The Atheist Bus Campaign

So now we do not only have religious campaigns in the public domain, but also atheist. It is becoming more interesting by the day. In the UK the the atheist bus campaign started by Ariane Sherine who writes columns for the The Guardian Comment Is Free (CIF) site after seeing Christian adverts on buses which featured the URL of a website which said that non-Christians would burn in hell. It has been supported by the British Humanist Association and professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. Interesting in the slogan ‘There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life‘is the degree of uncertainty (probably) in the text.

In the US the American Humanist Association has recently started the campaign ‘Godless Holiday’ witht the ad Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake. Earlier this year there was also the campaign Don’t Believe In God? You Are Not Alone. Here the campaign reflect the uncertainty of the British ads, but merely question the belief in a God.

In the Netherlands website Retecool now also tries to start a similar campaign God bestaat niet, stop met mekkeren en geniet van het leven (God doesn’t exist, stop wining and enjoy life). The degree of uncertainty or merely questioning others beliefs has disappeared and the absence of a God is stated as a matter of fact. The Dutch have already been accustomed to religious (Christian) ads at bus stops and train stations by the League Against Blasphemy and Swearing.

The poster is a protest against abusing the name of God or Jesus in swearing, stating that of the 20.000 first names (such as Martijn) only one is used in swearing: Jesus and that many people consider that name to be sacred and should therefore be treated with respect. Of course I couldn’t resist using a poster featuring my name 😉 

The first attempt is never easy given the refusal of one buscompany (or better said the advertisement company) to run the ads. The Netherlands has a very long tradition of (atheist) humanism and there are many humanist organisation but as far as I know the Dutch Humanist Association or the Humanist Alliance are not involved in this project.

Recently we have seen an increasing awareness among Christians and Muslims of their religious identity and the expressions of that in the public domain. On the other hand we have also seen that symbols previously not regarded as problematic religious symbols have become increasinly problematized. We also saw attempts to revive the blasphemy laws, plans for abolishing the laws all together and now the proposal to strike the blasphemy law and to extend the anti-discrimination laws in such a way that they include religious sensibilities. One of the differences compared to past, I think, is that there are people now defending the secular identity of Dutch society. If the plan of Retecool succeeds I don’t know, but it would fit in the politicization of the boundaries between religious and secular in the public domain. This politicization is an interesting development (although not necessary positive) so I will keep u updated.

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