Stephen Rees's blog

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

‘Good without God’ ad finds believers in Vancouver

with 4 comments

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

Translink’s advertising firm in Vancouver recently approved the ads, and they are expected to appear in SeaBus terminals in a couple of weeks, according to Pat O’Brien, the president of Humanist Canada.

The same ads have been rejected in Halifax NS and Victoria BC

It seems to me to be a bit pointless. It is not as if we are bombarded with evangelicalism on transit. The original British ads were a riposte to a somewhat aggressive series of ads which linked to a web page which threatens non-believers with hell fire and damnation. So far as I am aware there has been no such campaign here – on transit or indeed in any media that I scan. Of course there are all sorts of places where people proselytise, including my doorstep. And there are even faith based tv channels and so on. But nearly all of this is easy to avoid. And as an atheist myself, I see little point in trying to persuade people that they do not need to believe ten impossible things before breakfast. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs – and freedom of religion must of course include freedom from religion. Of all kinds.

So if you are a true believer in the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster, or a Mormon or a Scientologist, I think you are welcome here – and on transit. Just stop bugging everyone else about it!

And then I stumbled upon this image which I cannot resist posting

Religion flies you into buildings

Religion flies you into buildings

Written by Stephen Rees

February 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Transportation

4 Responses

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  1. Fair enough too.

    I wish that we ‘believers’ would spend more time living what we claim to believe, and less time shouting at other people in the hope they will agree with us.

    Andy in Germany

    February 3, 2009 at 10:47 pm

  2. I kind of agree. People can believe whatever they want. However, there are so many religions that don’t let US, as atheists, alone, so I think we kind of have to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and promote atheism simply to draw attention to the fact we are a pluralist society.

    Larry R

    February 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

  3. Nice slogan. Reminds me of Christopher Hitchens’ ‘God is Not Great’ book’s point about the danger of blindly (or even not so blindly) following religious ‘teachings’.

    One thing that really bothered me when I lived in the US is that I not able to reveal that I was an atheist, even if it came up in casual conversation. For the vast majority of Americans, it is impossible to imagine moral or ethical conduct without a religious component. My lack of belief, then, indicated that I had also had no moral compass. I was at best, misguided, and at worst, a danger to society, on par with pedophiles and drug dealers. With the assumption that talking about one’s beliefs is also nearly always to proselytize, you get into even more trouble. (Remember those fears by so many that homosexuals were out to ‘turn their children gay’?) Not only was I defective, I was a potential corrupter of others.

    It’s against that kind of backdrop of ignorance and intolerance (partly through the fact that so many atheists in the US hide as I did) that led people to assume that religious belief was normal and that lack of it was an aberration. For that reason, I’m glad that the ads are there, simply because they say ‘We’re out there, and we don’t walk around hurting and killing people because you think we’re sociopaths with no morals.’

    I stood up straight in my chair when I heard Obama actually mention ‘non-believers’ in his Inauguration speech. What a contrast to this exchange, in 1987:

    Q: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are Atheists?

    Bush: No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.


    February 5, 2009 at 10:57 am

  4. David – you may not have seen the following letter to the editor of the Gaurdian Weekly

    Journalists struggling to find a fitting epitaph for the Bush presidency could do worse than quote H.L.Menken: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

    John Brennen, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Aus

    Stephen Rees

    February 5, 2009 at 2:31 pm

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