More Publicity for the Fort Worth Atheist Bus Ads December 13, 2010

More Publicity for the Fort Worth Atheist Bus Ads

It’s amazing how much publicity a couple atheist ads can get.

For a while, American Atheists President Dave Silverman was seen all over FOX News Channel for the “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason!” billboard.

Now, the Dallas – Forth Worth Coalition of Reason bus ad is getting attention from the New York Times.

A quick history: After the ad above went up on four buses earlier in the month, some Christians boycotted the transit system and one Christian group stalked the buses with Christianized vehicles of their own.

And they’re not letting up:

“We just wanted to reach out to them and let them know about God’s love,” said Heath Hill, president of the media company that owns the van and one of the businessmen who arranged for the Christian ads. “We have gotten some pretty nasty e-mails and phone calls from atheists. But it’s really just about the love of God.”

“It’s a season to share good will toward all men,” Mr. [Rev. Kyev] Tatum [Sr.] said. “To have this at this time come out with a blatant disrespect of our faith, we think is unconscionable.”

“I’m not against them getting their message out,” said the Rev. Julius L. Jackson, pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. “I just don’t think it should be on public transportation.”

One pastor is quoted as saying the atheist ads are fine, but it’s the Christians who think Christmas is the only thing worth celebrating this time of year who get the most space.

Despite all this, Terry McDonald of the (DFWCoR member) Metroplex Atheists is the voice of reason:

“We want to tell people they are not alone”… “People don’t realize there are other atheists. All you hear around here is, ‘Where do you go to church?’”

“It can be pretty lonely for a nonbeliever at Christmastime around here. There is so much religion,” Mr. McDonald said. “We thought, ‘What the heck? Nobody owns December.’ ”

Clearly a hatemonger…

As long as the Christians complain, these ads will keep springing up in new cities. United Coalition of Reason director Fred Edwords explains why when discussing the Fort Worth controversy:

“That’s more brouhaha for the buck than we have seen anywhere,” Mr. Edwords said.

Keep the ads coming, both positive and blunt. The reactions keep our message in the spotlight and the spokespeople keep things reasonable.

It’s the critics who come off as bad sports.

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  • Cindy

    “We have gotten some pretty nasty e-mails and phone calls from atheists.”

    Yeah, right. Can I see some of these nasty emails as proof? They probably are very mild and reasoned, yet disagree with her viewpoint so are “nasty”.

  • I LOVE being an atheist in Texas!

  • James

    I agree with Cindy, I want to see some of these nasty emails, make sure to include the headers please.

  • I read an online Texas newspaper earlier (sorry no link) and the comments were off the hook…in a bad, atheists are not cool way. Proud of the Texas atheist and their/our bus adds. Keep it up.

    Kriss

  • Nothing like taking advantage of the “bad press good press” mantra, even if that was not the original intent.

  • ThilinaB

    We have gotten some pretty nasty e-mails and phone calls from atheists

    Lets compare some of those to … http://atheistmovies.blogspot.com/2010/11/hate-e-mails-with-richard-dawkins.html
    (If they were available for us that is…)

    “I’m not against them getting their message out,” said the Rev. Julius L. Jackson, pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. “I just don’t think it should be on public transportation.”

    So much FAIL in that statement.
    The ad is paid for privately.
    And i guess he has every right to say that, i mean its not like christians have ever used public property to advertise. And they wouldn’t even think of using taxpayer money to promote their religion.

    Also gotta love the “I’m not against them getting their message out,” line. I guess its the bigots version of “Some of my best friends are gay…” line every homophobe says before speaking.

  • Rich Wilson

    “I’m not against them getting their message out,” said the Rev. Julius L. Jackson, pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. “I just don’t think it should be on public transportation.”

    Ok Mr. Rev. where are we allowed to speak then?

  • We have already received new members into the DFW area meetups from people that had no idea there were any freethinking groups in the area! All of the media attention and religious backlash is giving us much more attention that we could have ever afforded via more bus ads. It is also opening up wonderful dialog with local churches that do not oppose our signs and allowing us to truly see why some do.

  • Darryl

    The more we can shake up that f****d-up state, in any way that is in the slightest degree rational, the better. I can think of no better place to provoke the know-nothings than in the great state of Texas.

  • Hamilton Jacobi

    Much as I hate to admit it, it seems the Reverend Jackson is on pretty solid legal ground. Here’s the text of the first amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, except on public transportation, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • Sarah

    Hamilton, this does not involve the creation of any laws, nor is the government endorsing atheism. It’s a paid bus ad like any other. Would you have me assume that the city of Dallas was really recommending GrownUps to me this June, or assume it was just a paid promotion?

    To call separation of church and state here would be to go too far.

  • parv

    Somebody please fix the spelling of “Fort Worth”; “Forth Worth” is driving me insane.

  • Valhar2000

    Sarah:

    You saw Hamilton’s quote clearly, didn’t you? The Government is not allowed to curtail the free speech of individuals, except when it comes to public transportation. When you are in, on, above or under a bus, the government calls all the shots. It’s right there in the Constitution!

    Unless, of course, Hamilton’s quote is not entirely accurate… but that cannot be! All theists are physically incapable of lying, right?

  • Bill

    “Ok Mr. Rev. where are we allowed to speak then?”
    Stop being so shrill and militant!

  • Hamilton, you might have a point if buses didn’t let churches and other religious groups advertise. Since they do, they’ve no grounds for not allowing the CoR’s ads. In fact, to do so would be discrimination. Rev. Jackson never cared about religious advertising on buses until now. Hmmm, wonder why that is.

    If I had the money, I’d sponsor some ads myself. I’d ask hoverfrog for permission to use his poster that I’ve adopted as gravatar. That’s pretty benign. We are here! Damn it. Get over it and obey Jesus already. Remember that bit Xians about judging not lest ye be judged?

    (The poster actually reads, “We are here. We exist.” It doesn’t get more benign than that but wanna bet offense would still be taken?)

  • Alex

    Chasing after buses with atheist ads is not an expression of free speech, it’s a method of intimidation.

  • Rich Wilson

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, except on public transportation, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    (we do all know the 1st amendment by heart, right?)

  • The Captain

    “To have this at this time come out with a blatant disrespect of our faith, we think is unconscionable.”

    This is why I fight against religion. So the acknowledgement that there are non-christians is “disrespect” to his faith? This is what’s so scary about many religious people. What the Rev Tatum really means is non-christians must be “in the closet” or he’s offended. Well other than being the most hissy christian-PC position it also leads to the next step that the mere existence on non-christians is “disrespectful” to them. I can here his speech now “To have them at this time exist is a blatant disrespect of our faith, we think is unconscionable.”

  • “Public Transportation” is rarely a government funded entity. It is “public” in that it is available for the public to use, but in most cases it is owned and run by a private company. It is paid for mostly by fares paid by the customer and by advertising. As for the Reverend’s statement, it will only hold water when advertising for any and all faiths are banned from “public transportation”.

  • Scott Mercer

    Lisa:

    Not sure where you live, but in my experience, public transportation is MOST DEFINITELY a public entity, run by government (usually a county government, but sometimes a city government) and paid for by taxpayer dollars. Not privately owned at all.

    That’s why there’s usually so much uproar about using “my tax money” to build new infrastructure such as rail lines, and complaining that the cost of operating the services are “not profitable” because fare box revenues only cover a part of the annual operating expenses (usually around 50 percent, but at times even less…even the heavily used New York City subway system only gets about 65 percent of its operating budget from farebox revenues).

    If you live some lightly populated area where the only public transportation is limited bus service, a private company may be operating the service, but even in that case the local government likely subsidizes the service. It used to be the case that buses and trains were mostly privately owned, but that hasn’t been true since World War II.

  • Freedom of speech and capitalism should be in support of any bill boards or bus ads that arent stating anything that would incite violence.

  • Ron

    We have christian leaders to thank for their contribution to our cause. By generating massive media coverage we have reached many people all across the DFW Metro area. Something the 4 bus signs could never reach.

    Before the signs went up in Fort Worth there was lots of media coverage. The result has been dozens of new members to the DFWCor member groups.

    Again thank you christian leaders for contributing to the DFW area Atheist cause.

  • Stephen P

    I see in the NYT article that the bus boycott has had “limited success”. Anyone happen to know how limited?

  • Hamilton Jacobi

    Gee, Rich, all the fun is gone now that you’ve made it obvious like that.

  • Rich, the issue is if it’s appropriate on a government entity. Any place I’ve lived they’ve been run by the City or County. So it’s a gray area. If your view of looking at it were correct, then it’d be fine to put up 10 Commandments in courtrooms.

    However, as I said, if they accept advertisements from religious organizations (personally, I don’t think they should and it always ticked me off riding them because I knew the bus was supported by the City), then they should have to likewise carry ours or those of religious minorities.

    We should really put this to the test by finding some Satanist group and encouraging them to put up ads. Hopefully, seeing ours go up will encourage one to. Even the most broad-minded Xians who claim to tolerate other religions and the nonreligious freak at those they perceive to worship Satan. (Of course, the real idiots perceive us as doing so. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why I do, hell, I’d have retired even earlier.)