- (Photo: Atheists.org )
American Atheists, one of the largest secular groups in the country, apologized on Monday for misquoting former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in one of their new billboard campaigns in Texas.
"While I admit that the word 'should' should technically not be inside the quote, the meaning was correct," AA President David Silverman said in an email to CNN on Monday.
The ad campaign American Atheists launched quotes several GOP political figures and Christian conservatives, trying to expose them for "bigoted and backwards remarks and attitudes," as Silverman previously explained.
One of the quotes attributed to Palin in the billboard reads: "We should create law based on the God of the Bible," with a sign to "Go Godless Instead," beneath her photo.
The quote, however, was proven to be inaccurate, as it refers to an interview the former Alaska governor did several years ago with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Palin said that America's founding fathers "would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments" (emphasis not Palin's) as opposed to "should."
Silverman initially refused to apologize for the misquote and linked to an article on Twitter by The Huffington Post that implies that Palin believes American law should be based on the God of the Bible, but still does not provide evidence that she used those exact words.
"A Huffington Post headline is not the same as a Sarah Palin soundbyte," wrote Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist blog, criticizing the decision not to initially apologize for the mistake.
The atheist group has now responded with a statement that they will adjust the quotation on the billboard to make it more accurate.
Dave Muscato, the group's public relations director, said that the secular group holds themselves "to the highest standards of accuracy," and they will "move the quotation marks at our expense, so they do not include the word 'should.'"
Silverman insisted, however, that Palin's quote still serves as an example of religious bigotry, and suggested that "Ms. Palin would stand by what we have quoted her as saying."
The former Alaska governor has not yet responded to the billboard, but a representative for former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who is featured in the campaign with the quote "Our civil laws have to comport with a higher law. God's law," thanked AA for the free publicity.
"At a time when many are trying to remove God from the public square, the senator is appreciative of someone helping him very publicly express his strong belief that we are one nation under God," said Virginia Davis.
Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, recently retired Pope Benedict XVI and former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich are also featured in the billboards put up in Dallas and Austin.