The UK’s first ever atheist advertising campaign launches this week. 800 buses with the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” are running in cities across England, Scotland and Wales, along with 1,000 adverts on the London underground and two large LCD screens on Oxford Street in London.
The campaign, which is supported by Professor Richard Dawkins and IHEU member organization the British Humanist Association, and in Scotland by the Humanist Society of Scotland, is a response to a series of evangelical Christian adverts running on London buses in June 2008, which featured the URL of a website saying all non-Christians were going to hell. Comedy writer Ariane Sherine suggested the rational, positive slogan to reassure people who may have been scared by the evangelical adverts.
Ariane Sherine, Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee launch the first Atheist Bus in London | Picture © Jon Worth / British Humanist Association
The Atheist Bus Campaign’s donation phase launched in October 2008, aiming to raise just £5,500. However, within four days it had raised £100,000 in individual donations from the general public. It has now raised over £135,000, smashing its original target.
There will be four new atheist adverts running on London’s tube network from Monday January 12, featuring quotations from famous atheists:
“I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe that there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people” – Katharine Hepburn
“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams
“I do not believe in a personal God and have never denied this but have expressed it clearly” – Albert Einstein
“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” – Emily Dickinson
The tube adverts were revealed on 6 January 2009 at a Central London campaign launch by Professor Dawkins, the Father Ted TV writer Graham Linehan, newspaper columnist and BHA President Polly Toynbee and philosopher Professor A C Grayling.
In addition, two large LCD screens (80 square feet and 40 square feet respectively) on Oxford Street (situated opposite Bond Street tube) will display an animated version of the atheist slogan.
Ariane Sherine, creator of the Atheist Bus Campaign, said, “You wait ages for an atheist bus, then 800 come along at once. I hope they’ll brighten people’s days and make them smile on their way to work.”
Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, said, “The incredible response to the Atheist Campaign shows just how many atheists out there have been looking for a voice. Now that the buses are rolling out across the country, I feel sure that everyone with non-religious beliefs who spots one of these buses on the streets will be delighted to see what this amazing appeal has achieved.”
The buses will be running in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Leeds, Newcastle, Dundee, Sheffield, Coventry, Devon, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Swansea, Newport, Rhondda, Bristol, Southampton, Newcastle and Aberdeen.
Since its donation phase began in October, the Atheist Bus Campaign has inspired atheist organisations across the world to launch their own bus campaigns. Spain’s Union of Atheists and Freethinkers is launching buses across Barcelona today with the UK slogan translated into Spanish, Italy’s Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists is also planning a bus campaign, while the American Humanist Association has brought out atheist bus adverts in Washington DC.
Full details of the UK campaign can be found at http://www.atheistbus.org.uk