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County of Lackawanna Transportation System displays "God Bless America" message

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The County of Lackawanna Transportation System (COLTS) is currently displaying a message of “God Bless America” on its buses although COLTS is a transit agency which receives -- at the very least -- federal, state and county funding.

According to COLTS' website [under the 'Resources' tab when clicking on 'Contact Your Legislators'], COLTS receives “federal money for its capital projects,” “operating money from the state,” “a portion of its capital project funding from the state” and “a small portion of funding for capital projects from Lackawanna County.” In addition, the County of Lackawanna lists COLTS under its 'departments/agencies' page stating that COLTS “[o]versees all aspects of the County transportation system.”

According to a COLTS phone operator, the “God Bless America” message is not paid for with advertising dollars and is placed by COLTS. Additionally, persons may not pay for messages of scrolling text to be placed adjacent to the bus doors.

Is COLTS, a transit agency which receives – at the very least – federal, state and county funding permitted to display messages with specific religious context on its buses? Surely a message of “Allah Bless America” or “No God Blesses America” would be met with complaints from some who would argue that COLTS has no business promoting messages like this. If this would be the case, why should COLTS be permitted to display a message reading “God Bless America?”

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