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Arkansas Atheists Sue To Run Ads for a God-Free Lifestyle

Arkansas Atheists Sue To Run Ads for a God-Free Lifestyle

A group of atheists in Arkansas is suing a local bus line, saying that they are overcharging them to run ads praising a life without God.  The ads, which read “Are you good without God?  Millions are,” would cost about $5,000, but the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) is charging an additional $36,000 for insurance coverage, because of the alleged risk of vandalism by angry Christian groups.

The insurance was requested by CATA’s advertising agency, On the Move Advertising.  Someone from the agency said in an email, “Arkansas is the buckle of the Bible Belt and I can easily envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group of atheists by UnitedCoR, a national group that focuses on organizing local atheist and agnostic groups.  Other ads run by United CoR have been vandalized, but they also advertised in another city in Arkansas last year without incident.

A spokesman for the atheist group said that his group is being punished by CATA and their advertising firm.  “The insurance money needed from us basically says CATA and On The Move trust the atheists in this community more so than the religious, otherwise the churches that advertise would have that extra insurance premium added to their total cost,” he said.

In a statement on their website, UnitedCoR argued, “The First Amendment prohibits CATA, as a governmental entity, from using its disfavor of the nontheistic message of UnitedCoR’s ads as a reason for refusing to run them on its buses.  CATA…may not impose burdensome requirements, such as a damage deposit, on speech it labels ‘controversial.’”

It’s certainly possible that these ads would be vandalized.  But UnitedCoR also seems right to say that the additional insurance payment is so great as to make the advertising impossible.  If religious organizations are allowed to advertise on Arkansas buses, then surely they should also be required to pay for insurance coverage as well, if such fees are imposed on atheists.

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Photo from Atheist Bus Canada's Flickr photostream.

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198 comments

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10:32AM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

Desmond, I imagine the "probably" is in there because most atheists (unlike most believers) are open to the possibility of changing their beliefs based on new evidence.

4:42AM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

The entire commentary is blather--personal biases abound. Nary an enlightening word in the bunch.

7:34AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

He can post his thoughts a I am sure to live with my own belief.

2:31PM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

"envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out.”

Oh, I just love that quote! How can you be an upstanding citizen and then be perceived as a vandal and saboteur? Vandalism and sabotage are not what is normally associated with either upstanding citizens and/or xtians!
Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion and a constitutionally protected right to express that anywhere in the country.

But it only goes to show how violent all religions re when it come to criticism of their believers. Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do is to ban them all and get rid of a majority of all problems facing us living on this rock in the Universe.

4:13AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

And here I thought I was just being lazy really, equating this sort of discrimination to the first thing that came to my mind - slavery - but two articles later I come across a similar preventative mentality by blatant racists discriminating against blacks: http://www.care2.com/causes/arkansas-high-school-wont-let-african-american-student-be-valedictorian.html
Why?
Because it might cause problems with some racists getting upset and acting out, just like this bus ad might make some religious get upset and act out.

Whatever happened to just doing the right thing and dealing with the consequences appropriately?

3:49AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Anyway..

The bus company is probably right in expecting or fearing Christian vandalism of their buses, just as we atheists have to worry about Christians vandalizing our cars, and just as we environmentalists in overly redneck areas have to worry about loggers and ranchers and such vandalizing our cars and homes and even stalking us because of our bumperstickers.
I was once even threatened with physical harm and vandalism of my car by a gas station owner for having the nerve to pull into his station with an anti-clearcutting sticker on my window.
Too bad I didn't get a recording of it.

That said, it's clearly not fair to put the financial burden on the innocent atheists.
If the bus company is going to run ads on their buses, they should accept that they will have to cover any damages that might result from that advertising and purchase insurance accordingly, and if they wish to pass that cost on to advertisers, they should do so evenly to all.

6:04AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

In photo it says "There's 'probably' no God" HUN! Doesn't sound very atheist to me. Are there kinda sorta atheists?

5:38AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

People with opinions just go around bothering each other. BUDDHIST QUOTE

5:03AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Re: "vandalism by angry Christian groups" and "zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out" perhaps these persons are not using their faith correctly. Pray for the strength to be tolerant, turn the other cheek. The ad client should not be liable for the persons who do damage, the criminal should.

Realize that your path and faith are not the same as everyone else and that it is not your place to change this, they may not be lost. Your religion is your own personal path, you are given that freedom. We must still abide by the laws of our nation.

4:42AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

This country was built on the principles of religious freedom---it includes the choice not to believe in a creator.

Vandalisme MUST BE PUNISH...no matter who does it...OR do certain people have special priviledges!!

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