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Atheists Sue After Public Buses Reject 'Godless' Ads

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"violated UnitedCoR's free speech rights under the First Amendment"

An atheist group in Arkansas has sued the local transit authority after the group's ads were prohibited from going on local buses.

The United Coalition of Reason claims its free speech rights were violated when the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) and its advertising agent, On the Move Advertising, decided not to run the group's "Godless" bus ads. But while the group says they are being targeted, CATA claims that's not true and says the group is simply trying to pull a publicity stunt.

That ads themselves are not shocking as far as atheist statements go. They show a bright blue sky with a simple question and answer:

The ads were supposed to launch the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason, a collection of about 10 area atheist and agnostic groups.

"In the brief, UnitedCoR alleges that CATA and On the Move violated UnitedCoR's free speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the group explains on its website. "UnitedCoR asserts that the First Amendment prohibits CATA, as a governmental entity, from using its disfavor of the nontheistic message of UnitedCoR's ads as a reason for refusing to run them on its buses."

But CATA claims the rejection has nothing to do with the merits of the group's message, and that the fault for the rejection lies with the group.

The sticking point for the ads is that CATA is requesting, as part of ad negotiations, that the group pay more than $30,000 in insurance because of the likelihood that the ads, and buses, will be vandalized. The coalition rejects that notion and has refused to pay the fee.

KLRT-TV reports:

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