DART Says It Didn't Single Out Nontheists' Ad. It's Just Not Using Buses As "Public Forum."
This morning we received this photo and the accompanying press release, which announced: "Godless Ads Go on Ft. Worth Buses December 1." That's per the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, which says the campaign is "designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god." Maybe you'll recognize the name of the coalition's coordinator, Terry McDonald -- chair of the Metroplex Atheists, who'd planned last year to put up this billboard along Stemmons.
Busboard announcement aside, one thing about the press release stands out: McDonald's allegation that they wanted to run the ads in Dallas as well, but "when we approached DART, they chose to stop running all religiously-related ads rather than include ours." And so, to Dallas Area Rapid Transit Director of Media Relations Morgan Lyons we go.
"That's not entirely accurate," Lyons says when forwarded the release. "We made a decision over a year ago that we weren't going to sell ads to any religious group. ... We've been approached by these folks and others, and our position was we didn't want to get into creating a public forum with the public buses. Our core business is to operate buses and not to operate a forum for discussion, so we made a decision to step away from all religion-related or faith-based ads. That's the last we'd heard of 'em."
Every now and then, of course, DART comes under fire for its busboard policy. In '08, there was the ruckus over those Family Place ads. And last year it rejected a movie ad showing just a little too much panty. But if the Fort Worth Transportation Authority wants to run 'em, Lyons says, fair enough: "Transit agencies across the country take different approaches, and this is the decision we made over a year ago."
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