Atheist lobbyists have once again successfully leveraged their small, but increasingly growing voice to pressure the Port Authority of Pittsburgh into implementing a policy banning references to the Bible in Port Authority bus ads. The unusual anti-religious policy was discovered by a Pennsylvania man who sought to buy bus ads to promote his New Testament DVD set only to find his request rejected by the Port Authority because the proposed advertisement included the word “bible” in the business phone number (1-800-HOLYBIBLE).
“I’m not promoting religion. I’m selling a product we created and produced in Pittsburgh. Not to be able to use the word ‘Bible’ is kind of newsworthy.”
The Port Authority, one of the country’s largest public transit agencies, rejects 13 categories of ads. According to Tribe Live News, in addition to bans on ads containing references to cigarettes, illegal gambling, or prostitution, the Port Authority disallows any ads that “promote the existence or nonexistence of a supreme deity”.
Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie explained:
“It’s a policy we put in place a couple of years ago following an ACLU lawsuit.”
The United Coalition of Reason, a national organization that seeks to raise the visibility of atheist groups in North America, sued the Port Authority in November 2013 in a bid to run an ad that said “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
Port Authority Director of Advertising Sales, Terri Landis, confirmed that ads for nightclubs or advertisements containing references to alcohol were permissible under their policy.