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. ZombieJebus

    Let's hope this is a permanent ban. Religion does not belong on a public bus.

    December 23, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  2. Zombie Jesus

    Let's hope this ban is a permanent one. There's no need for religion on public buses.

    December 23, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  3. cloudnine

    Wow these comments about how God does not exist amazes me! Are these children from God that arrogant! I ask you this..
    Who created you? Go take a long look into a mirror & speak to HIM. Ask yourself why was I born? Your lives have a purpose & i can assure you it's not to try to take HIM down. Look I personally have experience a huge miracle in which the doctors had no explanation. There only answer GOD did this.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  4. grist

    K Smith,
    Well the cardiologist must have miscommunicated with you. Collateralization happens all the time. And BTW, I am a neurologist. You need to read a bit about the science of evolution if you think that a man and a woman had to evolve separately from a soup of bateria. Evolution happens on a time scale you probably don't accept if you think the world was created in 7 days about 6000 years ago. Evolution is a fact. No experiment has ever refuted it. What evidence do you have that your god did it?

    December 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  5. grist

    K Smith,
    Well the cardiologist must have miscommunicated with you. Collateralization happens all the time. And BTW, I am a neurologist. You need to read a bit about the science of evolution if you think that a man and a woman had to evolve separately from a soup of bateria. Evolution happens on a time scale you probably dont' accept if you think the world was created in 7 days about 6000 years ago. Evolution is a fact. No experiment has ever refuted it. What evidence do you have that your god did it?

    December 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  6. grist

    K smith: Well the cardiologist must have miscommunicated with you. Collateralization is a common phenomenon. BTW, I am a neurologist. You show a misunderstanding of Evolution if you think that a male and a female had to evlove out of baterial soup! You should read a bit about the science of evolution. Evolution is a very gradual process over time spans you apparently don't even think exist. Evolution is a fact. All the scientific evidence supports it and it has never been refuted. What evidence do you have for your hypothesis that it was created by a god in 7 days about 6000 years ago? And the diversity of the human gene pool is so great to make it impossible that man has only existed for a few thousand years.

    December 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  7. LCCatFan

    Matthew 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed , into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    December 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  8. LCCatFan

    Rev. 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

    December 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Scott

      @lccatfan: And Moses said unto them
      “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill
      every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that
      hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children,
      that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for
      yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      December 22, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  9. bigjohn756

    But, atheists are not faith based, or religious at all for that matter, so we can continue to have all of the T ads that we want. Right?

    December 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  10. grist

    K Smith,
    so your uncle "grew" more arteries just like anyone else does. That happens. It is called he developement of collateral circulation and happens when the main arteries are narrowing. You dad had a certain probability of surviving the car accident. I presume he had expert medical care after the accident and received a blood transfusion. Those are the reasons rather than because of a god. I would like to see the x-ray evidence of the improved bone spurs. The fact is that religion and science do not mix. There is no role for gods in our evolution or the development of the universe. We really don't have significant gaps in our understanding of the world which require hypothesizing gods.

    December 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  11. Steve the real one


    @Dan – "The Bible was written by people who thought the earth was flat? Isaiah wrote that "God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth". He wrote that 2700 years ago." Circles are flat. Globes or spheres are not
    So Mary, based upon your theory, the moon, stars and sun are also flat? The full moon and sun appears as a circle YET we know they are it is not flat! How do we know? Science! Ever stop to think how Isaiah EVEN KNEW the earth was a circle? As YOU say this was written 2700 years ago! What science was available to him 2700 years ago?

    December 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  12. OR

    2 Timothy 3:1-4 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

    December 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Oh dear the usual diatribe and fear tactics....it does not work any more. The God myth is turning out to be a disaster for humanity...if only you religious types had dreamed up a better group of gods...

      December 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  13. K Smith

    Doc, why do you feel so threatened by me as to attack me? I did nothing "specifically" to you. Like I've said before, I've been in your shoes and I couldn't and wouldn't if I could understand a thing about God. Like you I let my precious pride get in the way. All I did was witness my personal experience with Jesus. He is real. And I hope one day you will meet Him on good terms rather than bad. Have a nice day.

    December 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  14. Matt

    @ K Smith: Also about this whole coincidence, big bang thing. My question to the believers of this is why has it only happened once. And how come people aren't still evolving and growing out of this life soup. It's pretty amazing that one man and one woman BOTH were a coincidence so they could reproduce.

    One of the theories out there is that the universe does cycle – going from big bang to big crunch and back again, athough there is some evidence out there that this may not be the case – astrophysicists are still working on that one.

    As for why people aren't still evolving – they are, it just takes a long time to do so. Natural selection is a gradual process that happens on a geological time scale, not a human one. Biologists even now are able create experiments that show natural selection in action.


    The difference between science and faith is that it is acceptable and expected that scientific theories are questioned, tested and revised as our understanding grows. Faith condemns those who question.

    "To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." - Isaac Asimov from "On Religiosity"

    December 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  15. K Smith

    William, dude why are you so angry? No one is even arguing with you. Calm down.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  16. thorrsman

    @Chris Carlisle
    The part were you falsely claim "Religious types prefer comfortable myths to hard truths". The vast majority of scientists–today and in the past–hold deep religious beliefs, yet they seek the truth of "How all things came to be". To learn "how God did it". Atheists, on the other hand, merely mock those with faith based on their own faith that everything is a meaningless accident, usually employing the words of others because they lack the creativity to craft their own argument.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:27 am |
    • Smite Me


      Oh, come on now... believers quote the Bible endlessly, or they reiterate what their church tells them. I have seem many, many more logical, creative posts from non-believers.

      December 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
    • Scott

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

      December 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  17. LennyP

    Atheism is neither faith based nor a religion and should not be treated as, or classed with, either. Whether one chooses to believe, or not believe, in an imaginary friend named god (or yahweh or allah or ()*&) or not is their absolute right as long as they do not attempt to impose their beliefs on anyone else.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  18. William Demuth

    I want to be clear about something that seems to be the single largest sickness in the Christian disease.

    According to many here, Christ is the ONLY salvation, and that no matter how moral a man’s life, nor how innocent a childs, if the soul did not worship Christ he is damned. They also believe that if a soul repents and worships Jesus, they go to heaven.

    In other words either worship a lie, or burn. Christians believe Mahatma Gandhi must go to hell, but a pedophile priest will go to heaven if he repents.

    An un-baptized child burns, but a Nazi who said Hail Marys while gassing Jews goes to heaven

    You see, Christianity is a cult of personality cult, and has ZERO foundation in morality, and anyone who says this is just is unworthy of the breath in his or her lungs.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • CatholicMom

      You like to tell a part truth and mix it in with a lie…pretty cunning and devilish. Yes, Christ is the only Way to Salvation. We do not judge a person’s soul, only God can do that; that is to say, no one knows another’s soul’s condition upon death.

      December 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  19. gasly130

    I'll take my chances with God and follow Jesus! 🙂

    December 22, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  20. dwech

    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.

    Dude, there's a reason that the First Amendment prohibits making any law "respecting an establishment of religion". The freakin' country was settled by those who sought to escape the church-state of England. So there's a few hundred years of precedent for this. If you truly want to live in a country where religion dominates public policy, please apply for citizenship in Iran, Mauritania, or Afghanistan - but be forewarned, you may not like it.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:04 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.