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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. morgans

    Happy Festivus!

    December 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  2. PAGANGRL69

    Man is not born into Religion...Man creates Religion for himself...Why does one think he has to assimilate himself to a label...When one is born without labels...Free to begin with...Why does one need to feel they must be identified such as the different masses to live their lives?...When you were born to just live life the best you can for yourself not for others...Period...No pecticular way exactly who has the golden rule book?...Only until what we are told and instructed on how to live by others- parents- society...As if none of us have a consciousness thought on our own conclusion of life...Something to think about...

    December 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • jesus freak

      what is your view of conclusion of life????

      December 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • james

      Conclusion of life, it's over, you're dead. If there's anything after that, we'll find out when we get there, but there's no way of knowing so what difference does it make what one's thought is?

      If I'm wrong and I burn in hell, what's it to you?

      December 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • PAGANGRL69

      My conclusion of life is that ...I respect that we are each Our Own Individual's Person's Living Our Own Personal Journey's...To each is of his own-OWN FREEWILL...Period...I did not need any Religion or influence of any Religion to realize this...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  3. kd

    It should be private everywhere and in everything. Now THAT would be an element of a perfect world.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  4. steeleblue

    Hey, I wouldn't have any problems with their "ads" if they are willing to give up their tax-free status. Then they can advertise their "product" just like any other company. Until then, keep it off tax-payer funded sites.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  5. Lullwinkle

    I thought the people who forced onto our money "in God we trust" were the same people who would want you to believe that Jesus saves......................at their bank.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  6. thorrsman

    "Millions of Americans are good without God."

    Are they?

    December 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • NL

      Well, they're not in jail if you know the stats on faith in prison, and they are at least as good as believers otherwise.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
    • thorrsman

      @NL, is "they're not in prison" your main standard to judge good?

      December 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  7. tuffby

    If they're concerned about resources...they should just increase the price for faith based ads. Double the fee if the content is faith based...or triple it. Whatever it takes. Don't say no...just charge more.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  8. jesus freak

    last time i heard the pledge of allegiance it still said ( one nation under God)!!!! i respect non believers rights to not believe.i also think the bus company made the right decision to stop all advertising.a thought for the non believers–jesus was perfect and without sin.i am far from perfect but im forgiven!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • NL

      Ask someone in their seventies and they can probably remember the pledge without the God reference. Honestly, some people talk like the current version was written by one of the Founding Fathers or something.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Scott

      In 1954, several Christian anti-communists urged a bill to change the pledge further by
      including "God." Another amended pledge came by a joint resolution of Congress in 1954
      with the addition of the words, "under God." The pledge now reads:

      December 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
    • Scott

      Oh, and it doesn't say which god

      December 22, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  9. Religulous

    Bruce, when you say 'Christian' are you referring to Iesus Christus (aka Jesus Christ) or Christus Serapis who preceded your Iesus Christus by at least 3 centuries. Your Jesus Christ is a myth based on a Hellenistic-Egyptian diety named Christus Serapis. In fact the earliest depictions of Jesus Christ were infact images of Christus Serapis. Please verify. It's amazing how much information is waiting to be uncovered by the masses... who are awaiting to be told where to look.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  10. salvationarmykroccenterprotest.com

    Make sure that includes the scamming Salvation Army!

    December 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  11. LiberateUs

    Atheists are the aggressors here, not the religious. Causing more trouble, as usual.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Aggressors..you have to be kidding.. most of the Christians on this site sound terrified of their god, who ever she/ he /it is. You only want to believe because of some punishment that you perceive will be upon you if you do not. I for one would not want to spend eternity in the company of such a megalomaniac anyway. Also, what would you do each day with an eternity to do it? I get bored on a rainy afternoon...

      December 22, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  12. John Q. Public

    Very Surprising for Texas, I raise my glass to those in the lone star state for standing up to the Zealots whom try to undermine our republic...

    December 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  13. factsperson

    If our country supported Atheist, then we wouldn't be printing our money with 'In GOD we trust' on it.
    All you anti-christ...anti-god people...get over yourselves and deal with the fact that there IS a god. The only reason people denounce god is because sometihng bad happens and it's easy to blame something that cannot defend itself.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • John Q. Public

      Well we've been trying to get rid of that trash for 50+ years....

      December 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Atheism will doom this country

      December 21, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
    • Jason Kilgore

      I resent your discriminatory comments. I am a very moral person, community volunteer, and family man - and an atheist. Your ignorance illustrates your intolerance. You are free to believe what you wish, but do not push your faith on me!

      December 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • james

      Funny, we got along fine for what, ~100 years without that being on our money? I hear a lot of reference to the god statement in the pledge of allegiance too, wasn't that added in in the 1950s around the start of the cold war?

      Why anyone has a problem with what others believe is beyond me. I'm not religious, I went through a phase when I was a kid where I was, then I took a look around me and gradually realized how ridiculous the whole thing is and I find it a little scary that so many people apparently need the threat of eternal damnation in order to behave. If you are religious, that's fine. Your relationship with your god, whatever you perceive him or her to be is your personal private business. I won't berate you for it, but at the same time please respect my belief not to believe and don't jump to the conclusion that I'm an awful person because of it.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • MadPanda

      Nothing bad happened to me. I just decided to think about it a bit.

      Keep telling yourself that this is a christian country. Afterall, you must be very good at convincing yourself to believe nonsense.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Atheists are MUCH more intolerant, sir. CNN supports this theory with their articles and forums.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • MadPanda

      WE are the intolerant ones. Tell it to the gays...lol That is funny.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • Something

      factsperson,
      "
      The only reason people denounce god is because sometihng bad happens and it's easy to blame something that cannot defend itself."

      This "God" cannot defend itself? It is supposed to have created the very universe, killed everyone on Earth with a flood (except 8), saves folks from tornadoes, heals diseases, causes touchdown passes to be caught... and it cannot defend itself?!

      December 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Incredulous

      Do you truly believe that God cannot defend Himself? Also, why do you refer to Him as "it"? I find it interesting that you spell "atheist" with a capital A, but God is spelled with a lower case "g".

      You DO claim yourself to be a Christian, correct?

      The fact is, in America, we have a law that says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". What that law means is that the government cannot infringe on anyone's right to practice whatever religion they might choose. As to what the Bible says, I suggest you reread Matthew 7.

      Being a soldier of Christ does not mean trampling those under foot who do not share your own beliefs, but rather that you spread the Word of God freely to all who may listen.

      May God shine His face on you and yours during this season, and help you become a better Christian.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • PAGANGRL69

      Our does say in "GOD" we trust...However they do not make clear of the interpretation of the "God" they are exactly referring too...so this is open up for generalization of what one thinks "god" is of interpretation of perpective to each individual person's even meaning to as No "God" evenso..."God" is a word of label of many meanings to different people...With money we buy to our hearts desires what we want and need throughout life...Money can be used for good or create evil...So money in itself is such as a "God"...They could been referring "Money as the God" to as such purposes...Of course we were not their so it's open to irrelevance of one's Individual Interpretations...Think about it...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
    • What?

      HA, listen to LiberateUS...atheism will doom this country...guess you dont have faith after all...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Religulous

    When you say 'Christians' are you referring to Iesus Christus (aka Jesus Christ) or Christus Serapis who preceded your Iesus Christus by at least 3 centuries. Your Jesus Christ is a myth based on a Hellenistic-Egyptian diety named Christus Serapis. In fact the earliest depictions of Jesus Christ were infact images of Christus Serapis. Please verify. It's amazing how much information is waiting to be uncovered by the masses... who are awaiting to be told where to look.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Mark

    I can respect someone's right to NOT believe. I mean, if God himself respects their right enough to let them turn their back on him and refuse his free gift of forgiveness, then I can do no less. The one thing I can't tolerate is to hear people make ridiculous statements that obviously deny historical fact. The FACT is that the vast majority of the founding fathers were devout, God fearing men. That my friend is NOT my opinion. It's a FACT. Do your own research. A lot of the men who actually signed the Declaration of Independence were Ministers. That's a FACT. Anyone who says that this country wasn't conceived and established on the principles of the Bible is either a liar, or ignorant, or both. It's written right there in black and white. Look it up for Pete's sake.
    The truth is that people don't want to hear or know that. Most people want to believe that this nation is nothing more than the product of good ol hard work and determination. This nation was great, and is great because of ONE reason, and that reason is God. God has blessed us, and if we're great it's because of Him. You can deny that, and that's fine. But, it doesn't change the fact that it's true. It was true 200 years ago, and it's true today. You honestly want to to stand there and tell me that in all of the billions of people who have lived on this earth, that only the folks who lived in this nation were capable of hard work and determination. Talk about arrogance. Lots of nations are full of people who work hard. There are other nations who have a similar form of Government. That begs the question then.......what sets America apart? Why have we prospered like no other nation in the history of mankind? Because of God.

    People don't want religious messages on the side of buses because then they might be reminded while their walking down the street that there's a God, there's a Creator out there. People just want to be left alone to do their own thing, make their own rules, and they want God to be the furthest thing from their minds. So, if we can remove any references to Him from all public forums then we won't ever have to be bothered with Him. The very same people who want nothing to do with God, are the very same ones who always submit the smug, sarcastic posts that mock Him. The ones that read....."The reason God sends people to hell is because He loves them". No...the reason many people will wind up in Hell one day, is because they didn't think God important enough to think about.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      I praise the Quakers. Puritans and Anglicans have killed so many Catholics and Natives during the 17th Century and it still continues to this day.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • NL

      If you believe in God why do you need constant reminders plastered everywhere? Is he really that easy to forget between Sundays?

      We have criminal and civil law codes, but it's hardly necessary to post up little reminders like "Don't forget, murder is against the law", is it? Why can't Christians remember that God is always there?

      December 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • jpg

      Putting things in capital letters does not make them FACTS.

      This states better what I am thankful for: http://xkcd.com/836/

      December 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • Steve

      Here are some FACTS, Mark. I don't want religion to be advertised because I want the crime of religion to be less easy to perpetrate and less money to be defrauded from decent people. I want people to stop being used by arrogant liars, rapists and thieves. I want religion to be swept underground where it belongs so less people will have their lives destroyed by it.

      Also, look up the beliefs of the founding fathers, you obviously don't know who they were.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • Don

      Belief in god has nothing to do with prosperity, and only someone correlating without causation would disagree.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Wow, Mark, you have indeed blessed me. This has been one of the best comments I have ever read among others. May the Lord Jesus Christ keep using you for His Glory to spread His Truth. It is sad indeed that many prefer the darkness rather than the Light that sets them free. Sad to see that many have found and many will find the road that leads to eternal damnation, which is abroad and easy to be found.

      God bless you!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Mark

      So I did some homework and sure enough, it's easy to find articles for and against the proposition that the US is a christian nation. I would provide a few links, but I'm sure you would discard any that did not come from a religious tribe, so I will only suggest d w w w . catholiceducation . org/articles/politics/pg0040.html. You will notice that they go to great lengths not to say the US is a christian nation.

      I also recognize that you did not actually make such a claim – you merely said there were certain facts about the founding fathers which could not be ignored. I argue that 200 years ago, it would have taken a *very* brave person to openly declare they do not believe. Believing and practicing mythological tribal stories was a huge part of society then and to openly dismiss tribal myths could have had severe, possibly deadly, consequences. So it is not surprising that many of the founding fathers could have been believers. And why anyone would want to be stuck in 2 (or 20) century old thinking is beyond me, but anyway...

      Even if all the facts (about the founding fathers) you claim are true, and to be clear, I am not disputing or agreeing with any of them, it does not in any way support the existence of god(s). As confident as you are that there is a god, I and a growing number of people are equally confident that there are no gods. You have no facts to support your contention that there is a god, therefore you have no support for your contention that the USA is as great as it is because of god.

      The simple truth is that the US is going through a development cycle that many other countries, some who claim the same god as you do, have gone through before. Take the United Kingdom of Great Britain for example – it once ruled much of the planet and up until WWII was probably the strongest nation on earth. But even though they have a national religion and their head of state is also their top religious leader (charlatan), a much stronger tie to god than what the US has, their power has declined to a mere shadow of its former glory. It is likely that it is only a matter of time, especially given the current state of the US economy, before the US stumbles and falls. Where is your god now and what will you think of him if/when the US is declared bankrupt? As a final point, it was not the US's military might that brought down the USSR – it was the USSR’s finances, yes, admittedly forced by Reagan's arms race. In my opinion, believers are fools for believing in superst-itious mythological tribal stories, and will be doubly foolish to think that what happened to the UK and the USSR can't happen to the US because "god (pick one or more) is on our side."

      December 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • mightiman

      Finally....someone who tells the truth all around. Thank you Mark. It amazes me how some people are unlearned when it comes to God and the creation of this great country. I have nothing to add– you are 100% correct in your well written explanation. Thank your sheding the light!

      December 22, 2010 at 2:42 am |
    • Scott

      @ HotAirAce: “t is likely that it is only a matter of time, especially given the current state of the US economy, before the US stumbles and falls. Where is your god now and what will you think of him if/when the US is declared bankrupt?”
      He will say god had removed his protection from the US because of our wicked ways. And if we don’t bo bankrupt he will say it is because god is protecting the few god fearing people left in America

      December 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  16. PAGANGRL69

    Religion – Is just another way to have dictated label's that people allow to have themselves put under...High-school is over...We are people...We are not Religion's...

    December 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  17. james1095

    What's the point of these ads? Would anybody start or stop believing because of a paid advertisement they saw on the side of a bus?? Nobody will ever convince somebody who is not religious to become, or who is religious to stop believing. It's something a person has to do on their own.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • NL

      No, but there are a lot of folks who don't believe, but go to church anyway because it's the socially expected thing to do. These pro atheist ads simply try to tell these people it's all right not to believe and that they're not alone out there. Still, even letting non-believers know that they are not alone, especially during the religious holiday season, is beyond the pale for many religious people.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  18. Jeannot

    Why didn't they organize a bidding war? They don't like money?

    December 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  19. Lee

    Wow, what an offensive message! That, without a god or gods in their life, millions of Americans live moral wholesome lives. We can't let out that dirty little secret can we? There's a lot of money to made when you convince people their only salvation is to pay into the church system.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      At leach the Church donates money to hospitals, charities, and 3rd world countries in need. Atheists....well they don't care about other people but themselves.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • Treese

      LiberateUs, do you actually know any atheists? Or are you just working yourself up in the usual "us vs. them" manner that many Christians use in discussions? You didn't attack his comment, you attacked him personally. This leads me to believe that you don't have an argument that can stand alone without the mockery.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
    • Fremin

      @LiberateUs
      Yes... because there isn't a single secular charity in the entire world. None at all. Ever. Especially not in America of all places.
      Oh, and maybe a lot more good could be done with the money that churches have since they don't have to pay taxes on their earnings, let along report how much money they. Think of how many people could be fed if just 10% of the money that was wasted being given to churches was actually used for charitale purposes, let alone 30%

      December 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Dave

      Lee, the point is the atheist groups (which also rake in donations, btw) just do this kind of thing to antagonize religious folk. Nothing but snideness, cynicism and sarcasm all the time. At any rate, at least the ban will stop the silly bickering.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • Don

      And the theist ads aren't there to be smug, self-congratulatory messages? Puh-leaze!

      December 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • Jen

      Bill and Melinda Gates head (and personally fund) the largest private charity in the US and they are both atheists.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  20. Richard Wolford, PhD

    How is a "Good without God" slogan religious? Atheists do not have religious beliefs. Pretty simple to me, but leave it to xtians to implement some awesome word play and mental gymnastics, their very faith requires it.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Really? PhD, eh? Impressive, very impressive...or pathetic, very pathetic.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
    • What?

      @Observer...you're starting to sound trite...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      As usual, the "believers" of the invisible Man in the sky, denigrate those that are actually educated. Education and intelligence preclude "faith" because facts are real, provable things, whereas "faith" is entirely absent of fact by it's basic nature. Faith is a belief in something with no factual basis.. You do not have to believe in Science, because science is all provable and factual.

      Those educated "scientists" that the religious dunces seem to hate (due to all those pesky facts they keep spouting), are the people that gave us, the steam engine that started the industrial revolution; they gave us vaccines to cure disease and electricity so we have light where there was once darkness and they invented the jet engine so that the flat Earthers can fly to see their loved ones on those religious holidays that are so important to them... Not to mention they invented computers and the Internet that allows the right wing Bible thumpers to post their uneducated, mindless, factless opinion on this Web Site.

      Go ahead "Observer".. let's hear some more of your desperately undereducated opinion...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • Sarah 2012-2014 1/2

      @ Mortalc01l
      –That was great!! Well put. The anti-thinkers will always attack the educated as 'elite"! The elite gave us so much that the non-thinkers can attribute to their god(small g intentional), such as the mentioned victory over diseases.
      You are wasting your words, though, for the non-thinkers will brand you as an elitist also. You will never crack their 'shell' of religion.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • Scott

      God gave us pain. Science gave us anesthetics

      December 21, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Mortalc011,
      and Sarah,

      Here are just a few scientists who had Faith in God….just to name a few…

      Alexander Fleming, Penicillin, Catholic
      Paul Ehrlich, Chemotherapy, Jewish
      Louis Pasteur, the Germ Theory of Disease, Catholic
      Neils Bohr, the Atom, Jewish Lutheran
      Carl Gauss [Karl Friedrich Gauss], Mathematical Genius, Lutheran
      Jonas Salk, Vaccination, Jewish

      December 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • Observer

      @Mortal: Your assumptions are incorrect. As I stated above, I merely object to a colleague's unnecessary flashing of their credential, nothing more. The intellectual community does not benefit from such presumption, nor from the railings of faux intellectuals like you who ramble about supposed opinions that were never rendered. For you to make so much of so little indicates that you are an analytical child.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
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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.