Atheist Bus Ads ‘Disappear’ in Kelowna, British Columbia

It was less than a month ago that a couple atheist bus ads went up in Kelowna, British Columbia:

All of a sudden, with two weeks left to go on their contract, the two ads have just “disappeared”

Executive Director with the Centre for Inquiry says he’s been told by Lamar Advertising, it was a professional hit.

“They weren’t simply ripped off or graffitti. Apparently, to their knowledge, this has never happened before.”

The two buses were parked in a bus yard that has security around the clock.

According to a press release from CFI – Vancouver:

Jamie Williams, Executive Director of CFI Vancouver, commented: “The amount of effort put into this demonstrates how necessary the campaign is. We’re not asking that people agree with us, just that they respect our right to be heard.”

There’s no word on who the culprits are… but I would hope Lamar Advertising replaces them at no extra cost to the Center for Inquiry. If CFI has to bear the cost for a replacement ad, it’d be great PR for a local church to raise money for the effort (“We may disagree with them, but we are appalled that anyone would do this. They have a right to their beliefs just as we do”).

Now, let’s see those security tapes…

(Thanks to Loren for the link)

***Update***: Crommunist at Canadian Atheist writes:

To add further insult to injury, Lamar — the advertising company responsible for creating and posting the ads — has told CFI Canada that the responsibility to replace the missing billboards is theirs. This, after being told that any vandalism to the signs would result in their immediate removal, reeks of the most egregious hypocrisy. Apparently in the ideological conflict between those who stand for the legal right to free speech and those that would silence dissenting minority opinions through illegal acts of censorship, Lamar has decided to side with the vandals…


  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    Yes. People are *so very* secure in their beliefs that they’re willing to go so far just to prevent someone else’s from being seen.

    Seriously, even if this was something seriously offensive (and not just an innocuous atheism ad), how obsessive do you have to be to do something so elaborate? Even if it was something that really, truly crossed me as morally reprehensible, I still wouldn’t feel the need to go to such lengths to desecrate it.

    Then again, I feel that efforts should always be justified by a positive end-goal, not just the destruction of someone else.

    Yes, I know religious fanatics like to justify stupid acts of crime and vandalism by saying that it’s “for the greater good” — for example, that vandalizing an atheist bus ad will somehow keep some otherwise-freethought-prone individual(s) from accidentally discovering atheism — but that’s not a reason, it’s just an excuse to give in to primal arrogance and selfishness.

  • Larry Meredith

    This probably won’t be considered a crime for long under our new Conservative majority government…

  • http://healthyhumanist.blogspot.com Jay Knight

    It’s not so much that they are insecure in their own beliefs as it is they are worried for the salvation of others. To Christians, for example, doubt sends you to eternal torment. They want to suppress atheism to “save” the undecided or ignorant.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom is Money

    I know where they are. Get a bigger boat and find that Ogopogo! Slice him open and get those banners back.

  • Michael

    I saw a strange, twitchy, nervous lady on my campus a couple weeks ago tearing down atheist Easter flyers. Eye contact spooked her and she ran away. I was told I’d need pictures of her doing it red-handed in order to have anything done about it.
    I don’t know what to do about those people.

  • Jamie

    With the Canadian census taking place this week it’s no wonder that fundies are going out of their way to take out anything that could somehow convince the Canadians with the long-version form to choose “No religion” as their affiliation. I hope the bastards get caught.

  • Richard Wade

    (Cue Mission: Impossible theme music)

    The Christian Ninja Cat Burglar, dressed entirely in skin-tight black leaps deftly over the fence, clearing the razor wire by inches. His body, light and lithe like a ballet dancer is visible only for a second against the stars. He lands without a sound and seamlessly rolls under a parked bus, checking for guards. With flawless accuracy aided by his inside information, he locates the two offending buses and efficiently unscrews the frames holding the atheist ads. He rolls them up and tucks them into the tube strapped like a samurai sword to his back. Retracing his steps, nothing but a shadow within shadows, he climbs to the top of the bus parked close to the fence, runs its length and sails again over the fence. Gone into the night, as if he never was. Nothing but a passing dream, forgotten upon awakening. Mission accomplished. The Kelowna Brethren will reward him well.

  • Opium_4_the_Masses
  • Charlotte

    I’m originally from Kelowna, and many people there take their religion extremely seriously (despite it being in supposedly-liberal Canada). Grown adults talking about being “warriors for Christ” and all that. I was astonished to hear that these ads were going up, but this isn’t surprising at all – it was only a matter of time.

    …Just taking a moment to savour the irony of the fact that these people no doubt belong to an evangelical church that has no problem broadcasting their own beliefs (and that commandment about not stealing).

  • Pureone

    I think they were carried away by all the Darwin Fish that have disappeared over the years. Like a swarming colony of ants overpowering their prey…

  • Richard P.

    Isn’t there a commandment about doing this sort of thing?

    I guess it just proves the depth of hypocrisy there is in those religious folks.

    Feelings of deep shame and remorse, remembering I was once one of them. Okay, I’m over it now.

  • I am OK

    This is kinda sad. That someone went to that extent for a couple of busads. And why? It’s just so stupid the lengths people will go to. The way I see it, if God can have his “divine mission” foiled by a couple of bus ads then… well, do I really need to finish that sentence.

  • parv

    Am I the only one to associate the color scheme with “Dunkin’ Donuts” signage?

  • stogoe

    Inside job. Seriously. Bus driver or maintenance employee.

    As an aside, Kelowna is the name of a planet* in Stargate SG-1, which was produced in Vancouver. As a big fan of Stargate (and of the many basic cable shows that are shot in and around Vancouver), I can’t help but think of Kelowna as an alien world.

    *Yes, it was explicitly named after the city. They said so on the commentaries.

  • Parse

    I can sorta see things from Lamar’s side: “If you want to run a (in our view) controversial message, we’ll let you, but we won’t be responsible when some yokel spray paints over it.”

    However, that’s not what happened here. The signs were stolen, not defaced. If somebody broke into their bus yard and stole some tools, I’m sure they would have already filed a police report and insurance claim. Why isn’t the bus company (or more likely, their insurance company) responsible for the replacement costs of the signs?

  • CanadianNihilist

    I think we all new this would happen. When the story of the billboards was first posted here I said

    It almost looks, to the cynical eye i.e. mine, that Joanna Linsangan is telling religious people that there’s nothing she can do about the ads, however if you go and vandalize them or threaten the bus drivers then the ads come down and we win.

    And that’s exactly what happened, who is surprised?
    Now I’ll sit back and wait for the religious poster of this site to tell us why breaking the law is justified if it’s for their cause.

  • Cents

    Just hope this raises the visibility of the fight between Atheism and religion. Another clash between us rational folk and those immoral religious lawbreakers. The must have did this because of an anti-bus sign decree in their religious book (it was in there somewhere right after stoning people for working on the sabbath).

  • penn

    I don’t think Lamar should be responsible, but the bus company should. Lamar just makes the signs. There wasn’t anything they could do about them being stolen. But, the CFI’s property was stolen while in the care of the bus company.

  • http://www.cvaas.org Calladus

    When our group first investigated putting up billboards several years ago, only the Lamar company was available in Fresno. We were told they were not interested in our billboards.

    CBS came through for the Central Valley Coalition of Reason (valleycor.org) admirably.

  • James J.

    It would be nice if the atheist group could show definitive legal cause and had the money to sue. Does this policy exist with other billboard signs?

  • dude

    what kind of genius posts in block letters there is no God? its just too inflaming. I dont think it should have been vandalized but I dont think it should have been put up in that manner. ignorance breeds ignorance

  • Another Steve

    If you get offended by that kind of slogan your faith can’t be very strong. If your faith, religion or god can’t take even such miniscule criticism it’s not worth anything whatsoever.

  • dude

    an insult is an insult. I dont go to the Sihk temple with a shirt saying Hinduism for life, and I dont go to the site of the world trade center with a banner stating the peaceful intentions of Islam. Only a fool would think a banner that proudly proclaims there is no God is not insulting. If you actually look at the banner you can see the focus is not teach but to offend. All they had to do was post there meeting times and no one would have cared

  • Parse

    @Dude:
    If we’re allowed to use the same reasoning you do, any religious billboard is insulting. Only a fool would think that a banner saying that threatens nonbelievers with hell is not insulting. Or that a billboard saying that Jesus died for our sins is not inflaming.

    But just because you don’t like something, just because you personally find something insulting, doesn’t mean that you get to censor what we have to say. Be grateful for this – because it means that if a more powerful group happens to find what you have to say offensive, they are unable to censor you.

    (This is especially true since we aren’t going into your church to shout our message. We’re using an existing, public forum to spread awareness.)

  • dude

    I agree completely parse; however as insulting as i find ads that proclaim the superiority of one religion or insult others I find no reason to support an atheist ad that does the same thing. I would never state that religion belongs in school any more then it belongs on public transport. People often take the bus by nescessity not always by choice; they do not deserve to have their faith insulted as they go to work or school. ANY religious teaching does not belong on the bus or public transportation

  • JustSayin’

    ANY religious teaching does not belong on the bus or public transportation

    That’s probably true, dude, but until that grand day, we have to counter the constant barrage of religious messages by adopting the same tactics. It just irks me that not a word of complaint seems to be uttered until someone from our side of the debate has the audacity to speak up and rock the boat. Then people such as yourself waltz in and try to paint the nonbelievers as the aggressors.


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