Atheist Bus Ads in South Bend Hit Snag May 14, 2009

Atheist Bus Ads in South Bend Hit Snag

***Update***: I’m not sure what other contact info to use, but Transpo can be reached via this webpage. Let them know what you think of their decision to wait on approving the atheist ads.

I was under the impression that atheist bus ads would be seen in South Bend, Indiana this past Monday. So did the Atheist Bus Campaign in Indiana.

The ads, which are set to run on 20 buses, cost $3,895.80, according to a copy of the check written to Burkhart Advertising, which contracts with Transpo for the bus-side ads.

The check was cashed.

It was good timing, too, since many eyes would be in the area this weekend for Barack Obama‘s speech at Notre Dame, a speech many Catholics oppose due to Obama’s stance on abortion.

But Transpo decided to hold off on putting the ads on their buses. They’re now waiting for their board to approve the ads… a process that wouldn’t happen until next Monday, after the Obama-ness wears off.

South Bend-based Burkhart says its hands are tied in the matter. Its agreement with Transpo gives the bus operator the right to review any ads that might be deemed controversial, said Rob Miller, executive vice president at Burkhart.

The ad was deemed controversial not because of its content, board Chairman Chip Lewis said, but because of the media attention it got in Bloomington.

Lewis, in South Bend, said because of the hoopla downstate, Transpo officials want to be sure about posting the ads.

“I want to make sure we have a thorough discussion and that everybody gets a chance to feel comfortable with what we decide,” Lewis said. “It’s just business as usual for us.”

I’m not into conspiracy theories. I don’t think this is some Christians’ way to counteract the advertising.

It’s still irrational, though.

The ads are not controversial unless you feel people can’t handle thinking about atheism.


See? Not controversial at all.

I don’t know if there’s anything the Indiana atheists can do at this point. But perhaps if enough of us speak up, the company’s decision to postpone them will get as much media attention as the ads would’ve gotten. Then the message will still get across.

Or maybe the board members at Transpo will find the intestinal fortitude to speed up this decision.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tyson

    They could also get their money back and save it for a more strategic time. They were paying to have ads during a certain event, and if that’s not possible, they should have the option of a refund.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “It’s just business as usual for us.”

    Indeed, it is.

  • Of course they could do something about it. They have purchased a service that is not being provided. If I bought a date on a speaking tour from Hemant I’d expect that to be delivered barring exceptional circumstances. It cannot be held back in perpetuity.

    They should check the terms and conditions of the advertising agreement and insist that they are adhered to. Threaten to sue if necessary. Controversial or not a contract has been entered into and must be honoured.

  • I hate to argue the point but I’m pretty sure this is the definition of controversial(to some people, presumably Christians), and isn’t that kinda the point.

    Google Definition:
    A controversy or dispute is a commencement of a conflict between statements of accepted fact and a new or unaccepted proposal that disagrees with, argues against, or debates the accepted knowledge or opinion. …

  • Alizarin

    Meanwhile, the abortion trucks are going around town depicting fetus parts on quarters and imagery of black men being lynched on huge banners….

  • REX


    How about posting contact info. for the advertising company so that we can apply many voices for added pressure on them!


  • Trav

    I’m with Rex. How can us South Bend citizens help get this thing passed? Can anyone suppyly some contact info? When will the next meeting be so we can rally at Transpo headquarters? What should I do to get my voice heard?

  • I put contact info at the top of the post! Thanks for the suggestion.

  • flawedprefect

    We got the same drawback here in Australia when we approached of of the big national signage companies, APN (yes, I want to name and shame them). They said the same sort of thing, and I totally agree with Alizarin: we see offensive ads all the time. We see ads with road accidents, cancerous growls, all sorts of things where nobody is yelling “won’t somebody think of the children!?” yet put something about enjoying life without your imaginary friend…

    All I can say is: we keep on fighting because it’s worth it. Chin up, y’all!

  • I found a TRANSPO phone number: 574-233-2131.

    Of course, the frustrating thing is the ads were really meant to go to South Bend to be seen by all the students and parents before graduation. Now all the Notre Dame kids and parents will be gone, and we’ll lose a lot of our potential audience. (And I’m sure a lot of people would have been there because of Obama as well)

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