Yesterday, I learned that a dispute has broken out in Des Moines, Iowa – home town of anglophile Bill Bryson. Iowa atheists paid for the above bus ad compaign that was initially pulled and then reinstated by the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) officials on Friday. The excuse was that they had never allowed the word “God” in any advertisement for a church. After meeting with representatives from the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers group on Friday afternoon, DART officials decided to reinstate the adverts. However, DART will also be updating advertising policies to clearly communicate its position to uphold both civil liberties and the protection of citizens from that which is obscene or profane.
Methinks that DART are going to shift the goalposts on this one as they found that commuters did not want to ride on buses displaying the ad. “Drivers said people weren’t getting on buses or getting off the buses because of it,” said advertising director Kirstin Baer-Harding. “So with all the calls, it wasn’t something we wanted.”
Was the atheist campaign offensive? What do you think?
UPDATE: Just learned that a driver has been suspended for refusing to drive one of the buses. As one of her bosses points out it would be like a government employee claiming a religious right to refuse to work with someone of a different faith. “When you work for the government, part of your job is to respect the rights of your fellow citizens, and you cannot use your religious beliefs to evade that responsibility,” he said.