think about that, it just doesn't make sense. This part however, is an attack, you Christians are gullible, outdated, judgmental, fearful and wrong. Also, when you say "dammit" .... and you expect it to have shock value because you're a Christian and you "swore"....it makes me wonder if you've ever even read your Bible, because first of all the phrase is "damn it" and second of all it's ALLLL over your Bible, so what makes it swearing? Get real. Honestly, use your brain.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • ya

      Pimping your religion for a buck? How typical.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  13. Realist58

    Like this country doesn't have more important things to be spending its time and money on. Get focused on REAL problems people.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Brad

      shhhh, you are not following the smoke and mirrors, how can you be tricked into caring about the real problems if you look past the BS

      September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  14. k

    1. Who care what this "b+1"unt says.

    2. If Dana Perino does't like people attempting to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance then she doesn't have to live here."

    September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  15. Robert Beaudreault

    It is this nation under god that allows you to voice your opinion in the first place. Show me another country where anything like allowing lawsuits contesting the national anthem or codling illegal immigrants or having 3 and 4 generations of families on welfare exists. My beliefs will upstand me tolerating you. Are you that afraid that your beliefs will not tolerate the majority disagreeing with you. "the needs of the one have to be put aside for the needs of the many"

    September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • norman

      It's never been "under dog", dummy-thats just nonsense your parents brainwashed you with

      September 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Potter82

    "If _____ don't like it than they don't have to live here"

    I'm sure that statement has been made, at one time or another, about blacks, gays, asians, latinos, the Irish, the Italians, jews, muslims, catholics, etc. It's a completely bigotted statement. America is the home of these people, they shouldn't have to leave it because of your intolerance. This is not nor will it ever be a Christian nation no matter how much the religious right wants it to be.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  17. SHOCKWAVE

    America was founded by people who where tired of being forced to practice a specific religion, we have the right to choose a religion and we have the right to NOT choose a religion that is the entire point of America. Our government should not be lead by an invisable man who has never shown himself to anyone. Quite frankly its scares the crap out of me when a polictical leader says "god told me." Athiest are on the rise, and just like everything else we will get noticed, and we will eventually get the respect that we dieserve.

    September 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Robert Beaudreault

      As a Christian it highly bothers me to when anybody starts a conversation with "When I talked to god last night" but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Your atheism would have to triple in size just to make up 1% of the population. Almost all Americans believe in a god of one sense or another. You being an atheist does not offend me. Is your faith that weak where the simple mention of God threatens it?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • doobzz

        It's not about promoting atheism, it's about separation of church and state.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • finman1966

      First off, learn to spell, its "deserve". Second, how about the fact you are violating my rights? Let's be clear- the atheist agenda is to eliminate religion and all churches, eventually. I would also note religion is defined as humanity's link based on a belief system, culture, etc. to spirituality and the supernatural. Since you have no link because you don't believe in either, freedom of religion or the right to choose what religion to pursue, does not apply to you. While you are at, don't you think using cash that says "In God We Trust" is hypocritical???? Since you don't trust in God, you can send me all your cash, I would not want your beliefs to be compromised.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Johnny

        I just use my debit card, it says VISA on it.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • G to the T

        "Let's be clear- the atheist agenda is to eliminate religion and all churches, eventually."
        Get off your cross. No one is looking to outlaw religion (by which I'm sure you mean christianity).

        "I would also note religion is defined as humanity's link based on a belief system, culture, etc. to spirituality and the supernatural. Since you have no link because you don't believe in either, freedom of religion or the right to choose what religion to pursue, does not apply to you."
        You can redefine stuff all you want, it doesn't change the fact that "under god" was a later addition. Just because it favors your particular view (deism) doesn't make it appropriate. Why not change it to "under allah"? That just means "god" too so you shouldn't be worried... unless you really mean "Under the christian god' in which case you lose ALL credibility arguing religious freedom.

        "While you are at, don't you think using cash that says "In God We Trust" is hypocritical???? Since you don't trust in God, you can send me all your cash, I would not want your beliefs to be compromised."
        Again – a later addition to the money and an inappropriate one at that. I've always like the original "Mind Your Business".

        What it all boils down to is which version is the most inclusive?

        September 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  18. joey baloney

    You don't have the say the pledge therefore you don't have to say the phrase.

    That's what I always hear.

    I always did the pledge, but left out the words. And then a teacher wanted to out me as an atheist by requiring me to lead the pledge over loudspeaker during an Honor Society ceremony. I had a football coach who was very religious who kept making us do prayers during the games, and I was afraid of being outed, and then losing my starting position. If it wasn't for a principal who backed me and kept things private, who knows what would have happened.

    But hey, as everyone says, we can just not say the words or the pledge and all will be ok, right?

    September 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Alex

      I'm confused why if you don't believe in God, you can't just say the pledge anyway. It's not like there are any consequences to saying something you don't agree with, since you pretend you're something you aren't because you're scared of being outed anyway. If I don't believe in something, I don't attack it, because I'm not scared of it.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • doobzz

        "It's not like there are any consequences to saying something you don't agree with, since you pretend you're something you aren't because you're scared of being outed anyway"

        Huh?

        September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • G to the T

        For me it's as simple as – Nobody likes being forced to be a liar. That's what "under god" makes me...

        September 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  19. Lionly Lamb

    If not Christendom then Sharia Law...

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

    September 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Time For You To Grow Up...

      Look like a typical day in Texas.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Potter82

        No it isn't, that person appears to have been stabbed, not shot. Also, what on Earth does the OP have to do with this topic?

        September 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • norman

      No, dummy, there are millions of other alternatives-like the US-a secular nation of laws

      September 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  20. Jimmy

    Typical tyranny of the majority. Hasn't changed since the days of the founding fathers

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

      But when it is our religion being forced down everyones throats it is ok because ours is the right one.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.