Christian Parody of Atheist Ad Ranked #4 Most-Complained-About Ad of All Time, Says UK Watchdog Group

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, the ASA released a list of the most “complained-about ads of all time.”

Not making it into the Top Ten list: The Ariane-Sherine-inspired ad that began the worldwide atheist billboard barrage:

Taking the #4 spot on the list: The response ad put out by The Christian Party:

Complainants objected that the strap line ‘There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life’ was offensive to atheists and couldn’t be substantiated. Political party ads are out of our remit, but even if it had been in remit we wouldn’t have banned it because it was clearly a statement of opinion, rather than fact.

Amazingly, the #5 most-complained-about ad of all time featured the Pope supporting condom usage…

(Thanks to @Jonzee72 for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    I seem to recall that the word “probably” got added in to the atheist add by request of one of the advertising bureaus? Can someone confirm that? If that’s the case, why exactly is the Christian add not need any sort of similar wording but actually gets the word “definitely” as acceptable? 

    • JenniferT

      The “probably” was a slight hedge against possible trouble with the ASA but it wasn’t added at anyone’s request; it was there in the proposed slogan right from the start. Carlsberg had used the same hedge with their slogan “Probably the best lager in the world” and Ariane Sherine reasoned that if they got away with that, she could get away with “There’s probably no god”.

      In the end, the ASA wimped out and basically said neither the atheist ad nor the christian ad was their problem. In practice, the ASA are pretty useless.

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        Thanks that clarifies that a fair bit. Good to know that the ASA wasn’t the cause here. (That looks like the correct decision, really who wants the ASA to have to think carefully about how likely it is that there is or not a deity?) 

    • http://www.facebook.com/Lewie.Lewie Lewis Cox

      It’s called “bias.”

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        See JenniferT’s remark. Apparently not. 

    • Whyzaaz

      “Probably” because not all athiests are sure there is no God

  • David McNerney

    Had to look up some words there because the word “definitely” doesn’t sound like an opinion to me.

    But it led me to this lovely quote:

    “Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.” - Oscar Wilde 

    Nice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    “and couldn’t be substantiated”

    Well, yeah.

  • Aimee

    Speaking of advertising….. the Church of Latter Day Saints is trying to hone in on the Friendly Atheist.   It gives me mixed feelings to see these ads, one is that it is really no different from the Best Buy ad to my right at the moment because it is selling something to the public, but at the same time it is annoying.  *sigh*

    • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

       Preaching Mormonism here is basically as effective as the crazy homeless guy ranting about the end of the world. Let them waste their money here instead of donating to out-of-state reactionary oppressive political causes.

    • http://commonsensehumanism.blogspot.com/ Justalittlecommonsense

      when you see mormon ads online, CLICK THEM. Google ads are paid for on a per-click basis, meaning that the movement of your finger will cost the mormon church real money. 

      Even better, if the ad showed up on an atheist site, the site owner will get paid for the click. 
      It’s worth reading up on how the google-ad machinery works – it’ll allow you to distribute some funding without having to actually donate any of your own money. Just the movement of a finger…

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Even them having to assert that there “definitely is a god” shows that they are on the defensive. 

    If someone had to put up an add saying “There definitely is gravity”, it would make me stop and think, “OK, clearly there must be some back-story where some people are doubting gravity”. 

    Thus, in an odd way their own add raises doubts about god’s existence. 

    • Whyzaaz

      I am sure there are people who are not sure if God exists or not. Definitely does not show someone is defensive at all. 
      Try using “probably” instead of “definitely” in a work setting or any other everyday life situation and see what people think. Probably means almost sure but not entirely.

      • jdm8

        I think the fact they replied and make the strongly affirmative assertion (definitely), while using the graphic design of the group they are replying to, suggests they are on the defensive.

  • Michael

    Indeed, we don’t mind people having different religious opinions as long as they shut up about them. Putting them on buses is going to attract rolled eyes, tuts and occasional stern letters to people. More commonly the Times than the ASA.

    For comparison, note that Judi Dench will get more complaints for saying Fuck on screen than any other British thespian.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Am I the only who immediately thought:

    “Don’t be shtupid, be a shmarty, come and join the Nazi Party!”

    • Onamission5

      My first though was to put up an ad… ”God’s name is definitely Poseiden. Everybody get in the water and grab their tridents!”

      Since things which are definite seem to be a matter of speculation and not facts, I guess I get to make any definite claim I want, and I (at this moment) want that one.

    • Anonymous

       I thought Communists, but okay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9702013 Rachel Antony-Levine

    It’s amazing how threatening atheism seems to some religious folks.  Why be upset by it if you know that it’s false?

  • Craig Jacobsohn

    Good grief atheists can be so sensitive. It’s just an opinion and a valid one at that.

  • Craig Jacobsohn

    Good grief atheists can be so sensitive at times. The ad is just an opinion and it is as valid as the atheist one. Learn some tolerance people.

  • Allen Slea

    What’s offensive about that?  It’s wrong and kinda funny, but not offensive.

  • JimBobGuthrie

    I don’t find either one offensive.  I’d be a horrible European.