I Won’t Ride a Bus with Atheist Advertising On It! December 4, 2010

I Won’t Ride a Bus with Atheist Advertising On It!

Church officials are supporting a bus boycott in Fort Worth, Texas because the Transit Authority is allowing atheist ads to go on the sides of four buses for one month.

Ministers Justice Coalition of Texas thinks in the wake of the controversial campaign, the T should get rid of all religious ads.

“We have requested and asked that the T would review and revisit the policy and have it changed,” said Rev. Julius Jackson.

A second group of ministers aligned with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference threatened to organize a boycott if the signs are allowed.

They seem serious… What on earth did the ads say that made them this angry?

WHAT?! Atheists are claiming to be good?! No no no no no. We can’t have that! How dare anyone suggest my bigotry is misplaced?!

Just watch the preachers talk about how they refuse to ride the buses:

As one commenter on the news site put it, “how much more diplomatic can you get than ‘Millions of Americans are Good without God’?”

The Transit Authority is always free to ban all religion/non-religious advertising, but there’s no reason to do it when the message is a positive one and doesn’t denigrate another group. It’s a smart business decision to keep them going. The Christians can always use some of that tithing money to pay for their own counter-campaign 🙂

Waitaminute…

… in addition to the anti-God ads, two ads from other religious organizations are schedule to begin running within the next two weeks, including one that has the message “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

WHAT?! NO! I WILL NOT RIDE A BUS THAT SAY JESUS IS THE REA—no, that’s ridiculous. If I were in Fort Worth, I’d just ignore that ad. That’s what sane, rational people do about things like this.

In the meantime, the United Coalition of Reason, which spent just over $2,500 to pay for the ads on four buses for a month, is getting more publicity than it perhaps ever imagined.

“I’m just real surprised that it’s drawn this much attention. It’s just a statement of what we believe,” said Terry McDonald, the coalition’s head.

I love calm and relaxed McDonald is in that video. Like it’s shocking to him that anyone could be upset by the Dallas – Forth Worth Coalition of Reason‘s ad 🙂 He made a great point that needs to be repeated:

Christians don’t stop advertising during Ramadan or Yom Kippur, so why should we have to walk on eggshells in December?


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  • Anonymous

    Mayor Mike Moncrief chimed in on the issue late Friday, saying he wants the city and the T to hold a joint meeting to discuss the T’s policy on accepting religious ads.

    (McClatchy)

    “I totally disagree with (the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s) decision to allow these divisive ads on the T buses and will express my concerns to the appropriate individuals.” In the same statement, he admits that the city doesn’t fund the T and that it’s an independent agency responsible for its own policies.

    http://www.fwweekly.com/index.php?option=com_wordpress&p=7546&Itemid=482
    Moncrief Goes Atheist Hunting

  • Deepak Shetty

    Further proof that it doesn’t actually matter how positive the message or how non confrontational it is – Religious nuts will complain and claim they have been offended.

  • Brice Gilbert

    I just told a friend about this. An agnostic of sorts, and do you know what his response was? “Why do people have to be so pushy with their beliefs? The Atheists shouldn’t be doing this”.

    It doesn’t matter what you say to some people.

  • MH

    Well the COR got their monies worth. They spent a few thousand for a print ad, but got a three minute TV spot from Fox!

  • Fingon Celebrindal

    “WHAT?! Atheists are claiming to be good?! No no no no no. We can’t have that! How dare anyone suggest my bigotry is misplaced?!”

    WHAT?! Religious are claiming to have a right to have an opinion?! No no no no no. They can’t have that! How dare anyone suggest anyone apart from atheist has that right?!

  • Luciferadi

    Religious folks certainly do have a right to an opinion, Fingon Celebrindal. Can you clarify what that opinion is in this case? I’m honestly confused by the strong reaction to this ad.

    Since the ad is not attacking Christianity, it appears that the Christians who are protesting are offended by the very existence of atheists. Is that what the issue is?

  • Hemant isn’t suggesting the religious don’t have a right to their opinion. Merely that their opinion is silly. The religious people in this story, however, don’t seem to believe secular organizations have a right to advertise like their churches.

  • Stephen P

    Wish I’d been a journalist there. I’d have liked to ask the preacher a few questions, such as “why does the omnipotent creator of the universe need people to defend him from a few bus advertisements?” and “how often do you actually take the bus, sir?”

  • scott

    Fine… let them effing walk everywhere then.

    It’s not like this is a Rosa Parks situation.

  • DreamDevil

    The only thing I like about Fox News is that they give Atheists plenty of coverage.

  • JD

    The ad is innocuous in my opinion. If that truly offends people, then that the offended people’s faith is weak, again, in my opinion. I think it’s funny that someone had troll here in favor of the backlash against this ad. It doesn’t attack anyone.

    Heck, its fundamental message is “we exist and we aren’t evil people”. Which is the kindest response possible to the belief that atheists shouldn’t exist and that they’re horrible people.

    Some people are surrounded by tens or hundreds of religious messages a day, that a mild dissenting message might seem a lot worse than it really is. Kind of like saying “no” to a person used to having a lot of “yes” men.

  • Lynniegirl

    Somebody’s starting to sound skeered. 😉 LOL If they were so sure about their religion – their “god”, why would they be worried in the least about 4 simple little ads on buses. Hmmmmm?

  • Unholy Holly

    I treat religious ads the same way I treat erectile disfunction ads. I ignore them. Neither one “speaks” to me. I am sure men ignore ads for feminine products. Ads that are not directed at me do not offend me because they exist; you have to generate the offense yourself, and that is entirely up to you.

  • Nick Andrew

    It’s interesting that this innocuous advert cracks their conch so much that they are putting forward a scorched-earth policy of refusing all religious and anti-religious bus advertisements.

    “Millions of Americans are good without God”. It doesn’t even claim there’s no god, it just says you don’t need god to be good.

    It tastes like fear to me. The churches fear people leaving them, they fear the widespread understanding that religion is not a unique source of morality; this fear is so pervasive that they’d cut out their own tongues to stop those awful atheists spreading an alternate message.

  • Atheists are quickly becoming the oppressed Christians often claim to be.
    Everyday we have to explain to our children what religious billboards, and large postings of the 10 commandments mean in relation to our lives. But when we do the same they attempt to censure us, and are scared to explain to their children, and themselves that someone believes something different, and is happy with that decision.

  • Would it be a no-no for me to have subconsciously drawn some sort of correlation between the lower intelligence usually held by those full of religious zeal and expanded that to a lower income level and realized that if they do boycott the buses, it will actually be a HUGE blow to ‘the T?’

    I’m all about public transit, but I’m also from the south and I know most people aren’t. You only ride the bus/walk/bike if you’re broke and don’t have a car.

  • Terry McDonald rocks.

    But this Christian tactic of trying to silence our message no matter how soft and friendly we make the message, seems to send another message that I can hear loudly:

    If they get offended at ANYTHING we say, why sugar-coat it? They’ll complain if we just put the name of one of our groups in the ad, and nothing more.

    So why not ramp up the strength of the message? Just a bit…we’re civil. But more firmness isn’t going to make them angry at us. They already are. I say let’s let them see strength.

  • Anonymous
  • Lamar

    As a Christian who supports free speech, I can disagree with the message content without boycotting public transit. “Good without God” speaks to morality and the Bible has already addressed the truth that none is good but God (Matthew 19:17). That is, apart from God, one’s morals will be motivated purely by selfish desires. If a good God transforms a person by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2), the moral compass will adjust to the good of God and others. When a Christian says, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and an atheist says, “Good without God,” each one is speaking from his own conviction. Neither can be proven outside of faith.
    Again, my Christian faith leads me to share my beliefs (in loving concern) and leave the response to the hearer. None of us can change another person. One of God’s good gifts is free will. While freedom is good in itself, it also allows for the potential of evil. I disagree with the advertising message displayed on the bus because of my convictions, but those same convictions require me to not attempt to force my beliefs on others. Atheists are often guilty of the same charge they level at Christians — attempting to manipulate others to embrace their own thoughts. The fact is, only a good God can effect that kind of deep change.

  • jose

    apart from God, one’s morals will be motivated purely by selfish desires.

    Excuse me. Apart from God, maybe your morals would be motivated by selfish desires. Some of us care, you know.

  • Sean

    @Lamar

    Atheists are often guilty of the same charge they level at Christians — attempting to manipulate others to embrace their own thoughts. The fact is, only a good God can effect that kind of deep change.

    So God is better than atheists at making more atheists? With you as his boring secret weapon? Very plausible.

  • Greg

    Lamar that post honestly read like someone saying that blackboards are pieces of paper coloured white:

    “Good without God” speaks to morality and the Bible has already addressed the truth that none is good but God (Matthew 19:17).

    Great – if its a truth, then you’ll be able to prove it without resorting to quotes from a book written by men living thousands of years ago, and claiming that that book is true with no evidence to back it up.

    So…

    I’m waiting.

    That is, apart from God, one’s morals will be motivated purely by selfish desires.

    Of course, as we all know, doing good deeds because you think it will get you into heaven/avoid hell is clearly more selfish than doing goods for no reason other than they are good. That’s simple logic – one is doing good deeds out of a selfish desire (the one that wants into heaven) and one is doing good deeds for no other reason than they are good things to do (the one who isn’t doing them to get into heaven).

    It doesn’t take faith to believe that – it’s simply taking the definition of the word ‘selfish’ and applying it to the question at hand.

    One of God’s good gifts is free will.

    Do we have a choice about whether we want free will? Just, if having free will leads me to be tortured for all eternity, I’d rather not have free will. Plus, if we don’t have a choice over whether we have free will, it clearly isn’t free will.

    I disagree with the advertising message displayed on the bus because of my convictions, but those same convictions require me to not attempt to force my beliefs on others.

    Just to get this clear:

    Your convictions tell you that it is impossible for atheists to be good.

    Just checking.

    Atheists are often guilty of the same charge they level at Christians — attempting to manipulate others to embrace their own thoughts.

    How on earth is saying that thousands of people are good without god attempting to ‘manipulate’ others? It’s not as though that advertisement said people can’t be good with god.

    The fact is, only a good God can effect that kind of deep change.

    Shame you’ve yet to show that sort of god can even exist.

    Also, I suggest you investigate cults, and other such religious groups a bit more carefully – they clearly manipulate people in order to accept their thoughts all the time.

    On the bright side, glad to hear you won’t be boycotting public transport.

  • Phoebe

    @Lamar: it seems to me that religious people’s morality is motivated by selfish desires. They desire to get on God’s good side so they can go to heaven and avoid hell. An atheist’s morality comes from the fact that kindness and compassion are logically beneficial to all in society.
    However, I totally respect that you can have your views and not try to push them on others, and see a message and let it be and not boycott the bus.

    @Fingon Celebrindal: we atheists aren’t boycotting the many private businesses that have religious signs on them. As long as we the tax payers aren’t having to foot the bill for it, we don’t care. It’s just them voicing their opinions. Those particular Texas Christians can’t handle people voicing a differing opinion, and that is pathetic.

    Anyways, Great article! As usual. 🙂

  • Raven

    I really wonder how many of them actually ride the buses in the first place. I’ve been to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and it’s as spread out as San Diego, and supposedly the public transportation is pretty poor. I’m not an expert, but it seems like you can barely get anywhere there without taking at least one freeway.

    “Dallas said no. Ft. Worth decided to go with it. That says something about courage.”

    Yes, but not the kind of courage you’re thinking of. If you really want to “stand up for God,” then go ahead and sing his praises all you want, but don’t try to silence people who you disagree with.

  • Whenever a Christian compares their noble desire to empower their religion and their god, with the motivation that other people have when they try to empower humanity, I always look at the Christian and ask them if they are God. Because if not, they’re a human.

    If we are to ignore human ideas in favor of God’s ideas, then why are all these HUMAN Christians issuing the world instructions and orders for how they should behave? We’re supposed to ignore human ideas, right?

    Wrong. Christians want us to obey THEM, not a god. If it was about what a god wanted, they’d wait to hear from that god. Everything used to convey a communication from that god, from the Old Testament to a modern Christian billboard is a HUMAN creation. A HUMAN communication.

    Then I walk away, and if they want to discuss it more, I respond by saying their god wants me to ignore them. Their head spins a little, though they try to hide it. :o)

  • Well, frankly, as someone who’s spent decades on bus before disability pretty much took me off them (yeah, they claim to be assessible, not really working out that way), I’ve got to support that no religious advertising should be allowed. Always did piss me off to have Jesus is the reason in my face come December. Bad enough I had to take the bus; I shouldn’t have the bus company trying to convert me.

    However, I’m angry as fucking hell that the one minister who actually said that there shouldn’t be religious advertising on the bus at all only says that because now he has to contend with the opposing view. He wouldn’t be protesting religious advertisement on the bus if CoR hadn’t put their ad up. So go CoR!

    And the other ministers didn’t say anything like that. Just get CoR’s off and stop implying you can actually be good without god. We won’t tolerate the implication that we shouldn’t be propagating evil Atheist stereotypes.

    All of this makes me want to see more not less Atheist ads on the bus and if I had the money I’d fucking fund some.

    If they get offended at ANYTHING we say, why sugar-coat it?

    I am fast getting there too and I’ve taken up to now a real let’s be as respectful as we ask them to be tone. I don’t really want to give that up. I’d like everyone to be respectful of each other but, Jesus Christ, the hate does get to you. This is getting even uglier (yeah, I know part of it is the location) reaction than the rude American Atheist sign so why the fuck not be in your face and rude if you’re going to be treated like you are anyway? A part of me still knows that that’s a pretty juvenile reaction to the hatred but a part of me also doesn’t give a flying fuck.

  • Eskomo

    How about a more simple billboard or bus ad.

    “Atheist, Agnostic. We Exist.”

    Can’t get more basic than that.

  • aerie

    “…the Bible has already addressed the truth that none is good but God…”

    bible truth =/= truth

  • Stephen P

    @kttk: by the same token it seems unlikely that many people will actually boycott the buses; they take them because they have to. Particularly if the CoR take opportunities to reiterate that they aren’t attacking anyone, if they get people to actually read the ads and see that the CoR isn’t attacking anyone, then the boycott may not get much momentum.

    On the other hand … it is the southern US, where the incomprehensible seems to be a daily occurrence.

  • jonezart

    I wonder if these churches are going to be arranging affordable, convenient transportation for those folks who rely on public transportation to get to their jobs, doctors, families, etc…

  • You know, I really hate sauerkraut. I hate the smell, the taste, and the texture. I am committed to never eating that nasty stuff again.

    But how much sense would it make for me to get offended and not ride a bus because it had a sauerkraut advertisement on it? That would be childish and stupid.

    So too for believers who petulantly refuse to ride a bus because it advertises something that they don’t like (or refuse to shop at a store that says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”).

  • Brian C Posey

    Seems like it’s time for a simple ad:

    Atheists Exist. You’ve probably met one today.

  • Dan

    ROSA PARKS IS ROLLING IN HER FUCKING GRAVE!

    An amazing black woman who stood up against the oppression of black people.

    And now we have these black people standing up FOR oppression! The oppression of non-believers!

    Outrageous!

  • Liberty

    I’m confused with the statement that some T employees didn’t agree with the message but were reluctant to be interviewed, or however that was phrased. What message don’t they believe? That there are millions of Americans who are good without god? That there are so many people who are nonbelievers, or that they can be good?

  • Do Americans have the right to free speech?

    Is that right protected?

    What reason is there to deny any group that right?

    You don’t like the ad being on the bus? Get off the bus and walk! You don’t have a right not to be offended by other people’s views.

  • Dan W

    What a bunch of dipshit assholes. This is one of the least offensive atheist billboards I’ve seen, and these fucktards are trying to bully the Transit Authority into reinforcing their beliefs and stereotypes about us. Cry more, little babies. We exist, we’re good, moral people, and you’re just gonna have to get used to it.

  • I would like to see someone count all of the religious ads in America and compare them to the number of atheist ads. Then we’ll really see who is being “pushy” with their beliefs!

    As to whether we atheists should kick it up a notch and get meaner with our ads, I think we should take the moral high ground and stick to the current course of rational, humorous discourse. It makes the religitards’ “we are offended” reaction that much more ridiculous. As others have said, CoR got their money’s worth and then some on this run, and their own reaction to the “controversy” makes them look even better. Once the discussion gets emotional, it will degenerate into a shouting match and then reasonable people on either side will just stop listening altogether.

    Of course, throwing in a nice-nasty ad once in a while will generate continued interest in the ads.

  • the next time an atheist org leader goes on TV, i’d like to see them go for the jugular. “you know, it’s not the everyday Catholics, Muslims, Wiccans, Jews or Hindus in America that are complaining. nor the Buddhists, Satanists, New Age spriritualists, or Jains. Nope, nor the Shintos, the Quakers, or the even most Mormons. it’s conservative Protestants and a few extreme pedophile-protecting Catholic leaders acting on orders from an ex-Nazi in Rome. that is who won’t shut up about atheists. so what’s up with that?”

    atheist spokespeople could even be generous and say: “it’s not even that most regular believers who are complaining. it’s their hypocritical leaders who spend more on private jets for themselves and hollywood fancy TV shows begging for money from viewers- most believing americans don’t really care if atheists express themselves. now: let’s talk more about Christian leader sex scandals and how much taxpayer money they get via faith based programs, and exactly how much of that is spent on feeding and housing the poor, homeless and unemployed in this country vs how much of it goes into church coffers, and stays there. an atheist billboard hurts exactly no one. a raped child, or an old lady who is convinced to give her last 100$ from her SS check so an adulterous preacher can buy his new mistress or boi toy a fur coat at the expense of a battered woman who is turned away from an overcrowded church shelter? those are the people who truly suffer because of offensive hypocritical “belief.” atheists have nothing to do with that.”

  • Ugh. My least favorite part was the awful “Dallas had the COURAGE to stand up for God.” Um, really? Dallas banned all religious ads. Fine, their call. I think it’s a bit silly myself, but it’s fair. It’s certainly hard to see how that takes courage, though. If anything, that’s the easy out. It’s the Fort Worth T that is having the courage to tell these people they are insane.

    I’m SOO sorry that I exist, christians of the world. Oh wait. I’m not.

  • Alex

    Of course there would be an uproar over people being good without god. It’s bad for business. Church business that is.

  • Jeff

    It’s getting to a point at which I don’t even want to turn on the computer in the morning.

  • Chakolate

    What hypocrisy! Every one of those ministers has a car – but they’re organizing a boycott of the buses, so that their poorest sheep will have to make other arrangements. What jerks!

  • Yeah! That’s right! Somebody’s gotta stand up for the, umn, the almighty, uh…the all-powerful…erm…stand up for him, yeah.

  • Rich Wilson

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    yes, I know, later he says

    the glory of the Lord shall be revealed

    Still, there’s something deliciously ironic about a bunch of black ministers judging people on something other than the content of their character.

  • Jeff

    @ Chakolate:

    What hypocrisy! Every one of those ministers has a car – but they’re organizing a boycott of the buses, so that their poorest sheep will have to make other arrangements. What jerks!

    The civil rights boycotters in the sixties were very well organized. Those who had cars drove those who didn’t to and from work.

    Dr. King, Rosa Parks and their colleagues were heroes. These people are just angry, spoiled children having a tantrum because someone dared to say something that made them confront their own repressed doubt.

  • As to whether we atheists should kick it up a notch and get meaner with our ads, I think we should take the moral high ground and stick to the current course of rational, humorous discourse. It makes the religitards’ “we are offended” reaction that much more ridiculous. As others have said, CoR got their money’s worth and then some on this run, and their own reaction to the “controversy” makes them look even better. Once the discussion gets emotional, it will degenerate into a shouting match and then reasonable people on either side will just stop listening altogether.

    Thank you for that, grneyedmonster. I did need talking down. You are so right.

    chicago dyke, man, that would be a beautiful thing to see but why do I suspect that even if an Atheist leader went on TV and said those things, they’d fucking edit it out?

  • Rich Wilson

    Re: Kicking it up a notch

    On one of those Star-Telegram articles, one of my comments included

    Would you prefer we say “Millions of Americans are Bad with God”?

    We have to recognize that some envision a de-facto DADT environment. They’ll acknowledge that we have the right to free speech, just so long as we don’t actually exercise it.
    Maybe the next one should be “Atheists and Agnostics Exist. Deal.”

  • Icaarus

    And to think I have not heard nearly this response to the CFI’s “Extraordinary Claims” campaign. So far all I can find is one blog post on the National Post. What would have happened if the CFI’s posters were in Fort Worth? Would riots ensue?

    I really think that constitutional law should be a mandatory subject of seminary. It would make those ‘ministers’ realize that they have the right to complain all they want, but they are not protected from threats, slander, deformation, or actions which result in significant loss of income for another private entity. Reading the bill of rights should be mandatory.

  • DicePlayGod

    It is truly remarkable how many people act as if freedom of religion and freedom of speech actually mean freedom of religion and freedom of speech for themselves only.

  • Icaarus

    @DicePlayGod

    First, love the name

    Second, that is why I dislike the term freedom of religion, I much prefer the stronger statement and requirements of freedom from religion.

  • Candycoatedwaterdrops

    I guess I’m living in a completely different world. I’m in Indiana, and I’ve yet to notice any religious advertising. It could be that I am a Christian, and since the ads don’t go against what I believe this time of year, I don’t really notice. I think that we’re more apt to notice the things that challenge our beliefs. If I were to ask an Atheist in my area about Christian advertising, they would probably be more able to point it out. One thing Christians fail to realize is that in America, we are a majority, so we don’t really see the oppression that other religions face in the United States. Things that we may overlook because they are things that we agree with (such as the pledge of allegiance or the printing on our currency) may be offensive to someone else.
    Although, I do not agree with the Atheist beliefs, I feel that if any religious advertising is permitted, it all should be permitted. We are all Americans. America was formed because our founders were being forced to believe a certain way; they wanted freedom to believe how they wanted. So, here we are. There are many religious views in America today. Some people are strongly religious, others are not. Of course, we’re going to have disagreements. I remember a few years back, a friend of mine told me “Many things in life are like a buffet, you take what you want, and leave the rest.” If there’s something that I find offensive, especially in advertising, I ignore it.
    What I have noticed with many religions, not just Christianity, is the majority feel that other religious views are wrong. Of course we think we’re right. Who wants to think they’re wrong? And if we’re right, what does that make anyone who opposes us? Even in the comments on this page, someone mentions the ‘repressed doubt’ of Christians. Sometimes, I wonder how things would be if we all agreed to disagree.