Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Atheists hope (don’t pray) to bring ads to Toronto

with 3 comments

Globe and Mail

This story goes back to London, where christian evangelist advertising on buses prompted atheists to have a whip round for some riposte ads of their own.

“There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”

Actually in atheist circles the word “probably” itself became controversial.

Ariane Sherine started the campaign after noticing ads on London buses that led curious readers to a website that suggested non-Christians would spend eternity in hell.

Initially, Sherine hoped to raise enough money to post ads on 30 buses in London. The campaign received enough donations to buy ads on 800 buses across the U.K.

(source : MacLeans)
There is now a group who wants to do the same thing in Toronto – it has already spread to Washington, Barcelona and Madrid.

So I posed the question to Ken Hardie – would such ads offend the rules in Vancouver? Because, as far as I know, we have not been bombarded with hell fire and brimstone from religious groups in bus ads. But then maybe I missed them. The ads I tend to notice seem to concentrate either on pushing high priced loans – or debt counselling (which is nicely balanced).

Ken replied (very quickly, thank you Ken) that it probably would

As you know, we have resisted material that raises controversy so as not
to put transit workers on the firing line.  Some people who don’t like
something they see on a bus tend to take it out on the operator, and
nobody should have to deal with that kind of abuse.

We’re awaiting a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the business of
political ads on the system — you’ll recall that the BCTF challenged
our refusal to accept their ads…we won the first round but they
succeeded on appeal and there were a few political campaign ads on the
system during the last federal campaign.

Except of course these are not political ads but religious ads – or more properly anti-religious ads. Because atheism is not a religion or even a belief system. It is based, as Jon Stewart likes to put it, on rationalism.

As long as there are not ads on buses pushing religion then we don’t need the opposite either – so the whole thing should be moot.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Because the only car cards I enjoy reading are Poetry in Transit.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Posted in transit

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3 Responses

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  1. I like the Poetry in Transit panels as well. The winners of the most ironic category of ads would be those ‘learn to speak English’ ads that are entirely written… wait for it… in English!

    Todd Sieling

    January 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

  2. has been advertising on buses in Vancouver for as long as I can remember, close to 30 years… I _think_ they’re a pro-life group.

    Last week I noticed an ad on SkyTrain advocating Swiss Cheese from Switzerland… hardly “100 mile diet” friendly.


    January 16, 2009 at 10:53 pm

  3. […] a comment » It seems the controversy we thought we might avoid (discussed here some time ago) is coming to the SeaBus terminal if not the buses themselves. The CBC has now learned that […]

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