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. whoever

    once again: no freedom of speech allowed in this country. Had it said without Allah it would have been no problem.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:30 am |
  2. Terry - Indiana

    What happened to "Freedom of Speech" and the freedom to express an opposing view.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  3. WWRRD

    Atheism is a faith. It is a faith that there is no God. Do not let them tell you any different.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:21 am |
    • LCCatFan

      Actually, there is no such thing as a true atheist. There has never been found a tribe or clan in the most remote jungles of the world that was not aware of an almighty God even before being exposed to any outside influence. God has placed within each of us an intuition of His existence. The so called atheist's problem is that he does not like what he knows about God. Namely, that God is both just and holy; and being holy; He can not allow sin to long remain unpunished. The so called atheist spends a life time trying to convince himself that there is no consequences for a life of sin. That is why the so called atheist is so vocal; if he could make one prosylite if would do much for his confidence and allow a greater enjoyment of a wicked life. Nothing encourages a coward as much as the booming of his own gun.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • LCCatFan

      Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen , being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened .

      December 22, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  4. >>Mark the realist

    In reality Mark, you are spouting off about something that you evidently know absolutely nothing about. The Bible was written over a period of nearly 4000 years by nearly 40 different authors under direct inspiration of God. They ranged from kings to farmers, doctors, lawyers and fishermen speaking three different languages and yet not one single contradiction can be found in the book. Though it is not a scientific book, scientific topics are mentioned that were not discovered by "educated" people for thousands of years; some as late as the 18th and 19th centuries. It is evident in the holy scriptures that the author knew the earth was round and also speaks of the trade winds which were only discovered by "educated" people in, I think, about the 18th century. The Word of God contains hundred of complex prophecies which have came to pass. Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened . 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ,

    December 22, 2010 at 7:07 am |
    • Don

      The bible claims the earth is flat, bats are birds, hares chew cud, the blood of doves cures leprosy, epilepsy is caused by demons, and that the dead can rise from the grave.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • LCCatFan

      Don, could you please share with the rest of the group which passages make the statements that you are claiming? That's what I thought...

      December 22, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • Lou

      "It is evident in the holy scriptures that the author knew the earth was round "

      Then why did the Church crucify or burn to death scientists/thinkers who claimed the earth was round in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries?

      December 22, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • LCCatFan

      Lou, Roman Catholicism is not Christianity. It is a heathen, idol worshiping religion.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:41 am |
    • CatholicMom

      How is it that you believe in the Bible? How is it that you KNOW you have all the inspired Books?

      December 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  5. Prometheus

    Here's an idea...

    Don't get life advice from ads on street buses.

    Believe or don't believe whatever you want...but DON'T be so feeble-minded and weak that seeing an ad will...


    "Change your life"

    If you do...I pity you.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  6. Andrew D

    I really can't stop laughing so much of nothing, man brings the same hand to the table century after century and looses, like a dog to it's vomit goes back to try it again, so there is no god, again.

    December 22, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  7. Believer

    Satan is one smart dude. Better wake up folks!

    December 22, 2010 at 6:47 am |
  8. Andrew D

    Thousands of year the word of god has been held dear, and the faithful strong, and all mans widom has come to advertisment against his truth , you idiotes are laughable self willed ungratful little creatures who are the proof of his grace, so please without your permission continue to do his bidding we of him thank you , now go give your thanks to your god the rust and dust ,lost and not knowing,again thank you.

    December 22, 2010 at 6:39 am |
    • whgage

      Sucking up to your invisible guy in the sky will get you nowhere.

      December 22, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  9. Sophist022751

    I agree with the guy who wrote we should take the "sloggan" off our currency. I hate it when I get sloggan all over my billfold and fingers. YUCK!

    December 22, 2010 at 6:19 am |
  10. Ryan

    I hear all this babble about how religion has done such bad things...but if you think about it, religion has actually got us pretty far, i mean why are we what we are today? Back in the day, when there were no courts or jails, some people were bound to behave due to what was told through the bible... Sure some people were killed for it... but again there deaths was one extra step to who we are today. I mean im a Theist, i dont have a religion, and i think religion was people trying to take advantage of our creators word whether it be a , scientist from the future/aliens/a white bearded man, whoever it was, these stories all have one thing in common "UP ABOVE" so a logical question would be "who made these stories, and WHY?" well it makes me believe someone started all this, our minds aren't capable of creating such wild stories from nothing... you need some kind of motive to work off of... who knows who knows... but i agree on not pressuring ur beliefs on anyone, however there is nothing wrong with trying to help someone through your belief... Someone can bring something to the table its up to you to decide what you believe in.

    December 22, 2010 at 5:34 am |
    • Jen

      Ryan, try googling "Code of Hammurabi".

      December 22, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  11. nevadaguy

    The country was NOT founded by Christians. Our founding fathers were Masons. Masons believe that religion and politics have NO place in public forums. It's a personal choice. They do believe in a Supreme Being, but it goes no further than that. I agree... I am sick to death of billboards, signs and advertising that puts words in God's mouth. Those advertising dollars can feed the poor and heal the sick. Put it to good use!

    December 22, 2010 at 5:31 am |
    • Farhibide

      Many were Masons and Deists. Deists believe that there is a creator, but rather than being involved in humans' lives and sending down miracles and revelations from heaven every few hundred years, he/she/it pretty much just put things in motion and sat back to watch the show. Their beliefs are based on reason, science and the evidence of creation in nature and the universe around us, rather than on scripture written by the hand of man.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  12. d3vol3d

    Looked at from a spirit of objectivism - as I'm only visiting this planet - there are only two religions, so far as I can discern: Us and Them.

    December 22, 2010 at 5:07 am |
  13. Daws

    So it was fine while just theistic groups were advertising, but now that atheists are getting in on it, we gotta shut them all down?

    December 22, 2010 at 5:04 am |
    • Ryan

      Because the busses will become a debating nightmare... 1 one was doing it, and now another wants to do it... if you let it go, it will get out of hand... u know it as well as i do...

      December 22, 2010 at 5:37 am |
  14. beakerman45

    @factsperson "The only reason people denounce god is because something bad happens and it's easy to blame something that cannot defend itself."
    The only reason people believe in God is that it alleviates the fear of death and give people a sense of purpose. Religion is a great way of non-thinking, all the philosophical questions are already answered for you. Just listen and obey.

    December 22, 2010 at 4:52 am |
    • Ryan

      bold statement...that may be your theory on it, but you dont know everyone... its also answers for things us humans cant and dont understand....sure we have theory's...but theory s are simply a guess based on facts... kind of like getting 5 out of 100000 puzzle pieces and guessing the picture.... Sure it could possibly be the truth...but theirs a 1 out of 100000 chance its right...And some people want more...so they look to the past, the biblical time...

      December 22, 2010 at 5:42 am |
  15. colinseven8

    i find it really interesting that evidence of the existence of God can be found first in the scientific facts, apart from any faith one may or may not have.

    -the laws of physics stated that matter cannot be created nor destroyed, only rearranged.
    -the 2nd law of thermodynamics states that anything that is organized will become, with time, disorganized. any system left to itself will eventually break down, lose energy or decay.
    -newton's first law: An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.
    -newton's third law: to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

    if you look at the way we try to scientifically explain our existence by observed and proven laws, not one thing should exist...but we do...clearly defying many of the things we have proven to be facts.

    my body temperature is regulated, while my heart beats to pump blood throughout my body, while my lungs draw in oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide (if i decide to hold my breath, i will pass out and begin breathing), while my brain makes roughly 100 trillion calculations a second, while my blood cells attack foreign bacteria and viruses, and win. this complex machine of a body will break down. i can only move if i exert energy. if i push something it falls over. i abide by all the laws we have observed and proved. without these laws my existence does not happen. a "big bang" simply does not happen except as the result of an equal or opposite action, nor does it explain how the building blocks of life organized itself properly, consistently and continually from that point until now. the fact that i'm alive as a result of chance as opposed to the result of purposeful design and creation requires equal faith.

    what i'm getting at is that "religious folk" are painted as intellectually inferior as they only cling to "faith". while this faith is ultimately a choice, facts are not, unless your choice is to ignore them. to say there is no rationale in the theory of a purposeful creation or a "God" speaks to the closed-mindedness of the ones claiming to know and prove that there is no deity. there are many faith-based questions such as "what happens when we die", etc. etc., and i'm not touching on that. however, by simple deduction and looking at evidence, no one can prove there ISN'T a God...to rule this option out with the same facts (different interpretations) makes us the closed-minded ones, does it not?

    December 22, 2010 at 4:04 am |
    • balance is power

      the 2nd law of thermodynamics isn't explained clearly, we expend energy to keep us from going into entropy.

      also you misstated the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it's not that things will decay, they will go into entropy.

      also you are assuming we are born in a static universe, which of course is not the case, you are leaving gravity (an unbalanced force) completely out of the equation.
      the theory is is that in the rapid expansion of space time, from a finite and compress hot point, caused a vast cooling, allowed protons and neutrons and electrons to be able to keep hold of each other, forming vast clouds of hydrogen, these clouds came under the force of gravity and formed colossal stars, these stars used nuclear fusion as a fuel source. fusing these atoms together formed other elements. when the stars explode, these elements are released.

      i would really suggest you a book but i don't think i am allowed here.

      also a book upon basic biochemistry in my biology class will explain how life can arrange itself.

      refrain from saying "proven to be facts" it's a bit awkward.

      the scientific community does look over these things very well, so it's not like an argument thought up from someone on the internet doesn't have a reasonable explanation behind it, these are some very smart people, and not to be underestimated.

      also evolution is not an explanation for the appearance of life. (which is theoretical) but an explanation of it's diversity. evolution however is fact, though the appearance of life itself is, as i said, theoretical.

      December 22, 2010 at 4:23 am |
    • CatholicMom

      balance is power,

      ..protons and neutrons and electrons .....where did you say they came from?

      December 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  16. Kevin

    If anyone else can BUY the space so should a church. This is discrimination period.

    December 22, 2010 at 3:46 am |
  17. Claire C.

    An amazingly well-thought-out solution to proselytizing can come out of Texas? Who knew? I may move there, so I don't have to be subjected to any ads for or against any religious belief. How respectful!

    December 22, 2010 at 3:30 am |
  18. Jason

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

    Well, if you want to ban Atheist ads then you should expect the same. Double standards are never good, whether in support of religion or against it.

    December 22, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  19. balance is power

    after reading a load of comments up and down the board i have come up to the conclusion that there is no peace in this.

    Christians, Atheists, please stop with this. this is not a battle that can be won, neither one of you will convince the other, and quite honestly all you two are doing is getting each other angry!

    All that i ask is that you debate like grown-ups. christians, quit flaming, atheists, quit hating. it's all that i ask :\

    December 22, 2010 at 3:20 am |
    • Claire C.

      You had to get your little ad hominem attack in there against the atheists, while trying to sound unbiased yourself, didn't you?! It didn't work!

      December 22, 2010 at 3:34 am |
    • balance is power

      I don't see anything in that post that I haven't addressed to both sides. all that money for advertising should've been used for a charity or something, this fighting is senseless.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:38 am |
  20. Pat

    So everything was ok until there were non-christians advertising. You Christians are so in doubt of what you believe that you feel the need to silence everyone else.

    December 22, 2010 at 3:17 am |
    • Kevin

      "You atheists" sure love to make sweeping generalizations to exaggerate criticism and slander an entire group of people.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:25 am |
    • Claire C.

      We don't know that many or most Christians want to silence atheists. Had this specific group not objected to people of other or no belief sharing that privilege, the signs would have remained and they would have been free also to post signs. This is really a win-win. Everyone will be free to commute to work without having others' belief systems crammed in their faces, and it will limit the costs the bus organization would incur if they let the practice continue.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:45 am |
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About this blog

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.