September 9th, 2013
03:29 PM ET

Fox News host: Atheists 'don't have to live here'

By Daniel BurkeCNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. Danny_Rand

    Maybe if they put an "a" in front of God?

    September 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  2. Jake

    These religious zealots and bigots need to read Americas first treaty. The treaty of Tripoli clearly states that our government is in no way based on Christianity. We are a secular country with no state religion. We have religious freedom. Satanists, Christians, Animists, Muslims. Scientologist, and every other form of religion are equal . If the wacko zealots don't like it join the Taliban and get out of hear!

    September 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Kevin

      Here, here!

      September 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • CEBundy

      Amen to that! HaHaHaHa!

      September 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  3. Scott_L

    The phrase "under God" wasn't added until 1954. The country got along fine before then.

    September 30, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  4. Amber

    Ok then so Im going to need all the Atheist to hand me over their money which clearly says "In God we Trust"!!

    September 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Earthling

      Which was added to American currency in order to drum up more support for the imagined "red scare" in the 1950's, just like "under god" in the pledge. I want my country back, you jerks. Get your religion out of my face, and put it back in your church, behind closed doors where it belongs. And while you're at it, stop poisoning your children's minds with that garbage. If that's not child abuse, I don't know what is.

      September 30, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Too late Amber ... my money doesn't say " In God We Trust "
      ... I put an 'X' over the word God.
      Tee hee hee

      October 1, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • SallyP

      Did Christians refuse to use money prior to the 50s? Do they refuse to use the names of the weekdays because most of them come from other gods?

      Don't be silly!

      October 1, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  5. Gabriela Estrada

    I am a believer, and truly believe this is a nation under God, We can have freedom of religion, which I love to have, but talking about them Atheists, they never complained about NOT working on holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and others, it would be NEWS if they refuse not to work on one of these days and make a revolution to go to work because they do not follow Religious Holidays.. God Bless America

    September 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • DS

      I work on Christmas and easter without complaint, just another day to me. Thanksgiving is an American holiday, not a christain holiday, so that doesn't count.

      St. Patrick's day I'm not sure on, but I sure do what I can to have the day after off.

      Anyway, the solution to this whole debate is simple. Just put a couple of parenthesis around under god and call it an optional line. Atheists can opt to not say it, christains can opt to say it, and at the end of the day the pledge is still being used as propaganda to make children beleive america is good and right and can't do anything wrong, even though we fund terrorists and the government gives away the people's money and take their rights with no regard for what is good for the country, or what the will of the people is.

      September 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        It has no place being there in the first place and was put there in clear violation of the const!tution. What you propose is not a solution.
        Remove the phrase and put it back the way it was written BEFORE the christians hijacked it. That is the solution.

        September 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Scott_L

        Christmas is the only religious holiday celebrated in the U.S. The rest are secular. Easter is a Sunday when most people don't work anyway.

        September 30, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • bobdouglass

          All peoples throughout history have celebrated the winter solstice. Also 100 years ago Christmas wasn't nearly so big of a deal as it is today. Thank Macy's for that.

          October 2, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Earthling

      Speak for yourself. I've been complaining about that for decades. By the way, why aren't you insisting that we take Ramadan and Yom Kippur off?

      September 30, 2013 at 12:14 am |
      • Ben

        Nobody takes Ramadan "off". I've got Muslim friends, and they work full shifts while fasting.

        October 1, 2013 at 8:19 am |
        • Earthling

          Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, that's because they DON'T GET THEIR RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY AS A PAID DAY OFF??!??!!
          Honestly, the stoopid on here is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

          October 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • asdrel

      Thanksgiving is not a Christian holiday, and I consider Christmas to be a celebration of the Winter Solstice with another name. So there.

      October 2, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Oh well....

      Actually, you're not just a believer you're also a Simpleton.... two things to consider...1. our country was established under the guidelines of a separration of church and state -THIS was done beacuse??? well, let's look first at European history and the involvement of Rome and the bad boys of the Vatican ( taxes, taxes, taxes)– then the Church Of England which began under Henry( wives, wives, wives) but really started to fly with Cromwell ( death, etc ibid et al)– Please see the 30 years War 1610–1640 ( oh how religion works so wonderfully!)– and all those funky Puritans who split to the New World (check out how mnay Indians THEY sslaughterd....and of course the occasional WITCH )..... and 2. Thanksgiving is NOT a religious holiday.... 3. Guess that is why you are a believer–it's EASIER to just drink the Kool Aid than to actually study/ learn/ listen/ read/ investigate....and i'm certain the Atheists are glad you and your kind waddle off to Church to pray for your own salvation ... Would you be bummed out to find out The Founding Fathers rarely attended church? They were kind of busy building a secular nation/ an industrialized society/ a democarcy ( and Ben Franklin was drinking and whoring) ....yeah, where anyone can believe what they want–where they want–how they want - as long as it doesn't infringe on others personal happiness....WHAT WOULD JESUS think ? lol.... why not get your 30,000 BELIEVERS down to a stadium catherdral in Houston and pass the golden plate...yep, that'll get you into HEAVEN haaaaa.....

      October 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  6. travell

    God loves everyone and will even let atheists come into his kingdom if they are otherwise good.

    September 29, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      And if you die in glorious battle you can get into Valhalla.

      September 29, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • bilbo

      according to the bible the christian god will not allow anyone into heaven who does not profess belief in the jesus story.

      September 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  7. buckwheat sambo

    So, leave us alone u filthy atheists

    September 29, 2013 at 6:09 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      You first.
      Stop butting in where you're not wanted. Leave gays alone to marry who they chose. Leave women alone to decide for themselves if they want to have children. Leave schools alone to teach science without your hocus pocus.
      You are free to follow whatever beliefs you want and to preach to your fellow believers in your churches and other houses of worship. Isn't that enough? Why must you insist that everyone else follow what you want?

      September 29, 2013 at 6:20 am |
      • captain america

        Of course it is none of steves business as the ass hole doesn't like here anyway.There's your sign

        September 29, 2013 at 6:23 am |
      • captain america

        The ass hole doesn't live here either. There's your sign

        September 29, 2013 at 6:24 am |
        • Dave

          Hey look at the hatred and bigotry from the religious types... what a SHOCK

          September 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        Where I live is none of your business either. Your opinion matters not.

        September 29, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Earthling

      Why don't you filthy religious fools keep your nonsense to yourselves? Then we wouldn't have to keep reminding you that no one wants to see that crap in public.

      September 30, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Dave

      I'll leave you alone if you leave me alone

      September 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, eh?

      October 1, 2013 at 8:00 am |

    GOD condemns those who would impose their belief unto others.


    September 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  9. Smeagel4T

    I'm tired of the fact that Christians inserted "under God" into a perfectly good and responsible pledge that didn't originally include it.

    September 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Jimmy Vick

      A life spent seeking to confirm their belief in disbelief...

      September 29, 2013 at 3:34 am |
  10. davecu

    If there is no God, what purpose do atheists serve?

    September 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Madison

      As a reminder that the sun doesn't revolve around earth and that the Age of Reasoning is alive.

      September 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  11. Alex

    I wouldn't worry too much. in 20 years the pledge will be recited in spanish anyway.

    September 27, 2013 at 3:48 am |
    • Scott

      As long as American survives the Tea Party Republicans, I don't care if it is Swahili.

      September 30, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  12. Jason

    She's a filthy bigot.

    September 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  13. Infidel

    Stop being so paranoid. Just because I don't buy into gods, deities, NRA, GOP, or higher powers in general, definitely doesn't mean I'm a soldier for Satan. Personally, I think hell and Satan is the biggest crock of them all. That concept is just for your fear based religions. I don't need someone more powerful than myself to scare me into behaving properly. Look if you need a belief system in order for the universe to make sense to you, okay fine. I don't, so don't judge me for it, and don't think I'm going to stand around with a big goofy smile on my face while you proselytize your version of whats what at me. Personally, I have no problem with everyone injecting God into the Pledge of Allegiance. I have a problem that the world seems to think we need to recite such a thing. And swearing on a bible? Give me a break. What's that do? If I'm an atheist, our legal system requires me to be a hypocrite in order to testify? Yeah, sure, whatever... Your disdain for my position, only serves to demonstrate the weaknesses of yours. Let it go. I'm not attacking anyone, and I'm not wasting my time defending anything. I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs. I suggest you follow suit. Don't lump all atheists into a group of lost souls who go around telling everyone they need to stop believing in things. Some of us are smart enough to realize it is incorrect to try to influence other's religious beliefs. Some believers are smart enough to realize they aren't going to convert nonbelievers. And then there's the rest of the world.

    September 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Satan


      September 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Dave

      Preach on Brother!!!!!

      September 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  14. Steve

    I agree that this country has become increasingly biased against anyone who is not Christian. Religion, if you choose to subscribe to it, is fine in its place. If it helps you learn morals and ethics, great. But once you cross the line and start pushing your beliefs on others, it has gone to far. If you want to believe history, Judaism was the first religion. Christianity spawned from it. So, what would the Christians say if we all agreed to keep "In god we trust", but maintain that the god we are speaking of is from Jewish belief? They would scream about oppression and bigotry. Or worse, what if we stated the god was Allah? You would see every right wing pundit go crazy. Point being, if you choose to believe in god, fine. If you don't, fine. Just don't push your beliefs on others unless you want them pushing their's on you.

    September 23, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  15. Chris

    Giving in to atheists would be like giving in to the devil. Why should a non-atheist want to give up their freedoms, their viewpoints of how a country should be, just to make an atheist happy? The atheists certainly don't want to see religion, they are as afraid of it as the devil himself.

    September 23, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      That is ridiculous. Why do you agree with the christians forcing their religion on others? They hijacked the PoA, changed it from the way it was originally written and excluded all who do not believe in deities, then hijacked the national motto, making it a lie. Why do you want the national motto to be a lie?

      By the way, just because someone doesn't believe in any gods does not mean we are working for satan. In order for you to sayy that and not violate your commandment about bearing false witness, you would first need to prove this satan of yours exists, and then prove that any atheist is under his influence. Since you cannot do either, you ARE violating your commandment and bearing false witness...shame on you.

      September 23, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Malory Archer

      Yeah, except the Pledge was written by an avowed Athiest, and didn't include the phrase until the Communist witch hunts that took place in the United States in the early 1950s. How did you NOT know that?

      September 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • Malory Archer

        Yeah, except the Pledge was written by an avowed Athiest, and didn't include the phrase "under God" until the Communist witch hunts that took place in the United States in the early 1950s.

        September 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        The original pledge was written by a pastor, not an atheist.

        September 26, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • anachronistes

        A Baptist pastor, actually. Who was also a socialist. And it didn't have "under god" in it.

        September 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Alex

      Well said. The usa has a rich religious heritage. Why would I want to change it because of a bunch of noisy whiners?

      September 27, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Dave

      I can't believe fear what I sincerely think is fiction.

      I have no fear of the devil or gods or elves and dwarves and orcs....

      All just different flavors of mythology, with as much relevance to me as Zeus and Apollo.

      Keep in mind, you are an atheist too. I am going to guess you don't believe in Zeus, Apollo, Quetzalcoatll , or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pastafarians unite!!!)

      Really the only difference between us is that I believe in exactly one less god than you. but you disbelieve in plenty of gods yourself. See? We have this in common.

      September 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  16. clem

    Religious people just can't stand the fact that we don't want THEIR views in political business. Keep your views at home. There are many different religions and atheists who don't want your "god" on all of their stuff. DON'T BE BULLIES RELIGIOUS PEOPLE, it goes both ways.

    September 22, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Jimmy Vick

      Nice spin job. The irony is, everyone in our society is growing dumber over time due to the fact that philosophy and knowledge theory are not being taught objectively in this country. The religious whack jobs do not want their kids thinking philosophically at all and same goes for the militant atheist whack jobs want the same thing for opposite reasons... it is actually quite paradoxical and humorous...

      On atheism, Sagan commented in 1981:
      "An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

      September 27, 2013 at 12:35 am |
      • Alex

        Schools have replaced critical thinking with social engineering.

        September 27, 2013 at 4:02 am |
  17. Orcinus

    That's okay, Dana, since you work for F*@ks News channel, we understand why you feel the way you feel. Just remember that our numbers are growing, and that there are more of us than the public knows. And we make fun of you loonies every day.

    September 20, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Penobski

      Loved this post. Reminds me of whenthe main character in"Bones" refers to them as her collegues "imaginary friends".

      September 25, 2013 at 9:27 am |
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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.