I wrote a bit ago about the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign‘s efforts to get an ad on a bus here in Bloomington.  The message on the ad: “You can be good without God”.  As I stated previously, I really like this message… it’s positive, it’s not insulting, not even condescending, a great example of the kinds of things I look for to say “I’m proud of what I believe, but I’m not trying to crack on people who believe differently.”

Much to my surprise (and, I think, many others’), Bloomington Transit rejected the ad, citing their ad policy which says that they may reject any ad they feel is ‘too controversial’.  Controversial?  It’s not like what the same campaign is now running in Chicago: “In the beginning, Man created God“.  Now THAT’s controversial… that’s getting in someone’s face and asking for a fight.  To disagree with “You can be good without God” is to assert that every non-Believer, now and throughout time (say, Marie Curie), is/was not good.  Now, I mean, maybe you just don’t believe that anyone can really be good, and in a purist sense, I wouldn’t argue with that.  I’m sure everyone who’s ever lived has done something unsavory.  But, somehow I don’t think that’s the “controversy” here.

Anyway, the ACLU filed suit in support of the campaign, and apparently Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan didn’t want the City’s legal department defending the case, so it was eventually dropped, and it looks like the ads will be showing up soon on a bus near me.  Cool.

Ok, so then yesterday I learn about a similar drama playing out in Des Moines, Iowa.  The Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers ran an ad on buses with this message: “Don’t believe in God?  You are not alone.”  Wow, now that’s really unoffensive.  I mean, that’s basically just saying “not everyone believes in God”, although admittedly with an added connotation of “it’s ok, and let’s support each other.”  I guess it’s that hint of “it’s ok” that led to an “overwhelming” number of complaints about the ads, which the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) cited when they took down the ads!  There’s already talk that the ads may be coming back, although aparently DART “has asked the atheist group to submit a new advertisement for consideration”.

So, the question is: how uncontroversial can you get?  What could the group possibly think of that’s LESS controversial than what was already running?  I honestly have trouble thinking of anything that might be more palatable to the presumptive complainers.  Maybe: “According to many passages in the Bible, non-Believers are all going to Hell.  But we still live in a country that allows us to speak freely and to peaceably assemble.  So, if you don’t believe in God, consider visiting iowaatheists.org”.  Any other ideas?