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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. I believe in GOD!

    “Would folks throw a birthday party for you and not invite YOU?" Christmas is not about shopping, cards, presents or even family – and especially not about Santa. Christmas is Jesus Christ's birthday celebration. God, thank you for your wonderful gift: Your Son, Jesus...Merry Christmas! I will keep you all in my prayers, also the non-believers

    December 22, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  2. lostmind

    K Smith,
    Which Bible are we talking about, I mean man has wrote so many of them are talking Old Testament, New Testament, King James version, if you look back far enough, you can even find the pre-Bibles. 🙂

    December 22, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • K Smith

      lol that's funny. Okay, the Old Testament and the New Testament make up the whole bible. The King James Version is just that the King James "Version". It is the most popular because it's been around the longest. Until we re-discovered how to translate the Hebrew and Greek language to English accurately (which is still somewhat difficult) then other "versions" have been written. Personally I recommend the Amplified Bible its translation is extremely powerful and rich. Even a layman such as myself can understand it.

      December 22, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Consider the Douay-Rheims Bible which was translated from the Vulgate.

      December 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  3. LeeCMH

    Hey, you better believe in my book because my book says so. Circular logic.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  4. Jessica

    Atheism is not a religion but a total lack of it. Technically the ads could still run.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  5. LeeCMH

    Yesterday while exiting a grocery store, a bell ringing Sal.Army person called-out to me, Merry Christmas. I turned, smiled and happily chirped, Happy Solstice. She stopped ringing her bell, put her hands on her hips and glared at me. Other shoppers were visibly shaken by her demonstrable, disapproving behavior.

    There are lots of Christians who put the chip of religion on their shoulders then get in people's faces demanding they knock-off the chip.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  6. K Smith

    Not being raised in church I used to say "I have my own beliefs", "all religions lead to the same god" and even "don't push YOUR agenda on ME, I'm a good person". But then one day God made it easy for me by calling my name. He showed me the truth. He has done things for me, things that I CANNOT deny. But like I said, He made it easy for me because of the things He's done for me that I know can only come from Him. It's not easy being a christian. But I'll never give up on Him because He'll never give up on me. Jesus was beaten beyond human recognition and He did it because He loves me..... and ALL of you out there. True christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship with your Creator. Cry out to Him and He will reveal Himself to you. Stop being so pig-headed and just try it. I'm not even asking you to do anything else just plead with Jesus to show you the Way. He is Faithful and He wont let you down. But that doesn't mean that life get's any easier. In fact life is actually sometimes harder but I CANNOT deny Him and I know who He is and what He's done for me and there's nothing I can do to ever repay Him. Father I pray that You may transform others as you have me and let them see the things You have shown unto me and show Yourself mighty through them Lord, Father forgive them for they know not what they do and let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen!!

    December 22, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • K Smith

      There are also, many... MANY people out there who call themselves christian and are terrible examples to follow. That's why I say ask God Himself and get your answer straight from the source.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • William Demuth

      Believing in God is your business

      Believing you speak with God is a clear sign of mental illness, comparable to believing you are Napoleon.

      If you truly are hearing voices then you are dangerously ill, and a threat to society.

      Get help

      December 22, 2010 at 10:45 am |
    • K Smith

      lol when you put it that way it is funny. Almost hilarious. I understand. I can assure you I have no mental illness. Look all I'm tryin to say is I once was as you are. I couldn't believe without proof. I'd be willing to say we're all like that. God is real. And He will prove it to you if you want Him to. Just ask Him. Don't worry you can do it when nobody's looking so you don't feel silly.

      December 22, 2010 at 11:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @K Smith
      What is this proof of which you speak? It is something objective that everyone can see, test and repeat? Is it something tangible? My guess would be "no".
      Just taking a wild stab in the dark here, but I'd wager that your position is that if I really really want to believe in (Insert Deity Here), all I have to do is "open my heart" and said being will make itself known in some esoteric, unprovable, untestable, way.

      December 22, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • K Smith

      Hey Doc, that's not true... Santa will not talk to you I tried that when I was 6 yrs old. Look if your tryin to offend me you can stop now you've succeeded. I'm not trying to push any "doctrine or else" here, all I said was "see for yourself".

      December 22, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • Something

      Talk to "God"? Listen to "God"? I have tried this many times - all I get is what I would get talking to myself - stuff I already know or that I can conjure using my imagination. There is no-one there.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  7. farie710

    I think the banner on the picture shouldn't say, "Good without god," but, "Great without Brainwashing." 🙂

    December 22, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  8. Cobalt Praetorian

    "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."

    So it's cool for YOU to advertise your faith, but as soon as someone wants to offer a differing opinion, it's a problem. Hypocrite much?

    December 22, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  9. Nan

    Okay, – a little theology here:
    Christians are NOT good people. The Bible (a series of 66 books written over several thousand years) says, " There is none that doeth good, no not one." We are sinful people who do wrong things every day, even on this site. Jesus is the one who came down to save us from our sin. Otherwise, we would all be in hell forever.
    So stop thinking you can be good without God. All of us fall short of what God expects of us.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  10. Chris Carlisle

    which part of it is wrong and why?? That's a typical sort of answer from a religious type – 'believe in god, because you never know...'

    December 22, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  11. paul 1st

    Texans may be able to solve controversial bus signs, but can they solve controversail textbooks?

    December 22, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  12. jim

    Kind of funny all these people talking about not needing God but what do you hear from
    all the convict's wanting to get out of prison. ( I have found god in my heart) seems to work when
    you need him to get out of prison.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  13. jammed10

    how many atheist have seen a "ghost"? why are these ghost hunting shows becoming so popular on tv? just a thought.

    http://www.turningleaf.vpweb.com

    December 22, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  14. Sons of Light

    Now is a good time to surrender to God’s will for your life and turn your heart over to Christ. With all of the violence, greed, hatred, and abuse of our times, fallen man continues to fall. When the end comes, it will close in like a trap. When this happens many people will wish they had a Savior to rescue them from the horrifying, ETERNAL wrath that awaits them for denying the only means of escape—Christ. Humans must pay for their sins, but the only way to escape the wrath is through acceptance of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let go of your stubborn arrogance and turn your hearts to Christ before it’s too late.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  15. jammed10

    http://www.turningleaf.vpweb.com

    December 22, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  16. Carolyn

    Athesists suck.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • Lou

      Why? Because you can't accept that someone disagrees with you? Is this an example of the kind of tolerance your Church teaches?

      December 22, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • Carolyn

      How arrogant of you to assume Lou what kind of believer I am. I was raised by an athesist. My 1st statement remains true.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  17. TSRVT

    Organized religion is the root of all evil. Period.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • David Harrison

      And Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot were the good guys!

      December 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  18. freetime1

    There are no atheist in foxholes is just one more lie. I did 25 years in the army atheist the hole time, my dad wounded two time during the war in Korea atheist the hole time. Pat Tillman, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional football star to join the Army Rangers and died in war was also an atheist. Fact not lies. Fact are hard for people who beilive in a god to deal with.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  19. Bob Carlson

    What would Jebus say?

    December 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  20. Matt

    I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual. Organized religion is often times scary. Everyone thinks they have the "answer"...well they don't! Let people believe what they want. Just be a good person and move on.....

    December 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
    • TSRVT

      Very well said, Matt. I agree wholeheartedly. I know people who are very spitirual who haven't set foot in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc. in decades. But sheep are sheep and must be herded lest they stray. Congregations aren't called 'flocks' for nothing, you know.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:18 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.