Atheist Bus Ads Go Up in Spokane, Washington

This is the ad that just went up on 11 buses in Spokane, Washington, just in time for the Spokane County Interstate Fair:

The Spokane Coalition of Reason put up the ad (thanks to the United Coalition of Reason footing the $4,516 bill).

Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort: “We want people to understand that we are a legitimate part of the community,” said Ray Ideus, a former Lutheran minister-turned-atheist who now directs the Spokane Coalition of Reason. “Individuals like us live throughout the interstate area, across Washington, and elsewhere. We’re your family members and friends, your coworkers and neighbors, and quite possibly the person sitting next to you in church.”

Wait, what?

“Minister-turned-atheist”? Nice! Not only that — it turns out Ideus is responsible for getting crosses removed from the badges of Spokane police chaplains in 2007. (As if the chaplains were only ministering to one particular faith instead of everyone…)

By the way, these ads are the same ones deemed “too controversial” a month ago. If you recall, while the Spokane Transit Authority was fine with the image, “Ooh Media refused to run the ads citing concerns that it could be offensive or harmful to the community.”

However, after attorney Bill Burgess (legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the American Humanist Association) filed a FOIA request asking that Ooh Media present documents showing who else had been denied ad space in the past (and for what reasons), they quickly caved…

Finally, in case you’re wondering why the URL for the Spokane Coalition of Reason is CoRSpokane.org and not SpokaneCoR.org, just click on the latter link to see where it leads… :)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • spokane heathen

    Yay! As an atheist currently living in Spokane, I am thrilled.

    • MariaO

      Why? That is NOT an atheist message. Any text that refers to “God” (capital, singular) agrees to its existance. All the board says is that you do not have to worship said entity. If the theists sees atheists as people who do not worship God even though they know it exists (as this billboard says!), then I understand why they would be wary about you. Cant be that hard to come up with texts that say that you can live well without man-created phantoms in your mind instead.

      • Rieux

        Any text that refers to “God” (capital, singular) agrees to its existance.

        Oh, baloney. By that logic, your own comment “agrees to its existance [sic].”

        God obviously exists—as a character in various fictional narratives. That character, capital “G” and all, is a major part of the worldviews of a large number of people. But overtly recognizing that it’s a fictional character—and to that very relevant extent living “without God”—is a perfectly worthwhile thing to do. It clearly does not involve “agree[ing] to [God's] exist[e]nce” as anything other than a fictional character.

        Harry Potter is just as “capital” and “singular” as God is. Does writing about Harry inevitably mean “agree[ing] to” his existence?

        • Anonymous

          I prefer ‘good without gods’ because the plural lowercase immediately forces the reality of anthropology on the reader- that is, that our species has created a multitude of gods across time and cultures. But I think that subtlety might be lost on a Christian reader; they might agree with that statement as a rejection of false gods and polytheism. But the purpose of such this message is not to convert or annoy the Christian majority, is it? It is to assert the existence and dignity of the godless, or god-free (-less could imply we are lacking something).

          • Rieux

            I prefer ‘good without gods’ because the plural lowercase immediately forces the reality of anthropology on the reader- that is, that our species has created a multitude of gods across time and cultures.

            Okay. I think the CoR version works better myself (more or less for the reason you state in your second sentence), but that preference of yours is much less silly than MariaO’s declaration is.

            But the purpose of such this message is not to convert or annoy the Christian majority, is it? It is to assert the existence and dignity of the godless, or god-free….

            Well, I don’t know; I’m not affiliated with the Spokane group, or indeed with any particular group that’s run one of those “good without God” ads. (Not that I’m intentionally unaffiliated with any such group, either.) I can’t tell you what the sponsors’ “purpose” is.

            My guess is that the CoR ad’s purpose is more about visibility and (if you like) dignity than it is about “convert[ing] or annoy[ing] the Christian majority.” But I don’t think there’s anything inherently ignoble about the latter two intentions. Cheeky challenges to majority privilege, and attempts to change majority members’ minds, can be perfectly worthwhile things.

            (-less could imply we are lacking something).

            Oy. That sounds like MariaO.

            I wouldn’t say that words like “ageless,” “blameless,” “effortless,” “painless,” or (best of all) “fearless” communicate any kind of troublesome lack. And I don’t see any reason we can’t reclaim “godless” as a knowingly ironic term of respect in much the same way that GLBTs have done with “queer,” disabled people have with “cripple,” and so on.

        • MariaO

          Sorry for not expressing myself clearly. Of course “God” does not imply existence (outside the brain) to YOU or to any atheist. But if you are a firmly believing Xian it certainly does. And then the message – to them – becomes: “I can be happy without worshipping or obeying the xian god even though I know he exists.” Which to them will sound like the tantrum of an angry child if not something worse like devil worship.
           
          “…without gods” is much better. But not perfect.

          • Anonymous

            I disagree.  To a Christian “God” exists in the brain too.  They extend their belief and draw connections with the real world that aren’t there.  If that wasn’t the case then they would be able to produce some kind of objective evidence to support their beliefs.  Wouldn’ they?

  • Annie

    Loved the link… too funny.  Do all episcopal churches look like barns… or just in Spokane? 

    I can’t tell you how much I smile each time I read about more billboards going up.  I think some group should do one with a little girl in front of a fuzzy TV screen, with the caption, “We’re heeeere!”  (not really, but it would be funny)

  • guest

    i want to see them go up in the Tri Cities, next!!! woo hoo!!

  • Troymoslemi

    In the 80s, I thought I was the only one there.

  • Troymoslemi

    In the 80s, I thought I was the only one there.

  • Keaton Stagaman

    YAY.  As a native Spokanite (no longer residing there), I must say I find this to be particularly incredible and awesome. 

    @10ea3566a685ca98f971273605d947e2:disqus .  No, not all of them  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_bvvG7r_yBAM/TNdoWPr0d9I/AAAAAAAABHM/ydg_RKYPDoY/s1600/October+2010+235.jpg  (that’s the church I attended growing up there.  I may currently be an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I’ve overcome my home town/church pride).

  • Anonymous

    i did some long distance driving recently. i went thru areas of the country where there were billboards of blonde, blue eyed infants mewling captions that read, essentially, “don’t kill me mommy! jeebus will hate you forever if you do!” over, and over, and over again. i guess i’m an oddball for the fact that i find corporate ads (“bring your kids to Mickey D’s so we can fill them full of poison and sugar and give them diabetes! with a smile!”) offensive as well. i didn’t get quoted in a newspaper article or TV show because i was upset by that; i’m an atheist after all. no one cares how we feel when we’re subjected to religious iconography.

    i really can’t understand xtian privilege. i’m so over it. really, just accept you live in a world where there are others with different belief, already. you can’t kill us all, you can’t make us all go away. you can’t deny science, or the fact that you need it and use it (antibiotics, anyone?). saying the moon glows all on its own doesn’t make that true, and because of the internets, your kids are going to know that fact, no matter how much you smother them. i’m sorry there are no more dinosaurs, because they were interesting and cool. you’re not, and i’m not sorry your kind is going away like they did. 

    • Anonymous

      You’re not that much of an oddball.  Well if you are I’ll join you in your dislike of corporate ads.

      I really hope that these history and science denying luddites will fade into obscurity but unfortunately I think that they are just getting more and more extreme.  We atheists (well more you atheists in Jesusland, south of Canada) are the candle in the dark as far as I can tell.  

    • Sardog

      “i’m sorry there are no more dinosaurs, because they were interesting and cool.”
      Ever sat and watched a chicken? Direct descendants. 

    • MariaO

      It’s strange that feticide is so horrendoues to the same people usually have no problem with - in fact usually applaud – adulticide by the state.

  • http://twitter.com/deanrobertsnet Dean Roberts

    Interesting that the people making the adverts think that people put their trust in God to be ‘good’…

    http://deanroberts.net

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I should be emailing this, but there is a new billboard in Grand Rapids, MI now:

    http://www.cfimichigan.org/
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150273926717199.335749.104519787198

    So far, no one has gone ape over it, which is pretty surprising, given how strongly Christian this part of Michigan is known to be.  I’m pretty sure Washington state is down the list in that regard.

    • Lorraine

      While overall, Washington has a higher rate of unchurched, eastern Washington is more conservative and religious.

  • Rieux

    Julia Sweeney’s (Catholic) mother might see the ads, if the elder Ms. Sweeney still lives in Spokane. If she does, I hope she sees them as fond reminders of her daughter.

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Whoot! This is the closest the billboards have come to me so far.

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Whoot! This is the closest the billboards have come to me so far.

  • 7fta

    I live in Central Oregon, a few hours south of Spokane, and heard a local news station commenting about “the spokane controversy” this morning.  So the adds seem to be getting great coverage!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X