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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. Dragon

    I have. In depth. Through and through. Front to back. And found it a nice work of fiction. Nothing more. I am also not an Atheist. Maybe you should do some research. There has never been a period of more than 50 years when the United States wasn't involved directly or indirectly with killing people. Morals? Don't make me laugh. The human animal PRETENDS to morals as long as it is convenient for them. Crime rates like many things in this world, fluctuate.

    When people actually went to church and studied god in schools... really.. we had morals then? You'd do good to check your facts. Crime rate then, as now, happened. You had the 'wild west', the 'roaring twenties' etc. There has never been a time where this or any other country had 'morals'. They/We just pretended to have them while we did all our immoral things behind closed doors. Or in other countries.

    The facts speak for themselves. At no time in humanities history have we ever stopped killing one another, hating one another, enslaving one another or using our beliefs to rationalize how we treated other peoples. So where are those 'Morals' you were talking about? Hmmmm?

    December 22, 2010 at 10:05 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Dragon,
      Yes, we know what we should do but we do what we don’t want to do! And some think we don’t need Jesus! I need His help and He knew it and that is why He inst!tuted the Seven Sacraments…so that we can get the help we need to do the Father’s will.

      December 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Bob Carlson

    What would Jebus say??

    December 22, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  3. Ivan Libya

    Gotta love the, "Jesus died on the cross for you", rhetoric, considering that "God" created man, so he therefore created evil, and then he had to allow his "son" to be killed just so humans, "God's" creation can be saved from himself? And you Christians think this is the work of a devine being? Really? Think for a minute, please!

    December 22, 2010 at 10:03 am |
    • bar7

      The fact that you are a blob of meat, typing on a computer, sitting on a planet suspened in space and time, just...happened. Think about it.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  4. Just an observer

    No more religious ads on city buses. Was that the goal of the atheists or the theists? Seems the theists put up the biggest stink, and are now complaining about the result of it. They got the atheist advertisement banned just like they prayed for.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  5. me

    Have you ever thought to yourselfs all the stories that the "bible" states. now i want you to think of something someone told you a week ago, and try retelling that story once more. You will only get about 75% right, the rest is lost. Now you want to tell me that Bible was written by people who never knew how to write, and that everything was told 100% the way it was. Think again. As far as TRUTH: it's what ones believe. If we all believed the same thing, we all would be equal and at same place, job, point of life etc.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • bar7

      Time for a meds adjustment.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  6. ApeHanger

    The T made the right decision.

    Religious and anti-religious zealots need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves, not force them on others. Millions may be good without God but millions others are not in that category. Who's right? You want to pray, do it on your time, not mine and stay out of my face with it. Same goes for the atheists. You want to rant about how there is no God, do it on your time, and stay out of my face with it.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  7. Lis

    Please tell me WHY do we even need to put our religious beliefs or non-beliefs on a BUS?? Seriously!!! Believe whatever it is you want to but leave me out and keep it to yourself...thanks!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:57 am |
    • bar7

      Free speech, advertising revenue, just a couple that come to ming.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  8. Bruce H

    The ban was probably the ultimate goal of the organization placing the ads, expecting and getting the response made, effectively making their point and stifling all rebuttals.

    The outcome of this will be in doubt while the inevitable First Amendment lawsuits are filed to challenge the transit board's decision. The case will probably be decided finally at the appellate level and Texas will once more see so-called "faith-based" ads on buses.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  9. bar7

    Let the religious poster war fly, freedom of speech, not like mu-slimes blowing each other up. Think of all revenue the transit company could make, this is a business opportunity. But once again Big Bro says NO!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:55 am |
    • ApeHanger

      You obviously didn't read the story. The T doesn't want to expend limited resources dealing with a controversy. They're in the transportation business, not the mediation business.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:59 am |
    • bar7

      Ape-Then privatize the "T", guarentee a FOR PROFIT business would mine the heck outta this.

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

    As a matter of fact, America is no longer a Christian nation. That's why we can't win wars anymore... or be safe from terrorists on our own soil. I could go on.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  11. fronc

    everyone needs to stop! This is so stupid. Believe what you want. Ok, great! Have a nice day!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  12. 1madtexan

    Let's get to the reality, there is NO GOD. It's a book written more than 2,000 years ago by people in the desert. It was written to scare people. Through out history every nation in the world who had GOD's were all proven to be false. Look at the Pope's and how they came to power forcing everyone to believe in just 1 GOD.

    Where is your GOD today? Why can't he and his son and his spirit stop the fighting in there own Holy Lands? Where was your GOD the day some A Hole goes and kills innocent Amish girls in school? You say he knows ALL why did he not stop that person from doing such a thing.

    When he made the earth why did he put dinosaurs in the ground? Why has he not shown himself so all can see and believe?

    Sorry just a story book.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:52 am |
    • CatholicMom

      1madtexan,

      How is it that Christianity has survived for 2000 years? Certainly not because of men. Because of our free will, man does what he will. Jesus Christ promised the Paraclete to His Apostles to guide and guard His Church throughout time and promised that evil will not prevail over His Church and also promised that the fullness of Truth will be given as we can bear it.

      It is a sad thing that man doesn’t do what he should but God has left it up to us to decide how we are going to live….which means that some will take their free will and kill others as you said. If everyone loved their neighbor as they should, none of this would happen.

      We have a long way to go but we are called to be Saints and with God working through us there is hope for all. This is why He told the Apostles to go out and Baptize all nations…this is how He abides in us…without Baptism, any good we do merits nothing in Heaven because without Him we can do nothing good.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  13. Dave

    SERIOUSLY?

    "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."

    Right... not being able to plaster your stupid message on a bus is going to bring about the downfall of Christianity. WHY DO WE CARE!? If people would read what the transportation authority is saying, you might understand the purpose of the ban. They basically said, in a politically correct way... "all you people that call and complain are idiots. Someone paid us money to put an add on our bus. The message is irrelevant, but instead of debating amongst yourselves about it, you call us and complain. We're in the business of making money to provide transportation. But, seeing how you people aren't grown up enough to handle other peoples opinions, we'll go back to putting Tide adds on our bus... morons!"

    The fact that people even debate this garbage is ridiculous! Grow up! I can't stand you people!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  14. ALowe

    When did all of America become anti-religion? The point of us being free is we are able to worship freely and have free speech. Same with those who believe as those who don't.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  15. louis

    We have here in NYC, many christian, jewish and muslim charities groups that advertise on city property such as our subways and we never hear complaints about it. Why should we? Its free speech and so is an atheists point of view. Why should it be any diferent? Fair is fair in a secular society based in free speech. Atheists have the right to express their views in public spaces just as much as the faithful do, which is ALL THE TIME. It is refreshing to see this

    December 22, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  16. TewksburyBob

    I have only one nasty word...Democrats

    December 22, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  17. freetime1

    So this "Millions of Americans are good without God." the truth is what got a bans put in place. If you do a fact check you will find out that atheist are the most underrepresented group in our nations jails and prisons. Not under represented christians' and followers of islam. It would seem from the real facts that not only are millions of Americans good without a god they are better! The truth is something that some out there might not want to hear lol.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  18. Rich

    Religions and anti-religions have basically boiled down into bickering children.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  19. hdiesel

    I am not a church going person I don't know for a fact if there is a god or isn't a god. What i do know is that there are a lot of more important things to be taken care of on this planet that to fight back and forth and call each other names simply because someone failes to believe the same things. People always say there is no proof of god, well to be brutally honest there is no proof of the big bang theory either, hence the reason it is called a theory. I also know that in the last 20-30 years that people are more concerned that we not pray in school or be forced to say the pledge of allegiance tha with actually educating the children or removing gang violence. Someone perceives that they have been wronged by the school they don't want it fixed they want to sue, simply depriving others of the limited resources that were available. We waste thousands of hours dealing with religion in the government both for and against it, we waste millions or hundreds of millions of dollars on the lawsuits. Here is an idea, if you believe then believe, if you don't believe then don't believe, simply leave the lawyers and my tax dollars out of the matter.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  20. dandiwer@gmail.com

    i hate Christians why can't they just keep to themselves, or go away.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:29 am |
    • Angela

      Because they are like herpes or glitter. They just get everywhere and no matter how much you wash, you can't get rid of them. Maybe someday.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:07 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.