A series of anti-God banners in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, are drawing criticism from citizens and even the mayor, but city officials say they have the legal right to be there.
The banners read “In NO God We Trust” and are sponsored by Metroplex Atheists, which is holding an event July 14 at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.
The City of Fort Worth released a statement July 2 saying the banners “meet the criteria necessary” to be permitted. The city also acknowledged it had received “several phone calls and complaints.”
“Banner Policy and Procedures allows a non/not-for-profit to place banners within the public right-of-way for the purpose of promoting the organization or special event held by the organization,” the statement reads. “The event must be in Fort Worth and open to the public, or of common interest to the general community.”
The city “cannot discriminate or dictate the content unless it contains profanity, threats or other inappropriate images,” the statement added.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price tweeted about her dislike of the message.
“I was appalled when I saw the banners currently being displayed downtown, as I do not support or agree with the message,” Price wrote. “While many of us may not agree with the message, the organization did follow policies and procedures.”
Metroplex Atheists says the banners and the July 14 event are part of its "In NO God We Trust" initiative. The purpose of the initiative, its website says, is to “educate the public on the exclusionary and divisive nature of the current national motto, ‘In God We Trust.’” The organization’s goal is to get the motto changed to “E. Pluribus Unum,” which means “out of many, one.”
Price added in a follow-up tweet, “We must respect freedom of speech. As we approach the Fourth of July, we must remember that many Americans have fought and died for the freedoms we cherish today.”
...We must respect freedom of speech. As we approach the Fourth of July, we must remember that many Americans have fought and died for the freedoms we cherish today." - Mayor Betsy (2/2)— Betsy Price (@MayorBetsyPrice) July 2, 2019
Attached for reference is the City's official statement. pic.twitter.com/Ce2t0JCF7s
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: WFAA
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.