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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. Jignesh

    Realized recently that the Pledge was changed only in 1954 to include 'under God'. The founding fathers were so far ahead of their times, and we are so far behind.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Sammy Z

      The emphasis should be placed on "We are so far behind" because we are. Americans are so far behind just about everyone else in the 1st world.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  2. Daughter of Thor

    My god carries a hammer. Yours was nailed to a cross. Any questions?

    September 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Who provided the nails?

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

        That nail salon on the corner.

        Oh, you meant the iron kind. Never mind.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  3. QS

    One of the biggest mistakes the founding fathers ever made, was Freedom of Religion.

    I mean, I get the intention behind the concept; and nobody denies that these were very intelligent, highly educated, scholarly men who decided to word it the way they did.

    But I have always wished that they had put a little more forethought into this amendment, because what was intended as a means to keep religion out of our government has obviously failed, and instead has only paved the way for religion to become the for-profit organization it is today.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  4. kenneypco

    Atheists don't have to live here but they shouldn't be made to feel that they should live here either. America was founded on FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Dana Perino doesn't get the right to force her GOD on other people. I would bet that she would be singing a different tune if she was made to use the phrase "under Allah" or "under Adi Parashakti" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This is what is why having the government issue marriage certificates is wrong to begin with. All government issued marriage certificates should be converted to 'Civil Union' certificates and religious organizations such as churches, synagogues, temples, etc should have the SOLE authority to define marriage and issue marriage certificates.

    One has to look no further than the first treaty (The Treaty of Tripoli) signed by the newly formed country 'The United States of America' to find that we declared this country is NOT a Christian based country.

    It is us other Americans that should be 'tired' of Christians attempting to insert their sole religious beliefs into country doctrine. If Christians want to insert their GOD into every aspects of government doctrine then all other religions should have the right to force their religious beliefs on everyone EQUALLY. Or in this case NO religious belief on everybody.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      "All government issued marriage certificates should be converted to 'Civil Union' certificates and religious organizations such as churches, synagogues, temples, etc should have the SOLE authority to define marriage and issue marriage certificates."
      Excellent idea. However, I would put an additional caveat.
      When filling taxes and claiming spouse as a dependent ... or if you want to file a joint tax return you must have the civil union certificate. The state should not recognize a marriage certificate – as it cannot issue marriage licenses ( in this scenario ) .

      September 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  5. Eric

    http://www.bibleinschools.net/

    Keep the bible in our public schools, the pledge with our christian god, and let the whole world know we are a christian nation. Bring on the jihad.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Take your religious crusade some where else. Many of us don't need to have your wars brought here.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • sam

      How's the weather in your militia-themed compound?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • sly

      Eric, you do pose an interesting dilemna for me?

      If there was a jihad brought on by our Christian activists, which side would I fight for?

      That is a tough one. I would no longer view it as 'Arab v American', so there is no guarantee I would side with the Christians. The Muslims seem a bit more level headed, so it is possible I'd fight for them instead.

      Tough call though.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • ME II

      Fortunately, while mostly Christians, we are not a Christian nation.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  6. Steve

    Atheists don't believe in God, they believe in Obamessiah!

    September 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • sybaris

      Evidence?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      You act like there are no Atheist Republicans. Fool.

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

      Why do you even bother sending messages when your head is so far up your ass.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      That's just childish.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • the real god

      wrong

      September 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • doobzz

      What a tool.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • ROO

      They don't believe in any type of religious leader figure. They see Obama as a regular human that he is.
      Because they know the difference between real people and imaginary people.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  7. atheists go away let our children safe to play

    Please do our country & children a favor. LEAVE!

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

      THAT's a good one.

      Who would you rather be your babysitter........... an atheist who is involved with the community, donates to charities and has been a Dr. for 20 years or a homeless X-con child molester that goes to your church?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • atheists go away let our children safe to play

        Just go away and leave us in peace

        September 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          As much as I expect an ignorant response I must ask...what exactly have we done to you personally to make you so hateful?

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

          All you need to do to get peace is to quit acting like a self righteous asshole.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Our country needs to think for themselves not your thinking.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Observer

      Children safe?

      The Bible says that God sent a flood to intentionally kill EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

      Read a Bible someday.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
      • sybaris

        Don't forget when their god made the sun shine for two straight days so that Joshua could continue to murder women and children.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • atheists go away let our children safe to play

      Just walk away and never comeback. And all our lives will be easier.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
      • Observer

        No atheists ever did to children what the Bible says God did.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • doobzz

        Thinking is hard for you, isn't it?

        September 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • QS

      All this does is motivate me even more to stay and do anything in my power to make sure your kids become nothing like you!

      September 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • atheistsRnobodies

        You'll never fit in. Don't force yourselves, go.

        September 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
        • doobzz

          I'm here, I'm atheist, get used to it.

          And you have it backwards. It's your Christian dogma that teaches you that you are a nobody and need to be "saved".

          September 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Momeraths

      There's a problem there.

      See my ancestors predate Christianity in this country. Maybe you are the one who should leave?

      People like you are the problem. My tax dollars are just as good as yours. My beliefs are just as valid as your beliefs.

      As far as safety, I know a parent who had to home-school his daughter because she was expelled for coming up with a "non-Christian" hit list of teachers and students. This was an 11 year-old girl.

      Don't you think that goes a little far?
      Atheists aren't here to tear down your churches. They just want neutrality. What's so wrong with things being neutral?

      September 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • doobzz

      Please do our country a favor and stop trying to illegally force your mythology in to civil law.

      September 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  8. Eric

    There is no separation of church and states when over 550,000 students in public schools have taken courses on the bible in our public schools and we can not brag about how many students in public schools have taken similar courses on the koran or any other religion for that matter? We have a pledge that clearly places the christian god above all other gods such as Allah, Wakan Tanka, and any goddess centered religion and we still think we have separation of church and state? We have christian services in our public schools now.... not too long ago that would be unheard of. Simply giving secular humanists, atheists, muslims, wiccan's and the like the option of not saying the pledge threatens to separate them further from their peers in a public school system that is supposed to be about learning and not praising any one god. Let us not fool ourselves any more and say we are not playing favorites to a particular god when the phrase under god is so blatantly exclusionary as to render it a major dividing force for anyone who worships Allah, a female deity, or simply has no belief in any cultural mythology.... it is a sad world we live in when America has forgotten what separation of church and state truly means.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • doobzz

      Christians pretend that "under God" is a generic term for whatever deity a person believes in. This is another one of their lies with which they infiltrate our public places, government buildings, public schools and other taxpayer funded arenas.

      The capitalization of the first letter clearly denotes the Christian god, and eliminates any other deities, polytheistic beliefs, female deities, and nonbelievers. They don't have the integrity or courage to come right out and say it. Then they have the gall to tell everyone else to either sit quietly and suck it up, or leave,

      September 11, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  9. Lionly Lamb

    Real eyes realize real lies for the fakes the ungodly makes while the true are still blue Praise the prince of peace, our spiritual lord Christ Jesus, the true king of all God's many sons...

    September 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Jesus was just David Koresh 2000 years earlier. A sociopathic conman with a good story and lots of charisma. All this foolishness, without a shred of proof, has sprung up from there.

      utter, mind numbing nonsense.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  10. Michelle

    I don't know if I believe in God or not..but this mess is the last thing I am concerned about..just keep silent and don't say anything..some of us have bills, children, and hair appointments to worry about.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • George

      I'm sure lots of Christian Germans thought the same thing in the 30s.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • I've changed

      You worry about hair appointments?

      September 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  11. Steve

    When I die I will go to heaven and see Dana Paeino because she is an angel. I will pray for all you atheists.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      You do that and we'll think for you. 🙂

      September 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • sly

      And Steve, best of all, when we all get to heaven I can have my way with Perino, every day. There are no laws up there you know. No wives.

      "Dana, it's bedtime again!".

      Yee haw.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  12. Lionly Lamb

    Christian Prince vs Muslim " Adult Only Watch This Debate "- You Tube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4SRBqalMWQ&feature=player_detailpage

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

      so christians don't have a_ss play?

      I think they do. I really do.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  13. With Causes

    One organization that still respects "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is http://www.charityboats.org

    September 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      shill

      September 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      odd since the phrase under god is dsisrespectful to any who do not beleive but are patriots.

      Prove it or remove it.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  14. AE

    “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.”

    –Physicist Paul Davies

    September 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • ME II

      Keyword "opinion"

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

        That's what this blog is all about.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • ME II

          Then why quote a "Physicist"? His opinion on the supernatural is no more valid than anyone elses.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • AE

          That was for those who think logic leads to atheism.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
        • ME II

          @AE,
          I do think that logic leads to Atheism, the weak version anyway. But a Physicist's opinion is not logic, it's an opinion, which is not a logical argument.

          September 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • AE

          For me, science and mathematics lead to God. So I appreciate that quote from him.

          September 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • ROO

          @AE

          -Science and mathematics don't reveal any type of specific deity. You've formed a perception by injecting a belief
          of a deity into it.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • UncleBenny

        Other key word – "bizarre."

        September 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • AE

          Human life is "bizarre". Certainly not a completely logical ride we are on.

          September 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • sly

      97% of the National Academy of Sciences do NOT believe in God. Basically, those who attend college and up are athiests.

      September 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • AE

        http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

        September 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
        • ROO

          That's an article from 2009.

          September 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  15. retief1954

    Hey Dana, check it out... YOU don't have to live here either. We're all just as tired of you griping about "wars" on this and that, as you are of people seeking to have "under God" removed from the Pledge. Yeah, you and your ilk are pretty tedious to the rest of us. Go suck a raw egg.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  16. ge

    Dana Perino, why don't you move to Jerusalem then? Isn't that the holy site where Christianity originated?

    September 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  17. Fred Ectempt

    Who cares what she thinks? Dana Perino is a well known liar and apologist for George Bush. In 2009 she stated "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."

    September 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  18. Chris

    If you don't believe in God, then the words 'Under God' should be pretty meaningless to you, and nothing worth getting offended over. More likely, liberals just don't like seeing OTHER FOLKS doing things they disagree with...classic example of their 'tolerance'.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Observer

      Chris,

      How's your tolerance?

      Let's change it to "under God or no god at all".

      Both sides can choose when to be silent.

      So are you for tolerance and equality?

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

        well, if you're gonna get your panties all in a bunch over it – how about we attack the Declaration of Independence "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights'? I mean, it is only the basis for our gov't....

        September 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • Observer

          Chris

          "how about we attack the Declaration of Independence "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights'? I mean, it is only the basis for our gov't...."

          Ooops. Guess you missed the civics class discussing that the Consti-tution is the basis for our government and our laws.

          References in it to God, Jesus, Christ, Christianity: ZERO. Zip. Nill. Nada. Nothing. None. Zilch.

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

          The founding fathers did NOT include the word Creator in the Declaration of Independence.
          It was later added by congress.

          The founding fathers were OPPOSED to adding references to middle eastern nonsense to the Declaration.

          And if you understood American history, you'd see even more clearly why.
          The founding fathers opposed the King of England... who ruled via authority of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND. The King thus ruled WITH THE AUTHORITY OF GOD.

          The Founding fathers were thus REBELLING AGAINST THE AUTHORITY OF GOD.

          Obviously they weren't too keen on following religion that closely, since by religious logic, they should all be executed.

          Tell me, in your American history books, did Moses part the rivers for George Washington?

          September 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
      • Chris

        it IS NOT equality when you give one group special rights over another just because of some imaginary persecution.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          in this case the special rights are given to the religious lot in forcing the non religious to make a choice as to whether they recite the entire pledge to their country.

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

          "it IS NOT equality when you give one group special rights over another just because of some imaginary persecution." - you are so right, Chris! So how about we take "under god" out of the pledge and let it be said as originally written. Because, after all, in 1952 the government wrongfully gave one group special rights (the knights of columbus) when they added "under god" to the pledge just because of some imaginary persecution that pastor Dochtery felt the United States was facing. That would fix everything! To have the pledge said as originally written and intended – what a novel idea!!

          September 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • Observer

        Chris,

        So how's your tolerance?

        Didn't see your answer yet.

        September 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Not Chris

          Yeah, that whole Declaration of Independence thing had nothing to do with putting in motion the very thing that would establish a separate nation. Why do we celebrate July 4th anyway? Quit getting bent out of shape over something so minor. Why does equality have to mean exclusion? Start celebrating the diversity you embrace by including people who just happen to have religious beliefs. I like it in the Pledge of Allegiance. If you don't like it, compose your own. It may be easier than just leaving the country.

          September 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • sam

          Not Chris – having it in there excludes anyone who doesn't need a god. Are you that obtuse?

          September 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • myklds

      You're so spot on!

      September 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • PennyK

      If we changed it to Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster then I imagine you'd be singing another tune then, wouldn't ya?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you are forcing people to make a choice where none need exist, how is that non-offensive?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • ME II

      Being forced to condone someone else's religious ideology, whatever it is, is not meaningless.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • MJ in Bar Harbor

      Would you oppose changing it back to the original pledge, before the Kinghts of Columbus got involved?

      September 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  19. get realist

    Pretty sure Christians shouldn't be "pledging allegiance" to anything other than their god. Kinda ignores that whole bit about not worshiping false idols, hmmm?

    September 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • PennyK

      The flag would certainly qualify as an idol, but so does the Bible and any image of Jesus, for that matter. Try taking away their pictures of blond-haired and blue-eyed Jesus, and see what'll happen.

      September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • August

      You're taking it out of context.
      The whole point is that it is a Nation Under God......so for any Christian to declare an allegiance to the country under God is not an issue.

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

        "The whole point is that it is a Nation Under God"

        No, it's not.

        September 11, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Actually, "render unto Caesar" covers that. 'Be a patriot and support your country' is perfectly reasonable.

      September 11, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  20. Lionly Lamb

    [Banned] What Muslims don’t want you to see

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

    September 10, 2013 at 5:17 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.