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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. Hey! You!

    ' Last I heard, the Government of this country should always protect the majority.'

    Whoever told you that was wrong.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Brian

      Gotta wonder how all us Christians made it to heaven before 1954. Words will not bring you to Heaven or Hell or anything else you may believe in. If you are standing behind keeping in the words under God thinking that makes you a Christian, you have never learned anything about religion.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  2. Hurtmeplenty

    Here we go again, another atheist complaining that they "don't want religion shoved down their throat", but are very quick to push their view of non belief down everyone else's. From what I have seen, atheists seem more in tune with the idea of hating others belief in God and trying to disprove, rather than just not believing entirely. They have an insatiable void to fill, and are quick to think that stripping the fullness of creation is going to satisfy it...

    September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      So you would be ok if we said one nation under allah?

      September 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, atheists are definitely making you recite pledges every day, and knocking on your door to tell you the good news about the lack of a god.

      Oh wait...

      September 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • yeahright

        Really.
        I can't remember the last time I had an atheist knock on my door peddling their sacred beliefs like a cheap scrub brush or a box of cookies.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      How is anyone shoving anything down your throat?

      September 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • Hurtmeplenty

        Are you kidding? We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, slogans, logos and other points of view, most of which have nothing to do with religion or possibly our views, but are more or less being shoved down our throats. Why does this one seem to offend you more?

        September 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Steve

      you couldn't be more wrong. Most Atheists could care less what religion others are. This is an extreme example and this arguement they are making could be made for equality not only for atheists but for other religions that might not believe in your god but a different higher being.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      •  

        Godless Vagabond
        I'm an atheist, but I could not care less about what religions others believe.

        September 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Here we go again, another atheist complaining that they "don't want religion shoved down their throat", but are very quick to push their view of non belief down everyone else's.'

      How are they pushing non belief? are they suggesting the pledge gets changed to under no god because he doesnt exist?

      September 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        No, we just want the pledge returned to its original form before the christians hijacked away from the all inclusive we the people, to the not inclusive we the people who believe in deities.

        It was the christians that started the fight by forcing religion on everyone else. Don't complain when it was you that started the fight.

        September 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  3. tensai13

    If all the atheists living in the USA "left" suddenly one day, America would be back in the stone age before the next Thanksgiving.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      A copykitty prophet. Monday mornin' quarterbackin' is much easier.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • vinster76

      i'm down with that...let's give it a try.....

      September 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • randyb

      People who bring religion into politics polute their religion. Look at Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. They were and are so caught up in their power trip that they forgot the message of Christ. Their being in leadership positions weakens the greater church by diverging from Christ's path. I would not want to be in their shoes on Jugement Day.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  4. Pete Mack

    I don't like "Under God" because it is a relic of the Red Scare years. That was a grim time in American Political History. No need to keep a popularized memorial to Joe McCarthy. (Not to mention that the whole pledge was a originally a Socialist Plot.)

    September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  5. Really CNN

    Attacking another media outlet now CNN? Just because they are a little conservative? Disgusting.

    Atheists, who do not believe in God are vastly outnumbered by American citizens who do believe in God. Last I heard, the Government of this country should always protect the majority. If the Atheists want to burn in hell, let them – however, for the rest of us in the majority, leave God in our national language.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Is the story false ?

      September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • doobzz

      " Last I heard, the Government of this country should always protect the majority."

      Last you heard was wrong. Look up tyranny of the majority.

      You shouldn't have skipped civics class. Or English class either.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Last I heard, the Government of this country should always protect the majority."

      Last I heard, the Government represents everyone – not just the majority. You seem to have the same misunderstanding of democracy as Moursi's Muslim Brotherhood followers in Egypt.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Sorry, but hell doesnt exist. Neither does the boogy man. You're pretty f'ing stupid too, i may add.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Just because they are a little conservative?'
      Calling Fox a little conservative is like claiming you can be a little dead.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Johnny

      Calling Fox News a little bit conservative is like calling the KKK a little bit racist.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Hilikus

      Uh, laws are made to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

      I don't know where you "last heard" that load...but you should probably listen to something else.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  6. Studythedata

    The phrase "under God" was added - anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? - 1954. SUCH a long tradition!

    Idiots.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  7. Friend of Brian H.

    I was born in 1942 so I lived for 12 years WITHOUT the mention of God in the Pledge and I did just fine. Those were very simple days with a very simple population. They feared the "red scourge" so Eisenhower thought he had to do something to counteract "godless Communism." Fine for then but we really don't need a mention of God in the Pledge or anywhere else nowadays. It's a much more educated, sophisticated country now.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Well intelligent, self-assured thinking people don't need it. But apparently there are a lot of others that do.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  8. Native Americans

    🙁

    September 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  9. Wilma

    I'm an atheist and I just say the Pledge and I do not say "under God". No big deal. Although if you want to have the argument that we need to go "back to the way things were" I would have to remind the opposer the fact that is stated in the story above and that is that "under God" was not in the original pledge.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  10. Jahsuth

    Is God not a blanket term? God in general, as a creator. I'm not sure it matters how you interpret that whether you call him Jahweh, Jehova, Allah or if you simply believe man is god.

    My belief? "Something than which nothing greater can be thought". You cannot prove there is a god, therefore you cannot disprove god. I believe in a creator.. call it what you want. I'll generally refer to mine as god and everything below that (Kuran, Bible, Kabala) is simply red tape conjured by man. They certainly have their inspirational/motivational place.... but are the in ink instigator of todays struggle and stife.

    It is laughable that this Atheist backed posse is putting so much effort and who knows how much funding? Into something that will provide absolutely no value to country or community........how about feed the hungry?

    September 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • tom

      You cannot prove in the existence of Santa Claus. By your logic you can therefore not disprove his existence. That rational can be used to believe in anything.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Jahsuth

        Yes..... that is exactly my point. Without tangible proof.... you rely on faith. That applies whether we are talking about god or the redskins.

        September 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Alverant

      "Is God not a blanket term"
      No god is not a blanket term. To most people it means the christian god and no other. If you think it is a blanket term try replacing it with "Goddess" or "Deity" and see how much you like it.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • Jahsuth

        Yes.... Yes it is. God is a monotheistic blanket term used to refer to the creator of the universe. I'm talking about the literal meaning verses your opinion. Lets try not to be simple here.

        September 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Julie

    The whole debate is so ridiculous. 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God (2011 Gallup Poll). Atheists are a small minority and I don't see what it is offensive to them anyway.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      So, Julie. you would be OK if we changed the word "god" to "allah" in the pledge, I take it. You could just skip saying it if you didn't believe in allah, right?

      September 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • Jahsuth

        God is a monotheistic blanket term used to refer to the creator of the universe.... that would encompass Allah... Buddah or whoever you bow your head to.

        September 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • ME II

      Well as long as you don't think its offensive...

      September 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • lerianis

        Many of those Gallup polls have been bashed upon for being done 'in the open' where people can feel pressure to 'conform'.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • vinster76

      methinks the reason atheists want all references to a God removed is so they aren't continually reminded about the ONE who will ultimately look them in the face one day and demand an account of their life.....by continuing to remove all references to a deity, they may think they can actually remove Him.......or it could just simply mean that misery loves company, and they want the rest of us to be as empty, cold, and cynical as they are.......

      September 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • sam

        Keep telling yourself that.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      •  

        Godless Vagabond
        Man, that's just plain silly, vinster. But I'll bet you really believe it.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • vinster76

          it is not as silly as believing all of the universe and its contents is a result of blind chance...........

          September 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • ME II

        A question you might ask is 'Why do believers feel they *need* to have God mentioned everywhere?' Is your faith that weak?

        September 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • vinster76

          our faith is not weak, we just tire of all the folk out there that want to overturn simple phrases that harm no one, except those with fragile egos, when the fragile ones are so clearly in the minority.....

          September 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • sam

          It startes with simple phrases and then grows like a fungus, screwing up everything it touches.

          September 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • ME II

          If you find it tiring and 'no harm', then simply remove the phrase. Problem solved.

          September 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • As We Journey Home

        Couldn't have said it better myself! For someone who doesnt believe something/one exist, you focus awful amount of attention on it! If i dont believe something exists, it doesnt come up in my mind, in my conversations, or anything else that has to do with me, even if others choose to believe it does. These people are desperately trying to DENY the existance of God, so they can convince their soul, and they can sleep better at night. Your soul will ALWAYS long for your Creator, believe He exists or not.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • ME II

          " If i dont believe something exists, it doesnt come up in my mind, in my conversations, or anything else that has to do with me, "

          Unless of course you hear it in a pledge every bloody morning in class. Please pay attention and read the article.

          September 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'As We Journey Home – Couldn't have said it better myself! For someone who doesnt believe something/one exist, you focus awful amount of attention on it! If i dont believe something exists, it doesnt come up in my mind, in my conversations, or anything else that has to do with me, even if others choose to believe it does'

          Again, as has been said over and over.......we dont believe god exists but we sure as heck know the followers, who want to push their faith, certainly do exist. It is those that we stand against.

          September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          That people like you exist, that actually believe in the verbal diarrhea that you just spewed makes me 🙁 for this country...

          September 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Hey! You!

          Thanks Doc. Send me a bill.

          September 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        'and they want the rest of us to be as empty, cold, and cynical as they are.......'

        i think the ones that are cold, empty and cynical are the people that make the claim that atheists are like that.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jason

      That's nice... one problem though.... The Bill of Rights doesn't differentiate between the majority and the minority. It stands on it's own merits and separation of church from state is at the top of that list.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Gumdrop

      Just because you don't see it as offensive doesn't mean it isn't.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Heath

      What's ridiculous is that 99 out of 100 Americans don't even know that the words "under God" were added to the pledge in 1954 by President Eisenhower in response to the perceived Communist threat from Russia.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "I don't see what it is offensive to them anyway."(sic) That is because you are obviously a dumbass...

      September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • doobzz

      "Atheists are a small minority and I don't see what it is offensive to them anyway."

      That is because you are a stupid, stupid woman and a bigot.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  12. Darw1n

    Silverman schooled that tool

    September 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  13. tkindsm

    Liberals are narrow minded. I'm not religious at all so I don't give a hoot what anyone else believes or says about religion. Liberals on the other hand; being narrow minded, wanna be enlightened, control freaks want to control what others think, believe and say.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • sam

      Not sure that word means what you think it means.

      Every group is capable of being narrow minded or controlling. You seem to have a heavy personal bias.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "want to control what others think"

      You mean by stating that we are one nation under god, when clearly others dont think it is? This post is so ridiculous. Its a shame you are allowed to breed.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  14. PushingBack

    "Under God" wasn't added until the 1950's. Hmmm, seems like we defeated Hitler, got out of the Great Depression and more without God's help.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Really CNN

      see you in hell heathen

      September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • Hey! You!

        So you admit you'll be there.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  15. jrs1972

    so people who dont believe in fairy tales need to leave the us? interesting.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  16. LILIANA

    WHOEVER DOESN'T LIKE OR DOESN'T AGREE WITH THE AMERICAN CULTURE, TRADITION, BELIEVES , FAITH AND LOVE FOR AMERICA, I SUGEST YOU GO BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY, WHERE YOU CAME FROM. AND DON'T TELL US WHAT TO DO OR HOW TO DO IT. WE LOVE THINGS JUST THE WAY THEY ARE. WE BELIEVE IN GOD ALMIGHTY AND WE WANT HIM IN OUR ALLEGIANCE TO OUR FLAG. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Ok, going back to my country now...Oh, look, I'm here! I'd be willing to bet my people were here before your people too.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Turn off your caps lock, idiot.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Stacy

      In case you need my "American" credentials: I'm an American born and raised and my ancestors were the first people living here before Europeans settled. My ancestors also fought in the American Revolution and for the Union during the Civil War. I am also a student of American History and amconfident in saying that America is not and was not based on "Christian" doctrine. We are a nation founded on the concept of Liberty, not religion. "Under God" was ADDED to the Pledge of Allegience in 1954. For over 100 years the Pledge existed WITHOUT "Under God". Please do yourself and America a favor and do something to rid yourself of your terrible ignorance.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • fsmgroupie

      When you say 'god bless America' are you demanding or begging that your god do so ? I dont get it.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam

      My family's been here since 1602, captain capslock. Maybe you should jam it sideways.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      My family has been traced back to landing in this land in 1612 (yes, we celebrated 400 years on this continent last year). My family has been here ever since. Many of my ancestors fought in every war that ever was on this land before and after it was the USA.

      The christians hijacked the pledge and the national motto, in clear violation of the first amendment. Why do you want to exclude many patriotic and loyal people, just because you think you need to force your beliefs on everyone else. My family is not going anywhere, and you will keep hearing this fight until things are put back the way they were BEFORE the christians hijacked symbols of this nation that are supposed to represent us all.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • yeahright

      GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
      --

      You mean just the ones that you agree with.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • doobzz

      Did you get grass stains on your white robes or something? You sound a little stabby.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bob Lablaw

      This is one of the most common, and completely backwards explanations I typically see on forums like this. At the same time you are singing the praises of America, you are conveniently forgetting the whole freedom of speech aspect that most "real" Americans like yourself are so fond of. Part of that whole freedom thing means that not everyone has to share your religious or political beliefs, with the only other option being to "get out." If we always stuck with the "If you don't like it, then get out" philosophy, then slavery would still be legal and women wouldn't be allowed to vote. Laws can change based upon changing beliefs.........So, based upon your logic, you should probably "get out" of America since I'm willing to bet you disagree with abortion being legal.......And what country should everyone "go back to" if they disagree with you? Are you Native American? And do you really want a lot of doctors and scientists to flee the country because they don't want to be forced to say the words "under God"? Are you and your God that insecure?.....Oh, and since you have no real argument, feel free to just call me a liberal (even though, generally speaking, I am a Republican and I do believe in God). If you would like to take this time to actually develop a reasonable argument, please do so. Feel free to use those search engines. They can help you come up with, you know, facts and stuff.

      September 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  17. sly

    More importantly, who buried all those fake dinosauer bones all over the planet?

    I am amazed the 97% of National Academy of Science scientists don't believe in God. We should defund all scientists.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  18. For a United Nation

    While atheists don't have to live here . . . neither do Fox Hosts. It is anyone's choice to do so.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  19. T L

    As long as we all can remember "In God We Trust" has been on all of our US currencies, dollar bills and coins alike. So, if you don't want to believe in God, or saying the words in "Under God" , or "Christmas", how about you all go somewhere that does not have this has an issue? To say "Under God" while saying the Pledge of Allegiance is offensive to the Athiests folks, then technically, you should not believe in the value of any US currency, since "In God We Trust" is published on them. I understand everyone has the right to "Free Speech" but because you don't want to say a word or phrase does not make you any more important than the folks who do. You don't like the way of this country, go to another country where you won't have anyone telling you what you can or cannot say.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Earthling

      If you want to live in a theocracy, move to Iraq and take your prejudices with you.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Iraq is not a theocracy...

        September 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Atheists expect to be treated 100% equally. Period.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • PushingBack

      You might want to do a little research about when God was added to our currency, etc. Just sayin'

      September 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jason

      "Under God" was put into the pledge in 1954.

      "In God we Trust" first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864.

      It didn't appear in paper currency until 1957.

      Please read the first amendment.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Mark

      Are you saying that you believe in the value US currency? I think this is more worrisome than anyone's belief (or non-belief) in religion.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Savior

        Currency is god for most people. Jesus is the son of ben franklin's picture.

        September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      so called "Christians" in this country seem to expect to be treated specially because they believe in a god. That makes them special only because they are deluded and yet the rest of us who do not believe put up with a lot of your nonsense. I have respect for your right to believe as you feel, but I don't have respect for the belief itself. Lot of nonsense.

      September 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  20. Mel Hogan

    Best part of the video – someone from FOX news calling someone else small-minded. Heh.

    September 10, 2013 at 2:19 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.