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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. Fabiola Ribeiro

    Politics, Religion, politics. Guess that's one of the biggest problems with this country. They seem to relate both so much. GOD is not about religion, is about having a relationship with him, having faith in him. At the end, it doesn't matter if those ads are there or not. I do wish though that people would know that we are really NOTHING without God. We are his creation, and without knowing he's my father and he's always there protecting me, I would really feel hopeless.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  2. James W

    Funny how the religious types always quote their silly books of Myth and Fable as if they depict reality. Hint: Nothing is holy, the concept is an illusion made up to make the populace cower in fear and to enable a bunch of old men to control the populace, and subjugate women. The words in the bible, koran, etc., mean absolutely nothing. Religion is belief in an IMAGINARY deity...used by present-day preachers for control and power. There is absolutely no reason for religion when people think for themselves. Studies have shown that children have intrinsic knowledge of right vs wrong, fairness vs unfairness, kind vs unkind, actions.
    The Christmas season is now a generic one, and I find this VERY refreshing, as everyone feels good about giving and having a good time. Jesus, the myth that he is, was not even born in December...so, no, jesus is NOT the real reason for the season.

    God created the earth? Really? Did "IT" also create the BILLIONS of other stars and planets? Funny, no mention of dinosaurs in the bible/koran. They must have forgotten.
    Guilt is one of the mechanisms used by religion to control its subjects...guilt is a totally useless emotion. Thanks religion!

    Please, repeating the same vapid crap every sunday or Friday or whenever, does not make it real. People need to think and
    ask: Where was this supernatural THING during W W ll? Sorry about the millions of dead...
    Where is this spirit in the sky today when thousands of children starve to death daily? He or she must be busy...chasing Eve no doubt...or perhaps chasing Adam? Got it! GOD is GAY!
    That explains the sense of humor...oops, more dead people...oh well, what's for lunch?
    Religion turns people into zombies...or sheep, who follow whatever is told as if it is real.

    Sorry...no HOLY anything, no MEN of GOD, no Garden of Eden. Man has been on this planet, and possibly others, for over 40,000 years without religion...wonder what happened to these people when they died?
    Hmmmmmmmm?
    THANK god I AM AN ATHEIST! eeeeeeehhhaaaaa!
    Oh yes, to you religious wackos, I am just as good a person as you, probably better, and your silly belief in an imaginary being does NOT MAKE YOU BETTER IN ANY WAY. In fact, it makes you a fool.
    PROVE IT! Believe in yourself people...there is nothing else. Take responsibility for your actions and stop hiding behind religion and silly dictates.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • fka3399

      God bless you James W. You are a friend of mine whether your a believer or not. That is your decision and yours only. I am not to judge you or try to change your ways. Keep on being a good Samaritan and God bless.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • jujubee

      You better hope you're right with all that nutty atheist talk, How come atheists use this "God doesn't exist" theory, instead of just coming out and admitting you in fact hate God? Also I've noticed that atheists like to pick on Christians, don't really have the nuts to mess with Muslims huh? Can you prove that God doesn't exist with anything other than just your opinion? I have to ask this one last thing, but do you say "Oh my Science?" or "Oh my God?".

      December 21, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • Bruce

      James,

      Why does religion bother you so much? I'm sure many people believe differently than you about many things, including religion. It seems that you have filled your mind to the max of things to prove to religious people that you know what you are talking about. Frankly, you have no more proof than a Christian and your final statement about believing in yourself tells me that you are a very religious man who worships himself.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
    • Don

      Because, jujubee: you cannot hate that which does not exist. Ergo, no atheist can hate god, for there is no god to hate. Only theists can hate god, since they believe god to exist.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
    • jujubee

      @Don, yes I understand that they cannot hate God if they don't believe he exists in the first place, but I believe they do and use being an "atheist" as a sort of cover to push there ant-Christian agenda. But yeah ya boy james called God gay so um, he acknowledges that there is one.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
    • Don

      There is no atheist anti-christian agenda, jujubee.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • jujubee

      I apologize Don, I meant to say "some" atheists, like James imo.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      James W,

      You said, ‘THANK god I AM AN ATHEIST! eeeeeeehhhaaaaa!’ ‘Believe in yourself people...there is nothing else.’

      OK, I think I get the religion of atheism…belief is in one’s self.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  3. cloudnine

    ONE word JESUS 🙂 HE is the only one that can get anyone to God's kingdom. Go ahead & try to say all that you want but in the END yes your END JESUS is all that matters in God's eyes. IT"S IN THE BIBLE... Remember the bible is not a buffet that you get to pick & choose what you want. If you deny him on earth he will deny you in heaven. God loves all his children & I truly feel it will hurt him dearly turning those non-believers away.. 😦

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

      *Laughs*

      It's in bible – ya it is isn't? Just like murders and hate. I love that two faced book of yours.
      You know that on this CNN site there was a news clip showing that some of your religious nutzoid religious brethen deducing that Jesus will make his return on May (date) in 2011. Are you going to go meet him?

      Oh tell me how you intend to welcome him. Please let me know "if" he shows also. Or you could just grow up.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • Newyorker

      Thank you, you kind Christian. You have converted an evil atheist with your sweet words of Jesus and of salvation. How can I ever repay you? You will surely go to Heaven for converting a vile sinning heathen like me. Hallelujah, and praise the Lord.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • tl123

      Yes, praise Jesus, we are all saved!!

      December 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  4. someoneelse

    The problem is that Atheism and secularism are not religions or faith, and therefore do not fall under this ban!

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

      I agree. It is not religious. It is not even anti-religious. It is just making a factual (and provable) statement that having no religion does not automatically make someone bad. Of course the religious folk are terrified that this might make people lose faith (i.e. start using their brains), that they put a blanket ban on everything that has to do with belief or lack thereof.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  5. Logic

    You must use hypocrisy to do away with religion.

    It's the most admirable thing in the entire world when you have ignorance teaching ignorance.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  6. tl123

    Thank you Fort Worth.

    I am sick and tired of people ramming their beliefs down my throat!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • fka3399

      would it be fair to say that the slogan "people are good without god" is kind of pushing that belief in the faces of people that believe people are better with god? Believing in God is a belief. Not believing in God is a belief also. So how do you equally let either side display their belief without in some shape or form push that belief on you?

      December 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  7. Screaming Mad Prophet

    Ok, no religous ads, I'm fine with. Pushing an anti-belief system targeting religions is just the same as letting religious gropus putting up ads/messages.

    Get over yourselves. Atheism is a choice of non-belief. You complain about others putting in your face their choice. Well guess what you are now being hypocrites. You wish to push you non–belief system in the face of others. I find it perfectly fine that the ads got yanked. Same thing should have happened in New York for both sides.

    Keep it fair and at some time some folks have to own up to the fact that their non-belief system for lack of a better term is a belief system unto itself.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Sorry, Logic Penalty on the play. Your claim of fact that athiesm is a belief system is an argument from ignorance. To claim something is fact, you must provide verifiable evidence to support your claim of fact. The evidence can then be examined with repeatable results, thus making your evidence demonstrative. You have made claims of fact without verifiable evidence. That is a 10 yard penalty from the spot of the foul. Repeat first down.

      I would be happy to suggest some reading material where you can learn about logic and reason if you wish. After you study, I would suggest you apply your logical and reasoning skills to examine your own position rather that try to attack someone elses. Just to clarify, as an atheist, I do not share your desire to base your world view on something that is not based in fact or evidence. As a believer, you are making an extraordinary claim. The burden of proof lies with you to provide extraordinary evidence to support it.

      Have a Happy Holiday Season!

      December 21, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  8. Texasnative

    Kudos to the Ft. Worth transportation agency. This is not the first time that I've situations similar to what Ft. Worth is now experiencing. Several years back, after many years of public exhibits in my local public library that included a wide variety of subjects, one of which had been recognition of October being "National Gay & Lesbian History Month"...all H–L broke loose in several city council meetings. A small group of "Christians" felt this exhibit was not appropriate for themselves and their children to see. The opinion of the library and many other community leaders was that it was simply an eductional opportunity. When the smoke cleared, basically such exhibits were forbidden, no matter what the subject matter unless it came as a recommendation from a committee within the library intself. In the Ft. Worth case, it seems that faith based adverts were ok, but when a differenct opinion was expressed, some community "movers & shakers" caused a "stink" that also stiffled their "freedom of speech".

    December 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  9. John

    I pray that Americans return to God and the principles that this great nation was founded on..

    December 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • Gary

      John, you are correct enslaving Africans , slaughtering native Americans,brutal gun fights,

      December 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  10. Logic

    Logically you've already professed your absolute viewpoint that with hope and faith you will be saved. So why not admit those words to show how vocal you are.

    Or is it another sin in your books that you must be modest (pretense at modesty) to show that you are indeed spiteful for those you consider "lesser" beings. Just say it and feel better, don't lie. It's really condensative speech.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  11. Seems to me...

    I don't see athiests denouncing God, the belief in God(s) or religion per se), but the endorsement of religion or religious themes, such as "In God We Trust" or "Under God" through the government. Our form of government, from the Federal level to the local level, is supposed to be secular- not a theocracy. The change in policy by the "T" is completely appropriate and should have been the standard from the start.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  12. ybs

    I don't give a fakk about your god/religion. If you think your fakking god/religion allows you to take over this country, go back to where your religion belongs – Europe.

    Don't fool yourself, there is nothing humbling or more moral about your fakking god/dog/religion. You beat off as much as the Vatican folks or I do! 🙂

    http://bit.ly/godsucks 🙂

    December 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • fka3399

      It's okay bud. Live and let live like Amy put it. Smile and let go of all the negative energy your feeling. Merry Christmas!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • Geez

      @ ybs

      I read your link. You're a sick little prik, aren't you? Goodness – so much anger.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  13. Logic

    I've always like that banter about "wait til you die".

    Or even better the remark (implications) "I'll be saved, but I'm not sure you will be"

    Funny. You always have that supposed "hope" to cling on. Try re-enforcing your words more – like this- "I know I will be saved. And definitely not you." Try it you'll see that you'll convince yourself all that much better. Go for it.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • fka3399

      I'm sorry logic but don't be so condescending its bad for your soul. Merry Christmas and may your heartaches be resolved.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  14. Joshua Ludd

    In other words.. they didn't have to do it because of the content of the ads by the irreligious, but because of the reactions of the religious.. meaning in this nation and that state... christians.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  15. cloudnine

    GOD I"M SO SORRY FOR SUCH IGNORANCE & ARROGANCE! How your children think they have the right to talk this way about you. It amazes me...One day we will all die but it's up to you now to see where you end up. By the time you take your last breath you better make sure you are on the right side. If not may GOD yes GOD have mercy on your soul.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • What?

      Sorry, god's all out of mercy today...I mean, dont you read the bible?

      December 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  16. Joe

    hope being 'good' can save people after they leave this world.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    • Amy

      As opposed to being bad but a church-goer?

      Also, atheists don't believe in Heaven or Hell so we're not scared of being 'saved'. Just FYI.

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

      whatever you say Amy.. it's free country.
      just think for a moment though... what if there is. Hope you're right about it.. otherwise.. surprise!
      you said you don't believe in them. That means you don't know for sure.
      oh, FYI, you won't save yourself just because you go to church and there's no one in this world who's perfectly 'good'.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
    • Dave

      "As opposed to being bad but a church-goer? "

      @Amy: No, of course not. Strawman...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • What?

      Amy, why is it that christians revel in the belief that people are going to hell?

      December 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  17. Dave

    "Coalition of Reason", "Free-thinkers". And they say religious people are the arrogant, self-righteous ones.

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

      What would you like us to call ourselves?

      Come on, "Chosen Ones", "God's People"?

      I think you're sorta the pot calling the kettle black.

      December 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
    • What?

      Sorry Amy, Dave doesnt think...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  18. HeIsGod

    LOL, for God is with us, who can be against us? The devil nor the Atheists can prevail!!!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • What?

      I think I threw up in my mouth a little...

      December 21, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • Swallow - There. That's Better

      @ What

      December 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  19. dammit

    Religions are all bs anyway.They only want your money and to volunteer for some stupid whatever!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
    • Joe

      a very intelligent analysis on religions I might add...

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

      Yeah! bs, whatever and stuff! I can has argumentation?

      December 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    • tl123

      Volunteering is a good thing ... the rest, well, you nailed it !!

      December 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  20. Joe

    what is the definition of 'good' and what is it based on? our concience?

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

      The definition of good is a cultural concept. What is good for one is not good for everyone. It has more to do with what is socially acceptable in a given culture then on any supernatural belief.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:44 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.