Saturday, August 15, 2009

City: OK to Denigrate God, but NOT OK to Advocate God

A dispute about bus advertisements seeking to publicize atheist views has touched off a free speech debate after the signs were torn down—then posted again—on the sides of Des Moines city buses.

-- From "Athiest bus ads create free speech debate in Iowa" by Michael J. Crumb, Associated Press Writer 8/14/09

The ads, sponsored by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, pictured white puffy clouds against a blue sky and read: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority stripped the signs after receiving complaints, then after meeting with the atheist group, reversed course and put the ads back up.

The ad campaign is part of an expanding national effort by Washington D.C.-based United Coalition for Reason, which has placed ads on buses or billboards in several cities, including Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, Phoenix, New Orleans, Charleston, S.C., Philadelphia, Kansas City, Mo., Denver, Boulder, Colo., Long Beach, Calif., and Moscow, Idaho.

The issue with the ads in Des Moines was with the word God, said Elizabeth Prusetti, chief development officer for the bus agency.

"We have never allowed that word in our advertising, promoting a religion," she said. "We've never used the word God in any advertising to maintain some autonomy. We've had churches advertise but it's been for their church and not a belief."

The United Coalition of Reason, which works to raise the visibility of nontheists and to improve the way they are perceived by average Americans, said the ad campaign is fueled in part by the prevalence of mainstream discussion of religious beliefs. Fred Edwords, the spokesman for United Coalition of Reason, said the environment in the country has begun to shift, in part because of President Barack Obama's acknowledgment of nonreligious people during his inaugural address, when he said "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers."

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.