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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. jj

    20 years ago, I told people that if they were so sure they wanted religion in schools, what would they do if a muslim-majority school district brought their own prayers. Everyone thought it was a joke back then, but no one's laughing now.
    All religions are smug and secure when they are in the majority – and it won't be christian, every time!

    December 21, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  2. UnitedEarth

    If you are good without God, then you won't be offended by the believers, otherwise you have an agenda implanted by hurt, pain and a secular form of hypocrisy. You shouldn't feel convicted by something you're not bound to. True atheists are not on the insecurity band wagon of trying to change other people's belief systems. The one's that claim to be atheistic who share zealous and extreme behavior, are those who feel publicly impotent due to exposure against the religious medium.
    What we are calling atheistic nature today resembles a path of anarchic extremism, which is mainly made up of people who are part of a system of former religious extremists and Judeo-Christian zealots. Not atheistic by any form. Bitter Agnostic is a much more appropriate term.

    December 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
    • Enoch

      Isn't the opposite true as well? If you are secure enough in your belief, then why are you so offended when someone tries to get you past your own ignorance?

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

      What is religion for? that you "have" to convince others to join?

      It must be because you have been hurt that others who are smarter find your ideas idiotic and don't consider you to be someone they will hang around with. Is this the same ideology that you are professing that we atheists are now challenging your "religious beliefs" on?

      Get a grip buddy. You are just sad because we think you are a bunch of tools.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • you Tell me

      ACTUALLY, Millions of people are GOOD without CHRISTIANITY ect......(and it's many crusades;()

      Every atom in the universe is god, it's just that we don't look at things from a religion's Hypocritical POINT OF VIEW.

      Nature and LOVE rules/We are not Dumb and Blind.

      December 22, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  3. Brian Macker

    Great they will continue to run the reason based ads because they are NOT faith based.

    December 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm |
  4. Artemus

    If they Do this why do they not do away with the American, America, Name , if you rid God you have no AMERICA, that is what the Liberals, and Terrorist want, people are falling right into their laps, fast and dumb. Artemus

    December 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Observer

      Absolute nonsense. America is a melting pot of people. That is what has made us great.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • Todd

      Actually it's proven that atheist score higher on IQ tests then Christians. So fast yes, dumb, not really.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
    • RUReal

      Interestingly, the most comprehensive study of such things found atheists to be above average intelligence and education, but with lower levels of success and achievement than Christians of camparable background. This would imply that atheists tend to be intelligent, but underachieving, sad bitter men who watch others succeed in life and snipe at the fools who pass them by. You know the type? The B student who looks down on everyone, including the A students.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
    • Observer

      A recent poll/test showed that atheists and agnostics not only were, on average, more highly educated, but that they also know more about the Bible than Christians.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • tl123

      God and religion will always exist; as there will always be those who fear the unknown and need to make up s**t to make the world less scary!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • Funny

      RIGHT NOW,

      AMERICA'S god is MONEY.

      You don't even have to WAKE UP to know that.

      December 22, 2010 at 2:39 am |
    • Scott

      @JRUReal: Please post your sources or we will have to assume you are just blowing smoke

      December 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  5. Justina

    "Millions of Americans are good without God"? On their dream. They are not good but perverse and hedonistic. Sodomites never admitted their wrong even until the last minute.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • Don

      I think you should learn the differences between there, their, and they're. Kill your internet connection until you do.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
    • Todd

      Have you read your Bible? Your God teaches things that are illegal in much of the free world because they are unethical and Immoral. Man is growing more and more ethical, leaving the bible in the dust.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
    • Enoch

      Looks like your god needs to offer ESL classes.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
    • pete

      There you christians go again, judging as usual.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • Bruce

      pete,

      If people like you would not stand in front of the target you would not think these statements are targeted at you. Have you heard that if you shoot a BB gun into a pack of dogs the one who gets hit yelps? Nuff said.

      December 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
    • Bible Quote

      That's ironic, JESUS was told the exact same thing, RIGHT BEFORE they KILLED HIM....

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

      @Bible Quote

      Please be a little more specific – what was jesus told just before he was crucified (according to his own plan)? Can you provide a recording or certified transcript?

      December 22, 2010 at 2:49 am |
    • Scott

      @Justina: And Christians complain when they all get tarred with the same brush

      December 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  6. Picklejuice

    ..."because the compromise says Christians can no longer advertise and we don't like that."

    Oh, I sure do.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  7. Bitter Bierce

    Ok...but doesn't religious and non-theistic messages leave EVERYTHING out? Isn't something either religious because it references god or a religion or non-theistic because it doesn't? Don't Zit Cream ads that put their faith in non-theistic science qualify as non-theistic? Can you advertise nothing on a bus anymore??!?!?!?

    December 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  8. Michael

    Isaiah 26
    1 At that time a song will be sung in the land of Judah. It will say, "We have a strong city. God's saving power surrounds it like walls and towers. 2 Open its gates so that those who do what is right can enter. They are the people who remain faithful to God.
    3 Lord, you will give perfect peace to anyone who commits himself to be faithful to you. That's because he trusts in you. 4 "Trust in the Lord forever. The Lord is the Rock. The Lord will keep us safe forever. 5 He brings down those who are proud. He pulls down cities that have high walls. They fall down flat on the ground. He throws them down to the dust. 6 The feet of those who were crushed stomp on them. Those who were helpless walk all over them." 7 Lord, you are honest and fair. You guide those who do what is right. You lead them on a straight path. You make their way smooth. 8 Lord, we are living the way your laws command us to live. We are waiting for you to act. Our hearts long for you to be true to your name. That's what you are known for. 9 My heart longs for you at night. My spirit longs for you in the morning. You will come and judge the earth. Then the people of the world will learn to do what is right. 10 Grace is shown to sinful people. But they still don't learn to do what is right. They keep on doing evil even in a land where others are honest and fair. They don't have any respect for the majesty of the Lord. 11 Lord, you have raised your hand high to punish them. But they don't even see it. Let them see how much you love your people. Then they will be put to shame. Let the fire you are saving for your enemies burn them up. 12 Lord, you give us peace. You are the one who has done everything we've accomplished. 13 Lord, you are our God. Other masters besides you have ruled over us.
    But your name is the only one we honor. 14 Those other masters are now dead. They will never live again. Their spirits won't rise from the dead. You punished them and destroyed them. You wiped out all memory of them. 15 Lord, you have made our nation grow. You have made it larger. You have gained glory for yourself. You have increased the size of our land.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  9. GodisGreat!

    Hmmm, looks like Atheism is now a religion too. They're putting up signs and trying to spread their word LOL!!!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
    • Observer

      Viewing religion as how one deals with the meaning of life means atheism and agnosticism can be viewed as a religion. No LOL about that. Think it through.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Enoch

      Changing the definition of a word to suit your needs is never a good thing when dictionaries are lying around. Religion by definition excludes atheism.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  10. Pastafarian

    Ah, religion. Tis the season for unreason. I put my "Bah, Humbug" lights up recently and am considering flying my Jolly Roger in accordance to my Pastafarianism beliefs. The Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't care if you believe in him or not. We will all be touched by his noodly appendage–in a good way. RAmen.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • whatwhat

      Come on man, At this point of time Christmas is about fun and happiness, you don't have to be Christian to celebrate the holidays, if you gonna be Scrounge the door of the internet is the back button.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
  11. TellMeNoLies

    Yet iT's okay to have signs with anti-Israel hate messages on public buses in Seattle or at the Bart Stations in Berkely,ca..

    December 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  12. musclecar61

    It amazes me I spent 40 years in the USAF 33 in AFSOC and it is amazing how professed athiest and God haters all cry out to God when they have their guts hanging out or a arm or leg blown off from IED or RPG's I have held men in my arm that going to die and all of them ask for divine help. Put anyone in the right situation and see if they call anyone but God Help Me.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • Todd

      Well then, they apparently were not real Atheists. I would have to say, taking into account the number of injuries you could have worked on personally and the likelyhood of them being Atheists and the likelyhood of you knowing this ahead of time that the person was an ACTUAL Atheist or God Hater (have not met one of them) I sort of think you are embellishing just a bit get your some point across that has little substance to begin with.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • Don

      Does it make you feel good to lie, musclecar61? Just wondering.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • Logic

      Well it's rather simple. I know that you know this already – it's facing death. You experience it (probably have witnessed it).
      So you'd understand it more. We're all safe at home behind our screens typing away – with no worries.

      It's the simplest – it's death. It isn't so frightening. It's painful. Most to think of our end.
      When you know you have regrets, it bothers the mind that you haven't accomplished all you could in this life.
      So some people cling to a high power. Some people are outright fanatics to try to bring security (protect their minds from the truth of death) into every bit of their being.

      I've accepted that I will die. I'll die alone (if none of mine friends aren't with me) or I'll die alongside with them.
      That's my end. Those with religion don't accept that fact. It's too scary for them to comprehend.

      I just pity them for trying to deny their reality.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Just because desperate and/or dying people do and say unreasonable things doesn't mean there's a god. My great uncle who died of a brain tumor said a lot of nonsensical stuff when he was dying, that doesn't mean it was the secrets of the universe or anything.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • Damien

      So tell us did all the christians who called to god survive and have their limbs grow back.
      Was it just atheists who died with honour for their country.
      Or did the doctors save those they could without asking " do you kneel to me".

      December 23, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  13. Todd

    BRUCE

    That is also what's called an Anecdote, and he has admitted to not being a Buddhist for some time. However, Buddhist by the masses are the happiest and most peaceful of all practicing beliefs and are also secure in their beliefs as not to pass judgement on others. Basically, if the Bible were actually the word of the Christian God, his prized pubils would be Buddhists. They walk the walk.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
    • Bruce

      Todd,

      Unfortunately, Christianity isn't for everyone and everyone that claims to be a Christian isn't one. Since you live in America which is full of self-professed Christians you will have many many counterfiets. True Christianity is very personal and for only a few. Not that they can live the life but that Christ lives through them. That is a concept that atheist cannot comprehend.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • whatwhat

      I understand that. But can't people just respect themselves?. It doesn't take Buddism to have common sense.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
    • Charles

      @Todd
      Have you ever served in combat? Fear of imminent death scares the atheism out of atheists. Musclecar61's observations are completely consistent with combat accounts in WWII. "There are no atheists in a landing craft."

      December 21, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • pete

      Bruce
      Who are you to judge whether someone is a true Christian or what an atheist can comprehend? No wonder large numbers of people including myself have rejected the arrogance of Christianity.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
    • Don

      Except there have been many atheists in foxholes and landing craft. Pity that you hate atheists so much that you must lie.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • Bruce

      Pete,

      The principle that says, "It takes one to know one" is true. You can tell a true aTheist and I can tell a true Christian. Nothing arrogant about that.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • pete

      Bruce

      But you claim to know the atheist also. You are confused.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • Scott

      @Charles: Every christian who tries to escape the path of a speeding bullet with fear in his
      eye is an example of a "foxhole conversion" to atheism and proves they don't
      really believe in a heavenly paradise in the hereafter. There are a hell of a lot
      more of those conversions than there are of atheists to christians.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  14. Blessed Geek

    Doubt is the substance of level of faith hoped for, and the evidence of faith yet to be seen.

    Doubt is good, doubt is cautious, doubt is kind and gentle. Humankind shall not survive by bread alone but by every ounce of doubt they can muster. Always doubt and never leave home without it for she will keep you safe from danger, predators and travelling salesmen who comes knocking at your door persuading you to behold and open.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • whatwhat

      Everytime I doubt my faith I feel like crap and I can't seem to manage. I don't do it because I'm a nut, I just think I feewl better to believe there is hope if everything goes wrong.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  15. No sympathy here

    "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.' "

    Well, then your co-religionists shouldn't have raised a stink about a perfectly reasonable message. You thought you could drum up enough support to suppress someone else's message, and it came back to bite you. Live with it.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • whatwhat

      You're blaming me, the religion is fine, its not like

      December 21, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  16. whatwhat

    Respect other religions, and as a message to extremist atheists that seem to have nothing better to do then to make fun of my relgion, Let me tell you this, no trash you may say, to mocking will every break me away from god. I don't have a problem with Atheists I have a problem with people that have a problem with my religion.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
    • Dennis

      I knooow...it was soooo offensive.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:22 am |
    • Scott

      Eddie Long – Creflo Dollar – Ted Haggard – Pat Robertson –
      Benny Hinn – Jimmy Swaggart – Robert Tilton – Jim and Tammy Baker
      – Peter Popoff –

      December 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  17. Brian

    Hell must be a nice place when you look at all these nasty people who are going to heaven.

    December 21, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
    • TellMeNoLies

      Exactly:-)

      December 21, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  18. 3rdMLNM

    All can be real GOOD with a real GOD!
    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

    December 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
    • Scott

      @ 3rdMLNM: With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people
      doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  19. academiamole

    Hope and Change!
    You KNOW it's a MYTH.
    Next time, vote with REASON!

    December 21, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
  20. Todd

    I love the fact we are all Atheists, some just take it 1 God Further. Christians have the problem of not understanding that everything Jesus preached Buddha had already taught in the East 400 YEARS Earlier. Maybe that is why Buddhists are the happiest people on the planet while being the least greedy. Not to mention the number of Gods and Prophets that have the EXACT same birth story as Jesus. It's just a matter of time before Christianity joins Greek Mythology. The religion is dwindling in numbers and the numbers never grow in religion unless it's new.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
    • Bruce

      Todd,

      Tiger Woods is Buddist.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • thorrsman

      Odd how so few of the Atheists can come up with an original thought. Over and over again, they repeat what others have said before them.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
    • Bruce

      Todd,

      Tiger Woods was a very happy hypocritical Buddist. He destroyed his marriage and hurt his kids. Are all Buddist alike? Are all Christians alike? All hypocrites ARE alike! They are ACTORS and NOT GENUINE.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bruce

      Todd,

      Tiger Woods was a very happy hypocritical Buddist. He destroyed his marriage and hurt his kids. Are all Buddist alike? Are all Christians alike? All hypocrites ARE alike! They are ACTORS and NOT GENUINE. Right?

      December 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
    • Scott

      @thorrsman: Interesting comment from a member of a cult (assuming you christian) that has been spewing the same gibberish for over 2000 years

      December 22, 2010 at 7:56 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.