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. tallulah13

    Does anyone actually watch LL's video spams? They kind of make me miss the days when he just posted mindless blather. It was a lot easier to ignore those, and they didn't slow my internet connection like all these videos do.

    September 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I tend to just turn off Javascript.

      September 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
      • tallulah13


        September 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
        • tallulah13

          I'm out of here. Good night, HAL.

          September 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Good night.

          September 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jimmy Vick

      It is me again, black hole guy, and yes I am not huge on grammar... it's all here, top of the time line, don't skim this time. https://www.facebook.com/jimmy.vick1

      September 11, 2013 at 2:20 am |
    • doobzz

      Nope. Never.

      September 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  2. What is going on? FREEDOM

    AtheistFools prove me wrong instead of running away. Go ahead and show proof that Atheism has done more damage to the planet then religion has.

    September 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      You're worse for engaging with him. He's clearly a troll just trying to get people to rise to his bait. There's nothing to gain from interacting with trolls.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
      • What is going on? FREEDOM

        Oh I know, but I am just making him look foolish. He can't answer the questions or prove his statements at all which makes it hilarious.

        September 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          He doesn't want to answer. I'd be surprised if he's even religious, I imagine he only comes on here to annoy people. He's probably got another moniker as an obnoxious atheist to annoy religious people. He doesn't look foolish. Anybody who engages with him appears foolish (no offense). Just ignore him. Trolls thrive off of attention.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • Athy

          You don't really need to make him look foolish. It would be hard to top himself in that endeavor. Let him dig his own grave.

          September 10, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  3. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    It's a sheet with a few stipes and boring color scheme. Only people gullible enough to want to be under a God they've contrived should pledge or pray to it or whatever it is they do with it.

    September 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Jimmy Vick

      It me, black hole guy... it's all here, top of the time line https://www.facebook.com/jimmy.vick1

      September 11, 2013 at 2:16 am |
  4. Karen

    Or we could revert back to the original version, which made no mention of God and ought to be acceptable to all. For the life of me I don't understand why compromising with a neutral pledge is anathema to people of faith.

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

    The real reason people want that removed is because our government is far from religeous they themselfs are atheists as a matter of a fact most preachers and priests are even turning athiest everyday expecially with science proving everything wrong constantly I doubt most people who work for nasa think that the bible explains it all when all the bible is talking about is sheep and apples on a tree where is the scriptures about space about bacteria about other planets there is nothing the bible is like a 1 % of a story if its even true at all I personally and many others think the bible was created by humans not god evil good bad its all in the human brain animals dont see things that way at all a lion doesnt feel bad when it attacks its prey

    September 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Athy

      Holy shit, goba. Have you ever heard of punctuation. You know, those funny little marks on the lower right-hand part of your keyboard. Your comment is totally senseless for a number of reasons. No response from me. Others, have at it.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • pothead


        September 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • tallulah13

        No response from me, because I have no desire to wade through that particular cesspool of nonsense. I can't even tell what this person is trying to say.

        September 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • Athy

        This guy makes Lionly Lamb seem almost coherent!

        September 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  6. mlblogsurbanshawk

    Believe in the same god that we do or get the hell out of our country! Yeah....That's what Jesus would say if he were here.

    September 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  7. Vic

    First Prayer in Congress

    "Be Thou present O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that Order, Harmony and Peace may be effectually restored, and that Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people. Preserve the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds, shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seeth expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting Glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the Name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior, Amen."

    September 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That just goes to show that politicians have always pandered to the voters. The more telling fact is that the christian god was never mentioned - not even once - in the document that shapes the law in America: the Constitution.

      September 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God of wisdom? Which one?
      Quetzalcoatl, Jar'Edo Wens, Quetzalcoatl, Ogma, Lugh, , BrighidErlang Shen,Wenchang Wang, Neith, Thoth, Sia, Seshat, Menrva, Athena, Coeus, Eidyia,Metis, Prometheus, Ganesha, Saraswati, ,A'as, Fukurokuju, Kuebiko, Omoikane ,Al-Kutbay ,Nabu, Nidaba ,TiwazOdin, Mímir ,Snotra, Vör, Anahita, Anulap, Egeria, Fabulinus, Minerva, Apollo or Providentia?

      September 11, 2013 at 8:42 am |
      • cedar rapids

        im thinking Thoth. I always had a soft spot for Thoth; you have to like a god with an ibis head.

        September 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

    - John Adams

    September 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • AE

      "Our Const.itution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

      John Adams

      September 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      • Observer

        It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
        – John Adams

        September 11, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  9. bobness22@gmail.com

    TAX religious organizations... I'm tired of supporting these freeloaders.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  10. jennamars80

    Those annoying atheist raining on the Christian parade aren't nearly as oppressed, or should I say persecuted, as Christians. Such whiners, those atheists, wanting their government to represent them and not validate unprovable beliefs. I guess we should just let the Christians keep the bits about God in the pledge and on our money because them seem to really need the validation of their beliefs by government endorsement. I would too, If I chose to believe in such simple-minded fairy tales.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      September 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      Christians being held back? My @#%

      September 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
      • What is going on? FREEDOM

        Just agreeing with ya by the way so you don't get the wrong message of my comment.

        September 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    In 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court decision Everson v. Board of Education incorporated the Establishment Clause (i.e., made it apply against the states). In the majority decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote,

    "The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another ... in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and State' ... That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."

    September 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  12. Dennis K. Biby

    "if these people really don't like it, they don't have to live here." Of course we don't – UNLESS one is fond of the first amendment proposed by those 1700 radicals als Washington, Jefferson, Franklin.

    I suggest if Dana can't recognize our Bill of Rights, she should move elsewhere!

    September 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    how does quoting a line from a bronze age story book prove anything?

    let me try with a more current book ...

    It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.
    – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    hey look everybody, I proved a point! (I'm so awesome!)

    September 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  14. Big Ben

    Return the Pledge to the original version and not the Republican version changed in the 1950's.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • ensense

      Hmmm more propaganda here, Louis Charles Rabaut (December 5, 1886-November 12, 1961) was politician from the U.S. state of Michigan. He was a Democratic congressman representing Michigan's 14th congressional district from 1935 to 1947, and from 1949 to 1961. He is best known for introducing legislation that added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

      Consider the above your education

      September 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Interesting factoid. Thanks for sharing.

        September 10, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Poppa

    I don't really care whether "under god" is said or not. Just grant me the right to blurt out "Under the Easter Bunny!" or "By the permission of the great Tooth Fairy!" or some other made up fictional character out of an ignorant mind.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  16. rtrauben

    Has Mrs Perino ever considered that she doesnt need to live here either.?
    Apparently the feeling is mutual, people are sick and tired of her as well.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  17. Pamela

    I think the pledge should be as the founding fathers not the one that was inserted in 1954. Return it to the original version.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • ensense

      The pledge of allegiance was not created by the founding fathers.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  18. Dave

    Fox News... a station for Satan's angry pharisees.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Heather

      Wow Dave. "Satan's"? Rude.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  19. John Sharp

    I love the nut jobs who are on this blog saying that if we do not want to say it we don't have to. But don't take away their rights to say it.
    This logic just reflects the simple minded thought process of the religious.
    Our forefathers did not want this included, that is why they did not include it.
    This was only forced in during the 50's.
    Time we removed it.

    September 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • AtheistFools

      Speaking of nut job, you sure make a good one yourself.

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

        Stupid, witless, boring troll.

        September 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Sara

      You have the right to say anything you want, but why should one religious belief be the standard? How about we change it to "one nation ruled by Karma"? "One nation following socialism"? "one nation enjoying free love"? Is it OK with you to have kids recite a Pledge that says any old thing as long as they can opt out? Then what the heck is the point?

      September 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  20. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    I vote for it to be changed to "Under Thor".

    September 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Athy

      I vote for it to read "...under_______,.." etc. Just say whatever god you like at the time in place of the blank. If you don't believe in any god, just insert your own name. This puts everyone on equal footing and everybody's covered.

      September 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
      • Sara

        You shouldn't even have to pick a name, as that may not fit your beliefs. Just have kids pick anything. They'll be saying "Under boogers" by the end of the week.

        September 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.