A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that a transport authority had every right to reject an atheist advertisement, the latest chapter in a saga that's dragged on for more than six years.
In 2012, atheist Justin Vacula and the Northeastern
Pennsylvania Freethought Society attempted to place the following ad on buses in the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS).
Although there should be nothing controversial about the word 'atheists' and two text links to atheist societies,
during this period, atheist and religious groups around the world were producing adverts rather more obviously knocking the other side. And perhaps it was what these other groups were doing that led COLTS refusing the advert claiming it be
'controversial' and so could be rejected.
Justin Vacula appealed the decision with the help of American Atheists, but the COLTS administrators stood by their claims.
This kicked off legal actions that have culminated in the court's
affirmation that COLTS' censorship is legal.
The UK government appears to be pressing ahead with plans to filter the internet to prevent porn and filesharing.
Jeremy Hunt had seen some common sense about the plan by asking Ofcom to review if it was workable, it seems that plans to block 100
P2P sites are going ahead anyway.
According to the Guardian there are plans to build a quango similar to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). This would scour the net for illegal images of children, obscene adult content and non-photographic
child sexual abuse hosted in the UK and filesharing.
According to the Guardian there is a plan b which involves having a judge rule whether a site should be blocked after an industry agreed voluntary code has been satisfied.
Apparently the government does not want to block whole sites just the parts of them where there is pirated material, which is a greater challenge than domain name blocking.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), has adopted a policy that bans buses and bus benches from carrying religious and atheist ads.
The adoption came weeks after atheist ads declaring Millions of Americans are good without God were launched on four city buses. The ads sparked debate and drew criticism from nutters who considered the campaign an insult to Christianity, especially during the Christmas season.
The board of directors' revised existing guidelines by expanding the list of banned ads to include religious, nontheistic or faith-based ads.
The agency's staff recommended adding the exclusion of any faith-based ads because of the
distraction from its core business and excessive staff time that have been required to respond to the recent controversy over religious versus atheist ads on The T's buses, The T stated.
The Good without God ads were sponsored by the
Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason. The group said the campaign was designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god and to guide those interested to the 15 area nontheistic groups that make up the DFW coalition. The atheist group
had also planned to run the ads on Dallas buses, but the Dallas Area Rapid Transit rejected the campaign.
A blue mobile billboard truck carrying a pro-Christian message is currently shadowing the buses. The billboard reads I still love you.
– God and 2.1 billion people are good with God.
A dispute about bus advertisements seeking to publicize atheist views has touched off a free speech debate after the signs were torn down, then restored to the sides of Des Moines city buses.
The ads, sponsored by the Iowa Atheists
& Freethinkers read: Don't believe in God? You are not alone.
The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority stripped the signs after receiving complaints, then after meeting with the atheist group, reversed course and put the ads back
The issue with the ads in Des Moines was with the word 'God', said Elizabeth Prusetti, chief development officer for the bus agency: We have never allowed that word in our advertising, promoting a religion. We've never used the word God in
any advertising to maintain some autonomy. We've had churches advertise but it's been for their church and not a belief.
Lilly Kryuchkov, spokeswoman for Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, said the group was surprised by the bus agency's
decision and believed the group's right to free speech was being trampled.
Prusetti said a breakdown in communication within the bus agency led to the ads being put on 20 buses by mistake. The agency's general manager and the chairwoman of the
agency's commission determined that the signs were inappropriate, she said, and that the message was not communicated to the maintenance department that puts the signs on the buses. The mixup, not complaints from citizens, led to the removal of the ads,
The agency has since decided its advertising policy was outdated, and is changing it to better align with other policies regarding civil rights, the state's obscenity and profanity laws and the diversity of the community, said Brad
Miller, the agency's general manager. Prusetti said agency did not specifically address religion in its old advertising policy and that the decision not to have the word God appear in ads has just been continued on over the years. Prusetti said the word
God will be allowed under the new advertising policy.
By honoring the freedoms protected through our shared civil liberties, DART ... will be in the position of displaying messages and images that may be controversial or uncomfortable to some,
but legal and protected by civil rights, Miller said.
Bus drivers with religious convictions, who are employed by Helsingin Bussiliikenne, which operates public bus lines in Helsinki will not be taking any action against an international advertising campaign by the non-religious.
Last week, the
prospect that they would have to drive buses with advertisements proclaiming There probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life, caused a stir among religious drivers, some of whom had threatened to refuse to drive vehicles with the
The campaign, sponsored by the Freethinkers Association, and the Finnish Humanist Association is part of the international atheist bus campaign.
The leader of resistance by religious bus drivers, Tapani Mäkinen, said that
there were few legal ways for Christian and Muslim drivers to refuse to drive buses with the offending ads and still keep their jobs. The drivers asked their shop steward if it was possible to refuse to drive a certain vehicle out of religious
conviction. We hit a dead end. Something like that would be seen as a refusal to work , Mäkinen said.
The atheist ads will be on the buses for two weeks. The advertising campaign will also take place in Turku and Tampere, although the
wording of the slogan was toned down a bit.
Christian groups are also planning to take a public stand on the question of the existence of God. Two Lutheran congregations in Helsinki, as well as the Finnish Bible Institute are planning a summer
event in August with a slogan: God exists. Don't worry, enjoy life. Timo Junkkaala, the executive director of the Finnish Bible Institute insists, however, that organisers came up with name before the international atheist bus campaign was
There's almost certainly no God. [reported as Close to certainty, there is no God ] With this slogan on the side of their bus, German atheists have been touring through Germany for three weeks, on a trip that has stirred up controversy
On Thursday, the atheist bus stopped off in Berlin, bringing the promotional tour throughout the country to a close.
In the German capital, the atheist bus tour fell on fertile ground. The London-style red double-decker
was crammed full on Thursday, which was perhaps not surprising as approximately two-thirds of Berliners say they are not religious in any way.
Campaign spokesman Peder Ibelher explained why the campaign slogan, Close to certainty, there is no
God, lacked a fiery anti-religious sting: This reflects the scientific approach that Germans have to the question of God. You can never say there is no God because there's no evidence for a God and no evidence against it .
bus, emblazoned with the slogan, And what if there is God? was right behind the atheist bus at every stop it made.
Among the anti-demonstrators was Axel Nehlsen, a protestant pastor who fundamentally disagrees with the atheists: All
ideologies have been thrown away in the last decades and even capitalism is in a crisis now. So I think the Christian faith and the relationship to God and Jesus Christ can give everybody a foundation which is not depending on the current mainstream. And
we want to challenge them to find out whether God exists.
Official church leaders in Germany have reacted calmly to the atheist bus, arguing that the activists would actually do the Christian faith a service, by enlivening the public debate
Public transport authorities were less comfortable. In contrast to London, where the slogan appeared on city buses and in the Underground (tube) network, German cities banned the slogan from being advertised. They claimed it would
inflame religious feelings.
Peder Ibelher, however, said the campaign was a huge success despite the public advertisement ban: The campaign went really well. We've heard that up to a quarter of the German population noticed our slogan. Maybe
it's come out even better in the end with no public advertisement - with the bus just going around from city to city in Germany .
The advertising censor, the ASA, has decided not to launch a formal investigation into an advertisement from the Christian party proclaiming that there is definitely a God, even though it has become one of the four most criticised adverts of all
The advertisement was unveiled by the party last month in response to the British Humanist Association's bus adverts, which state: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. The Christian party's advert –
displayed on 50 London buses – carries the slogan: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian party and enjoy your life."
Figures from the Advertising Standards Authority reveal that the advertisement has so far attracted
1,045 complaints – and rising – making it the fourth most complained about advert since the ASA's records began. But it has decided not to launch an investigation because the poster is deemed to be electioneering material, and falls outside the
remit of its codes of practice.
In January the ASA concluded that the aetheist There's probably no God bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association did not breach the current advertising code and again decided not to launch an
People complaining about the Christian party advert believe the claim there definitely is a God is misleading because it cannot be substantiated, while some individuals have also objected that the advert is offensive to
The ASA has also decided not to investigate two other advertising campaigns of a similar nature. An advertisement from the Russian Orthodox Church that stated There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don't worry and enjoy your life was, the ASA
council considered, a reflection of the opinion of the advertisers and unlikely to mislead readers.
Similarly, the Trinitarian Bible Society's ad that claimed The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 53.1 generated
complaints that it was offensive and was insulting to atheists and non-Christians.
IThe City of Ottawa has rejected an atheist bus ad campaign.
The Freethought Association of Canada, a non-profit group, has been using bus advertisements in several cities across Canada.
The ads, which read, There's probably no god.
Now stop worrying and enjoy your life, are already on buses in London, Toronto and Calgary.
The Freethought Association had been hoping the posters would soon plaster the sides of OC Transpo buses in Ottawa, but their advertising request was
denied last week.
It's not the first rejection we had, said Justin Trottier, president of the Freethought Association of Canada: We got rejected in Halifax a week or two ago.
Trottier said his group has not ruled out
challenging the decision in the Supreme Court.
The decision was made based on a subsection of the transit advertising policy which says that religious advertising which promotes a specific ideology, ethic, point of view, policy or action,
which in the opinion of the City might be deemed prejudicial to other religious groups or offensive to users of the transit system is not permitted.
The biased complaints driven mechanism of the UK's advert censor
It would put a different complexion on UK censor complaints if they really were to hold to the idea that you have to see/hear it to complain. I wonder how many complaints would stand for
the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross radio show? half a dozen?
Anyway the whole system is totally biased. Complaints about too much censorship are immediately ruled out if remit, so only complaints about insufficient censorship are ever actioned or
publicised. So the net result is always an apparent clamour for more censorship. (On the other hand, consumers do still have the power of numbers and therefore cash. The fans of Ross, Brand and Clarkson are legion...and the BBC know it)
Talk about double standards they investigated the atheist bus campaign and ruled on them before they were rolled out due to protest from
angry Christians. Sickening hypocrisy, Christians can quite literally get away with anything . I think we need an appeal to all London folk who see this ad.
Letter from the ASA re a complaint about forthcoming Christian Party bus advert
Thank you for contacting the Advertising Standards Authority. I'm sorry to hear that this matter has caused you concern.
We note that your complaint concerns the ads which you've learnt about as part of an editorial piece
covering the proposed campaign. Unfortunately, we cannot take action on complaints before an ad has actually aired in its planned media, which we note hasn't happened as yet; and we therefore don't propose further action at this time.
we do start to receive complaints from consumers once the campaign starts- who have seen it and felt misled or offended by it, we will look into the matter further.
I'm sorry that we can't help you further at this time, however, please don't
hesitate to contact us again if you do see the ad outside of press coverage articles.
In Italy, where the Catholic Church is strong, some proposed atheist bus ads have been rejected, but this one has just been approved to run this month in Genoa: The good news is there are millions of atheists in Italy; the excellent news is they
believe in freedom of expression.
Fred Edwords, spokesman for the American Humanist Association, said that nobody is going to be converted because of a sign on a bus. But he said the ads his group put on Washington buses in November
and December -- Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake -- let people who don't believe in God know they are not the only ones.
Edwords said a new bus campaign, due to start in New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras, will feature
this ad: Don't believe in God? You are not alone.
Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said the new religious ads proclaiming God are really quite a compliment and mean our ads had an impact.
A trinity of Christian groups have created their own series of advertisements to run across London buses, the medium of choice for the battle of beliefs, it seems.
The new campaign is organsied by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible
Society and the Russian Orthodox Church. Their pro-God campaigns will run on 175 buses for two weeks from Monday.
In a somewhat cheeky move, the Rev George Hargreaves of the Christian Party has created a bus advert which proclaims: There
definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life. It will run on 50 bendy buses in central London, east London and the West End.
Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church has booked 25 supersize bus advertisements, backed by
a sponsorship deal with Russian Hour TV, using the line : There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don't worry and enjoy your life.
The Trinitarian Bible Society has taken a less temperate approach, using a line from the bible to scold nonbelievers: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,
runs the advertisement's slogan, taken from Psalm 53.1. The church's campaign, which like the others was booked through outdoor advertising company CBS Outdoor, runs on 100 buses.
Atheist bus advert ban reported to Australia's Human Rights Commission
National President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, David Nicholls, is going to have to seek legal help to try to get his atheist bus ads approved.
APN Outdoor, the company who is in charge of advertising on buses in Adelaide and other
cities, would not accept ads for an atheist bus campaign. According to a report on The Independent Weekly, Nicholl’s said: …they wouldn’t accept any ad from atheists. I spoke with sales staff in Adelaide, then higher sales staff in
Brisbane, and finally to a sales executive in Sydney. He said APN would have to seek legal advice but they rang back in less than a minute saying they were not going to take our ad, no matter how it was worded.
As a result, the atheist group
has decided to take the case to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Nicholls said: The world-wide response demands we act decisively to release freedom of expression from the arbitrary control of bus company advertising executives. We
therefore have no option but to seek legal means to that end.
The Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada has now won approval from the Toronto Transit Commission to place ads on buses and inside subway cars that read: There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.
Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, confirmed that staff have decided the ads do not violate any of the TTC's rules. But that decision could be reviewed if complaints arise: Disallowing the ad may be a violation of the Ontario Human
Rights Code and potentially a violation of the Charter ... so we have to look at it from a legal basis. We don't feel that there's any grounds to disallow the ad.
Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his group
has not decided whether it will formally complain about the ads once they appear.
On the surface, I'm all for free speech. ...HOWEVER... though, these are attack ads, McVety said in an interview: These ads are not saying what the
atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe. And if you look at the dictionary definition for ... bigot, that's exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else's belief system.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of newly-launched bus advertisement which claims there is There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.
Surely religions should be breathing a sigh of
relief that they don't have justify religious claims before being able to erect posters and beg money etc.
But Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice claims in a press release that the advertisements broke the ASA's codes on
substantiation and truthfulness:
The ASA website says: Advertisements are not allowed to mislead consumers. This means that advertisers must hold evidence to prove the claims they make about their products or services before an ad appears.
But in a
ruling today, the ASA says the claim that there is probably no God is not capable of objective substantiation. It says further that the complaints were not 'serious' or 'widespread' enough.
Stephen Green said:
If the ASA had
thought the humanists could provide evidence for their claim, they would have asked them for it. As they know there is no evidence for the proposition that 'there is probably no God', they have let their secularist friends off the hook.
The ASA have finessed Code 7.1, which says a ad should not mislead or be likely to mislead, ruling it would not be likely to mislead, so avoiding the thornier question of whether it actually does mislead. Which it does.
On 'taste and decency', the ASA have simply taken a subjective decision to dismiss the complaints of offensiveness. On planet ASA, complaints from people of faith are not given the same weight as those from secularists. But what do you
expect when the ASA Council is appointed and run by a campaigning homosexual, Chris, Lord, Smith of Finsbury?
We always knew the ASA was just another tool of the politically-correct secularist establishment, but here's the proof. Their
ruling is a good example of how the deck is stacked against Christians today, and the Church needs to wake up to the anti-Christian agenda right now. The good news is we now know that when the secularists decided to say: "There is probably no
God", they had no reason for making that absurd claim, and time has not helped them come up with one. The bad news is that if Christians don't start standing up for their Faith and their Saviour soon, we shall see religious liberties trampled on,
and the secularists will take us further down the road to their hell on earth.
Two atheist groups will attempt to advertise their different views of non-belief to Canadians through separate advertising campaigns on public transit.
The Humanist Association of Canada said this week it will launch a campaign in Vancouver
and Toronto and one other city to send the message: there is a real and viable alternative to religion.
Last week, several atheist groups, through the Web site atheistbus.ca said they would be running a transit ad blitz similar to one
launched recently in London, England. It will also use the same slogan as the British campaign: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. They have raised $16,000 and are now waiting for permission from the Toronto Transit
Commission to put their posters on city buses. The campaign could begin next month.
Pat O'Brien, president of the Humanist Association, said his group considered working with atheistbus.ca but decided a pure atheist campaign would be too
negative: We want to send a positive message. Atheism is what you're not; humanism is a positive world view.
The group is running a contest on its Web site to help create the catchiest slogan. O'Brien said that whatever slogan is chosen,
it would have to get across the notion that you can be good without God as opposed to just saying there is no God.
Atheist bus adverts have wisely been given the green light by the advertising censor, Advertising Standards Agency.
So far, 326 people have objected to the posters that have been placed on 800 buses around the country, which state: There's
probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.
Some claimed the adverts were offensive while others said that their central claim about God's existence could not be substantiated.
The ASA has admitted that the adverts go
against the beliefs of many people. But it has decided that they do not breach any part of its code and is not launching an investigation.
The decision is a victory for the British Humanist Association, which organised the campaign, as it had
insisted the posters were only intended to reassure non-believers and not mock the religious. The slogan was created by Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, as an antidote to posters placed on public transport by Christian groups that threaten eternal
damnation to passengers. The ASA said in a statement:
The Advertising Standards Authority has concluded that the 'There's probably no God' bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association is not in
breach of the advertising code. The ASA will therefore not launch an investigation and the case is now closed.
The ASA carefully assessed the 326 complaints it received. Some complained that the ad was offensive and denigratory to people of
faith. Others challenged whether the ad was misleading because the advertiser would not be able to substantiate its claim that God 'probably' does not exist.
The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser's opinion and
that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation.
Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread
Atheists of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) have just announced a plan to begin a bus advertising campaign denying the existence of God.
The launch, according to this report, is set for the northern Italian city of
Genoa on February 4, and the Italian atheists are certainly not mincing their words. Their campaign slogan is:
The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him.
The Roman Catholic archdiocese of
Genoa is furious. Father Gianfranco Calabrese, who is responsible for the diocese’s catechism: There are some methods which promote dialogue and others which feed intolerance. Head-on opposition always demonstrates intolerance.
Genoa was chosen for the atheist bus campaign because it is home to the head of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
Cardinal Bagnasco was said to be furious about the proposal and told his officials
write to the bus company and advertising firm in charge of the campaign to express their opposition.
The is said to have been delighted when he was then given the news that at the last minute the campaign had been cancelled.
spokesman for the Italian Union of Atheists and Rationalist Agnostics, which organised the campaign, said yesterday: It appears that buses can carry campaigns for underwear and holidays with no problem but if you ask for space to say God doesn't exist
then you are denied.'
A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming There's probably no God.
Ron Heather from Southampton responded with shock and horror at the message and walked out of his shift in protest.
First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Heather does not have to drive the buses.
Heather told BBC Radio Solent: I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock
horror. I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven't got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did. I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God.
advertisements run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.
House notes the recent advertising campaign based on London buses, There's Probably No God, the brainchild of the British Humanist Association; also notes the fact that the rationale behind it is that people can be less careful about their lifestyle
choices and general approach to life's consequences by discounting the likelihood of a Creator and an afterlife; and recommends to Christian groups considering alternative advertising approaches to There's Probably No God to counter it with the simple
addition of But What If There Is?
This has been signed by Nicholas Winterton, Bob Spink, Lee Scott, David Simpson and Ann Winterton.
That this House notes that posters with the slogan `There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life', appear on 800 buses in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as on the London Underground; notes that this causes
concern to Christian and Muslim people, many of whom feel embarrassed and uncomfortable travelling on public transport displaying such advertisements and would not wish to endorse the advertisements by using that public transport; regrets that the
British Humanist Association backs the campaign; and calls on Ministers responsible for public transport and advertising media to investigate this matter and to seek to remove these religiously offensive and morally unhelpful advertisements.
This has been signed by Jim Dobbin, Gregory Campbell, David Drew, David Simpson, Ann Cryer and Marsha Singh.
The advertising censor is being called upon to rule on the likelihood of God's existence after complaints were made about the atheist bus advert campaign.
Censors at the Advertising Standards Authority are now considering whether to tackle the
question that has taxed the minds of the world's greatest thinkers for centuries.
It has recorded 48 complaints since Tuesday when buses first hit the streets emblazoned with the message: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy
your life. At least 40 more people were understood to have made objections by last night.
Most of those who have contacted the ASA consider the adverts offensive and say they break guidelines on taste and decency.
Stephen Green, the
nutter behind Christian Voice is claiming they should be taken down because the statement in the adverts cannot be substantiated: If you're going to put out what appears to be a factual statement then you have to be able to back it up. They've got to
substantiate this proposition that in all probability, God doesn't exist.
The ASA is now considering whether to investigate his complaint, which could lead to it reaching a deep ontological conclusion about a supreme being. If it ruled that
the wording in the posters was unsubstantiated, it would be interpreted as effectively saying that in all probability God does exist. Ruling that the words were justified could be taken as an agreement that God probably does not exist.
the public donated ฃ140,000 to the Atheist Bus Campaign after its founder, the writer Ariane Sherine, suggested there should be an antidote to religious posters on public transport that threaten eternal damnation to non-believers.
Some supporters of the movement had wanted a stronger slogan that denied God's existence categorically. But the word "probably" was included in order to meet ASA rules.
The British Humanist Association, which is co-ordinating the campaign, said it was confident the chosen wording will not be banned by the censor.
The ASA said: We are assessing these complaints to see whether there are grounds for an
Meanwhile the posting of atheist advertising on Barcelona's buses has been branded an attack on all religions.
Next week, Barcelona will become
the first city in Spain to copy the UK campaign when its buses use a direct translation of the slogan adopted in Britain. Madrid, Valencia and other cities are being targeted to run similar campaigns.
Probablemente Dios no existe. Deja de
preocuparte y goza de la vida, it reads, translating as There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.
The campaign has provoked a reaction from the Catholic archbishopric of Barcelona. Faith in God is not a source of
worry, nor is it an obstacle for enjoying life, it said in a statement.
It is an attack on all religions, said Javier Maria Perez-Roldan of the church's Tomas Moro centre, blaming the socialist government for the privately funded
campaign: The government has created an atmosphere of belligerence.
Australia is supposed to be a secular society, but the Atheist Foundation of Australia says the nation's biggest outdoor advertising company has refused to run its advertisements.
One of the humorous messages the foundation hoped to put on the
back of buses was, Sleep in on Sunday mornings.
But the foundation says Australia's biggest outdoor advertising company, APN Outdoor, had a problem with it.
Atheist Foundation president David Nicholls told the Religion Report on
ABC Radio National that the contentious slogan was one of a number which had been proposed for the $16,000 advertising campaign: We started off with 'Atheism - because there is no credible evidence', we put that to the bus companies, they didn't like
that and they said the wording wasn't to their acceptance.
And then we changed that to 'Celebrate reason' and thought we'd make it a bit comical - 'Sleep in on Sunday mornings. But they refused that also.