Atheists in Arkansas penalised for possible acts of Christian vandalism

Atheists in Arkansas penalised for possible acts of Christian vandalism June 10, 2011

THE Central Arkansas Transit Authority and its advertising agency have been served with a lawsuit after they demanded an outrageous amount of money to allow a local group of atheists to run an ad campaign on a fleet of 18 buses.
The transit agency’s ad firm – On The Move Advertising – required the group to pay $36,000 dollars in insurance for a campaign that would ordinarily cost just $5,000.
Because a handful of similar ads had been vandalised in other states, the ad agency required the insurance payment, said attorney Jess Sweere.
The ads would read:

Are you good without God? Millions are.

A billboard beasring the same slogan proposed by the Arkansas atheists was defaced in Sacramento

Said Sweere:

To my knowledge, OTMA has not requested this in the past because no other advertiser told them their ads were vandalized in other markets.

Sweere said the transit authority was all set to accept the ads, but that the advertising firm raised the concerns that lead to the insurance requirement. Negotiations were still going on when the lawsuit was filed last week against the transit agency and the ad firm.

We were planning to run the ads as soon as the contract was worked out.

LeeWood Thomas, a spokesman for the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason which alleges discrimination in its lawsuit, quoted an email from the advertising agency which read:

Arkansas is the buckle of the Bible Belt and I can easily envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out.

Thomas said it was clear his group is being punished for the actions of others.

The insurance money needed from us basically says CATA and On The Move trust the atheists in this community more so than the religious, otherwise the churches that advertise would have that extra insurance premium added to their total cost.

The coalition is asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction forcing the bus company to accept the ads while the suit moves forward.
The transit authority and its advertising agency were served with the lawsuit on Monday. They have 21 days to respond.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Arkansas group by UnitedCoR, a Washington-based national organization that focuses on organizing local atheist and agnostic groups into coalitions and funding their bus and billboard ad campaigns.
UnitedCoR has placed such ads throughout the United States since 2008.
Out of 36 markets where ad campaigns have run, four have been vandalized, including bus ads in Detroit last year, according to UnitedCoR’s website.
Last year, UnitedCoR placed ads on outdoor billboards and buses in Fayetteville, Arkansas, without incident.
In 2009, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers successfully sued the state of Arkansas to erect a ‘Winter Solstice’ display on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol near a nativity scene.
Hat tip: Adam Tjaavk


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  • What does this tell you about America’s attitude to its own kind when the ‘humble’ and ‘gentle’ Christians are anticipated to vandalise and destroy property whereas the ‘angry’ and ‘hate-filled’ Atheists have not done so?

  • remigius

    So this is basically insurance against an Act of God-botherer.

  • Newspaniard

    It doesn’t matter what the cause, there is always a queue of people waiting to make some dosh out of it. In this case insurance companies and lawyers… Ho Hum

  • Angela_K

    As if we needed more evidence of just how vile the xtains are.
    How often do we hear of Atheists vandalising the revolting advertisements put up by the religious zealots?

  • Paul

    Sometimes The South is stereotyped as being The Bible Belt, but as the article mentions:
    “Out of 36 markets where ad campaigns have run, four have been vandalized, including bus ads in Detroit last year, according to UnitedCoR’s website.”
    Detroit is 725 miles Northeast of Little Rock, and sits in Michigan, a (liberal) “blue” state, as opposed to Little Rock which sits in Arkansas, a (conservative)”red” state. When it comes to social issues we are frightfully similar, albeit Michiganders seem to view economics as a social issue whereas Arkansans tend to view issues as either social or economic. It could have something to do with the fact that Michigan is a mostly proletariat backwater destroyed by industry, while Arkansas is merely a proletariat backwater.
    Whatever the case, stories like this show that Christianity – and religion in general – has no monopoly on morality.

  • Stonyground

    “Also Lost?”
    Does that even mean anything? It presumably made sense to whoever wrote it. I gather that ‘lost’ in these people’s language means the opposite of ‘saved’ so maybe that’s it. The part that they don’t get is that as these very concepts are part of their religion’s whole package, once you reject their religion and join the real world they no longer have any relevance.
    I also find it interesting that in the real world it is Christians and not atheists that are marked out as potential criminals.

  • Broga

    As christians are unable to defend their superstitions by quoting facts or engaging in debate this is their only recourse – destruction,threats and violence. They need to censor, same as the BBC with Thought for the Day, because otherwise people might start to think. They might begin to examine the scam that has ripped them off emotionally, intellectually and financially for so many yearsD.

  • remigius

    Angela_K. I have to admit that, on occasion, I’ve felt it necessary to enhance the posters outside my local church. Their ‘Jesus Loves U’ sign took on a whole new meaning with the addition of the word ‘nicorns’.
    And the ‘Prayer – It’s Really Working’ sign was just crying out to have the ‘or’ corrected to ‘an’.
    Just doing my bit for the community.

  • Albie

    Insurance companies go by statistics so this is quantified evidence for the true nature of the these loving people.

  • Stonyground

    How about “Prayer? Or really working?” As in which gets more done?

  • Thoreau

    Angela K – I have been known to amend Gideon bibles with a disclaimer. I’ve chucked a couple out of the window before now as well.
    And I drew a penis in one, a few pages in once. It seemed hilarious at the time. I was high.

  • Casey

    “Arkansas is the buckle of the Bible Belt and I can easily envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out.”
    Um, upstanding citizens, strong faith or not don’t deface or damage property. Criminals do.

  • stargraves

    Criminality is rife in religious groups – and comparitively rare amongst atheists. Per capita. Any prison population stat proves that.
    Act of God-botherer is fantastic.

  • Stonyground

    I have been known to draw a picture of Shrek’s donkey inside Gideon Bibles with a speech bubble telling people the page number where they can find the Bible’s very own talking donkey and the relevant passage highlighted. Numbers Ch.22 Vs. 26-31 for anyone interested.

  • AgentCormac

    I too have been known to liberate the odd gideon bible or three. However, there’s somebody (The Reasonists) who seems to have made it his/her/their mission in life to stop what is, after all, a shameless crusade to indoctrinate anybody who finds themselves alone in a strange city with the crossword done and nothing on the TV worth watching. (I’m assuming couples who rent a room for a quick shag aren’t going to bother opening the bedside cabinet drawer.)
    You will be glad to know that our old friend Bob Hutton seems to hate The Reasonists as he has been known to post some typically stupid comments on the blog. Check it out.

  • JohnMWhite

    Call me paranoid but I am not convinced this is purely about the stats. A 6-fold increase in the price for insurance is enormously punitive and seems to be beyond a reasonable increased risk of vandalism. It’s not as if other billboards relating to simply secular products are never randomly vandalised. I would not be surprised, though this is purely speculation, if some people in the advertising company simply do not want to carry this message.

  • barriejohn

    I had assumed that that was implicit, JMW.

  • L.Long

    You all have this all wrong. The signs are not vandalized but are made right in the eyes of g0d, praise be onto his noodly form!

  • Hooray for Christian morality.

  • Barry Duke

    Ah, Bob Hutton … I suspect he may have been enraptured. For a while now I have not received any of his daft e-mails and the last post on his failed blog ( was March 24th, 2011.

  • remigius

    Barry. I gave up on that sanctimonious little shit ages ago. I did regularly post comments on his blog but they very rarely saw the light of day. I knew his rules about profanity, but it is very difficult to keep a civil tomgue when confronted with such self-righteous bollocks. And anyway fuckwit isn’t that profane is it?
    My last ever comment followed a piece of shite he wrote boasting of the many methods he employs in his evangelism, including placing bible tracts in the toilets of shopping centres. I commented that this was probably the best place for them and that he should make sure to flush afterwards. No profanity. No abuse. Nothing.
    Do you think the snivelling little hypocrite published it?
    Champion of free speech my arse!

  • Pete H

    Speaking of Gideons, here’s what the late, great Bill Hicks had to say:

  • So who gets the payout if the ads are vandalized?