It looks like you're using Internet Explorer. Might we
recommend another browser, such as Firefox or Safari?

Bloomington won’t defend bus system in lawsuit

That’s right. In an article in the Bloomington Herald Times(the local paper in the city where our lawsuit was filed) today:

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan said he disagrees with the BT policy and hes asked city governments legal department not to represent BT in court.

I felt strongly that the city shouldnt be defending on this issue, he said Thursday.

Bloomington Public Transportation Corp. operates as a separate municipal corporation, which contracts with the city of Bloomington legal department to provide legal services.

Kruzan said having city legal defend BT in court would amount to promoting government sanctioned censorship because the bus service gets city legals services at an hourly rate less than that of a private law firm, which is in essence a partial taxpayer subsidy.

This is in regards to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU in support of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign’s right to advertise on city buses. You can vote on whether or not you support the ads at the Herald Times website.

Yesterday, WFHB, a local radio station, did a “Voices in the Street” clip covering the bus campaign. It’s pretty shocking what some people are saying about atheists. A quote from one man:

Ya’ll atheist people, ya’ll are gonna die in a burning pit of hell, eternal pit of hellfire. Good luck.

However, we weren’t without supporters!

They should have the freedom of speech, that’s what we were given in the first amendment, right? Every other company can do it; why can’t they?

Download the audio clip on the ads here, or go to the WFHB website to listen to the full Daily Local News segment. (Our section starts around 22:45 and goes to 27:00.) Go to 25:47 to hear the first quote above; go to 25:55 to hear the second quote.

A few people mentioned the sentiment that it’s the “city’s call, because they pay for the buses, and they pay for the fuel.” This is a misleading argument, because the government, of course, represents the people. The bus system is not a private company with the right to refuse any ad. Saying it’s the city’s call is saying that it’s the people’s call. And atheists are members of our community just like Christians and Jews and agnostics and Buddhists and Sikhs, and any and all other religious groups.

32 comments May 15th, 2009

South Bend Ads Delayed (UPDATE)

SECOND UPDATE: As of Wednesday May 13, 6:00 PM, the campaign has now received a response from Burkhart Advertising in South Bend.

A representative of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign just spoke with Rob Miller, the Vice President of Burkhart Advertising, and got their response. Miller said that Burkhart approved our ad (the one saying “You can be good without God”) without having TRANSPO (the South Bend bus corporation) review it. Burkhart has an agreement with the bus company that TRANSPO must make the final decision on ads, however, so TRANSPO will be having a board meeting on Monday to review the ad and make a final decision. Miller said that if the ad is not approved by the board on Monday, they will refund our money.

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign was under the impression that our ad had been improved. It was, in fact, approved by Burkhart, and we paid in full and signed a contract with them. Even if our ads do go up after the board meeting on Monday, this would be after commencement and after President Obama’s address. We are very disappointed that Burkhart’s mistake has led to this delay, which will (at best) significantly decrease the effectiveness of our ads.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday May 13, 1:30 AM, the campaign has not received a response from Burkhart Advertising about the status of our ads. We just learned from a new Bloomington Herald-Times article (emphases ours):

When reached on Tuesday, TRANSPO General Manager Rick Brown said his agency never gave permission for the atheist ads. He said Burkhart Advertising is supposed to check with him about potentially controversial advertising before it is approved.

Brown said TRANSPOs nine-member board of directors would have considered the ads content and determined whether they were appropriate, had they known. He read about them in the newspaper Tuesday.

We have that in our contract with them. If there is anything controversial, they are supposed to run it past us, Brown said. Usually, the ads are the kind of stuff we dont have to worry about.

TRANSPOs board of directors is scheduled to meet Monday and will consider the ads.

In light of this, we will be contacting Burkhart and Transpo in the morning to verify all information.

Original post:

According to out signed contract with Burkhart (the advertising agency that handles bus ads for the South Bend bus company, Transpo), Monday, May 11 was supposed to be the starting date for our month-long bus ad campaign. Based on this, we and the American Humanist Association issued a press release announcing the beginning of the campaign.

Unfortunately, this announcement turns out to have been premature. Transpo didn’t manage get the ads mounted in time to meet the target date, but presumably they will be able to do so within the five day leeway permitted in our contract for putting up the ads. We are thus optimistic that buses displaying ads with the slogan You can be good without God will be on the streets of South Bend by the end of the week. We apologize for any inconvenience that this confusion may have caused.

1 comment May 12th, 2009

Campaign Launches First Ads In…South Bend!

bus_sign_medium_webWe are announcing today that we have found our first bus system to run our ads: Transpo, in South Bend, Indiana. So when are the ads going up?


That’s right. When the 48 biodiesel buses of the Transpo fleet roll out of South Street Transfer Station Monday morning at 5 AM, our ads will be on the sides of 20 of them. In other words, if you ride the bus in South Bend, chances are that you’ll see our ad somewhere along Transpo’s 180 miles of routes. If you live in or around South Bend, take a look at Transpo’s Routes & Schedules page to find out where buses will be.

So, why did we choose South Bend? Several reasons:

  • South Bend, unlike Bloomington, happily accepted our ads.
  • Transpo not only serves South Bend itself, but the surrounding metro area, including Mishawaka and Roseland. The South Bend metro area is over 300,000 people.
  • South Bend is home to Notre Dame University, where President Obama will be this weekend for the Catholic university’s commencement ceremony.  Maybe he’ll see our ad?
  • Given South Bend’s diversity of religion, politics and other demographics, we think it’s a nice overall representation of Indiana.

We should hopefully have photos this afternoon. We’re overjoyed that we’re off to an awesome start with this campaign, and we thank each and every one of our supporters who have donated so far.

Here is the press release (RTF, 3.6 KB)

15 comments May 11th, 2009

WRTV Coverage of the Campaign

Yesterday evening, WRTV 6News in Indianapolis did a short segment on the campaign.  Here it is:

They’re also running a poll on their website about whether the ad should go up or not.

Add comment May 9th, 2009

Bloomington Rejects ‘You Can Be Good Without God’; Lawsuit Underway

REJECTED red stampBloomington was first on the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign’s list of places it hoped to run bus ads.  However, the city has rejected our campaign’s slogan, ‘You Can Be Good Without God.’ This is deeply disappointing to our campaign’s members; we all love Bloomington and were very much hoping to run ads in our hometown along with many other cities.

Following their rejection of our ad’s slogan, Bloomington Transit referenced their ad policy, which currently states that they may reject any ad they feel is ‘too controversial.’

However, we are not giving up. Today the ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of the campaign, is filing a lawsuit against Bloomington Transit on First Amendment grounds. No campaign donations will be spent on the suit.

Here is the filed complaint (PDF, 172 KB)

Here is the press release (RTF, 4.4 KB)

Meanwhile, we are moving forward with efforts in other cities, and we will be announcing more very soon.  We want to bring our message many places, and this rejection motivates us more.  If you’re like us and want to see a positive message about atheism in your community, please donate.  We still have a long way to go, and you can help us get there!

34 comments May 5th, 2009

Campaign Raises over $1000 in 3 Days

We’re delighted to report that from our public launch on Wednesday to Saturday, we raised well over $1000; our total amount raised now stands at over $7500.

We have also recognized our supporters’ wishes to continue in-depth discussions about the campaign and atheism in a more organized fashion than in the post comments. So, we’ve partnered with the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign to bring you a forum to carry on the discussion. Please click on the Forum link above, sign up, and post your questions, comments, rants and ramblings! You’ll also be able to interact with supporters and participants in the Canadian campaign. You may also use the forum to branch your discussion beyond the campaign itself, and talk about politics, philosophy, religion, and more.

Despite the campaign’s phenomenal success so far, we still need your help! Tell your friends, family, or anyone who might be interested in the campaign. Every dollar you give means we’ll be able to run our ads bigger, more places, and for a longer period of time. Also, please follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook so that more people hear about us. The more we get the word out, the more successful this campaign will be.

Thanks for your support, everyone! We’re eagerly looking forward to the next couple of days.

3 comments April 20th, 2009

Next Posts Previous Posts

donate - help continue the campaign find us on facebook follow us on twitter discover an atheist group near you



Friends / Partners / Sponsors