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. Lawrence

    Us Christians have Jesus in our heart and we don't like the millions of anti-Christs running around trying to turn me away from my God. The devil works hardest on people he will never see in hell and less on the people he has already won for his home.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
    • Justin

      There are two sides to that coin Lawrence... non-religious people are tired of people cramming their religion down their throats as if it is okay for them to tought it around in other people's faces because their God says they are saved from something... It used to be considered decent to not talk about religion and politics, but people just have to put one or the other, or both in your face now-a-days. I don't believe that Jesus is the incarnation of God, nor do I believe in Allah. Regrettably I can't escape hearing about how righteous they are from people that think it's okay to shove in everyone else's face.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • Samuel

      That is the most truth that I have read in this whole blog! Thanks Lawrence!

      December 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  2. Moosemeat

    An anti religion message isn't a "belief ad", it's reality.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Bruce


      You guys use absolutes like Christians do. I thought you didn't believe in absolutes. Oh yea, just one.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
    • Don

      Why wouldn't we believe in absolutes, Bruce? Or is that really just your strawman because you refuse to deal with reality.

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


      I do. I deal with reality and spirituality. Both are alike and, at the same time, not alike. I think aTheist can only believe in one.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Don

      There's no such thing as spirituality.

      December 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
    • tl123

      Actually Don, you can define the spiritual world as everything that cannot be perceived with our 5 senses.

      December 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
    • Don

      You could, but that would still mean nothing.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  3. Womyn2me


    absolutely hysterical and I am sure the guy has no idea how funny his comment is and why it typifies the average Christian. Wait, you can't treat Christians just like everyone else, we are SPECIAL.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
  4. Sarpatral

    Logic, thanks for the response. The reason why it took me 45 years to come of the closet so to speak is, I was always surrounded by religion (school, tv), however I used to think there was something wrong with me because I didn't believe and 90% of the planet did. It's nice to know that I am not alone.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Logic

      Nah, you're not alone.

      Everyday religion does what it does best, it keeps on trying to feed itself. It's like a perpetual starving child, always needing constant "god inspiration". They'll make up anything to satisfy their craving. They will always push you into joining in with them.
      I think it's the symptom of comfort in numbers. I find it fascinating that they need so much inspiration from day to day.
      But you just have to know you are better off without some losers intruding into your life. And that you are fine on your own.
      Take care of yourself and your mind.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • tl123

      hey, they need $$$. don't you know how much litigation costs??

      December 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • Dave

      "Logic", your pathetic attempts to psychoanalyze, pigeon-hole and judge an entire system of beliefs does not do your name justice. Atheism is fine, but folks like you are the atheist version of some religious fundie preaching from a box on a street corner. Next time settle down, amd think clearly and objectively about what your saying and about the generalizations you're making.

      December 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  5. Newyorker

    All Christians and Jews will surely go to Hell. If you are a Muslim fundamentalist, then this is what you believe. Christian fundamentalists say the same about everyone else. Who is right? The atheist of course, because he/she knows that God doesn't exist, and neither do Heaven nor Hell, except for what people create here on Earth.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • jujubee

      Atheists are right? You have proof other than your opinion? Haha you atheists are a joke, you want Christians to back up what they say, but you can say something like that and it's just "fact" riiiiiiight, you can't see the truth through all those lies!

      December 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Scott

      @jujubee: Your right I can’t honestly say that “god does not exist” is a fact; but, I can honestly say that “all of the evidence I have ever seen indicates that god does not exist” and “I have seen no evidence that god exists”

      December 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  6. Prophet

    For sure was inspired by Lucifer, he is the great leader of the biggest losers in this planet.

    Because we are in the no need time of God, right? just when our planet is falling apart with so many natural and health devastations.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
    • Don

      We never have a need for superst-ition.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • sleepytime

      The biggest losers on the planet? You mean Christians?

      December 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  7. Robert

    The billboard war was not in New York, It actually was in New Jersey and then expanded into NY. The first billboard was put up in New Jersey by the atheists at the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel and the Catholic League put the billboard up in NY at the other entrance of the tunnel. I guess geography isn't CNN's strong point though.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  8. chuck wagon

    The Commandments of God show us we have fallen short. Unless keeping His commandments have no effect on the quality of our lives.

    2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

    4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

    5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

    6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

    7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

    10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

    11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

    13 Thou shalt not kill.

    14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

    15 Thou shalt not steal.

    16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • Justin

      Your words don't have the same effect on everyone as they do you. I am sure there are many that do fear the words from within the bible, but there are others that don't fear them. Millions are good without god...

      December 21, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • tl123

      If God is omnipotent and thus all-loving, why do I need to fear him?

      December 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      You do not have to fear God such as in ‘be afraid’ but have a fear as in His ‘awesomeness’. God is all-good and also just. What you might fear are your choices in life.

      December 22, 2010 at 1:04 am |
    • Don

      An all-good god would not allow suffering. Try again.

      December 22, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • Scott

      @ chuckwagon: Where is ‘freedom of speech’, where is ‘freedom of assembly’, where is ‘molesting young boys is a no no’?

      December 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  9. Justin

    Read the Treaty of Tripoli, written in 1797 by our founding fathers.... It specifically states our country was not created or based on Christian principles.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  10. Logic

    Sarpatral : I was always surrounded by religion. But I was always myself, always thinking. The one thing was my parents, they never cared to teach even their buddist belief to me. Just the straight hard facts that you must think and learn.

    All a parent needs to do is that. And besides the probably first 20 years into their kids' life with funds. *Laughs*
    I always told everyone to "f'n shut up" when it comes to religion and they learnt that you can't brainwash me.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  11. a slozomby

    ""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."" gotta love these people. " i liked it when i thought i could just silence the other guy....."

    December 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  12. Guest

    Anyone who believes they know whether or not god or the afterlife exist (let alone the nature of that existence) is lying to him or herself. Both sides of this ad controversy should keep their opinions to themselves - it's insulting to offer unsolicited advice about such an important subject to strangers.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  13. Sarpatral

    I am an athiest and it took 45 years for me to get there. I was lucky enough not be be exposed to religion by my parents, they let me decide for myself. I read a great book by Christopher Hitchens and that for me nailed it. I have no hate for the believers as they obviously need faith to get them through the day, what I don't like is being told I am an evil and immoral person because I don't believe. We are fortunate that we live in the times that we do and that we can now express our lack of faith without being burned at the stake.

    I am original from England saw first hand the fights between Protestants and Catholics. To the believers, from the Athiests stand point when you start quoting the verses in the Bible you sound like you are from a cult and that you cannot speak for yourself. Some athiests get angry at you because in our own weird way we are trying to do an "Intervention". I think it's time to put away the toys and grow up, unfortuntely it's not going to happen in my lifetime.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  14. Newyorker

    The problem with fundamentalists of any religion is the absolute conviction that theirs is the only correct belief system. Furthermore, these people do not respect anyone who does not believe the way they do, and are dedicated to the goal of brainwashing others into accepting their falsehoods. Moreover, these ignorant people have the arrogance to believe that they are better than anyone else. That's why I despise these people, because deep down they are disgusting hypocrites and are filled with contempt against people who just want to be left alone.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  15. Bruce

    BTW. The sign on the bus said "millions". Compared to the new census report there are over 309 million. By comparison, you're out voted.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • PitchDark551

      no one cares

      December 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • Don

      Outvoted? So we just have to shut up and let the theists vote away the rights of atheists, is that what you're saying?

      December 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • Reason

      Newyorker: Yes, for something to come into being, something has to have caused that to happen.

      Don: Do you believe in the Big Bang, then? Because if you do you contradict yourself.

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

      No contradiction when you understand that the big bang was a state-change. The spatiotemporal continuum we inhabit "began" (in the temporal sense) at that point, but the universe itself has always been. It cannot come into or go out of existence. It is the metaphysical underpinning.

      Yeah, there's some large words that you're going to need to look up.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • Newyorker

      @Reason: Not if you have any understanding of quantum mechanics. In fact things just happen all the time for no reason, and without any cause at this level. Christians should start reading some books besides the Bible, or their minds will forever be trapped in the Middle Ages.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Bruce


      Then do the hoky poky and turn yourself around. That's what it's all about!

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


      If you are an atheist you are just out voted. Nothing more, nothing less. Pick a fight with yourself if you want to.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Bruce


      Since you used Big Bang, I'll respond to that. First, NASA would have tried to simulate it in space to prove the Big Bang. The results would have been the same. All the pieces would have continued to fly away from the explosion. The results would not be order. Of course, the formula that everyone uses is "Billions and billions of years" which is the same concept that Democrates use to fix things. They throw Billions and Billions of dollars at a project to try to save it. Same formula. Second, no one has gone back before the Big Bang to explain where the big blob came from. It just stops there. One would have to strain a gut to explain the big blob. Sounds Science fiction 2 me.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • Geez

      @ Don

      "The spatiotemporal continuum?" Too much Star Trek again, bubbie.

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

      Outvoted meaning what, exactly? Or don't you want to reveal exactly what it is you believe, Bruce?

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

      Where did god come from, Bruce? Had to come from somewhere. Will not take "god always existed" as an answer.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
    • tl123

      And what is the cause and reason for God?

      December 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  16. Reason

    Some Christians may have blind faith, but others of us are actually Christians because that is where the evidence points. Consider that everything that begins to exist has to have a cause, and the universe began to exist, therefore the universe must have a cause. Or how about that the odds that the universe would be able to support life by chance alone is 1 out of 1 followed by 1230 zeroes. Or that the Old Testament makes hundreds of very specific prophecies, all of which came true to the smallest detail. Food for thought.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Newyorker

      "Everything that exists has to have a cause". Really? Is that a scientific fact? No, it's part of the circular reasoning of any religion. You need to try a lot harder than that to impress anyone with half a brain.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • Don

      The universe did not begin to exist. And the odds are 1:1.

      December 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
    • Geez

      @ Don

      OOOOhh! Tell us more!!


      December 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • Something


      "the Old Testament makes hundreds of very specific prophecies, all of which came true to the smallest detail."

      No, it doesn't; and no, they haven't. Look up 'failed Bible prophecies' - if you really want some facts.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      Your claim that the probability of life is refuted here: http://www.evolutionfaq.com/articles/probability-life

      December 21, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  17. Logic

    Everyone here on earth can provide well wishing to each and other human being everywhere. And as an atheist I hope the best for humankind to come to love each other.

    But I have no hesitation on banishing your ignorance that is religion. Sooner you realize that your sin is not even there, what will you grasp at?

    December 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  18. Blessed Geek

    G does not need worship, it is not his nutrition. Neither praise or magnification.
    G does not need acknowledgement. He is just as happy if we did not acknowledge him.

    If fact, G loves the existence of the righteous atheist so much more because the righteous atheist is motivated neither by fear nor eternalising bribes to do the right thing.

    But G is cautious about those of us who acknowledge Him, because we are mostly motivated by fear and bribes and eternal goodies. Let the atheist proclaim their message as it neither hurts G or our relationship with Him. In fact, the atheist's message is a healthy dose of anti-dote to our false indoctrination.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Dan

    I thought this was a free country. Free to, with proper respect, state your own opinions. Both sides have the right to advertise. All Cities need money, like it or not. Set up a line specifically for complaints. You know, the automated kind that you have to go thru 15 different menus. And if by some chance the people that fail to remeber our basic write to freedom of speech can be linked to some offshore third world IT person who can listen for 10 cents an hour. We have no idea how good we have it!?! Both sides are as much to blame here. Hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  20. Logic

    You see Fabiola, you like to think that with that sin of yours is real.

    It's nothing. It makes you what you are, a flake to my eyes. I am confident and I know my worth. Unlike you I don't grovel like a maggot for forgiven like you or your brethen. That's the difference in mentality. You can keep on saying everyone has sin to keep your happy and say everyone should accept religion, because that's your ignorance, just don't push your fabricated sins that comes with religion to others who value a clean unmuddled mind.

    But of course you folks don't like the idea that sin doesn't exist, because sin equates the legitimacy of religion. You obviuously have no understanding that with every word you type you are infact desperately trying to enforce compliance on your concept of sin to everyone.

    Of course I never expect you to make such a connection, it's beyond your scope.

    December 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
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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.