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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. linefeeder

    People should have th choice to say "under God" if they want or be silent and not chastised. That way both sides win.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Observer

      Both sides would win if the words were changed to "under God or no god at all".

      I don't see any Christians advocating such equality. It's all their way or nothing.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jacob

      I think it should be changed so people have a choice to say "under Allah" or not. How would that sit with you?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • doobzz

      No, that still means that one side has rights, the other should just stay silent and put up with it.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  2. Ben Gabany

    We are supposed to be a country free from having to submit to any religious beliefs, not free to force the worship of a god, based on Christianity, on it's citizens. Are we still in the damn Dark Ages? Jefferson would be appalled.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  3. mabillings

    “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Richard Dawkins.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Montana72

    What is it with CNN's obsession with Atheism?

    September 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • doobzz

      It's a refreshing change from the latest Pope selfie or another pedo scandal.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • ME II

        +1

        September 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Observer

      Every story on atheism involves religion in one way or another.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • ME II

      2 out of 10 articles on the main page, 0 out of 10 on the previous page. How is that an obsession?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Momeraths

      Look at the number of comments it generates.

      I think it will be the next big thing.

      At last check there was only one atheist in Congress. Considering that number of non-religious is growing, you'll probably be hearing more about atheists for awhile.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • ME II

        I think that was just because it was on the main CNN.COM page. That always seems to boost comments.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • yeahright

      Go over to Fox news and do a search on atheism, and see how many pages of articles come up.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  5. Lionly Lamb

    The shocking video Muslims don't want you to see!! V

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7Gzyeo1Z1I4

    September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  6. TR

    Considering that both Christian and Atheist views are just beliefs, they both have the same rights under the US Bill of Rights. I look at this way, a lot of atheists really just hate Christians. How many atheists have you heard that says anything about the Jewish, Hindu, Buddah or any other religion, be it with a single God or multiple Gods? The right wing Christians, are the biggest culprit in this argument. There is this view that they think they are more pure or believe in a more pure version of the religion. It is in essence a way to separate themselves from the rest of us and then try to control us. This isn't new. The protestant reformation is a perfect example of what I am talking about. They use similiar tactics as the Islamic terrorists, they just haven't turned to violence. I personally believe that religions should be kept in check by society, if not, they will divide a society. There is too much history that shows this.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      I'll speak out about others gods but it is primarily the christian god/belief that tends to dominate or try to dominate a Secular nation. When christians stop using their bible to tell LGBT they can't marry or live equally, I'll stop speaking out; When christians stop using their bible to tell women what they can or can't do with their body, I'll stop speaking out; when christians stop saying it is a christian nation; I'll stop speaking out....shall I go on or are you grasping this? That respect that is requested goes both ways.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Jacob

      Jews, Hindus, Buddhists mostly get ignored by atheists (in America, anyway) because they generally prefer to keep their beliefs to themselves and don't have belief-based legislative agendas.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  7. Kroder

    Christians shouldn't be making any pledges or oaths at all (especially to a worldly nation). Check out Matthew 5:34-37.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  8. Kroder

    Christians shouldn't be making any pledges or oaths at all. (Especially a worldly nation). Check out Matthew 5:34-37.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • AE

      ...and follow up with Matthew 6:24 and it is pretty clear we Christians shouldn't.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Like any issue.....at all.....ever....and ever will be, there are scriptures on both sides and scriptural "arguments" for either side. Like any issue......at all......ever....and ever will be, the Christian cherry picks whatever verses and exegesis he requires to continue to believe as he does and serve the only god he really serves: himself. A person's god is merely an esoteric "embodiment" of his own highest ideals.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • 616

          Sounds like you have described many of the atheist persuasion in that as well. I've known them to cherry pick the bible as much as any christian. And of course they live their lives as they see fit and by the ideals important to them.

          Atheists, no better than christians it would appear.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Sounds like you missed the point entirely. When atheists are using the bible to live their own lives and force others to do what they want by using the bible, you'll have an argument. Until then, you're too stupid to realize how your rhetoric actually works against your claim. Interesting how muslims and Christians and hindus all agree on mathematics and chemistry, isn't it?

          September 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • AE

          @Cpt. Obvious

          I'd be interested to read someone's interpretation of Jesus' words that we are to pledge allegiance to a flag.

          I think it is clear that we should not. If believing that is "cherry picking", I'm a "cherry picker".

          September 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Lionly Lamb

    The Trillion Dollar Plant

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

    September 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Observer

      Lionly Lamb,

      It's too bad that you completely missed the topic of this story. Most people have better reading comprehension. Why not peddle your hobby elsewhere?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        It doe beat his ramblings though, however, it does become too much.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      LL: Please don't annoy the blog today with too many of these. Many agree with you on this.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  10. tiredofallthecrap

    Don't these people have more important things to worry about? The econony, Syria, IRS, NSA? Ok, good...so you are an atheist...a lot of people are until they reach the end of their life and are on their death bed. Just go away...

    September 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Johnny

      I can't really do anything about Syria or the NSA or the IRS, however, I can annoy Christians by trying to get "Under god" removed from the pledge.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
      • barBarS

        The "under God" part was added in 1954 at the time of the "Red scare" and McCarthyism.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • tiredofallthecrap

        I highly doubt that you are capable of doing anything constructive, except being a total moron. Nobody cares what you think, ya ever think of that?

        September 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          If you are tired of all the crap then might I suggest you ask your Christian brethren to stop shlting on American freedoms. I will continue to vote for a secular society for all and you can continue to vote for a theocracy, we'll see who wins in the end. The progress we have made for equal rights and civil rights in this country proves we will eventually stomp out ignorant religious prejudice.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • sam

          Aw, did you get your jimmies rustled? Why don't you go find something more constructive to do?

          September 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • tiredofallthecrap

        America: Founded by geniuses, governed by fools. Enjoy your freedoms while you still can!

        September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          You mean the founding fathers that were deists and abhorred Christianity and its ilk? Have you read some of the quotes from Jefferson on Christianity? lolololol

          September 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • idon'twanttoliveonthisplanetanymore

        you are my hero

        September 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Really??? Witnessed a lot of death bed conversions by Atheists, have you?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • tiredofallthecrap

        Just one. Let's take "In God we Trust" off all the currency also...that'll give all of you whiney libs something constructive to do. Get a life!!!

        September 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • Jacob

          Get a grasp of the Const.itution.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Sorry one does not speak for all of us. I honestly don't know what I'll be thinking on my death bed, nor do I know that I care...I have a life to live first. As for In God We Trust, that was not put on money until the 1950's, money is not what governs or makes laws for the country (regardless of how it seems). The Constitution on the other hand must be adhered to in the making of laws, to ensure freedom of and from religion for all. This wonderful document is dated in the 1700's...it is what rules the country.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "a lot of people are until they reach the end of their life and are on their death bed."

      Right, so I take it that 2% is "a lot" then? This is just another fantasy pushed by the religious morons in this country, that there are tons of atheists who all turn Christian when in a foxhole or on their death beds. It's a complete fallacy but Christians have never been very big on truth.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • doobzz

      Translation: Boo hoo, I don't have any answers, so I'll make up something. Go away....

      September 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  11. Yup that's me

    "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11

    Everyone will have to answer to God weather you think it or not. Religion is so outdated it's what's in your heart and in you. Yes I know there is a God who is before me. I pray for everyone in this commet feed. To God be the Glory

    September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Drew

      Well, you don't even know the difference between "weather" and "whether" so you obviously don't know as much as you think you do.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • doobzz

      Nope.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Menicy

      At what will do the Other religions think? Oh yea thats right, if its not Chrisitanity then its not right... right. This country was built with the aid of more countries and religions then others. The first set being Native Americans. That and the fact that the Pledge of Alligiance was changed in 1954 means that even our fore-fathers didn't want it in the pledge and they were vastly more religious then the Christians now. So, lets put the pledge, back to where it was and any Christian that wants the pledge to have the religous piece in it... send your kid to a Christian school.
      Public school is for anyone and everyone. No one should feel awkward saying the pledge of alligiance just because they are not Christians.
      Quote whatever bible line you want to quote, but no one should feel obligated to say something they don't believe in.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Derangedcowbrain

      What's "god weather"? A thunder storm and a flood?

      DCB

      September 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Well, Yup, it all depends on whether the weather is good, doesn't it? Did you see the difference?

      September 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Richard F. Kessler

    Thank God, it is a free country, and no one has to live here-even you. For those of us who choose to live here, all Americans have the same rights. These include being free to say whatever you want and being free after you have said whatever you want. No one needs your approval to earn this right. If God exists, God's existence is not dependent upon mention in the pledge of allegiance. When you say the kind of thing you said, I am forced to remember why the Bill of Rights established an unbreachable wall between church and state-something our courts keep forgetting to remember.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • doobzz

      Nicely put, RFK.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  13. Lionly Lamb

    Medical Cannabis and Its Impact on Human Health a Cannabis Documentary

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=WOIACz9RR5I

    September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  14. anthrogirl

    "Under God" was added in the 1950s. The pledge also included a salute that looked like the salute Nazis used. Interesting history.... our pledge. It's been changed 4 times already and could probably withstand another change if we wanted to remove "under God." It doesn't say which God or whose God its referring to: Muslim, Christian, Hindi, Jewish, etc. so maybe we're saluting our country in reference to all Gods: mono, poly, spiritual and inner being Gods.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      But "all gods" unfortunately doesn't include the "no gods" option.

      September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  15. steelerguin

    Why is it tolerated when a liberal or atheist makes derisive comments about a conservative or Christian, but when a conservative or Christian makes derisive comments about a liberal or atheist they are labeled bigoted, narrow-minded, intolerant, stupid, etc. etc. etc. How can you live with such a hypocritical double standard or are you too blind to see?

    September 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • ME II

      Examples please

      September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • steelerguin

        Read the posts in the last few pages. Some pretty ugly things have been said about Christians. If you can understand that, than you are truly blind. In all fairness, there have also been some ridiculous posts from those who appear to support Christianity.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • Drew

          And if you think it is all one sided you are truly blind.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • steelerguin

          It's not one sided. Read my statement again.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Observer

          steelerguin,

          How many atheists have made comments worse than gloating that atheists deserve to spend eternity burning in hell like some Christians have done?

          September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • steelerguin

          Observer, a true Christian should never gleefully or gloatingly state that those who do not believe that Jesus is Lord are going to hell. Unfortunately that is what the bible teaches. Therefore, true Christians feel the call to evangelize to prevent such an horrific event.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • ME II

          @steelerguin,
          "... true Christians feel the call to evangelize..."

          Perhaps that's part of your answer.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • sam

          Oh, ok. That's convenient. A 'true christian' wouldn't be nasty, so you're using some selective vision.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Satan's Minion #4

      hush now, young one..

      September 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • doobzz

      As long as some Christians keep trying to encode their mythology into civil law, you are going to be laughed at, derided and pushed back. Stop doing that and you won't hear another peep from me.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • steelerguin

        Ok. Just because you don't agree with me, it is all right to say whatever you want. Thanks for corroborating my statement!

        September 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • doobzz

          As long as you keep trying to force your mythology into civil law, yes, I'll state my unvarnished opinion that you are full of shit.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • tiredofallthecrap

        It states in the Bible that Christians will be persecuted for their beliefs. What else is new? Maybe you should read it sometime...

        September 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • sam

          Someone bitching at you on an internet forum, or taking your silly BS out of the country's pledge is not persecution you moron.

          Man up.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • doobzz

          Another arrogant, lazy statement. What makes you assume I haven't read the bible?

          September 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • tiredofallthecrap

      For example: If you say anything negative about our fine president, you're a racist. Black, white or mixed, he is incompetent as hell and a total buffoon.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • doobzz

        You're not a racist.

        There, I just toasted your argument.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • QS

      Easy answer – one side uses reason, logic and rationality on which to base their informed opinions....the other side uses fantasy, fiction, conjecture and supersti.tion to make wild, unsubstantiated claims about something they can't possibly prove.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • steelerguin

        Come on! You're making it too easy! What facts do you have to support what you believe. Anyway, your obvious superior intellect makes it ok to ridicule me, correct? Thanks for your double standard.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • sam

          Ooh, so persecuted. However do you manage to get through a day?

          September 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • QS

          Religious people demanding facts from other people to prove their beliefs – oh the irony!

          The bully becomes the victim and suddenly wants all the protections from persecution that they insisted not be granted to their victims when they were still the bully!

          The irrationality of religion seems to always win out over logic and reason when reality begins to interfere with the religious person's meticulously created fantasy.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • doobzz

          It isn't my superior intellect, it's your complete lack of evidence for your deity, and your continued attempts to force others to live according to your religious beliefs by encoding it into civil law.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      how about when a conservative labels a liberal as 'communist' or 'marxist', intolerant, stupid, etc. etc. etc?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  16. AE

    I think Jesus asks us Christians not to do things like pledge allegiance to a flag or government.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Guest

      Great point. Those who live by what Jesus said and not what we think he said do not wish to do the pledge either. Doesn't matter if the words 'under god' are included or not as the pledge places flag / country before god. I have Mennonite relatives with kids in public school who refuse to do the pledge.because of that reason.. if the truly god fearing and atheists agree on the subject, who am I to argue?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  17. sybaris

    I don't hate myself enough to be Christian

    September 10, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • tiredofallthecrap

      I don't hate myself enough to be an atheist. Wonder who Madeline Murray O'Hare was praying to right before she was murdered! Things that make you go hmmm.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • sybaris

        Oh, a twist on the old "no atheists in foxholes" thing or more accurately described as a fallacy. Really? That's so lame and so arrogant to assume that even if someone were weak enough to "convert" at the last moment that they would be praying to YOUR god.

        Regardless, your response doesn't really make any sense because Christianity teaches that you are a lowly sinner and not even worthy to look upon the face of the god.

        There are no Atheist books that teach such self loathing.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
      • doobzz

        You know what makes me go hmmm?

        Lazy ass idiots like you, who spout off whatever crap they hear on Sunday at church as truth and can't even be bothered to spell the woman's name correctly. It's Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
        •  

          Godless Vagabond
          Well, he got her middle name right. Give him 33%.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  18. Common Sense

    The last minute was particularly Orwellian. No group work so hard to make others adhere to their beliefs then the Christian right ... NONE. To suggest that Atheist are being selfish and Christian doing the same is not is the very definition of hypocrisy. The law suit has grounds and like many progressive ideas the ones coming from Massachusetts I belief will rightfully spread around the country in the coming years. This segment is emblematic of what Faux News is all about.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  19. Drew

    The thing that makes this nation great is not "One nation under God" but "One nation under many gods and none at all".

    September 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Reality

      Well said.

      September 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • tom

      I don't see Christians going for that re-write of the pledge.

      September 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • us_1776

        Hate to break it to the christians but the pledge was originally written without the word "god". It was only in the 1950's that the extremist McCarthy mo rons forced the "god" stuff into the pledge which was actually a violation of the principle of Separation of Church and State.

        .

        September 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • QS

      Disagree – what makes this country great is our Consti.tution which supersedes all religious dogma, which only divides people into sects and denominations, because it applies (or should apply) to all equally.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Jefferson said something like leave your religion at home and come to the marketplace as an American. This simple strategy made us the greatest country in the world.

      September 11, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  20. Desi

    Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti
    Truth is one, paths are many.

    Om sarve bhavantu sukhinah. Sarve santu niraamayaah. Sarve bhadraani pashyantu. Maa kaschid dukhbhaag bhavet.
    May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings experience prosperity. May none in the world suffer.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:37 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.