The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority has reportedly removed advertisements that the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers placed on local buses after complaints from residents:
Some ads rolling through the Des Moines area on DART busses are stirring up controversy. The ads appeared innocent enough, but Monday, DART removed them.
The ads, paid for by the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, say “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
“We wanted to do it in order to let people know — who are atheists, free-thinkers, secular humanists — that they are not alone, that there are places for them to go and meet people and to be involved,” says Randy Henderson, president of the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers.
DART claims it received numerous phone calls from people who were offended by the ads, and that the signs had been installed before the advertising commission had approved them.
IAF says DART has not returned its phone calls and that they’re left feeling puzzled and frustrated.
“Very disappointed, very upset, frustrated. We thought we were doing something to reach out to people, to help people, to let people know that they had a place to go that they could meet with people of a common mind,” says Henderson.
DART has assured IAF that it will refund all of the money for the ads.
DART admits it has run advertisements from Christian churches in the past.
Call me crazy, but I suspect that if the DARTH had removed Christian advertisements from its buses in this manner, they would have found themselves inundated with outraged complaints from Religious Right groups like the American Family Association and lawsuits from the likes of the Alliance Defense Fund or Liberty Counsel
The article says that even “local conservative Christian church leaders have agreed the group should be allowed to run the ads,” but I highly doubt that any of the national Religious Right groups are going to come to the defense of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers in this situation … and frankly wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them actually come to DART’s defense should IAF decide to sue.