Comedy writer Ariane Sherine was confronted with an advert on a bus that saying she and all her nonbelieving friends are going to “spend all eternity in torment.” That moment a new type of ad campaign was thought up.
Starting this past week 800 buses in London carry a Atheist message.
“There’s probably no God,” the advertisements say. “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The Atheist Bus Campaign has put forth a godless message on the side of London buses since Tuesday. When the group made the announcement of their effort in October they hoped to raise about $80,000. They were off a bit. In four days $150,000 came filtering in. There is now $200,000 to use for the 800 bus advertisements going across Britain.
The new signs are not getting all positive feedback but many appreciate the freedom of speech aspect.
The American Humanist Association ran bus ads in Washington during November. The message featured a man in a Santa suit and the words, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.”
A similar campaign was forbidden in Australia. That group had wanted to put the ad: “Atheism: Sleep in on Sunday mornings” up on buses.
As for the London based group all is going well. Next week there will be 1,000 advertisements placed in the subway system. Those ads will be featuring quotes from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Douglas Adams and Katherine Hepburn.
The group knows that it is walking a thin gray line. By using the word “probably” is more agnostic than atheist. That word though, being an element of doubt, is how the group could meet the guidelines for British advertising.
The New York Times reports that Tim Bleakley, managing director for sales and marketing at CBS Outdoor in London, understood why the group would want the ads that have been placed on his buses.
Mr. Bleakley said he had no problem with the atheist bus ads. “We do have religious organizations that promote themselves,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t believe in religion, why wouldn’t we carry an ad that promotes the opposite view? To coin a phrase, it’s not for us to play God.”