Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, and Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Executive Director, Connie Ryan Terrell, issued the following statement today in response to the decision of the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) to pull an ad placed on buses by the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers.
DART’s decision to pull an ad placed by an atheist group should be disturbing to anyone who cares about free speech and religious freedom. We live in a nation where people are free to express themselves, regardless of whether or not they are religious. People of faith put their own religious freedom at risk when they trample on the right of others to believe differently.
Gaddy and Ryan Terrell also raised concerns about Governor Chet Culver’s inappropriate response to the controversy.
The Governor’s need for guidance from the Iowa Attorney General to determine if the atheist group deserves the same free speech rights as Christian groups is troubling. Governor Culver should rethink his statement and make clear his commitment to the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech for religious people and non-religious people alike.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.