The Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers have been through a lot over the past week due to their bus ad:
When it was taken down on account of being offensive, Governor Chet Culver decided to chime in:
“I was disturbed personally by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message.”
He never explained what about it was so disturbing.
Now that the ads are back up, maybe the governor would like to explain himself? He hasn’t yet.
Today, Rekha Basu of the Des Moines Register calls him out on this:
The whole embarrassing debacle projects an image of a confused and self-contradicting DART leadership, and a governor who has deliberately chosen not to represent one segment of Iowa society: the non-church-going. This makes it hard to claim we’re a welcoming and pluralistic state where debate and discussion on a variety of issues can thrive.
What could possibly be offensive to Culver about someone else not believing in God and saying so? Even if the governor is deeply religious himself, he can’t expect all Iowans to share his beliefs. The ad didn’t put down anyone else’s faith. Its goal, according to the association’s president, was to let non-religious people know “that they too have a community if they want to join it.”
Everyone makes mistakes. What matters is how you deal with them. Culver should apologize, declare this a teachable moment and give the atheists a hearing. Their place or his, beer optional, open mind essential.
I’m not holding my breath, but if Culver apologizes, it would be great publicity for both he and the atheist group.