Metro denies claim that atheist group's ads running on its buses; group admits mistake
WASHINGTON - Metro has asked an atheist group to stop claiming they have purchased advertising on Metrobuses. It is a sensitive subject with WMATA after it banned issue-oriented advertisements. This came after Texas conservative activist Pamela Geller tried to put Anti-Muslim religion ads on buses last year.
This atheist group is called the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It claims to be the largest atheist organization in the United States. On June 4, the group will hold The Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and will feature famous agnostics such as actor Johnny Depp and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Ads telling people to "Show your atheist pride" are now on Capital Bikeshare stations around the District. They were purchased through the bi-state organization that runs the bikeshare in the DMV and are running for two weeks.
But in its effort to get the word out about the group, the foundation now admits it went too far. In announcing that campaign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation said on its website that atheists are "taking over D.C. transportation" showing what the group referred to as Metrobuses covered in atheist ads.
Metro said they have no such advertising running, never got a request to run such an ad, and is asking the atheist organization to correct its website.
In an update on the website, the group wrote:
"Clarification: FFRF's "I'm an Atheist and I Vote" ad campaign is not running on Washington, D.C., Metro buses, which prohibit political and advocacy ads. It's actually featured on the Prince Williams and D runs on PRTC (Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission) commuter buses. Commuter buses, BikeShare and kiosks in front of Metro Light parking garages feature messages from millennial atheist voters in advance of Reason Rally & D.C. Primary up through June 6."
People we spoke with in the nation's capital on Wednesday said while they don't necessarily agree with the agnostic group's anti-God views, in the United States, the First Amendment guarantees them the right to speak their minds and hold their rally.
Freedom From Religion Foundation's president admitted the group's website was "a little vague" and that instead of saying Metro, they should have correctly identified the ads as going on two commuter buses from the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.
A spokesperson for Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission told FOX 5 under their current ad guidelines that they could not deny the 2-week ad buy, but the commission is considering new guidelines on June 2 on what kinds of ads would be allowed.