Atheists Say Transit System Punted Their Ads

May 6, 2015

By Erin Mcauley

An atheist organization, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, says in a lawsuit that a Pennsylvania transit system violated its free speech rights by refusing to run a bus advertisement for its website.

The ad at the center of the controversy states, “Atheists. NEPA Freethought Society.”

In its lawsuit filed in the Scranton, Pa. Federal Court, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Freethought Society claims that in February 2012, the Court of Lackawanna Transit System refused to lease advertising space for their message, believing it might “spark public debate and attacked religion.”

The group says the transit system adopted this position despite running “numerous advertisements from religious organizations and other ads that it later deemed to violate its policy.”

The plaintiffs claim the transit system has never turned down an advertisement in the past.

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10 comments on “Atheists Say Transit System Punted Their Ads

  • Are you referring to that crack in the Liberty Bell ?

    The Christians are, by definition, intolerant of opposing views. Jesus and his sword, come to divide families and all that. Where did Jesus ever invite public debate ? I await the Biblical answer, but I won’t hold my breath.

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  • I was surprised back in the 1970s to have every radio and TV station turn down my ad calling for nuclear disarmament to avoid accidental nuclear war. All it seemed to require to be banned was to be controversial or disturbing. I asked “who is a favour of accidental nuclear war?” It made me realise how many voices you don’t hear. They did not want anything that would break the mood for selling home furnishings.

    What happens if someone defaces a transit poster? Is the transit company on the hook at all? If so, I can see them wanting to avoid posters likely to be defaced.

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  • I’m fairly sure he did. that’s why the religious majority had him executed.

    then there was that question of tax exemption, on the whole he was agaisnt the idea. oh and he got really cross about how the established religion was conning the poor out of money as part of their membership agreement….

    plenty of biblical answers if you look but we’re not debating an old book of myths, we’re debating the people who tell you you’re not reading the book of myths properly

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  • You’re confusing debate with authoritarian statements. Jesus never entertained debate on what was right/wrong or which laws should/shouldn’t be followed.
    The religious majority did not have him executed. The area had many different belief systems that were allowed under Roman rule, of which that sect was not a majority player. That jewish sect also had it’s ass handed to it by the Romans… which is the reason for the sedition charges even though the jewish group was legally allowed to punish their own (and only their own). Having the Romans kill an upstart removed the jewish clergy’s culpability in his removal for ‘questioning’ their leadership.

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  • 7
    gothgirl says:

    I live in NEPA. It’s what’s known as a section of the “Pennsyltuckey” part of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia (SE) and Pittsburgh (NW) are the 2 bastions of intelligence and modernity while the huge swath in between is mired in superstition, ignorance, and conservatism. I’m not surprised at all that the people involved believed that the ad was “attacking religion”. They don’t seem to understand in these parts that there is no law or reason to NOT attack religion. They also don’t understand what the word “debate” means but that again is not surprising since most people in this area are nearly illiterate and wear this as a badge of honor. I lived elsewhere for many years – Seattle WA, and then Philadelphia, so I was able to come in contact with the rest of civilization. It’s telling to note that most people from NEPA have NEVER – repeat NEVER – left it, even for vacations. The insularity is astounding. Even after living elsewhere for over 30 years, it’s still as backwards as ever.

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  • 8
    gothgirl says:

    In regard to your thought about the posters being defaced, there is a lot of what I call religious vandalism in this area but no one seems to get too worked up about that. Wooden signs are constantly being nailed to defenseless trees saying rubbish like “beast is rising” and “honk for Jesus” and “one way Jesus” (whatever that means). They also paint on beautiful large pieces of slate and shale that dot the rural areas. I don’t think this adds to the natural beauty of the area (and, to be fair, NEPA does have a lot of natural beauty – mountains, forests, waterfalls, etc.) anymore than unintelligible graffiti but whenever I’ve complained about it, people look at me as if I have 2 heads. It’s a very, very, backwards area.

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  • 9
    gothgirl says:

    The part of Pennsylvania responsible for democracy was down to the south of NEPA, in Philadelphia. The rest of the state (barring the other large city of note in PA, Pittsburgh, to the NW of NEPA) is all for authoritarianism and vote Republican. You would not believe the nonsense that gets spouted daily on local TV news etc. It’s rather embarrassing. It might as well be 1850 here, not the 21st century.

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  • Mr DArcy
    May 6, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Are you referring to that crack in the Liberty Bell ?

    There was a rumour, that the Statue of Liberty was stuck on an offshore island, awaiting clearance from immigration!

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