Debate Prompts Fort Worth to Adopt Ban on Religious, Atheist Ads

The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, or The T, adopted a policy Wednesday night that bans buses and bus benches from carrying religious ads.

The adoption came weeks after atheist ads declaring "Millions of Americans are good without God" were launched on four city buses. The ads sparked debate and drew criticism from residents who considered the campaign an insult to Christianity, especially during the Christmas season.

Some ministers organized a boycott and others called on The T to ban all religious advertising.

Already, The T does not accept ads related to politics, tobacco, alcohol, pornography and obscenity. But the board of directors' revision to existing guidelines expanded the list of banned ads to include religious, nontheistic or faith-based ads.

"The agency's staff recommended adding the exclusion of any faith-based ads because of the distraction from its core business and excessive staff time that have been required to respond to the recent controversy over religious versus atheist ads on The T's buses," The T stated.

The new advertising policy also includes a specific exclusion of defamatory messages targeting individuals or specific groups.

The "Good without God" ads were sponsored by the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason. The group said the campaign was designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god and to guide those interested to the 15 area nontheistic groups that make up the DFW coalition.

The atheist group had also planned to run the ads on Dallas buses, but the Dallas Area Rapid Transit rejected the campaign.

A monthlong campaign, the atheist ads will be allowed to remain on the Forth Worth buses until the agreement ends later this month.

A blue mobile billboard truck carrying a pro-Christian message is currently shadowing the buses. The billboard reads "I still love you. – God" and "2.1 billion people are good with God."

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