You can’t use the word ‘God’ on Iowa buses – whoops, oh yes you can!

ATHEIST Bus Campaign posters were stripped off vehicles operated by the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority shortly after they were sponsored by Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers.


The reason given for their removal was the use of the word “God”.

Elizabeth Prusetti, chief development officer for the bus agency, said:

We have never allowed that word in our advertising, promoting a religion. 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.

According to this report, which, incidentally misspells “atheist” in the headline – unforgivable! – Lilly Kryuchkov, spokeswoman for Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, said the group was surprised by the bus agency’s decision and believed its right to free speech was being trampled.

We were not trying to offend anybody. We were just trying to reach out to people like us who don’t believe in God and we were surprised and disappointed that DART pulled the ads.

But when the atheists challenged the bus company, it quickly backed down, and the ads were reinstated.

Prusetti explained that a breakdown in communication within the bus agency led to the ads being put on 20 buses by mistake. The agency’s general manager and the chairwoman of the agency’s commission determined that the signs were inappropriate, she said, and that the message was not communicated to the maintenance department that puts the signs on the buses. The mixup, not complaints from citizens, led to the removal of the ads, she said.

The agency, however, has since decided its advertising policy was outdated, and is changing it to better align with other policies regarding civil rights, the state’s obscenity and profanity laws and the diversity of the community, said Brad Miller, the agency’s general manager.

By honoring the freedoms protected through our shared civil liberties, DART … will be in the position of displaying messages and images that may be controversial or uncomfortable to some, but legal and protected by civil rights.

Prusetti said the agency did not specifically address religion in its old advertising policy and that the decision not to have the word God appear in ads has just been continued on over the years. She said the word God will be allowed under the new advertising policy.

The ad campaign is part of an expanding national effort by Washington DC-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, SC, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Mo, Denver, Boulder, Colo, Long Beach, Calif, and Moscow, Idaho.

The UCR, which works to raise the visibility of nontheists and to improve the way they are perceived by average Americans, said the ad campaign is fuelled in part by the prevalence of mainstream discussion of religious beliefs. Spokesman Fred Edwords said the environment in the country has begun to shift, in part because of President Barack Obama’s acknowledgment of non-religious people during his inaugural address, when he said:

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and nonbelievers.

Edwords added:

We’re in the right moment right now where we’re motivated to speak out, and we have the opportunity and enough of a level of acceptance that we’re willing to do so. We aren’t the pariahs we once were.

11 responses to “You can’t use the word ‘God’ on Iowa buses – whoops, oh yes you can!”

  1. Buffy says:

    All of the whining over the various atheist bus and billboard campaigns just proves what whiny, intolerant wankers so many religious believers are. They demand so much respect for their beliefs and all the associated trappings and have monuments to their existence on every corner. Yet they blow a gasket at the mere mention that atheists exist. They're as bad with atheists as they are with gay people. We're supposed to stay quietly in the closet so their fragile sensibilities don't get hurt. Puke.

  2. Broga says:

    I wonder when the last publicly funded bastion of vicious, bigotted smarm will fall on the BBC. Yes, I do mean Thought for the Day. And I do hope the sick twat who stated, ex cathedra – it wasn't the Pope – that "There will be no non faith people on TFOD" should be booted out with it. He behaves as if he owns the BBC. What is he: a parasite on the licence payers who have to fund his exorbitant salary or be faced with time in the slammer. There are signs that the religious mafia are in trouble. Let us get rid of that piece of smarm and sanctimonious junk now and, not, as I hear they are saying "We need to consider this and move towards its removal in a few years." No you don't. Clear off now and take Ann – Yappy Vicar's Wife – Atkins with you.

  3. William Harwood says:

    I would like to suggest that as many persons as possible make a printout of Broga's comment and mail it to: Director General, BBC, P.O. Box 1922, Glascow G2 3WT.

  4. barriejohn says:

    It does indeed seem strange that representatives of a host of different "faiths" are welcome to express their views on TFTD, even though the beliefs of many of them are mutually exclusive, and even though some of them consider many of the others to be spawn of the Devil! However, someone who has the view that there is no god, no spirit, and no afterlife – perfectly sensible and rational ideas that do not in any way stir up animosity towards other groups or individuals – is precluded from taking part. It's a most peculiar sort of logic!!

  5. barriejohn says:

    BTW Ann Atkins is not just a lippy vicar's wife; she is a narrow-minded, ignorant, opinionated, homophobic bigot. How on earth she can be allowed to continue to peddle the ill-informed tripe that she does on a national radio service is beyond me (and many others)!

  6. Cyberguy says:

    It seems to me that the controversy that follows whenever an atheist bus advertisement appears is very good for atheism. The religious mafia (great phrase, thanks Broga) start raving and foaming and looking stupid, and we get additional coverage that we couldn't even buy.

    I think the atheist bus ads should continue, and constantly push the boundaries of what will be accepted, while remaining factually correct and unarguable.

    In other words, the ads should be like a pointy stick used to goad the fundamentalists, as their reaction makes our case.

  7. Bob123 says:

    I agree with the free speech of the Iowa atheists but, of course, free speech works both ways. If a Christian group wish to dsplay Bible verses then that also should be allowed. A free exchange of beliefs, without censorship, is essential in a democracy.

  8. Adam Tjaavk says:

    What? – has there been concerted attempts to deny
    Christians fair treatment? – I hadn't noticed.


  9. piltdown man says:

    “Spokesman Fred Edwords said the environment in the country has begun to shift, in part because of President Barack Obama’s acknowledgment of non-religious people during his inaugural address…”

    Ah, of course King Barry gets some of the credit because he mentioned us in one line of one of a thousand speeches. I’m not sure that I like him getting any credit for this. Didn’t all of his pro-Christian/pro-Theist rhetoric in his campaign alarm anyone else? I swear that sometimes I thought I was listening to a Conservative. Whatever it takes to get elected though, right?
    Let us give credit where credit is due; to the honest, law abiding, and good “non-religious people” that are not intimidated by the societal norms of Western religiosity and all that comes with non-adherence. I think that those who profess their uncharacteristic beliefs, or non-belief, and offer a decent life as an example are the ones responsible for the shift in environment. I will also add that, based on my own experiences rather than the horror stories in the press, the environment in the country began to shift long before Obama was elected as President.


  10. barriejohn says:

    "I swear that sometimes I thought I was listening to a Conservative." Then you answer your own question: "Whatever it takes to get elected." I think it was quite brave of him to insert that clause in his speech, though wise to leave it until he had been elected! There are a great number of Americans who really do believe that it is impossible to be in any way moral unless you are a Christian, as you must know. I don't think that view is nearly so prevalent here in the UK, though I have just been listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury claiming, quite audaciously, that any morality shown by atheists does in fact emanate from God, but they just don't realize it!!

  11. Broga says:

    Thank you for your comments. I think the BBC really is beginning to wonder just how solid is their Thought for the Day “Long standing institution which is only five minutes and the only entirely non secular few minutes on the BBC”. Indeed, that was the reply I received a couple of years ago. The difference now is that “those who do not have a faith” (that was one I received about four years ago as I seem to have a try every couple of years) are becoming more determined and public and I think this is a partly an effect of the Internet. One consequence of this, apart from eluding the censorship, is that literate, educated contributors are more interesting than the so boring repetition that passes for “facts, discussion etc” from the religious contributors. Further, and I think I discovered this from a contributor here, the bile that spews from Ann Atkins, is able to be exposed for hypocrisy when her feelings are revealed on a christian site: on TOFD Atkins views, repellent though they are, still skulk under a patina of what the BBC Religious Mafia regards as acceptable.