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Religious Watch


27th November
2008
  

Sleep in on Sunday Mornings...

Major Australian advertising company refuses atheist ads

Atheist Foundation logo 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.

 

9th January
2009
  

Update: There's Probably No God...

Advert censor ponders the unlikely existence of a god

Atheist bus poster 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.

Members of 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 investigation.

There's Probably No God in Spain Either

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

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.

 

17th January
2009
  

Update: There's Probably No God...

But there's plenty of nutters

Atheist bus poster 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.

The advertisements run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

MPs haven't been taking the wise advice and are getting wound up worrying about life.

Gregory Campbell has proposed Early Day Motion 424 : No God Advertising

That this 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.

Bob Spink has proposed Early Day Motion 403 : Offensive Advertisements On Public Transport

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.

 

20th January
2009
  

Updated: Good and Bad News...

Italian atheists wind up Genoa's church bigwigs with bus adverts

Feeding Intolerance campaign 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.

Wow! Talk about pots and kettles.

Update: The Bad News

20th January 2008. See article from telegraph.co.uk

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.

A 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.'

 

22nd January
2009
  

Update: Nutters Must think There's No God...

Advertising censor wisely finds in favour of atheist bus adverts

ASA logo 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 offence.

 

26th January
2009
  

Update: The Voice of Gratitude...

Stephen Green whinges at the ASA

ASA logo 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:

Christian Voice logo 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.

 

31st January
2009
  

Update: Atheists vs Bus Bigots...

Atheist bus advert ban reported to Australia's Human Rights Commission

AFA logo 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.

 

31st January
2009
  

Update: Bussing in the Nutters...

Canadian Nutters that are all for free speech...BUT...

CFAC logo 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.

Brad 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.

 

15th February
2009
  

Update: Ottawa Folks Easily Offended...

Atheist bus adverts banned in Ottawa

Canada flag 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.

 

13th March
2009
  

Update: Master Censors...

Croatian tram company bans atheist adverts after a run of 1 day

Croatia flag According to the Googlish version of the Croatian delo.si report, adverts on Zagreb trams reading Without God, without a master (Brez boga, brez gospodarja) were taken down after only one day.

This in spite of the fact that the Women's Network of Croatia had paid for a month's worth of publicity in advance. A statement from the tram company stated that ads were not allowed.

 

13th March
2009
  

Update: Oh Yes There Is, Oh No There Isn't...

ASA stays well away from the religious debate on the sides of buses

There definitely is a god 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 time.

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 investigation.

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 atheists.

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.

 

20th June
2009
  

Update: There's Almost Certainly No God...

German atheist bus completes its tour

German atheist bus 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 and debate.

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 .

A second 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 about God.

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 .

 

24th June
2009
  

Update: There's Probably No God in Finland...

Bus drivers call off their boycott of atheist buses

Finland flag 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 slogan.

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 launched.

 

31st July
2009
  

Update: There's Probably No God in Indiana...

Indiana town gives away to atheist bus advertising after threat of law suit

You can be good without God From the beginning, the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign said it knew it was going to win the fight against the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation.

After two months, the campaign was given the OK to run the ad You Can Be Good Without God.

We're all elated we won, of course, said Charlie Sitzes, spokesman for the bus campaign: We knew we were going to win the lawsuit.

The decision comes just a week before the lawsuit was supposed to hit federal court in Indianapolis, Sitzes said. On May 9, the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign filed a federal lawsuit against the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation because it rejected the campaign's advertisement proposal. The ad was rejected by Bloomington Public Transportation Corp. because, as its policy reads, Statements of position in support of or in opposition to controversial public issues shall not be accepted.

 

16th August
2009
  

Update: Wavering Beliefs in Free Speech...

Atheist bus adverts in Des Moines

Don't Believe in God: You are not alone 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 up.

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, she said.

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.

 

24th December
2010
  

Update: Good Without God...

Atheist bus campaign still going strong

good without god advert 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.

 

20th April
2011
  

Update: State Internet censor...

Government to press ahead with ISP website blocking

UK Government armsThe 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.