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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. McBob79

    Yes, she is of course correct. Atheists can say what they want, but the rest of us don't have to agree with them. The phrase is not going to be removed and they have to deal with it the same way they have to deal with "in God we trust", prayers at the beginning of government sessions, etc. The country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and that are indelibly placed in government and society.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • HA25

      I do not think 'indelibly' means what you think it means.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Actually, there is a pretty good chance it will be removed. At least I hope so. There's certainly no reason for it to be there.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • doobzz

      "The country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and that are indelibly placed in government and society."

      You are a liar.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      •  

        Godless Vagabond
        Well, technically he's not actually lying, he just doesn't know the truth.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • ME II

      The US was founded on ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, e.g. liberty, sefl-government, etc.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Oh, it's going to be removed. It wasn't there in the first place until the McCarthy Takeover. You crazies won't be teaching that stuff to our kids much longer.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Skeptic

      I have no problem with the Pledge the way it is, but you are wrong in your assessment as to why the words "under God" are in it. As was stated in the article, the Pledge did not have the words in it until the Cold War, as a reaction to the "Godless" communists. It was put in there more as a political statement than a religious one. The mid-1950's were a time of turmoil in the U.S., where patriotism and godliness were wrongfully linked together. They are not the same thing, not by any means.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Justin

      No it was not founded on religious values in any was it was founded on freedom FROM not OF religious values!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Doris

      McBob79 must have been at whatever the equivalent of McD's was in his time while his history/government classes were being held.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. Gerald

    I'm sure someone has already brought this up, but why are we even having children recite a pledge of allegiance each and every school day? It smacks of the indoctrination of fascist regimes and, when you think about it, is really kind of strange.

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

      Agreed.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  3. GH

    Technically, "one nation" with "liberty and justice for all" should not necessarily be "under [a] God". And I say that as someone whose belief in God began instinctively as a child. There is no law saying that everyone *must* believe in God or that God created Earth, nor should there be. And that's one of the things I love about my country the U.S.A. - it isn't an Orwellian world in which an individual's thoughts are controlled. Despite its religious fanacists, It doesn't try to govern people's beliefs - which would create the same kind of holy war seen in the Middle East and other places - and the rest of the world has had enough of those. America is a place of freedoms - freedom of speech, opinion, belief, and non-belief. So while Dana Perino has a right to her opinion, in MY opinion she's not a "true American." (Maybe just a poor excuse for a would-be dictator.)

    September 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "whose belief in God began instinctively as a child."

      Right, you were not influenced in any way by anyone else? What, were you raised by a family of wolves and just knew there was a God without anyone metioning the concept?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  4. Michael

    While I am a Christian, I believe that people should have the right to believe or don't believe in whatever they want. But why the fuss over something like the Pledge of Allegiance? Why not just leave the "under God" part in there and if you don't believe then just don't say it.

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

      I'm guessing your position would change if it said "under Allah" instead.

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

        You're absolutely ret*ded Jacob! This once Christian nation has lots of diversity these days. We shouldn't EVER have to change things that are ages old. It doesn't say "in ALLAH we trust" or MOHAMMED because there were only traces of Muslims in this country before. They all started coming here at one point and I'll be damned if we're going to have to change because of them!

        September 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Jacob

          Wow... just... wow.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          "Christian" is a prime example of a christard... after reading "Christian's" post, no further explanation of what that means should be required...

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

          Another fine example of the typical American xtian.

          September 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • Michael

        If it God was replaced with Allah, I would not have a problem with it...as long as I could still say "under God." Or alternatively, if "under God" was taken out completely, I would still like to have the option to say "Under God."

        September 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Because it's a pledge to our country, it doesn't need or involve some fictitious god.

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

      Why don't we put Apistotookii in the pledge? It's one of the Native American deities and has just as much right in the pledge as "God" with a capital g, the Christian god. You can just not say it when it comes up.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jacob

      Then there's that pesky issue of the Consti-tution...

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Justin

    Just get rid of trhe pledge all together It is meaningless since your government does not care about anything but money and greed......They certainly do not care about you!

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

      Well, not unless you're incredibly rich or a large and powerful corporation. "under God" probably REALLY means "under Money".

      September 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Time For You To Grow Up...

    There isn't just one god... And the isn't just one god for each religion... Every believer creates a god in their own image and prays to it as if it were an omnipotent deity... So, there are actually billions and billions of gods, each one a unique figment of someone's imagination.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  7. gogopher

    or how about you and all your god freakin friends dont have to live here...not sure where this fox person gets off thinking the usa is gods country....especially since the FF specifically attempted to remove religion from our government...we only added it later in the '50's...

    September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Do what I did. Send Fox news an email letting them know you will not be watching their program until that woman is fired. I do not have to leave America, after all I fought for her, but it is very easy to leave fox news.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  8. Sue - Wisc

    This is not a required allegiance by the government – and even in schools, it is not required. The Freedom of Speech allows them to not speak those 2 words if they do not wish to do it. Move on and quit spending time and money on this non-issue. There are bigger things to worry about.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      By mentioning the christian god it gives the (intended) impression that a religion is endorsed by the state; what does the constitution say about that?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      •  

        Godless Vagabond
        That's the crux of the issue, Santa. The religies don't seem to be able to grasp that for some reason. Explaining it to them doesn't seem to work. How can anyone be that dense?

        September 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  9. JJ

    FAUX news is a news site for idiots and right-wing rednecks

    September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Dr Tom

    I am a Roman Catholic. Inf the area of religion, my politics are libertarian. I resent the government butting its nose in my religion. I will pledge allegiance to my country. Whether or not I believe it is "under God" is my business not the government's!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • ME II

      Off topic, but curious. Does that libertarian-ism carry over to reproduction?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        As a great American is inclined to say... "DOH!"

        September 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  11. Actually

    Don't we have bigger things to discuss than two words in a pledge? Seriously?

    If you don't like the "Under God" part, don't say it when reciting the Pledge of Allegience.

    I think the worst part is, I'm paying taxes so this kind of nonsense can be debated in an actual court of law.

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

      Time and taxes were spent to put the words in there.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • HA25

      The proper place for Religion in society is a key question. Answering it will be one of the greatest things we do this century. Syria, taxes, health insurance all are short-term things. Religion's control and influence over secular life will define the course of our species.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      If the christians hadn't wasted everyones time in the fifties when they hijacked the pledge, we would not have to fight to change it back.

      You trying to blame the atheists, but not seeing that it was the christians who started the fight in the first place is like the guy who crawls out of the wreckage that was his home after a twister, thanking god for beling alive, when it was god who just tried to kill him.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  12. kathy haywood

    I think its absolutely ridiculous that people are trying to remove "under god" from the pledge of allegiance. My only reasoning behind this is if these people have such an issue with "god" then why do they use our country's currency.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      What??

      September 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • I believe in Zeus

      Do you believe in the god Thor? I am guessing not – but I do bet you say "Thursday." How can you say "Thursday" if you don't believe in Thor?

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

      that's the dumbest comment I've read in a long time...

      September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "There's no fixin' stupid"

        September 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Dr Tom

      They have no choice. "In God we trust" on currency is a historical anachronism and I can accept that. Adding God to a pledge to our country is a current thing people do every day. I say: Keep the government out of my religion!

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

        Well said! Thank you Dr Tom.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • closet atheist

      It's one thing to have it written on currency. It's a whole different thing to force kids to recite it in the classroom.

      Not everybody is ok with the religious brainwashing that so many of you mindlessly follow.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      There is no alternative to the currency, so we are forced to use it. We are working to remove that lie from the currency as well. One battle at a time.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Dover

      Easy. 'Under God' was added to the original pledge of allegiance in the 50's. It doesn't belong there and therefore should be removed. For a country that brags about freedom of religion and separation of church and state, the phrase should not be there. We do not have control what is printed on our currency. We do not live in a theocracy. That is Iran you are thinking about.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Duaniac

      Well, I tried to print my own money but I was told to stop doing that. Wierd...

      September 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  13. ted

    Fox News and this whole movement toward the right is 1930's German nationalism all over again.

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

      Ted
      With your thinking and those non-inspirational words you have said in your little posts, I have to say, there is so much crap coming from your mouth, I don't know if I should offer you a breath mint or tiolet paper.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • closet atheist

      As a fiscally conservative atheist, which MSM news outlet should I watch...??

      MSNBC makes me vomit with all the liberal nonsense. And then Fox News is unabashedly christian, which I find equally irritating.

      Help!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  14. kickgas

    I am 62 years old now. I've been an American this entire time. I've served my country in the US Marines with Honorable Discharge. I've worked hard, contributed into the Social Security program for 47 years financially bolstering our elderly and disabled, I've contributed money for all other taxes including property tax. I Am Atheist too and I'll be DAMNED if some Fox News Contributor is going to dismiss me as an inconsequential needing to leave MY COUNTRY !

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

      Thank you. Great point and great post!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Renato Riva

      I applaud you !!!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      HOOAH! Semper Fi devil dog!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • smNC

      I say "good for you" and I mean it. Iam 91 years old and could not agree with you more.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      One thing I have done. I have left Fox news forever. On my way out I sent a complaint e-mail to Fox saying I would be back when she is fired, not if she leaves on her own accord, when she is fired. I got out of her tiny bigotted portion of America.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • closet atheist

      Fox News has gotten out of control. As fiscal conservative, I "try" to watch it from time to time. But every time, without fail, I end up chaning channels because of all the religious drivel.

      I wonder if we'll ever see the day where christians (and members of other religions) realize that they don't have moral superiority over atheists.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • yeahright

      Well said, and thank you for your service.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Quasit

    If the "under God" words are meaningless, why were they added in the first place? That is, in the 1950s, by politicians?

    And what sort of Christian can claim with a straight face that the invocation of their God is meaningless?

    If the words AREN'T meaningless, then can anyone really say that they don't entangle religion and government?

    God = religion. Flag & country = government. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, the two don't go well together. Our founding fathers knew that. Many Americans seem to have forgotten it.

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

      A god...any god is just a concept. It's not a person!

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

        So "God" is not a religious concept? Really?

        Note that in the Pledge, "God" is capitalized – not lowercase. Are you sure it's not a reference to a deity? Because the politicians who added those words to the pledge at the height of the cold war (at the same time they added "In God We Trust" to money, and made "One nation under God" our national motto) apparently didn't agree with you.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • Philip

        God, jesus, and their fairy tales some people call the bible belong in the same category as Santa Claus as something taught to children to instill morals and proper values then when they come of age let them in on the fact that there is no such thing and never has been and when you think about it are all just very ridiculous, make believe stories. It is far more likely that Peter Pan is going to come through my window at night and take me to Neverland....

        September 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  16. dl

    Christianity... judging, condemnation and persecution of others... just what Jesus would want... nice religion, alright

    September 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Renato Riva

    In Canada (as well as in many other countries) there is no such thing as a pledge of allegiance in schools. Canada is the only country in America with the most happy population. And...it has never been invaded by a foreign source !!!

    September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Thinker...

      Didn't the US burn down a city in Canada durring the war of 1812? You guys burned DC and we burned one of your cities if I remember right. Big screwup on both our parts imo. Technically though that would mean that Canada was invaded by the USA. Glad that idiocy is behind us.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7jlFZhprU4

        September 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • ME II

      Congratulations!

      What's your point?

      September 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Canada was invaded by the British and the French

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

      Actually Canada has been invaded four times (five if you count the original French settlers).

      1) English during the King George's War
      2) English during the French and Indian War
      3) United States during the American Revolution
      4) United States during the War of 1812

      September 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Let's not forget the Pig War of 1859.

        Actually it's OK if you do.

        Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie (Put-in-Bay) where Oliver Hazard Perry defeated and captured a smaller less heavily armed British squadron. (It was one of the few American victories of the war.)

        He famously reported "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

        Of course British Canada eventually repulsed the Americans in the War of 1812. You can argue whether or not status quo represents a victory but what is clear is that the United States (the aggressor) did not win.

        September 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • FrankCastle

      Actually who wants it?? Every good Canadian comes to the US. That should tell you something.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • doobzz

        "Every good Canadian comes to the US. "

        Citation, please.

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

      Wow, a great point by Renato about Canada. It is truly a great place with happy people and sets an example for the rest of the world. We enjoyed our time living there.

      Wait, maybe Canada is a great country because it specifically mentions "God" in its national anthem. Maybe we need to add "God" to our national anthem. I venture to say more people hear the national anthem every day more than the pledge. In fact at many US sports events we get to sing the Canadian national anthem along with ours.

      "God keep our land glorious and free". Thanks Canada for showing us the light!

      September 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  18. Kimberly

    I can't believe this guy did not know that the phrase "under God" had been added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The words were added to 60 years after the pledge was first written. It was meant to be a short affirmation of our patriotism and the original wording had a better flow to it. That said, I choose to think of the phrase "under God", to mean that allegiance to country comes after ("under") allegiance to one's god (god; country; family...). For those who do not believe in a god, then these words just don't apply. If you don't have a god, then your allegiance is to your country, period. I still like the original working the best. I think the original wording would have more of an impact on children, because it is short and to the point.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Thinker...

      While that isn't the understanding I get from the 'under god' bit, I much prefer loyalty to (or at least obediance to) the nation before the religion. Otherwise you could just go drown a suspected witch (it was a legitimate test; you tie rocks to the witch suspect and throw them in the pond. If they float it is by witchcraft and the witch should be burned, if they drown they were innocent and are now in heaven. Everyone wins! UGH. ) and say it was your loyalty to god overriding your loyalty to the nation. Not that the average person would do any such thing, but lets not give the crazies more ammunition.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  19. Oh well....

    So much for the separation of Church and State.. and Reality Tv... what's next my? God has an Ipad ?....thought for the day: would Jesus have watched Fox or CNN? Seems like the right wing doesn't like Long haired, Poor, Peaceniks with No Money and holes in their Sandals....

    September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Jesus would have been on Jersey Shore bangin' that little troll girl (I gladly can't remember her name)

      September 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Thinker...

      Don't worry! The bible has you covered! There's a Jesus for everyone! If you are a long haired peacenic you have Peace-Jesus who preached non-violence and love!

      If you are a socialist you have Commie-Jesus who preached giving your money to the poor!

      If you are a person who wants to be vindictive and judgemental and warlike there is Warrior-Jesus who will return to purge the world of the unclean and usher the chosen (ie YOU) to heaven! Plus! if you buy now we will ship free of charge the entire Old Testament to complement Warrior-Jesus! With this book you can justify hating anyone you want!

      Unfortunatly we are out of Fiscal-Conservative-Jesus right now, but check back after the Apocalypse and we might have some in stock!

      Which of these Jesuses seems easier to follow? Now ask youself which one seems to have had the most followers throughout history. Now ask yourself which one probably watches FOX.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  20. kevin3g

    Allegiance (fidelity) can be pledged to the nation, but to the FLAG!? It doesn't make sense, the entire pledge should be dropped.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Renato Riva

      Allegiance to country is an implicit pride assigned by citizenship and/or birth in the country.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Thinker...

      Allegiance to a flag is easy. Though you might want to reconsider your sanity if the flag starts giving orders.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:38 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.