An atheist organization seeking to show families that they can be "great without God" or religion during Easter weekend received some setback after organizers were told the ads were inappropriate for the Texas theater targeted in the campaign.
The original version of the ads feature a number of families from different racial and ethnic backgrounds declaring in unison: "We are great without God." The Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, the organization behind the campaign, was under the impression that a deal had been reached with the Movie Tavern in Arlington, Texas, to run the ads from April 7-8, which overlaps with several Jewish and Christian holy days.
The DFW Coalition of Reason had paid a deposit and only found out about the decision to cancel the ads on March 27, Fox 4 reported.
"It was reported that an advertisement of religious nature was scheduled to run in one of our locations. That is incorrect. Movie Tavern has not and will not run ads of a religious nature in any of our locations," the company said in a direct statement.
Zach Moore, a spokesman for the Coalition, explained that they had originally reached a deal with ScreenVision, a third-party company based in New York that handles Movie Tavern's ads. The Coalition had even cooperated with ScreenVision to rework the initial version of the ad to tone it down and remove references to God – the new message would have simply stated "We are great without religion."
"I absolutely think it's a knee jerk reaction on the part of Movie Tavern," Moore expressed. "I don't think they really thought it through. I don't think they realized how much negative reaction there is in the community to atheists and again, this is something we have to deal with."
The spokesman shared that he was disappointed but not surprised by the decision, and never misled anyone about the true nature of the ads.
"I explained to them: 'Look we are the DFW Coalition of Reason. We represent atheists, agnostics and freethinkers,' he said. "They were perfectly willing to work with us, up until basically yesterday."
The ads would have run at the movie theater for six months and cost the group $3,000. The Coalition's initial deposit is being refunded.
In a similar story earlier this month, another organization, the NEPA Freethought Society, was turned away from plastering city buses in the County of Lackawanna, Pa., with posters promoting atheism, after the Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) explained that ads of a religious nature were not allowed on its vehicles.