AAS members were asked to write to DART, Governor Culver, and to local newspapers concerning Iowa Atheists and Freethinker’s bus ads. What follows are some of the messages that were sent. IAF has a list of letters that were sent on their behalf.
I am proud to call myself both an Iowan and an atheist. I was concerned by your comments regarding the advertisements posted on the side of the DART buses that were pulled this month. What is disturbing about people not believe in God? We haven’t been trying to keep ourselves a secret. The fact is, being an atheist in a mostly religious country, state, and local communities, can be a very isolating experience. We want to be productive community members and explore our beliefs with people like us as we all strive to give meaning to our lives. We simply have one less deity in the picture.
I am used to seeing signs, advertisements, pamphlets, and preachers all advertising my eternal damnation, admonishing my character due to my skepticism, and claiming a monopoly on the spirit of America. I am disturbed by these messages, but I do my best not to let it bother me, as I understand that their own spiritual beliefs make that sort of proselytizing sensible. However, it concerns me deeply that when a group of atheists seek to form fellowship and reach out to people who may seek like minds, that the message is labeled ‘disturbing’, even by my own elected officials.
I realize that if it comes to it, it’s the realm of the judiciary to decide whether or not wrongdoing was involved in the case. But I ask you to please consider that we atheists are part of Iowa as well, and though we aren’t a popular minority group, we very much want to be viewed as a normal part of the landscape of Iowa religious beliefs, able to spread our message like any other.
I was very disappointed to hear that DART, as a public transit system, would make such a political and discriminatory move by pulling the IAF ads from your buses. By doing so, you are setting a dangerous precedent. These were not ads pushing the limits of free speech, nor was the message even a negative one. They were intended to inform a group of people in the community that they were “not alone.” I find it especially upsetting that you would allow such a small but vocal group of people to dictate the boundaries of IAF’s rights and of the atheist community as a whole. As a concerned citizen, I ask you to please
reconsider your actions in a critical and fair manner.