PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A group that seeks to encourage people who don’t believe in God has sued Pittsburgh’s mass transit agency for refusing to run its ads on the side of buses.
A spokesman for the Port Authority of Allegheny County declined to comment on the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Washington, D.C.-based United Coalition of Reason.
According to the lawsuit, the transit agency refused to post ads that read, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” and included a website address of a local group the coalition supports.
The group said the transit agency’s refusal cited a broad policy banning “noncommercial” ads even though the authority has run other ads sponsored by religious and advocacy groups.
The transit agency lost a similar lawsuit after it refused a 2006 political ad by the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters. The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of the group and after losing in U.S. District Court and in the 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals, the port authority eventually paid nearly $1,900 in damages plus more than $344,000 for the voting group’s legal fees.
The United Coalition of Reason contends its rights to free expression are similarly being violated. The lawsuit seeks to force the port authority to accept the ads and pay the group’s legal fees.
The coalition describes itself as dedicated to raising “the visibility of local nontheistic groups all over America” and says it has run similar ads on buses across the country since 2008.
The group’s “Godless billboards” campaign has included slogans in other cities including, “A million New Yorkers are good without God.” It successfully sued the Central Arkansas Transit Authority in 2011 for the right to post ads on buses that said, “Are you good without God? Millions are.”
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