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. Calvin

    No one is good without God. Not one. You will see the downfall of the US without God. You will see how 'good' we are without a reason to live or be moral. Yes, people are sooooo good.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:27 am |
    • TSRVT

      Sad to see such ignorance on display publicly. It means our public schools really are failing when there are a bunch of sheep like you mewling about.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:54 am |
    • CatholicMom


      Thank you for calling Christians sheep; yes, you have that right….Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd and we are of His fold. He goes out into the desert and retrieves the lost sheep who are hiding in darkness…and it is happening every day all over the world with people who are trading their fear for love.

      December 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  2. Sue

    Either we are going to bow now or bow later when Jesus Christ comes back for the true church in him. My suggestion would be to pick up a King James Version bible and surrender your life to Jesus' will. Have a Merry CHRISTmas everyon!!!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:25 am |
    • William Demuth


      Jesus came back, but regrettably, he was in the North Tower on September 11th.

      So I guess you think he is coming back AGAIN?

      December 22, 2010 at 9:48 am |
    • TSRVT

      Someone call the men in the white coats.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:55 am |
    • Angela

      Sue, what's it like to surrender yourself to JC? Is it all tingly like your first kiss or do the throws of passion rid you of any butterflies in your stomach? Merry Xmas back.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • Auntie M

      That book that was written by men for men to control men. So how is this book is going to save you? And why that book verses say Grimm's fairy tales or Aesop's fables....same diff. You look to a book for direction yet refuse to listen to your own heart and common sense...why-don't you know the difference?. And at the same time while professing to "love" your fellow man, pronounce a curse of damnation and self-righteously proclaim that you are going to "pray" for their salvation...... what happens to the self-righteous? You trash everyone else's right to exist or to believe of their own accord, instead claiming that only you and the others who march lockstep with you can live...all others are doomed. My love and concern for this planet and all its' occupants comes from my heart...and yet you would claim that it comes from that book you hold so dear. My desire to be a good person comes from myself and I choose to live this way...yet you would claim I'm evil and "lost" unless I get that certified stamp of approval from that book. I could go on and on. THAT is what I find troubling! Put that book down and instead start being a good person....otherwise you're no better than the rest and yes-you are still just as responsible for the condition we find ourselves in! It has nothing to do with a book. You want to believe? Believe in giving everyone a fair chance to truly be beautiful and recognise and give credit to them instead of whining for your Rapture.

      December 22, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Merry Christ Mass to you, too!

      December 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  3. Celia

    If you have this "faith" in your heart, there is no reason why you should let seaparation of church and state, anti-faith ads, taking prayer out of the public school system, or attacks by the media dampen your spirit. No one is prohibiting anyone from making their own personal choices and living their lives in accordance with their own personal faith. It's a personal choice.
    Churches should be advertising by helping out itn the community, being loving, and not being so full of hate, not renting out the sides of buses.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  4. Kyle

    I get really angry when I see this sh-t. You just have to do it around Christmas, don't you?

    December 22, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  5. Auntie M

    Mery Mithra everyone! Since the big 3 (judaism, christianity, and islam) Won't speak the real truth about the season and are soo good at stealing everyone elses religious days and stories....let's put out the original one. Mithra existed 1000 years before judaism. He was born to a virgin mother in a cave on Dec. 25; wise men arrived bearing gifts from the east. died and rose from the dead and is saving you from your "sins". I somehow fail to take anything that occurs after that story as being "gospel truth". I don't care how many pedophile priests and corrupt politicians say to the otherwise.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:17 am |
    • William Demuth

      Hey, leave the pedophilles out of this, after all this is thier FAVORITE holiday!

      December 22, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  6. taintalizer

    Has advertising a belief system ever really converted anyone or does is just anger the counter-believers?

    December 22, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  7. R Du

    "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."

    Translation: Religious groups want to be able to advertise for more customers, er. I mean followers, but they do not want non-religious groups to have that same right. That speaks volumes.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  8. Cartman42

    The Christians call for a boycott of the bus when the Reason ad shows up, then when all faith based ads get banned they say it's a strike against Christians. What a steaming pile of hypocrites. And for the record, I'm Agnostic not Atheist, I believe it's arrogant to proclaim one way or the other on a subject we have no REAL evidence on. Maybe there is a God, if there is I'm reasonably sure he would not be involved with signs on buses or protesting funerals or denying health care to millions. Christians think they have God in their pocket and if he is real, I believe they will be in for a very rude awakening at the meeting. On the flip side, maybe there is no God. Maybe the Universe came into existence on its own, or as a result of an outside influence that may seem "godlike" to us but is as based in science as growing bacteria in a lab is to us. Christians also think they have a monopoly on faith, that is why it's OK for them to be upset and throw a tantrum when a Reason ad shows up but act wounded when they get shut out too.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  9. Dan

    I'm doing great without!

    December 22, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  10. Shelly's mom

    What about a simple sign that reads, "I AM"? Would that be banned? Or "He is"? Does this offend? Will we have to ban the word "He" when it is capitalized in mid-sentence?

    December 22, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Don

      Why would you ever capitalize the word "he" except at the beginning of a sentence?

      December 22, 2010 at 9:07 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Those who know Him know why He is capitalized.

      December 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  11. Kay

    I think they should take it one step further and stop posting such huge tacky ads on their buses of any kind. Tired of seeing whole cities looking like one huge t.v. commercial.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  12. William Demuth

    Today’s gods are tomorrow’s comic book heroes, and once Jesus gets his own spot on the Marvel roster, I am QUITE confident that the Hulk will kick his butt.

    I mean the whole walking on water thing may have impressed a few ignorant peasants in Palestine, but nowadays it does not even get you into the West Coast Avengers.

    Maybe he needs to jazz up the outfit. Perhaps he can borrow from Ghost Rider and go with flaming hair?

    Or better yet he should start in an easier genre, maybe zombie comics? I hear he has the whole coming back from the dead thing down pat!

    December 22, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  13. boocat

    To all of the Jesus freaks out there – get on your computer and google "Horus" (an Egyptian god allegedly around about 600 BC). What you read may surprise you.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  14. Chris Carlisle

    For an excellent analogy for the existence of God, try googling Carl Sagan's 'Dragon in my garage', and for people who go on and on about the fact we can't prove the non-existence of God try Bertrand Russell's 'celestial tea pot'.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  15. mat

    It seems once again CNN wishes to stir up anti religous hate by allowing the comments on this article while shutting down things of importance that need debate but doesnt go along with their political goals.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  16. scroo yoo

    We're all ignoring something important here

    Advertising isnt real work.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  17. Dr Bill Toth

    It takes just as much faith to believe in God as it does to believe that the universe exploded into order from something smaller than the tip of a pin. We either have free speech or we don't. Live with Intention, DrBillToth.com/blog

    December 22, 2010 at 8:46 am |
    • William Demuth

      For someone claiming to be a doctor, your reply seems to make a mockery of the scientific method.

      It is all about whether the hypothesis (you remember that big word do not you, or were you off in church when they taught that in med school?) being subject to ongoing scrutiny. In science, a better theory REPLACES a lesser one. It is the foundation of our progress.

      What you believe in is DOGMA, and we all know what happens to people that challenge existing dogma.

      Your God is obsolete yet you cling to it like a child and that is so engrained in your indoctrinated mind that you are beyond reach.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  18. Mister

    Removing the ad doesn't change anything..God is still who he is when the time comes we'll see if those americans need him or not

    December 22, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • William Demuth

      Sorry, I guess you didn't get the memo?

      Jesus was deported.

      He is now in Juarez heping all of Gods children sell dope.

      December 22, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  19. Chaz

    As long as the same approach is taken for ALL religion related message than that is perfectly fair. However don't take something like this off, and then start putting pro religious messages on the same bus. That would be hypocritical.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  20. Aaron

    I like how these religious fanatics only step up to complain is when they seen another religion or statement against their religion. Now they hopefully know how many of us feel when they try and ram their religious crap down our throats. Religion needs to stay at home...

    December 22, 2010 at 8:40 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.