ACLU-IN and Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign Sue Bloomington, IN Bus Company
May 8, 2009
Bloomington, IN bus company says this ad is too controversial.
ACLU of Indiana and the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign (INABC) have filed a lawsuit against the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation for refusing to allow a bus sign that says, "You Can Be Good Without God." INABC was formed by some concerned citizens and Indiana University students (Secular Alliance of IU) . The group plans to run bus ads in other Indiana cities but the first was to be Bloomington where the main campus of Indiana University is located. Meanwhile, they are moving forward with efforts in other cities.
The bus company has a policy under which it can refuse any advertisement that it considers to be controversial. The ACLU complaint considers this policy "unconstitutionally vague in violation of due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and is violative of INABC’s rights under the First Amendment."
While it seems that they have not allowed any overtly religious signs to be displayed, there are ads for the YMCA and labor unions as well as for traditional commercial businesses, not-for-profits such as a provider of services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and for events connected with Indiana University.
Charlie Sitzes, a major backer of the INABC, says of the ad, "It isn’t an attack on religion but an affirmation of a different point of view. The only way a person could remotely construe the message as harmful and too controversial even to be seen is if it conflicts with a pre-conceived and false belief that atheism is wicked and immoral. It’s too bad that such prejudice is still so prevalent in America."
In my opinion, this is a great message to put out there. Too many people think that you have to be religious to be a moral person. They don’t know they have a choice. They think that it is a given that there is a god, that everyone believes there is a god, and if you don’t believe in god you are a bad person. We secular humanists know that is not true. When I give talks to groups and when I talk with people who come into our center, I give them a copy of Affirmations of Humanism . The Common Moral Decencies cut across all cultures and religions. Take away the theology and "god stuff" and that is what you have—those values that have been proven throughout the history of mankind to allow people to live in harmony, to respect each other, and to achieve their fullest potential has human beings.
When I am driving to and from CFI Indiana nearly every day from my home in Greenwood (about 10 mile), I pass numerous churches, some with signs that tell me that I will be "left behind" or "go to hell" if I do not believe the way they do and a large billboard that says "Avoid Hell, Repent Today." So is it not controversial to post these religious signs but controversial to post "You Can Be Good Without God"?