FaithWorld

U.S. atheists sue to run bus ads for a God-free lifestyle

(Bus ad created with Bus Slogan Generator/Photo: Jon Worth c/o atheistbus.org.uk)

A coalition of atheists is accusing a United States city bus line of violating their rights to free speech in a fight to place ads on public buses praising a God-free lifestyle. The Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason alleged in a lawsuit that the Central Arkansas Transit Authority in Little Rock and its advertising agency are discriminating against the group because they’re being required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to put $5,000 worth of ads on 18 buses.

The ads would read: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” Other groups, including churches, have not been required to pay the fee, which amounts to $36,000 in insurance in case of an attack on the buses by angry Christians, according to the lawsuit.

The insurance was requested by the transit agency’s advertising firm, On The Move Advertising, officials said. Because a handful of similar ads had been vandalized in other states, the ad agency required the payment for insurance reasons, said Jess Sweere, an attorney representing the transit authority.

“To my knowledge, OTMA has not requested this in the past because no other advertiser told them their ads were vandalized in other markets,” Sweere told Reuters.

100 pilgrims killed in stampede at Hindu festival in India

sabarimalaA stampede sparked by a night-time road accident in dense forest has killed more than 100 Hindu pilgrims in the southern state of Kerala in India. Kerala’s deputy general of police told reporters that 102 people who visited the Sabarimala Temple to offer prayers to the Hindu deity Ayappa had been killed on Friday night. Officials at a Hindu temple estimated the death toll at around 100, Kerala Temple Affairs Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally said by telephone. (Photo: Pilgrims at Sabarimala Temple, January 15, 2003/Dipak Kumar)

Hundreds of thousands had gathered at the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala on Friday evening, the last day of an annual two-month religious festival. A bus carrying pilgrims back to the neighbouring state of Karnataka collided with a jeep and went out of control, crushing people walking nearby, Kadannappally said. Panicked pilgrims rushed forward, triggering a stampede.

“They came down the hillside… this happened primarily because the area was totally dark,” Jacob Punnoose, Kerala Deputy General of Police told Times Now TV channel.

“Ordain women,” London bus ads will urge Pope Benedict during September visit

CWO BUS

Pope Benedict will be confronted by posters on London’s famous red buses during his trip to the British capital next month which will call for the ordination of women priests.

One group of women, Catholic Women’s Ordination (CWO), will have its message plastered on the side of the buses as they travel along key routes, including past Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster, where the pope is set to deliver a speech to Britain’s civic society on September 17.

The group has paid 15,000 pounds ($23,130) for 15 buses to carry the message “Pope Benedict – Ordain Women Now!” for a month. “We do not want to be disruptive, but I think the church has got to change or it will not survive,” CWO spokeswoman Pat Brown told Reuters. “I am quite hopeful at the moment because I think the church is in disarray.”

“Definitely a God” poster tops UK ad complaints

christian party

A bus poster which claimed “There definitely is a God, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life” attracted more complaints than any other advert last year, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday.

More than 1,200 people complained that the Christian Party‘s advert was offensive to atheists and could not be substantiated.

The poster was a response to an ad campaign last year by the British Humanist Association which stated “There’s probably no God — now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”  The ASA did not investigate either of the adverts, saying political party campaigns were outside its remit.

Atheist bus ad campaigns stalling in Germany

god-bus1

The Atheist Bus Campaign, launched in London by the best-selling biologist Richard Dawkins, has been copied in 10 countries, mostly but not always with success. It seems to have stalled in Germany. The campaign there, which has its own website called www.buskampagne.de, reports that the transit authorities in Berlin, Cologne and Munich have turned down their requests to run the ads. The campaign will continue trying to run the ads in other German cities.

The campaign asked contributors to choose among different suggested ad formats and the one below won. All three say in the first line “There is (almost certainly) no God.” It’s interesting that they add that qualifier,  which literally translates as “with a probability bordering on certainty.” Could it be they’re not that convinced after all?

The second lines vary and they translate as (1) “A fulfilled life doesn’t need faith.” (2) “Values are human — it’s up to us” and (3) “Enlightenment means taking responsibility.”