Target: Dana Perino, co-host of a popular news show
Goal: Demand Dana give an apology for saying atheists should leave the United States
When the hosts of Fox News’ The Five discussed a court case in Massachusetts where a lawyer argued having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violates the state constitution, co-host Dana Perino stated her personal loathing of Americans who do not believe in a deity. In fact, she said they were more than welcome to leave the country.
Perino stated “I’m tired of them. I remember working at the Justice Department years ago when I first started right after 9/11 and a lawsuit like this came through…If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here.” Ultimately, her remarks are insulting for two reasons.
The first is that they insult an entire minority group of Americans who do face social discrimination. About six percent of Americans identify as atheists, part of a 20 percent overall “nones” demographic who do not report affiliation with a religious institution. NBC News, reporting on the results of an International Humanist and Ethical Union study in 2012, noted a social climate of prejudice including official bans of nonbelievers from public office in some state constitutions. In a Gallup poll from that same year, just 54 percent said they would vote for an atheist presidential candidate while 43 percent said they would not.
The second is that her argument is blatantly ignorant of history. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state. This separation of God and government was enacted not to oppress any or all religions but instead to protect freedom of belief. Part of the foundational American principle of Constitutional republicanism is protection of minority groups from a “tyranny of the majority.” Moreover, “under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.
Ultimately, Perino’s remarks were uncalled for. She outright stated atheists should not see themselves as welcome in America simply for holding views different from hers. By signing this petition, you will ask her to apologize for her insensitive comments.
Dear Ms. Perino,
Recently, when discussing a Massachusetts court case about the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, you stated that you felt atheists should feel free to leave the country. You said “I’m tired of them. I remember working at the Justice Department years ago when I first started right after 9/11 and a lawsuit like this came through…If these people really don’t like it, they don’t have to live here.”
Your remarks attacked an entire minority group of Americans who already face a climate of social discrimination. For example as of 2012, according to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, at least seven U.S. states had official bans of nonbelievers holding public office.
Moreover, your argument atheists should shut up about “under God” or else ignores the traditional separation of church and state in the United States, guaranteed by the First Amendment. This separation, referred to as “a wall” by Thomas Jefferson, was not created to oppress religions but instead to protect freedom of belief. “Under God” was not in the original Pledge of Allegiance and was only adopted in 1954.
You certainly have a right to state with conviction your views about “under God” and the Pledge of Allegiance. However, your statement that atheist Americans who do not agree with you should “feel free to leave” was outright insulting. I ask that you apologize for your insensitive remarks.
[Your name Here]
Photo credit: EyesOnFire89 via Flickr