The Atheist Bus campaign

Another interesting mail drops into my inbox, which I’m sharing because we’re otherwise having a quiet day. I also think it will chime rather well with a subset of our readers.  I’m not actually an atheist myself, but I am irked at how one-sided the religion-based advertising scene is.

The Atheist Bus Campaign is launching officially on Tuesday October 21 2008. 

THE CAMPAIGN

The Atheist Bus Campaign began thanks to readers of The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. Comedy writer Ariane Sherine wrote an article in June about the Christian adverts running on London buses, which linked to a website saying non-believers would burn in hell for all eternity.

Sherine joked that perhaps atheists reading her blog could each donate £5 to fund a reassuring counter-advert saying:

‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

She explained that the word ‘probably’ was included so that the advert would be allowed to run.

Hundreds of Cif readers then offered to contribute to the proposed ad, including political blogger Jon Worth, who set up a Pledgebank page and mocked up an image so readers could register their support. After just six weeks, 877 people had signed up, and another 262 pledged in response to Sherine’s follow-up piece on The Guardian site

The British Humanist Association has kindly offered to lend its official support to the advert should the campaign launch officially, and will be administering all donations.

CBS Outdoor, the bus advertising company, have now said that they will run the atheist advert on 30 buses for 4 weeks across London if we raise just £5,500, which means we need 1,100 people to donate £5 each. 

This will be the first ever atheist advertising campaign in the UK, and will launch on October 21 2008. Donations will be collected via a JustGiving page, details of which will be posted in this Facebook group soon

Please join this group to show your support for the campaign. You can also email Ariane directly at [email protected] with ‘Atheist Bus’ in the subject line to register for updates

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47 Comments

  • See my earlier blog James – this is exactly the type of blue sky thinking that we need in our party.

    http://liberalrevolution.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/the-lib-dems-need-to-push-harder-on-the-economy/

  • Hywel Morgan 12th Oct '08 - 3:46pm

    “I am irked at how one-sided the religion-based advertising scene is.”

    Possibly – but as this shows very few people are concerned enough to put their hands in their pockets.

  • Different Duncan 13th Oct '08 - 12:07pm

    Or how about we keep personal religious views to ourselves, instead of ramming our views down each others throats.

    My fiver is staying well and truly in my pocket.

  • Different Duncan 13th Oct '08 - 4:08pm

    It is the “There’s probably no God” part I object to most, but I still object to being persuaded not to worry. I will worry as much as I like, cheers. Advertisement is a medium directly for mass persuasion.

    Politics and religion are incomparable. There is no requirement for a winner with religion, so faith needn’t be democratic. For atheists, there is no reason to persuade people onto your side.

  • Julıan H from cafe ın Istanbul 13th Oct '08 - 8:38pm

    No problem – so let´s get the remaınıng bıshops out of the Lords, stop our state medıa channel gıvıng CofE representatıves dısproportıonate amounts of aırtıme – then we have a deal.

    Anyone seen Boyce around?

  • proudchristianactually 20th Oct '08 - 6:44pm

    Comments like these remind me why I hate LibDems so much – you don’t really believe in anything do you? I am Christian, don’t ‘ram my thoughts’ down anyones throat just answer any questions truthfully and if, when I die, I find out I am wrong I have at least tried to live my life helping others rather than being selfish (and no, I am not saying that athests/agnostics are any less likely to help people!) If those who deny God’s existence, however, are wrong you are all going to have a long time to have second thoughts.

  • Alix Mortimer 20th Oct '08 - 7:33pm

    “Comments like these remind me why I hate LibDems so much”

    Ah, that ol’ time Christian charity.

  • “you don’t really believe in anything do you?”

    In politics I find it is better to base your decisions on knowledge and reason, as faith has a tendency to get mixed up in unjustifiable invasions of other countries, like, say, Iraq, for example.

    Faith is fine just so long as you can keep it separate from the institutions of state – if you’re getting led by the nose in any particular direction how do you propose to represent me?

  • Donate now at

    http://www.justgiving.com/atheistbus

    The target of £5,500 has nearly been doubled already.

  • “n politics I find it is better to base your decisions on knowledge and reason, as faith has a tendency to get mixed up in unjustifiable invasions of other countries, like, say, Iraq, for example.”

    It was politics that led to the invasion of Iraq, nothing to do with faith or religion.

  • Oh yeah?

    Didn’t Blair say something along the lines of “if you knew what I knew” before parliament to justify his actions, before later saying that he acted in good faith?

    Nothing to do with any judgement then. Or maybe it was, but if so why couldn’t he admit as much when it was shown that all the evidence which were used as reasons were shown to be spurious?

    WMD launch ready in 40 minutes? Please!

  • I think the comment “There’s probably no God” is perfect, after all, no one has proof god ever existed.If you believe then fine, thats your choice
    We are all free to believe in whatever we like.

  • Joe Citizen 25th Oct '08 - 6:05pm

    What exactly is the “Liberal Democrat Party”?

    I think we should be told.

    In fact, £5 to anyone who can tell us all.

    Either that or else someone should come clean and fund a bus advert to let us know.

    How about this:

    “There probably is no Liberal Democrat Party. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”.

    Joe

  • Why is it implied that people who do believe in a God worry excessively and don’t enjoy their lives?! I’m a 20 year old student, I’m having a brilliant life and I’m a christian. I think it should be remembered that not all christians are like the extremists that become well-known. I don’t agree with anyone being yelled at that they are going to hell, but if anyone has any questions I’ll answer honestly. Christianity is about love and forgiveness. And anyway, wasn’t it water into wine?! Not wine to water!

  • There is more historical evidence that Jesus lived than Julius Caesar ever did. Not including Bible sources, Jesus was written about by the Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37-100), Pliny the Younger(in a letter to Emperor Trajan in A.D. 112), Tacitus (the important Roman historian), Suetonius (a Roman historian who compiled a biography of the first twelve Roman emperors in his “Life of Claudius”) and Thallus and Julius Africanus in A.D. 52 and there are thousands of archaeological findings that point to Jesus existence. Jesus existed. That is not a story.

  • Hywel Morgan 30th Oct '08 - 6:11pm

    I find the wording of the adverts slight odd. “Probably” no God, surely it is the probably element that causes many people the doubt and worry about their religious faith.

    If there’s only probably no God, and the benefit of believing in him is eternity in paradise then the logical position would be to worry about it.

    So isn’t this campaign going to cause more people to worry about the existence of God.

  • Given all the miraculous things jesus is claimed to have done and said it’s suprising that the first historical hints (let’s not get carried away by calling them ‘records’) for his existence date not from his own time but rather than from decades (at least) after his death.

    Except of course it isn’t suprising, because the whole thing is a pack of lies.

  • Hywel Morgan 30th Oct '08 - 6:46pm

    Because of the decency provisions or the need to substantiate your claims. I think if ever there was something incapable of objective substantiation this was it!

  • simon wilson 5th Nov '08 - 1:10pm

    Theos has, today, donated £50 to the atheist bus campaign that the Guardian newspaper has been publicising throughout 2008.

    Despite being launched nearly six months ago, the campaign to put a pro-atheism advert on London bendy busses has nearly folded on a number of occasions through lack of interest. It has only now been rescued by the millionaire Richard Dawkins who has offered to match donations up to a maximum of £5,500.

    The campaign is clearly intended to be anti-religious, but its message (‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’) will, claims Theos, encourage people to think, like the Alpha posters it seeks to attack.

    Paul Woolley, Director of Theos, said:

    “We’ve donated the money because we think the campaign is a brilliant way to get people thinking about God.

    “The poster is very weak – where does ‘probably’ come from? Richard Dawkins doesn’t ‘probably’ believe there is no God! – and telling people to ‘Stop worrying’ is hardly going to comfort for those who are concerned about losing jobs or homes in the recession, but the posters will still prompt people to think about life’s big questions.

    “Campaigns like this demonstrate how active atheists are often great adverts for Christianity.”

  • Grammar Police 5th Nov '08 - 1:28pm

    Simon Wilson: “telling people to ‘Stop worrying’ is hardly going to comfort for those who are concerned about losing jobs or homes in the recession”

    Neither is telling to believe in God. If this is really that great an advert for Christianity I look forward to certain groups putting all their advertising budgets into this, rather than token press-release stunt amounts.

  • Grammar Police 5th Nov '08 - 1:31pm

    Steph, what are your views on abortion and homosexuality? Certain religious teaching says that both are morally wrong, and that the penalty is Hell. These are real things that *some* Christians will worry about.

  • simon wilson 5th Nov '08 - 3:17pm

    “Dawkins donation: £5,500
    Total fundraising target: £11,000
    Total amount raised on JustGiving (at time of writing): £117,000″

    Fair point James!

  • Lee Clark,
    Thankyou for the link. I have read it and the writer makes some very good points but I believe christianity is more than just a book. Even if the whole thing was made up, which I still don’t believe is the case, when you are a christian there is so much more. As I already mentioned on http://www.libdemvoice.org/atheist-bus-campaign-quick-update-5002.html#comment-66884, several years ago my mum was given prayer and has medical proof that her incurable epilepsy has gone. I know that sounds crazy but I really can’t see any other explanation. Also, I don’t understand how people can look at the universe, for example the fact the earth is at the exact distance from the sun and at the exact angle needed to produce life on earth, and honestly think this all happened by chance. I don’t believe that faith and science have to be looked at separately and I strongly recommend the video of Rob Bell’s Everything Is Spiritual conference to anyone who is interested in the clash between faith and science.

    Grammar Police,
    I am personally against abortion but that view isn’t purely because of my faith. I find homosexuality a very complicated and difficult issue. I do have some close friends who are homosexual and I find it hard that if they were interested in finding out more about chrisitanity they might come across objection from christians who believe strongly that it is wrong. I do believe though that Jesus came for everybody and, if the bible isn’t made up, Jesus was recorded as spending time with anybody, from prostitutes to lepers so I don’t see why homosexual people should be such a big issue! Please remember though that these are just my personal views – I am not a complete authority on christianity!

    James Graham,
    I do not believe that “there is an invisible bearded man sitting on a cloud” looking down on my every action.

  • “Also, I don’t understand how people can look at the universe, for example the fact the earth is at the exact distance from the sun and at the exact angle needed to produce life on earth, and honestly think this all happened by chance.”

    Thats because you are thinking of it the wrong way round. It is BECAUSE the Earth is this exact distance and angle from the sun, that out of all the thousands of planets that we know about, probably only this one has any form of evolved micro organisms (us).

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