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Fort Worth transit agency bans faith-based ads
December 21st, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Fort Worth transit agency bans faith-based ads

By Katie Glaeser, CNN

The message from Fort Worth, Texas: no more religious advertisements allowed, at least on its transit system.

The pro and anti-religious ad battle has been front and center this holiday season. Atheist groups and the Catholic League had a billboard brawl in New York late last month, and now the fight has reached Texas.

The Board of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) voted unanimously last week to formally adopt an advertising policy for all T property which includes a ban on faith-based ads.

The vote was prompted after a recent ad purchased by The Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason which caused a lot of commotion in town. The ad posted on four buses reads "Millions of Americans are good without God."

Joan Hunter, communications manager for The T, said the decision for the ban was not based on the content of the Coalition's ad, but rather the amount of resources the department had to spare to field concerns in reaction to it.

"The demands on our time to respond and trying to engage us as a public forum was pulling us from focus on the operation of a transit agency and that is our business," Hunter said in an e-mail message to CNN.

The T already had guidelines in place against tobacco and alcohol ads, some local political ads, and those deemed obscene. In a news release, The T says the new policy will "exclude any ads with religious, non-theistic, or faith-based content and all political ads."

"Our policy regarding belief ads that we had was impartial and had worked without interruptions to our time and resources in the past," Hunter said. She also noted there are several other ads posted on their bus fleet right now, including one that says "Jesus is the reason for the season" and another paid for by a Catholic organization.

Terry McDonald, coordinator of the Coalition, said the group's campaign was not scheduled to come out during December. It was being worked on last summer to coincide with a book signing by Harvard humanist chaplain Greg Epstein. When the event fell through, the Coalition thought the title of Epstein's book, "Good Without God," still held an important message.

"The reason for our campaign is to let people who are nonbelievers know about the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason and that has succeeded very, very well," McDonald said.

He said the group didn't expect there to be anywhere near this much publicity but with the media coverage of the controversy the Coalition's affiliates are seeing their memberships increase and they've received donations from across the country.

Kyev Tatum, pastor of Friendship Rock Baptist Church in Fort Worth, called The T Board's vote "a dangerous precedent" because it only took a matter of days for religion to be taken out of public policy. Tatum had called for a boycott of the buses when the controversy began.

"The compromise was worse than what we had before," Tatum said, "because the compromise says Christians can no longer advertise and we don't like that."

Tatum, president of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said his organization's response to the ad is a new campaign called "Better with God." They're hoping to get one million supporters behind the cause.
"They may be good without him," Tatum said, "but we can say they're better with him."
Any current advertising with The T that falls into a banned category will be allowed to remain in place through the remainder of the contract. The Coalition's ads will expire in early January.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • United States

soundoff (1,036 Responses)
  1. Scuz

    The bible was written by a man and translated by a man. there were gods before the Christian god, there are gods older than the Christian god, there are newer gods that have been around a couple hundred years, whose to say that any of it isn't made up, just a ploy to sway the masses to give up there money in the name of it.

    You wan't something to believe in, believe in yourself, why do you need a book to tell you what to do and to follow someone else to get by in life, I follow my own rules and I have a great life.

    When I die I will take a dirt nap, just like everyone else.

    Proud Atheist

    December 22, 2010 at 8:40 am |
    • abuzayd

      your taking the easy way out, very easy to say just rely on yourself, that there is no life after death so just enjoy life to the fullest.
      I thought atheist were supposed to be intellectually superior since they don't 'fall' for the religion hype. are you not intrigued by the fact that we are here, don't you question why you are here, how did you come to be here. digging deeper and deeper into that question have 2 possible conclusions:
      1. we are here from the result of purposeless unintentional random events that have unfolded over time. the beauty of the world and universe is just coincidental and happened for no reason whatsoever.
      2. we are here because there is a magnificient Creator who purposely created us and all that we see or can't see around us. the beauty of the natural world and universe are just signs of the magnificence of the Creator.

      believers of God are ridiculed by the 'rational' 'free thinking' atheist for choosing #2, while they are at peace with their highly 'intellectual' conclusion of option #1.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:55 am |
    • Auticus

      I have no problem with Christians advertising. So long as muslims, pagans, satanists, hindus, shamans, buddhists, etc... may exercise that same right without being blasted.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:16 am |
    • Scuz

      Yes it easy, thats the way I want it, no one telling me how to run my life. I can't prove god exists but you can't prove he does, science can explain lots of things, but when it can't religion jumps in saying it's gods work

      December 22, 2010 at 9:27 am |
    • abuzayd

      Scuz,
      "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led diffcult lives and led them well." - Theodore Roosevelt

      December 22, 2010 at 9:48 am |
    • Scuz

      Its the way I want my life, you make your life as complicated as you want. I am married and have 2 kids, I enjoy my life, buts its not complicated, im not stressed out, I dont freak out like the rest of society.

      Quoting presidents will get you no where, live your life, don't live someone else's.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • abuzayd

      Scuz, 'Akuna-mattatta means no worries'... but it doesn't absolve one's responsibility and accountability.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Scuz

      My responsibilities are to my family and no one else, let the world around do what they will, I can't change them, they are not effecting me in any way, if at any time someones way of life interferes with mine, I will deal with it accordingly.

      People have free will, I'm not judging and I don't want what they push, my beliefs are shared with a lot of people in the world, but you don't see atheists going door to door pushing it but you see Christians doing it, LDS doing it.

      In my experience when talking with religious folks they always tend to say that I shall be saved by believing in Jesus. I'm going to hell if I don't change. Well power to them, I hope I go to their hell because I don't believe in God. Atheists don't push, we answer rationally, Religious denominations push the beliefs onto you, they have been doing this for years.

      December 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  2. Terry

    The beginning of the end of this country...as if it hasn't already started.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  3. K Smith

    If this is such a meaningless topic, then why are there so many replies? Heck I can't even get a word in. I mean if Jesus doesn't mean anything to you then why the big deal??? You say don't push your agenda on me.... When today everyone is pushing their agenda's on everyone... Just turn on the TV or listen to the radio. Its all a bunch of trash. But we can't have anything said about God or Jesus. Society is so confused.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  4. abuzayd

    most atheist will probably continue to be atheist until some calamity befalls them, and they are powerless and have nothing or no one to call upon except their creator. those who deny God feel themselves self sufficient in need of no one or nothing, they feel that all of the countless blessings they have like sight, hearing, intellect, pleasures of life, etc etc etc have all just come about as result of unintentional random events.

    If they admit a Creator, then they would have to be accountable to someone other than themselves.

    If atheists do want to look into a religion that doesn't have the scientific inconsistencies that have put them off of religion as a whole, should look into the Qur'an and Islam. If they are the people of intellect that they claim to be, they shouldn't be afraid of questioning their own worldview and looking into other possibilities.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:27 am |
    • Chris Carlisle

      Absolute drivel. Tell me, if I were to become victim to cancer would believing in God make him rid me of the terrible disease? (and why did he allow the disease in the first place if he is an all-loving God?).
      "While we have masters in heaven we can not be free on Earth" George Orwell
      People like yourself need a guiding supernatural imaginary voice in their heads to help them get through life because it makes you feel comfortable in life and not face the often harsh truth of life. The universe is under no obligation to make the human species happier or more content than anything else in the universe. Try reading something by Carl Sagan about what we live in and then you might see how 'man-made for comforting and control' the bible actually is. To think the entire universe is based on this petty often child-like, often cruel book is utterly embarrassing on your part

      December 22, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • K Smith

      Well said!!!

      December 22, 2010 at 8:47 am |
    • K Smith

      OK my computer is slow I was tell abuzayd well said!!!! Chris God will heal you of cancer or whatever else ales you. I've personally seen miracles and wonders with my own eyes. And if He doesn't heal you on earth then He will heal you I heaven. your looking short term and not long term (like eternity). When you speak about eternity life on earth becomes very small. Eternity is too long to be wrong. If you don't believe me just ask God to show you.... He will if you sincerely mean it. It should sound like this "Father God you are a gracious and glorious God, You sent Your Son Jesus to die for Me and all the people on this earth on an old rugged cross and Lord Jesus I pray in Your Name that You show Yourself in some way or form to these people Father I pray that you open the eyes of the blind and unlock the ears of the deaf so that they may receive You Jesus as their Savior and empower them with the Holy Spirit in Jesus' Name I pray.... Amen!!! Hallelujah!!!

      December 22, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Don

      Wow. Some people are just so terrified of atheists that they have to bald-facedly LIE and say that atheists will convert in time of need. Just how intellectually cowardly do you have to be to tell such a lie?

      December 22, 2010 at 9:11 am |
    • abuzayd

      Chris, it seems you didn't read my post entirely.
      in regards to your cancer question, my point was that atheists think they are self-sufficient and in need of no one or nothing other than themselves, then when something happens to them and they are powerless to help themselves they then have no where to turn except their Creator. believing in God won't 'make' him cure you, believing in him can only benefit yourself since the Creator doesn't need your belief nor your worship, it's us that needs the Creator. everyone has a choice they can live and die in belief, or in disbelief.

      I think we all owe it to ourselves to take this subject seriously and devote time and effort to figure out the truth of our existence. everything in this world has an expiration date. whether we expire at the hands of cancer, or in a hurricane or earthquake, or accident, or in war, we are all destined to expire at some point, it could happen at any time, no one can guarantee the next minute, day, or year... so don't wait until it's too late. don't be among those on the day of resurrection that the Creator talks about::

      Verily, We have warned you of a Penalty near, the Day when man will see (the deeds) which his hands have sent forth, and the Unbeliever will say, "Woe unto me! Would that I were mere dust!" (Quran translation 78:40)

      December 22, 2010 at 9:15 am |
    • abuzayd

      Don, there are numerous atheists who's told their stories of decades of atheism when faced with mortality or dire need they turned to the Creator.
      it is a fact that when someone is faced with disaster and nothing can help them most will call out loud or in their heart to the one that controls their fate. This will bring the realization that they are in fact not self sufficient, and not independent, and they have to rely on someone other than themselves.

      let's not be ungrateful to the Creator who gave us the uncountable blessings we have that many of us take for granted. It's either
      1. we are here from the result of purposeless unintentional random events that have unfolded over time. the beauty of the world and universe is just coincidental and happened for no reason whatsoever.
      2. we are here because there is a magnificient Creator who purposely created us and all that we see or can't see around us. the beauty of the natural world and universe are just signs of the magnificence of the Creator.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:30 am |
    • civilioutside

      Desperate people grasp at straws. It just means the people are desperate, not that the straw can support their weight.

      And by the way, the atheist position is not "I'm self-sufficient, therefore I don't need god." It's "god does not exist."

      December 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      civilioutside,
      So the atheist's position is, ' "I'm self-sufficient, therefore "god does not exist."....?

      December 22, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Read a little more carefully CM. The atheist position is simply "god doesn't exist." Whether we are self-sufficient or not has no bearing on it whatsoever.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  5. K Smith

    IF YOU CAN BE GOOD WITHOUT GOD THEN HOW COME THERE ARE SO MANY HATEFUL ATHEIST'S ON THIS BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 22, 2010 at 8:27 am |
    • Don

      BECAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MULTIPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EXCLAMATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ANNOYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 22, 2010 at 9:08 am |
    • K Smith

      lol if that annoys you then you are a little sensitive. is this better. sorry to offend you with all caps. just tryin to get my point across...... dude. oops. i mean. dude.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  6. K Smith

    OK, it's like this... maybe you can be good without God. But you can experience fulfillment with Him. And you will NOT get to heaven without Jesus the Son of God our Savior and King. Hallelujah!!!

    December 22, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  7. Bluewing1800

    In regards to Voltaire, the famous skeptic,
    Voltaire died a terrible death. His nurse said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness."

    December 22, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  8. MichaeSD

    I think iIts a good idea...I myself am non religious but I really don't agree with how the atheist organizations are doing this...they are just as bad as the pro religion people, they are getting push and extreme in their views.

    To me if you don't want to participate in something then don't...stop trying to convert people like the religious people try to do...

    December 22, 2010 at 8:21 am |
    • Bob

      How exactly is the statement "Millions of people are good without God" a conversion message?"

      Millions of people are good with eating converted rice. OMG I'M CONVERTING PEOPLE TO CONVERTED RICE!

      December 22, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  9. Bluewing1800

    The last words of David Hume, the Atheist,
    He cried: "I am in flames!" His desperation was a horrible scene.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:20 am |
    • Chris Carlisle

      Quote your source, please!

      December 22, 2010 at 8:32 am |
    • Bluewing1800

      http://users.belgacom.net/gc674645/grave/lastword.htm

      December 22, 2010 at 8:56 am |
    • Don

      Now cite a real source.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • Bluewing1800

      There are plenty of sources out there that say the same thing. Just google it and you can find the answer. Or are you afraid of what you may find. Plenty of quotes from non believers who made last minute pleas to God to save their miserable lives can be found with little research.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:30 am |
    • Chris Carlisle

      So, he was 'in flames' because he didn't believe in something superbatural/imaginary, not because he was in pain or didn't particularly like the idea of dying?? And to say that 'his desperation was a horrible scene' is not the most objective account i've heard (and who said it is a mystery!).
      Most people do fear death, and some will make desperate pleas to 'God' to help them (although I doubt whether a towering intellect like David Hume would have been so weak minded), but just because something gives you comfort, it in no way makes it true.........it's all in your mind, it's time to say farewell to God!

      December 22, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • Bluewing1800

      Nah, I don't believe so. I will stick with what I know to be true. You say good bye if you wish, but I will say hello, when my turn arrives. I posted facts, you wish to distort and read what you desire into them. You cannot deny the words said, but you can twist the words to what you desire them to believe. But no need to worry about me. We won't be sharing the same space after we die. I suspect those who don't believe are just as set in that belief as I am in mine. The only difference is that IF you are correct, then I have still lived a good life. But If I am right, and I believe I am, then you will live a horrible life after you die. If I err, then I err on the side of Righteousness. For there to be NO GOD, according to many on this board, you spend a lot of time trying to remove something you don't believe even exist. Seems kinda wasteful to me. Have a Blessed day no mater what your belief

      December 22, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  10. Ivy

    That's wonderful news! It means that religious views, of any kind, can't be forced down your throat using transit buses for a venue. I wish they could have this kind of success with door hangings and billboards as well 🙂

    December 22, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  11. Bri

    Just watch the sickening news night after night.. how's "Good without God" working for us ? Our citizens should get their faces out of the boob tube and open their bibles and get some real truth. It's clear to me that the decline of our country is a by-product of our turning away from our creator and savior. Merry Christmas

    December 22, 2010 at 8:06 am |
    • Something

      "open their bibles and get some real truth."

      The parts of the Bible which hold "some real truth" are few and far between (yes, there are some recommendations in there for beneficial human behavior), but the truth is quite sullied by the myths, legends, supernatural fantasies and superst!tions. Better to pick up a copy of Aesop's Fables.

      December 22, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  12. Tom

    CNN, please leave these types of headlines to Fox News. You're feeding into the delusional minds of people who want to believe that Christians are persecuted in this country.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  13. a mom

    so is everyone here not celebrating Christmas this year? just curious.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:04 am |
    • Bob

      Christmas is so far removed from religion at this point that it's a cultural celebration. Santa claus, presents, trees, yeah.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:27 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I am not christian – I don't belong to a single one of the hundreds of christian cults. Why would/should everyone celebrate christmas?

      December 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  14. fedupin2010

    I can't "see" the wind but I feel it. I can't see "love" but Its a great feeling when you have it. I can't see "hope" but each and every human being has it. Just because you can't see something doesn't make it non-existant. I chose to believe in God, I'm proud to say that to any who will listen. I also give respect to those who chose to believe differently BUT please give me that same respect.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:01 am |
    • Bob

      Do you respect people who believe in vampires? How about the boogey man?

      I tolerate your belief in an invisible sky daddy who will protect you from death if you believe in him and say ritualized incantations to him.

      Belief and non-belief in something that has not been proven are not "equally valid".

      December 22, 2010 at 8:30 am |
    • Don

      And yet we can define wind as movement of air due to differential pressure, and define what air is. We have no such definition of "god".

      December 22, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • fedupin2010

      now see bob thats what I'm talking about.... Your remarks are not respectful and yet no where in my remark do I disrespect your beliefs. Who am I to tell someone what to believe?? And if someone believes in vampires or the boogeyman that is their right and their belief. Be tolerate of your fellow man. Being "Right" is a matter of opinion and we all know opinions are like...well you know how the saying goes.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  15. Bri

    Well, the atheists win again .. Our country has kicked God out of every realm of society, so what do we have now ? Just watch the news every night and you can see where "Good without God" has gotten us. Merry Christmas !

    December 22, 2010 at 7:57 am |
    • Bob

      Really? Hrm. So you're logic goes like this. God has been reduced, so look at the mess we're in now. Fine. Let's see how that works out for you.

      Back in the good old days of God, women werent' able to vote. Earlier then that, and therefore, in more godly times people were slaves.

      Your concept is idiotic.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  16. Stephen

    Hey hey! Let's cut the religious folk a little slack. It's not their fault their acts are misguided – the devil makes them do it.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  17. Steve Consilvio

    What a joke. Both the message and the response shows that people are not nearly as good as they believe themselves to be. Pride comes before the fall. Saying that you believe yourself to be good doesn't make it true. The 9/11 suicides all believed themselves to be good, too.

    The transit system is incompetent for censoring these messages. The transit should take a truly principled stand, which would be to eliminate advertising altogether. But, if they are going to accept advertising, then there is no reason to censor it. As a public agency, it violates the right to free speech, too.

    http://www.behappyandfree.com

    December 22, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  18. Emmitt Langley

    I never understand why atheists like to point out that Jesus wasn't born on Dec 25...like it matters...the Bible doesn't tell the day, month, year that Jesus was born and the early Christians were much more concerned with his death and Resurrection than with his birth.

    But this is what Christianity is about...taking something pagan and redeeming it for God through Christ Jesus. No one really worships the god of the unconquered sun on the 25th anymore...Christianity stopped that and redeemed the day for Christ. We're proud of that, not ashamed...so follow your own advice and move on...

    December 22, 2010 at 7:53 am |
    • Farhibide

      Yes, you are absolutely right, Christians did stop that...by superceding the free will supposedly given to all human beings by your professed creator. Of course sheep will flock if they're tethered in place.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Farhibide,

      How do you account for all the lost ones? Jesus, the Good Shepherd, went out into the desert to find one lost sheep and to do so, He left the 99 in search for it. The lost hide in the darkest of places however if they dare to look at the Light, they lose their fear and come out to be found.

      December 22, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  19. mat

    it so funny you all holla no god now but when you think you dying or real sick he the first you turn to you bunch of damn hypercrite

    December 22, 2010 at 7:51 am |
    • Chris Carlisle

      Speak for yourself, don't tell us who we'll be praying to when we're at death's door.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  20. CJ

    Seems like most everyone (regardless of "persuasion") wants to have THEIR say, and meanwhile happily seek to censor opposing views.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:33 am |
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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.