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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. tigger2

    Then don't SAY God if he offends you. You offend me by wanting to take it away from me. Nobody is making you have God, that's your right, the same as it is my right to have God. Stop trying to take him away from the people who believe. With all the horrible things going on in this country and that is your big complaint. Bravo AH

    September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Jacob

      How often are you saying the pledge? What exactly is it that you think someone is trying to take away from you?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Not trying to take anything away from you. They are trying to stop YOU from forcing your beliefs on everyone else. If the christians hadn't hijacked the pledge in the first place, this would not be an issue today.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Ondoher

      It isn't a matter of taking away your right to believe and worship as you will. It is about removing a phrase from a government legislated pledge that has the effect of excluding a segment of the population by endorsing a specific kind of religious belief. This is a clear violation of the first amendment as it pertains to the establishment of a religion.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • McLarnan

      If you're a true believer than this is nonsense. Isn't "God" everywhere? How is he a right? How can you "choose to have God" if him being there is out of our control? Your logic is full of holes.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yes, God is a toy and can be taken away from you. Just cry and Mommy will get you a new god. And some new magic words, too.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  2. PR

    Perino is an ignorant beyotch. She work for Faux so she is clueless. She is a mindless twit.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  3. Brandon

    This is one of the few things I agree with Fox News on, simply because Atheist want to change our way of life to accommodate their own. All under the veil of scientific/religious freedom. What strikes me as odd is that Atheist do have Gods they worship at the feet of all things scientific. No one is stopping the Atheist from not believing in a God they are not being persecuted in any way. Instead they use their time trying to stop people who do believe in a "God." They want freedom to believe the way they do they was slavery and persecution for everyone who doesn't believe as they do.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Glenn

      That's what you don't understand, removing a reference to god is not the same thing as denouncing a god. I don't see a reference to god on my TGI Friday's menu but that doesn't mean I think they are atheists.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Jacob

      It's not under the veil of anything, it's all in the bright light of the Const.itution. You should read it some time.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  4. Justin

    Who cares about the God damned pledge of allegiance anyway.....your government sure doesnt care about you or any Gods or what is right! Why not change it to one nation under controll of the dollar and greedy with oppression and injustice for All....because thats what it is all about ......God could care less about anyones government or nation.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  5. mandy

    ONE NATION UNDER GOD, AND I DON'T CARE WHAT ANYONE THINKS.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      I guess it's one nation under YOUR god, certainly not mine.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Time For You To Grow Up...

      No one else can hear the voices in your head.

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

      If you could think, you might just care about what others think.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Justin

      Mandy do you even know your God's name? I bet not..... One nation under God does not only refer to the Christian God.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • A traveler

      Mandy: we don't care what you think. (We sure would appreciate it if you would take the time to learn and use the CAPS lock key.)

      September 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Glenn

    Why doesn't the pledge include references to hyperbolic space theory? Oh yeah, it is unprovable one way or the other, and it is irrelevant to the way our democracy functions. Leave "one nation under god" and "one nation under NO god" out of the pledge. Both propositions are unprovable and have no relation to our democracy. That leaves only "one nation".

    September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  7. Ondoher

    The phrase "under god" clearly fails the Lemon Test, I don't know why it hasn't been removed yet. This is the Lemon Test: "Three ... tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion." This phrase serves no secular purpose, and it endorses a specific religious position. It effectively excludes a certain segment of the population who either do not believe in a singular god, or do not believe in any god. This is a no-brainer, it should be removed.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  8. David

    I don't talk about my atheism in your church – so leave your god out of my kids' school!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      Keep your" god(s)" out of any aspect of publicly funded areas.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Lionly Lamb

    Christendom dies in the wake of Quran's Jihadists who wants the world to exact Sharia Laws upon the world orders...

    Apostasy in Islam: Richard Dawkins extracts some truth from a Muslim

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQzuFrMRA3M&feature=player_detailpage

    September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Barak

    I hate to see the divide that the freedom of will and choice causes through scenario's such as these. Our Founding Fathers gave everything to allow for the unification of all walks of life in a free country. The most critical element that they wanted ensure would endure was that this country was forged not by any individual....but by a collective power that is larger than any individual.

    I grew up as a missionary kid in East Africa, and have seen the good that comes from setting differences in order to form a more powerful unified force. It is critical that each individuals beliefs are his/her own. If those beliefs lead you towards a higher power or not.....that is not for anyone else to judge or control.

    Many of my friends through High School and College professed to me that they are Atheists and Agnostic. I just said cool, I am a missionary kid that would be a fool not to believe in the things that I have experienced and seen. They were shocked that in no way did I judge their beliefs or allow it to alter our friendships. Honestly, it was shocking to me that they were shocked.

    One of my friends asked what I believed in as a Missionary. I simply said, " Love".....She responded by saying "I do too"....Thus, both an Athiest and Christian bonded together over the most intimate core value each believed in....

    The dividing factor for us was the human flaw of limited language and the associations that can be used to corrupt it. We were two people that bonded over an important core Belief of Love. When we set aside what Society had convinced us "was the right way to think"; it was obvious to see how destructive and pointless our illusionary differences were.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      That's nice, but most Christians want to murder us and drown our children, so your "love" is meaningless. At least YOU seem ok, but you are dreaming when you imagine your fellow churchgoers don't hate us so badly that no "god of love" would ever let them in.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
      • 616

        "but most Christians want to murder us and drown our children,"

        Really?! Let's look at the front pages of every single news source shall we......oops, no mass murders by everyday christians upon non-christians.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          How about the Manmasi National Christian Army and the National Liberation Front of Tripura, who force Hindus to convert at gun point and are known to encourage the murder of Hindu children?
          Those people are simply following Saint Augustine's doctrine of 'cognite intrare' – or 'lead them in' which justifies and encourages torture, vandalism, forced conversions and using violence to convert others in the name of Christianity.
          How about The Army of God and other groups who kill doctors in the U.S. ?
          What about white supremacist Christian terrorist groups like the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord?
          There are PLENTY of Christians who knowingly and gleefully cause harm to others.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • 616

          Doc Vestibule, seems that you hold numbers in high regard. Tell us, what do you think the percentage of all christians throughout the past 2,000 years have ever killed someone for not being a christian. Hint, it's extremely low.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Johnny

          That is true 616 because a lot of times they were killed by Christians for being a different kind of Christian.

          September 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Crusades, inquisitions, decimation of the Aztecs, the Incas and numerous indiginous American tribes... etc ad nauseum

          September 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Taylor

      Well said.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • KV

      Thank you Barak for your wise words. I have a friend who is very much a believer and is really into religion. For me, I do not like religion as it has caused so much pain and suffereing in the world, but I am very spiritual; although, I do question the existence of a divine being. My point is my friend is the same as you, which is not typical. She never judges me or makes me feel guilty about not being where she is with God and where I am not. Nor do I think she is crazy to being praying to deity in the sky.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  11. Renato Riva

    Another example of where the nation is heading: dysfunction, polarization, dogma, rampant ignorance...you name it. United States ??? You must be kidding !!!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  12. sly

    Who buried all those fake dinosauer bones all over earth?

    Wow - such a huge conspiracy, and yet no one has proven how they did it.

    Everyone knows God created Earth 2000-3000 years ago. All smart people at least.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Sad
      Misinformed
      Angry
      Republican
      Taliban

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • k

      Has that been proven yet?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Who buried all those fake dinosauer bones all over earth?" It was Obama, remember? Somehow, despite being "inexperienced" and "only a community organizer," he also controls all life on Earth and always has. His power is in every part of the world, and touches everything. He is also under your bed. Go look.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  13. ed dugan

    Well Dana, I am an athiest and I say to you YOU don't have to live here either so stick your opinions where the sun don't shine. This is NOT a christian nation and christians are trying like hell to impose their twisted viewpoints on the rest of us. They are NOT going to succeed!!!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Why does Australian-owned FOXnews spend all its time trying to get Americans to fight each other? It's as if a foreign billionaire was attacking us in revenge for the FCC not letting him buy all the networks.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  14. Justin

    Its not WE pledge allegiance to the flag....It is "I pledge allegiance to the flag/........ so adding the word "MY" as in One nation Under "MY" God fits all the way around!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • QS

      No, it doesn't.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Renato Riva

        I'm with you !!!

        September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why not just return it to its original form and take the god question right out. Pledging allegience to one's country should not have any reference to any god anyway.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • fultonmaul

      No, it really doesn't fit. What if you don't believe in any god, or if you adhere to a polytheistic religion?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  15. blakenaustin

    No surprises here. CNN promotes an atheist agenda while opposing a Christian agenda. Par for the course. It reflects the far left's anti-Christian agenda. Guess they haven't come to terms with 78% of all Americans claiming to be Christian. I completely support freedom of religion, but not the promotion of the atheist agenda and ridicule of the Christian agenda by a "news" agency.

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

      And I thank CNN for, apparently, opposing a Christian agenda!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Joe

      Fine. Go watch Fox now.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • yeahright

      Dana, is that you?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So CNN reporting what a pundit on another news channel said is "anti-Christian" ?
      It would be more accurate to comment on Fox News' anti-secularist agenda.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • mcklapp

      How is CNN supporting an atheist agenda? By reporting a story in a, please excuse the expression, fair and balanced manner? This is pretty much what is meant by an objective news story: no distortions, opinions or lies, quite unlike what one can expect from Ms. Perrino and her scurrilous colleagues.
      It is not enough to be able to read words, you need to understand the sentences they form, too.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Ken

      The atheist "agenda" usually is to promote equal freedom for all religions, and also freedom from religion. So, what you're saying is that you disagree with equality, right?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Sarah

      This country is about freedom. Not religion. So don't expect my children to suggest every day that their freedom was founded by god. It was founded and is protected by Americans, regardless of religious belief. Let's change the pledge to say "under protection of our people".

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

      What is being suggested here is not the promotion of an atheist agenda. Removing "under God" would represent the reversal of what was the promotion of a Christian agenda. It would be neutral, as it was prior to 1954.

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

      CNN promotes an aetheist agenda? That is so silly to even say such a thing. It is disturbing statements such as this that keeps this nation divided. Aetheists or believers, it really doesn't matter which you are because we are nation who has the freedom of religion or not to have a religion. There are plenty of believers and non believers on both sides and neither should be judged.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jon

      This method of thinking is mind boggling to me. To say "Under God" doesn't treat those of us who don't believe in him as equals. Our beliefs are ignored. However, to simply remove the language and bring the pledge back to the original wording, which makes it more inclusive, is a persecution of Christians. Your rights are not being violated. You can still worship how you want, when you want, without someone coming by and cutting off your head. Christians are the majority in America, as you mention, but somehow you're persecuted. It doesn't add up.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      From what I've read, CNN promotes an equality agenda while opposing the Christian inequality agenda.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • ChicagoMike

      Additionally, religion played a significant role in the leadership of Europe for hundreds of years. Various royals rose and fell from power because of their religious affiliations. Their opposition to other religions resulted in discrimination and persecution. Let’s not forget the far more recent Roman Catholic handling of priest abusing children. At the same time religions have also had a positive impact. Much charity and assistance to the poor are the direct result of religions. Obviously these could have happened without religion, but religious leaders and workers promoted the giving and outreach. Sometimes this came at the cost of conversion, but some required no commitments. Mother Teresa (of Calcutta) and the Dali Lama (most recent) both have positive impacts. As with most things, Religion brings bad and good, is used by some to persecute, but others use it to help others who are otherwise ignored. There are no easy, clear answers, follow your conscious and let others follow theirs.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • ed dugan

      I'm a Republican and I oppose any agenda christians want to put forward. They are intent on imposing their views on the rest of us. The more abortions the better, gay marriage is wonderful, put the Boy Scouts out of business and stop running that christian huckster billy grahams's column in our papers. Meanwhile they can keep attending those cathedrals of hate they call churches. In the end. they will lose and athiests will win because we learned to think for outselves.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      I don't understand what this "atheist agenda" thing is. What's it supposed t be? As far as I'm concerned, if you want to believe in a god or gods, or that Elvis is still alive, or in the tooth fairy, go ahead. Just don't expect me to buy into to it, pay for it, or allow your beliefs to usurp mine. Plain. Simple. Fair. Reasonable.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Johnny

      I claim to be Christian a lot of the time because I don't want to be disowned by my family.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  16. Bill

    The combined intelligence of the entire Fox News staff couldn't power a light bulb

    September 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Oh no, they know this stuff is made up. When the cameras go off they giggle and say things like "We're all going to hell," but they know there's no hell. They are a lot smarter than their audience, which is why their audience is hooked through the bag on flattery.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  17. JohnC

    I know 100% that at least half of faithful people are very wrong in their beliefs and at least 90% are at least a little wrong. I also know that reading, studying, praying and being sincere in your desires is not enough to find the truth. I know this because most of the world’s religions disagree either a little or lot and there is only one truth. I know that most of these varying religions have people that have prayed and studied sincerely for years and have come to these conclusions that contradict other similar people. This fact leaves open the possibility that ALL of them are wrong. What I know about the beauty and complexity of the universe may suggest a god, but I also know that most if not all can have a natural, scientific explanation too. That it could start on it's own is amazing but no more amazing than there being a supernatural being that started it and chose to make himself obscure enough that we have all of this disagreement about the nature of god. Since any one believer may happen to be right I will respect their beliefs but they should understand what I have said here and not disrespect my doubts.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Mike

    But wadabout Jesus? He done magicd stuff and proveded to all of us he is real. Dis country be foundered upon by Jesus himself. Him and God faught the British and won with machine guns!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  19. Renato Riva

    The Pledge of Allegiance is a veiled attempt at indoctrinating young and old...it offer nothing but a false sense of security. OK...now I said it...thus I am a patriot, and as such I am immune. Patriotism does not begin nor end by repeating someone else's mantra !!!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  20. crabman1

    whats the name of the person or persons if they got the BALLS to sue have the BALLS to put your name out so everyone knows who they are

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

      Intolerant people that imply threats to their lives like you are the reason they don't give their name.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You mean testicles? More than half of the bravest people in the world don't have testicles. Quite a few of the least brave have them.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Renato Riva

      what difference would that make ???

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

      "Aliases are the mark of a coward"
      –crabman1

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

      The suit is from a minor, that's why,

      September 10, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Do you mean to imply that you would "save Jesus" from that person by killing them, or beating them until they surrendered? How Christian of you! Have you ever saved Jesus from anyone before?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • doobzz

      Why don't you show us your BALLS and post under YOUR real name?

      Coward.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:21 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.