Celebrating a new kind of holiday tradition, the American Humanist Association has launched a new advertising campaign similar to the one that ran in the nation’s capital last year, which made headlines around the globe. Only this year, instead of the campaign focusing on a single location, ads will be blazoned across transit systems in five cities–including Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco–marking the first-ever nation-wide humanist holiday advertising campaign.
“No God?…No Problem!” proclaim the ads, featuring an image of several smiling, Santa hat-clad individuals. The ads will kick off in Washington, D.C. in time for Thanksgiving weekend, running inside 200 buses, fifty rail cars and on the side or tail of twenty buses. The campaign will continue with ads appearing on select buses in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco starting in early December.
To see images of the ads and find more information about the campaign please visit: http://www.americanhumanist.org/press/2009_Holiday_Ads
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, explained, “We’re hoping this campaign will build awareness about the humanist movement and our ethical life philosophy–particularly among the ‘nones:’ the rapidly growing percentage of people who claim no religion.”
Since 2005, humanist advertising has become increasingly visible, in particular with highway billboards erected in major cities across the United States. And last year, the American Humanist Association sparked national controversy by advertising the slogan “Why Believe in a God? Just be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” which appeared on Washington, D.C. Metro buses.
This year’s holiday campaign aims to promote the idea of being good without God. For example, on D.C. ads that appear on the interior of Metro cars and buses the slogan is accompanied by the explanation, “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.”
“Humanists have always understood that striving to make the world a better place is one of humanity’s most important responsibilities,” said Speckhardt. “Religion does not have a monopoly on morality–millions of people are good without believing in God.”
Speckhardt pointed to the false assumption held by many that not believing in God indicates a lack of morality as the reason for needing such advertising campaigns. “We want to change the way people think and talk about nontheists, and to pave the way for acceptance of humanism as a valid and positive philosophy of life.
“We also want nontheists to know there is a community of like-minded individuals out there they can connect with,” continued Speckhardt. “Many feel uncomfortable talking openly about their personal beliefs because of prejudice against them–they fear they’ll be rejected by their family, their friends and their community, and in some cases, they even fear retaliation for their beliefs. But the American Humanist Association provides an accepting community for nontheists to turn to for support and ways to get involved.”
Speckhardt noted that the response to nontheist advertising is generally positive, although there have been a few confined instances of negative reactions against them. Most notable include a Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard that had to be relocated after the owner of the billboard property claimed to receive threats and an American Humanist Association billboard in Moscow, Idaho that was vandalized twice in a three week period.
“We understand our message may seem controversial to some, but it certainly isn’t our purpose to offend anyone,” concluded Speckhardt. “Of course, it’s obvious that many people are also good with a belief in God, so I hope we can all find common ground.”
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.