Atheist Advertisement Not Allowed On City Buses

Group Files Federal Lawsuit

The city of Bloomington faces a federal lawsuit after advisements from an atheist group were deemed too controversial for city buses.

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign wanted to buy space on the side of Bloomington buses for their message that "You Can Be Good Without God," 6News' Ben Morriston reported.

But Bloomington Transit rejected the advertisements, citing a clause that allows the company to turn down messages that are too controversial.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has now filed a federal lawsuit against Bloomington Transit, claiming its policy is unconstitutional.

"The issue here is who is allowed to advertise. The only limitation on the noncommercial advertising is that it not be controversial," said Ken Falk of the ACLU-IN. "That's much too vague and overbroad a standard to assess people's right to free speech."

Bloomington officials would not comment on the situation on Friday. Still, plenty of residents gave their opinions. Many said they didn't think the message belonged on city buses.

"I think the city should have the ability to set the standards for whom they want to advertise on their buses," said George Purnell, a minister at Bloomington's 1st United Methodist Church.

"You can't be good without God. You can't," said resident Amanda Delaney. "I don't think they should promote that."

But others said it is a matter of free speech.

"They're willing to pay the cost to have it on the buses and I think they should have the same right as anyone else," said resident Carl James.

"I don't believe in God or the devil, so I have no problem putting that up there," said resident Michael Ferrer. "That's people's choice. You should be able to do it."

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign is asking the court to require the bus system to display their advertisements.