In response to requests for comments on the news that three Christian groups will be running adverts inspired by the atheist bus campaign, Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive has made the following statement:
We entirely support free expression and freedom of belief, and so fully support the right of these Christian groups to place their ads on buses. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Of course, there are differences between the Atheist Bus ads and the new Christian ones and I want to take this opportunity to reflect them.
Our ads were a response to ads run by jesussaid.org whose website promised an eternity of hellfire for non-Christians. Our response message, suggested by comedy writer Ariane Sherine was intended to be reassuring, telling people not to worry and enjoy life, as there was probably no god and so no cause to fear an eternity of hellfire.
Our ads were funded entirely by thousands of individual donors who gave small amounts in an outpouring of popular support for the positive message. The ads now launched in response to our response are funded by organisations or wealthy individuals.
Our ads were positive and peaceful. They didn’t say, for example, that religious people were ‘fools’, unlike one of the response ads being run, which says that “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”
Our ads were undogmatic and funny, with the addition of the ‘probably’ in line with the continuing openness of humanists to new evidence and in an echo of previous funny ads, like the Carlsberg ad which stated that it was ‘probably the best lager in the world’. The new ads are dogmatic and declaratory, leaving no room for reason and debate.
Of course, these groups are free to express themselves as they choose. Our ads encouraged people to think for themselves and I am convinced that they will continue to do so.
You can find out more about the Atheist Bus campaign on our Atheist Bus FAQ.
For comment or information, contact Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive, on 020 7079 3583.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent such people, who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.