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Athesists Sue Little Rock Over Godless Bus Ads

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 13, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Would you like to place a "godless" bus ad on the side of your bus? The United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR) really wants to, and has filed an atheist bus ad lawsuit against the Central Arkansas Transit Authority so they can place their ads, reports Reuters.

UnitedCoR's ads read, "Are you without God? Millions are," and is set against a backdrop of blue sky and clouds.

The coalition had wanted to put about $5,000 worth of ads across 18 buses. But, in order to do so, the coalition needed to pony up $36,000 as an insurance fee, reports Reuters.

Why the hefty fee? Apparently the bus agency's advertising firm, On The Move Advertising, was afraid of angry retribution and attacks on the buses spurred by Christians, according to Reuters. Other groups who have advertised on the buses, such as churches, have not had to pay this insurance fee.

The transit authority cited to cases in other states where advertisements about atheism were vandalized, reports Reuters. They claim that the insurance fee is simply that - a fee to guard against potential damage to their buses, and is not meant to discriminate or discourage the atheists from spreading their message.

UnitedCoR's lawsuit says that the transit authority is discriminating against them, and that their rights to free speech are being infringed upon, reports Reuters.

UnitedCoR is also asking for a preliminary injunction to force the transit authority to place the ads while the suit goes forward, according to Reuters.

What is a preliminary injunction? A preliminary injunction is essentially a court order before a trial to make the defendant do something or act in a certain way so that the plaintiff will not be irreparably harmed and unable to enforce their rights during trial. Preliminary injunctions require a prior hearing and the defendant must have notice of the hearing.

Whether or not the atheist bus ad lawsuit will go anywhere is unclear. Godless bus ads and other atheism advertising campaigns put on by UnitedCoR have run in about 36 different ad markets, and have been vandalized in 4, reports Reuters.

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