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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. Ginger

    We have very similiar ads on our buses here in Vancouver BC and local news sources determined quickly that locals were completely indifferent. I am happy to report millions of Canadians are good without God, and those who aren't are confident enough in their beliefs to not get upset over a marketing campaign and let God do the judging.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
    • Amy

      One of the best posts on the subject. Thank you.

      I don't need God to be a 'good' person and valuable member of society. If you do, that's great. Good for you. But if your faith is true, why are you threatened by a bus advertisement? Live and let live. EVERYONE.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Sandy

    When your Country is at rock bottom (almost there) and you wonder why God has forsaken you or our Country... try to remember all the negative things most of you say about God. If your children treated you the way you treat your Father God, you wouldn't bother with them, you would cut them off. Their will be a time when things go horribly wrong and you will cry out to God. Maybe it will be a sick husband, or mother or best friend. The thing is, God really hasn't forsaken you, and will still hear you. He loves you all, and you still have hope of repentance till the day you take your last breath.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • Amy

      Also, I'd never cut off my children, no matter what they said about me.

      Way to show that Christian mercy and forgiveness though.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • Dave

      "Also, I'd never cut off my children, no matter what they said about me. "

      Easy to say now. At any rate, the average person would. We're not just talking about a rebellious teenaged child here, but one much more distant and hostile.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • tl123

      So Christians won't love and care for the distant and hostile child ...

      Is that what your faith tells you... Glad I'm an atheist.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  3. GodDoesNotneedYourApproval

    Why are atheists so worry about what does not (at least in their mind) exist? Even so I agree that “millions of American are doing fine without God” until the day they die…

    December 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
    • What?

      You worried enough to comment...hypocrite

      December 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
    • Don

      Even after they die, too. For there is no afterlife. There is no god. There is no devil. There is no heaven. There is no hell. Only scared children believe otherwise.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • Greg

      "until the day they die…"

      Nice. Threats. You stay classy, Christians.

      "Millions of Americans are good with god" = horribly offensive and attacking
      paraphrased "My god will viciously torture you in fire for eternity after you die for not believing the same things I believe" = loving and inclusive

      Makes perfect sense.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  4. tom

    How about putting this statement on buses:"Separation of Church and State-It's a Good Thing!"-lol

    December 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  5. Incredulous

    factsperson said:

    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.

    ***********************************************************************************************
    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 7:00 pm |
    • fka3399

      Awesome comment!!! God is great... Merry Christmas everyone and may you troubles (if any at all) be relieved.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • Amy

      Always a pleasure to come across a Christian who doesn't want to change me. I'm an atheist to the core, but would never EVER try to change you. Thank you for doing us the same kindness.

      I suspect most Christians are like you, but the most vocal ones aren't. Same with us atheists. Most of us just want to be left alone and will happily leave religious folks alone. The noisy, rude ones are the minority.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amen!! God bless you and all my family in Christ. Merry Christmas!

      December 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
    • Steve

      You're the kind of brainwashed, uneducated clown that gets used for life by religion. I'd feel sorry for you if you weren't a blight upon society and a pawn of those who would enslave me. You stand with liars, torturers, murderers, war mongers, thieves and rapists and you don't even know it. How wonderful that your masters are finally being marginalized after committing crimes against humanity since the dawn of time. Also, using words like "incredulous" while supporting religion will not save you from looking foolish.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  6. fka3399

    Mr Phil,
    How many people live in Sweden? How many people live in the U.S.A? Do you really think we can offer all of those benefits with the amount of people live in the US. The bottom line is that the USA has the best system in place for a successful country to thrive. For the record Christianity is faith based. You have FREE CHOICE to believe or not to. It's okay for you to believe or not to believe. Ultimately you as an individual will be responsible for your soul when you pass. So if you can live with god doesn't exist or i believe in heaven that's all that matters. Its your choice. At least that is how I was raised.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  7. Logic

    I prefer science.

    In science, we have the ability to look inside the human. Like our brains.
    Where religion needs to bash another's head open first to see inside. Or rip apart the body for anything other.

    See. Science is better.

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

      Yes, science is wonderful! Here is a list of some scientists who thought God was wonderful, too!
      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 22, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • Scott

      @CatholicMom: So out of the thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of scientists you can only come up with 6 believers and 2 of them not Christian

      December 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Scott,

      The list is too long to post here…I have done it before and was scolded to quit the ‘copy and paste’ stuff…very few holler at atheists long copy and paste stuff though…why is that?

      Anyway, people can get the idea to look it up themselves if they want to see more names of scientist who believe in God….and for people in general which would include scientists and others there are more statistics…As Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

      December 23, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  8. SCDad

    Let's hear it for censorship! Who says you gotta go to China to have your motherf*****g voice suppressed?

    December 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  9. Matt

    Funny how it took an Atheist billboard for them to consider removing religious messages... guess they were fine when everyone saw ridiculous messages like 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season' when we know thats a lie, the Season is the reason for the Season, and we call it SOLSTICE. Americans, we sure dont like our truth if it don't taste good now do we?

    December 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  10. Zeke2112

    "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."

    Gee, Christians want to advertise but don't want atheists to? That's tolerance for you. Sorry, fair is fair. You want religion off of the public table, you got it!

    December 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
    • fka3399

      Where does it say that Christians wanted the atheist to quit advertising. It looks like to me that the committee made the policy not the christian base group. Fair is Fair. I believe you should be able to advertise your belief, what ever it maybe. It's okay to be atheist but atheist can be just as cynical as Christians. Look at all of the negative post on here bashing peoples beliefs. Wow!!!!!! Amazing!!!!!!

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

      Are you kidding, fka? The Christian group was threatening a boycott of the whole transit system until the ad was gone. This wouldn't even have been a news story if they hadn't made a gigantic stink about it in the first place, much less having all these types of ads banned.

      On a side note...it's Texas. Do you really think anyone on that committee is non-Christian, at least publically?

      December 22, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  11. Jay

    Well this plan could work, no athiest ads, no church ads, and no scientology ads

    December 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • tl123

      No Scientology !! Oh, no!!!

      L. Ron stop spinning !!!

      December 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  12. Robert Agopian

    Then, when disasters hit the US or your personal life, do not wonder why? We kicked God out of our schools so our kids have no compass and/or a foundation, and pretty much elsewhere, and diminished His role in our lives, now you're on you own. You reap what you sow fellows.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
    • james

      Disaster hits the personal lives of religious folks all the time too. For some, religion helps them cope when it happens. Correlation does not imply causation.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
    • Matt

      No I don't wonder why because everything has a rational explanation. If i get hit by a car, its because I was in a place where cars are. If my house gets flooded, its probably because it was built in a flood basin. If weather gets bad, I dont god did it, I think that sometimes, weather is bad. Attaching meaning to mundane coincidences seems to be what you religious types are all about. Why can't you simply realize that God isn't even needed to explain... ANYTHING. I know why, its because on some weird egotistical level, you think god would actually give a crap about you. Even if there was a god, I guarantee he would not waste any time on each and every human being on the planet. Even in the Bible which you apparently put a lot of stock in, it states there are only 14,000 people allowed into heaven.... pretty sure that quota has been maxed out thru the eons. Face it your book is written by flawed humans, who had no knowledge of science.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
    • PAGANGRL69

      Robert-I guess if all the disasters come then were all Damned if we do believe & still Damned even if we don't...Maybe you should save yourself and move out of the Country is that what your "God" tells you to do...?...Run Run Run for the hills...I think your "God" all-knowing would save you don't you think...The firm believer that you are in him correct? or maybe not?...Oh ya- then it was just God's will- either way!!!...Think not...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Don

      I was unaware that god has been kicked out of school in the US. Please show what law or court decision did this. And no: prayer is not banned in public schools. No, kids are not banned from reading the bible in school.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
    • Scott

      @Don: As long as there are algebra tests, there will be prayer in school

      December 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • Scott

      @Don: Your right, god has not been kicked out of schools, only forced prayer and the bible has not been kicked out of schools, only forced bible study. The only thing that has been kicked out of schools is the Christians right to force their religion down every one’s throats

      December 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  13. ELE "Everyone Love Everyone"

    Please let me express my apologies on behalf of the so-called Christians that have offended or hurt others.
    I think the message of Jesus above all is that as Christians we should not judge, we should love others as god loves us, and forgive those as god forgives us. We should live by example and show others through our actions that God is great and his love is unchanging and ever lasting. The key message. Be like Christ.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Let me guess. You're Protestant?

      December 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • jesus freak

      amen

      December 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      "Be like Christ."

      If God would appear to me and instill me with the belief that I was his creation, sure. No hocus pocus, no blind faith pushed on me by parents or clergy, no unfound mysticism that evaporates with every scientific discovery. Simply pop in, say hi, and poof – I'll believe.

      Jesus never had to rely upon faith. He knew the truth from the beginning. Your request is completely unreasonable.

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

      Zeke2112,

      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 22, 2010 at 12:00 am |
    • Scott

      @ CatholicMom: In the national academy of sciences, 72.2% disbelieve in God, 20.8% have doubt or agnosticism

      December 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  14. Fundiphobic

    I'd be the last one to advocate religion, but must the atheists poke the religious kooks around Christmas time? This only serves to increase their whining about how "Godless" this country has become and emboldens (and generates tons of cash contributions to) the right-wing nut jobs.

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

      Meh, every side has their fundies.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  15. rintin

    All these people always saying religions killed more people and all that crap. Let's not forget this little thing called world war 2 that was started by an atheist named adolf hitler that persecuted millions and killed millions. There are rotten apples everywhere you go. You can't judge because of 1 group of people within a much larger whole.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
    • MS

      1 Hitler was not an atheist (read a history book please)

      2 even if Hitler was an atheist (which he wasn't) that doesn't mean Atheism made him kill people

      3 Hitler and Stalin both had mustaches. Does that mean every man with a mustache will become a mass murderer? Of course not because your premise is flawed

      December 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Hitler wasn't Catholic at the time he started the Third Reich as most people think. Whether he was an atheist or not I'm not sure

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

      Prove that Hitler wasn't an atheist. If it turns out that he was, then M.S is wrong

      December 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • MS

      @LiberateUs
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_religious_views#Hitler.27s_public_reaction_to_atheism

      Instead of seeing the flawed logic in rintin assertion that Atheism leads to mass murder you proclaim that I must prove that Hitler was Not an atheist? Why don't you prove that he was? Oh that's right because there is no evidence that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. In fact the internet says Hitler was baptized as a Catholic. But again per my own argument being a Catholic did not make Hitler a mass murderer and anyone who says that Catholicism makes you a mass murderer is as irrational as you are.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  16. There are no gods!

    good enough is enough!

    December 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  17. Joe

    Great idea Fort Worth. Too many transit companies just look at the ad dollars. People don't like being insulted or told they're wrong no matter what they believe.
    Perhaps the advertisers could spend their money on helping people rather than insulting the beliefs of others.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  18. Born Free

    Is it possible to love Merry Christmas and all the decorations and flying Santa Bear with reindeers that fly and chimney's and gifts wrappings under the tree and the little flashing lights and all the warmthness and love and yet NOT believe in the Lord?

    I just ask.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • james

      Of course. What does any of that stuff have to do with God or Jesus in the first place? Heck, Rudolph is arguably one of the most famous Christmas characters and he was created as an ad campaign for a department store, how appropriate.

      The only reason Christmas takes place when it does is because it was near the Pagan winter solstice. Even the Christians I know will mostly acknowledge that there is no evidence that Jesus was born in December.

      December 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • TIRED OF YOUR CRAP

      we can have it all if we choose, sadly folks like you and me will never be free from "believers" chanting our damnation, the likes of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church and other religious fanatics.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
    • Raptor

      you BETCHA !!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  19. Religious Sects

    Since Atheism is the absence of religion & isn't based on faith this ban only applies to religious groups & churches. Sounds like a perfect victory for Atheist reason. I personally don't care if there is a religious ad somewhere but let this be a lesson to be careful what you wish for (the ban) you just might get it.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  20. cogito1

    God doesn't have enough vowel letters to be good.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:30 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.