DART Ducks Out of the God Biz.

Vaya con Dios: This morning we received a photo and a press announcement: "Godless Ads Go on Fort Worth Buses December 1." The image was of a bus with a large exterior banner ad that read "Millions of Americans are Good Without God."

That's true. Of course, it's equally true that millions of Americans are complete bastards with or without God. So what's the point?

Well, the ad's sponsor, the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, says the campaign is "designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god." Terry McDonald, chair of the Metroplex Atheists, planned last year to put up a similar billboard along Stemmons Freeway.

One other thing about the press release stands out: McDonald says 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. "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."

OK, so give DART points for smarts for not wanting to get in an uncivil debate, but as one regular DART-riding staffer assures Buzz, any good Dallas bus-rider knows that they'll never get God off the bus. As in: "Sweet Jesus, it's raining. Please don't let the 409 be late again," and "Dear God, that is the stinkiest street-person B.O. I've ever smelled!" Then there was the trip down Oak Lawn Avenue a few months ago when storm sirens wailed as a tornado rolled across Love Field. "It's a tornader!" one passenger yelled. We suspect there were a few prayers.

Every now and then, of course, DART comes under fire for its bus board policy. In '08, there was a ruckus over Family Place ads about domestic abusers. And last year DART 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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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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