Censorship prevails in a Pennsylvania court supporting a transport company who claim that just the mention of the word 'atheists' is somehow controversial
article from patheos.com
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.
Atheist billboards taken down after receiving hate-mail
|25th August 2012
Earlier this month American Atheists Inc., put up two billboards in Charlotte, NC aimed at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. The billboards questioned the religiosity of the two Presidential candidates.
On Thursday, August
24th, those billboards were taken down.
Directly following an article on the front page of the Fox News website, American Atheists received hundreds of hate e-mails and phone calls according to American Atheists' Managing Director, Amanda Knief.
The reason that the billboards were taken down was not however due to any threats against American Atheists, but were due to threats made toward Adams Outdoor Advertising, who sold the billboard space to the atheist group.
Knief commented in the official Press Release:
It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams
Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately.
No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny---and this includes religion in all forms. We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as
atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats, and hate speech against our staff, volunteers, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.
Teresa MacBain, American Atheists' Public Relations Director also commented in the Press Release:
It saddens me to think that our country is not a safe place for all people to publicly question religious belief. How can we grow as a nation when such censorship exists from our own citizens?
|24th December |
Atheist bus campaign still going strong
Based on article from christianpost.com
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.
|16th August |
Atheist bus adverts in Des Moines
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.
|20th June |
German atheist bus completes its tour
Based on article from
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 .
|13th March |
Croatian tram company bans atheist adverts after a run of 1 day
article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk
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 |
ASA stays well away from the religious debate on the sides of buses
Based on article from
See also Bus ban is the answer to atheists'
prayers from ottawacitizen.com
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.
|15th February |
Atheist bus adverts banned in Ottawa
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.
|31st January |
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.
|31st January |
Canadian Nutters that are all for free speech...BUT...
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.
|26th January |
Stephen Green whinges at the ASA
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.
|22nd January |
Advertising censor wisely finds in favour of atheist bus adverts
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
|20th January |
Italian atheists wind up Genoa's church bigwigs with bus adverts
Based on article
See The religious find a friend in the law from independent.co.uk by Philip Hensher
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.
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.'
|9th January |
Advert censor ponders the unlikely existence of a god
Based on article from telegraph.co.uk
See also We
must demand the use of 'allegedly' when promoting supernatural beings from guardian.co.uk by AC Grayling
See also Next stop the Vatican? from freethinker.co.uk
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
There's Probably No God in Spain Either
Based on article from
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.
|27th November |
Major Australian advertising company refuses atheist ads
Based on article from
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.