‘Atheists’ bus ad lawsuit continues, trial approaches

A court date concerning the NEPA Freethought Society’s rejected ‘Atheists’ bus ad is approaching following new court documents released on April 10, 2017.

In April of 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP representing the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society filed a free speech lawsuit against the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) following COLTS’ refusal to display a bus advertisement with the word ‘atheists.’ In July of 2015, COLTS filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit to which ACLU and Schnader responded. The motion to dismiss was denied in January of 2016. COLTS has since responded in February of 2016, and depositions took place in 2016.

Most recently — on April 10, 2017 — United States District Judge Malachy E. Mannion signed documents denying both parties’ summary judgments to resolve the issue outside of court. There will be a pre-trial conference and a trial date will be set.

Stay tuned for more updates and see past information concerning the lawsuit, some of which was linked above, here.

New documents are available below:

COLTS Summary Judgment Opinion

COLTS Summary Judgment Order

 

FFRF banner returns to Pennsylvania town

Freedom From Religion Foundation has issued a press release concerning the Heathen’s Greetings banner which was placed on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Read the release, republished below, here:

A Freedom From Religion Foundation banner is going back up in a Pennsylvania town to counter a tradition of religious displays there.

The organization’s Winter Solstice banner was first installed in Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square in December 2012 and then again in January 2013 after it was attacked by a vandal. Several attempts have been made over the years to keep the banner out of the square, but it was unfurled once more this season.

“It is our hope that one day government spaces will be free from religious exhibitionism, and until then we will do our best to counter these displays,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

FFRF’s banner this year states: “Heathen’s Greetings.”

“Christians don’t own the month of December,” adds Co-President Dan Barker.

The Madison, Wis.-based national state/church watchdog has 25,000 nonreligious members na-tionwide with more than 800 in Pennsylvania.

Video: Television appearance on religion in society

I recently appeared on the WFMZ-TV television program ‘Business Matters’ based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley representing the NEPA (Northeastern) Pennsylvania Freethought Society for the segment ‘What is the Role of Religion in Today’s Society?’

I appeared on a panel discussion alongside a Catholic representing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Evangelical Christian representing the Liberty Worship Center, a Muslim representing the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley, and a Jewish rabbi representing the Congregation of Brith Sholom.

I wasn’t able to offer lengthy thoughts because the panel was fast-paced, included many members, and tackled various topics, but I enjoyed the experience, was able to get my point across, and look forward to returning for a future episode. Thanks to the crew at WFMZ-TV and ‘Business Matters’ for the invitation. Thanks to Lehigh Valley Humanists for suggesting I appear on this program.

Watch the video below

on WFMZ-TV’s website:

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YouTube:

As always, feel free to comment below.

COLTS responds to ‘Atheists’ bus ad lawsuit

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County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) has filed a response to the April 2015 ‘atheists’ bus ad lawsuit

In April of 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP representing the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society filed a free speech lawsuit against the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) following COLTS’ refusal to display a bus advertisement with the word ‘atheists.’ In July of 2015, COLTS filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit to which ACLU and Schnader responded. The motion to dismiss was denied in January of 2016.

COLTS has now responded to the April 2015 lawsuit. Read their response below. For reference, view the original complaint which is also linked below.

COLTS’ Answer to Complaint (2-8-16)

Freethought Complaint (April 2015)