COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — Officials in a Colorado city are reviewing the advertising policies of a local transit company after it prohibited an area pastor from using the name of Jesus in bus bench advertisements.
According to reports, Mountain Metro Transit told Lawson Perdue, pastor of Charis Christian Center in Colorado Springs that if the name of Jesus were allowed, the company would also have to accept ads considered hate speech.
Perdue had been advertising on local bus benches for the past three years, with messages such as “Celebrate Jesus” and “Experience Jesus.” He currently has the message “Jesus is Lord” on 20 benches throughout the Colorado Springs area.
“We believe that Jesus is a very positive message of faith, and we want to share that around our community,” Perdue told television station KRDO.
But because an unidentified individual complained about the Christian declaration, Mountain Metro Transit informed Perdue last week that once his contract ends next month he will no longer be permitted to use the name of Jesus in advertisements.
“There’s a lot of messages in the city that I’m opposed to personally, but I don’t complain because this is the United States of America,” Perdue stated.
He said he should be allowed to advertise what he wishes as much as any other organization.
While Perdue considered taking the matter to court if it could not be resolved amicably, government officials in Colorado Springs are now reviewing the transit policy as it relates to the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The city released a statement on Monday suggesting that it supports Perdue’s right to use the name of Jesus in advertisements.
“The City of Colorado Springs is carefully reviewing the advertising policies of Mountain Metro Transit in light of the advertising by Pastor Lawson Perdue of the Charis Christian Center,” it said. “The City takes First Amendment issues very seriously, and strives to fully comply with Constitutional law.”
“This commitment requires that advertisements and policies are regularly reviewed for content and legality,” the statement continued. “Mountain Metro Transit recognizes that it acted hastily in asking Pastor Perdue to change his messaging. The city attorney’s office is working diligently to ensure that the advertising policies comply with the law.”
City officials said that as the review moves forward, Metro Mountain Transit will continue to allow Perdue to run his “Jesus is Lord” advertisements on bus benches.