Atheist buses: next stop the Vatican?

Atheist buses: next stop the Vatican? January 8, 2009

THIS week saw the appearance in London of the first buses bearing the atheist campaign slogan There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Celebrating the appearance of London's first atheist ad buses are, from left, Ariane Sherine, Prof Richard Dawkins and journalist Polly Toynbee
Celebrating the appearance of London's first atheist ad buses are, from left, Ariane Sherine, Prof Richard Dawkins and journalist Polly Toynbee
Significantly, buses bearing the identical slogan in Spanish began running in Barcelona in the same week  – testimony to the fact that non-believers are mobilising as never before.
The Barcelona ads are being funded by Spain’s Union of Atheists and Freethinkers  – and they appear at a time when relations between the Spanish government and the Vatican are, to say the least, frazzled.
You can contribute to the Spanish campaign by visiting their site here, which has a donations button at the top of the page, on right,
According to Mediawatchwatch, the prickly Catholic archbishopric of Barcelona hit back by issuing a statement saying:

Faith in God is not a source of worry, nor is it an obstacle for enjoying life.

Javier Maria Perez-Roldan of the church’s Tomas Moro centre, blamed the socialist government for the privately funded campaign.

The ad in Spanish on a Barcelona bus
The ad in Spanish on a Barcelona bus

It is an attack on all religions. The government has created an atmosphere of belligerence.

But if the Catholic Church is dismayed by the lack of respect it is now experiencing in Spain – once a thumping great jewel in the Catholic crown – it will be incandescent with rage if the campaign rolls onto it own hallowed turf.
This is a distinct possibility. Yesterday, Ariane Sherine – who set the atheist bus campaign in motion in the UK by by firing up the imagination of non-believers throughout the country and in many places abroad – revealed in the Guardian that Italy’s Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists are planning to roll out atheist buses too.
In a campaign update published in the Comment is Free spot, she revealed:

Today, thanks to many Cif readers, the overall total raised for the Atheist Bus Campaign stands at a truly overwhelming £135,000, breaking our original target of £5,500 by over 2400%. Given this unexpected amount, I’m very excited to tell you that 800 buses – instead of the 30 we were initially aiming for – are now rolling out across the UK with the slogan … in locations all over England, Scotland and Wales, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Cardiff, Devon, Leeds, Bristol and Aberdeen.

She also revealed that the campaign is now poised to make its presence felt on the London Underground. From Monday, January 12, 1,000 tube ads will run on tube trains, and will featuring atheist quotations from people like Douglas Adams, Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson and Katharine Hepburn alongside the original campaign slogan.
An animated version of the slogan will also appear on two large LCD screens on Oxford Street, opposite Bond Street tube station.
The fact that enough money has been raised to take this campaign to levels Sherine and her supporters never thought possible should not deter readers from continuing to donate cash to the cause. This will make possible an effective and enduring campaign against nonsensical religious propaganda, and will inspire others in furtherflung places to launch similar campaigns too.
You can make a donation here.
Non-believers, for far too long, have been deprived of a voice. This campaign has given us an unprecedented  opportunity to herald our presence, and to show how proud and happy we are to be living god-free lives.
Long may the atheist buses (and tubes) run!

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  • Bubblecar

    “Ariane Sherine, Prof Richard Dawkins and journalist Polly Toynbee”
    So how often, in real life, do these people travel in buses? I ask this question because it’s all being promoted as “courageous free speech” – but if any religious extremist nutjobs do decide to target buses as a result of this campaign, the victims will be the hapless plebs who have to travel by public transport, not the rich celebs who can afford to daub their “free speech” on the sides of vehicles they never have to ride in themselves.

  • mikespeir

    Faith in God is not a source of worry, nor is it an obstacle for enjoying life.

    Notice how this misses the point? Belief that there is a god who just might not approve of you is the source of a lot of worry.

  • newspaniard

    Bubblecar. A little hard on the rest of us, no?
    As an English resident of Spain, I would also like to contribute to their bus campaign. Does anyone happen to know the site please?

  • newspaniard

    P.S. We can have a poke at the vatican any day. More to the point is, what’s going on in Australia? Do the bigots really control all advertising?

  • Bo

    Er… it looks like Dawkins is touching that girl’s ass. Nice

  • Barry Duke

    Bubblecar, have you considered the possibility that the slogan might make some jihadist think twice before he (or she) suicide-bombs a bus?

  • Barry Duke

    @ Newspaniard, I have just checked, and there is a donations button on the Spanish site here:

  • I just read a short article today in the Spanish Press and after Googling it, found this blog. What exactly are they promoting? I don’t get it, next thing you have the jews, christians and muslims also promoting their religion on the bus? Is this a publicity stunt?

  • dead yeti

    Bubble car,
    The vast majority of people (including minor celebs and most MPs) who travel around London do so by public transport its just to inconvient a city to drive anywhere on a regular basis and anyway its not like Ariane Sherine, Prof Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee are so rich and famous that they going take a limo everwhere is it.

  • Ben

    @greg it’s supposed to “inspire debate and thought about atheism and religion” and everyone knows thought is the arch nemesis of religion =]

  • Does the Vatican even have public buses? It is not like it takes especially long to walk from one end to another!

  • valdemar

    Bubblecar, I don’t recall any atheist slogans the last time a terrorist blew up a London bus. And are you really in favour of curbing free speech because it upsets violent bigots? If so, you are an enemy of Western civilization, an Islamist Quisling. Shame on you.

  • Doris Tracey

    Many so called religious are praying on people instead of praying for people. There are people who have lost the light in their souls and like vampires they pray on people or children who have light. All of our souls need to be restored with cosmic fire just like the sun (son). Many souls are in purgatory whether in the body or not. The bible said Jesus learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Jesus also said there are people who are the living dead. Souls must remain tied to the etheric cosmic realms or they die. This is done by praying every day for yourself and other souls who have light. If you don’t pray for one day and if someone in turn is not praying for you your soul will start to die. There are people in this world who have no soul and no tie to God and they greatly contaminate other real souls. There are some who were created from above and some were created from beneath.

  • newspaniard

    Doris Tracey. WTF are you banging on about? The followers of that mass murdering paedophile, big mo, stop whatever they are doing and pray 5 times a day. No wonder all the arab countries are sh*t heaps, they waste so much time talking to their imaginary friends that they never get any real work done. Another reason why they are stuck in the dark ages. With the technology they had 3000 years ago, they should have been walking on the moon before America was discovered. Then along came Mo and everything stopped for prayers. Their christian counterparts were much the same, until the catholic priests realised they were losing productivity and in consequence, money with too much praying, so they restricted it to out-of-hours grovelling only and the Americans reached the moon without the interference of prayers. This is not to say that, since then, prayer is not interfering with their modern progress, you just have to read this month’s FreeThinker to see examples of how the christian right is getting tough on non-believers. If you wish for your society to take retrograde steps, just insist that everyone prays instead of leading a productive life and you will soon get your wish. End of rant!

  • chrsbol

    Dearest Doris,
    Is this a major piss-take because if it is then well done you sure had me fooled for a minute there. If on the other hand you are serious then go and f**k yourself!

  • valdemar

    Come on guys, Doris is no doubt sincere but misguided. Let’s refer her to sites that might shake her conviction that prayer is useful and worthy. Any suggestions as to how to kindly (and politely) deprogram a believer, or at least make them question their hitherto unexamined beliefs?
    I nominate:
    They’re both nice people and far from the ‘baby eating’ parody of atheists believers like to put out.

  • Yay!!! — I’ve just seen my first one — in Newport bus station (Gwent, South Wales), of all places.
    If they’ve penetrated as far as scuzzy Newport, then I’d say the coverage must be pretty wide-ranging. Yeehah!

  • Bubblecar

    “And are you really in favour of curbing free speech because it upsets violent bigots?”
    Not at all, but this isn’t really free speech, it’s paid advertising. And let’s try to remember – buses are, first & foremost, a mode of transport, not a medium of communication, & the people who ride in them are not consulted about the nature & content of whatever propaganda is scrawled on them. If these messages do end up upsetting lunatics, the passengers will be hapless victims merely trying to get from A to B, not people who’ve deliberately decided to “take a stand” on any issue. And finally, let’s try to remember that “slogans” are not high quality intellectual discourse. They’re junk-speak, reducing complex subjects to annoying soundbites.

  • Ade

    To Newspaniard
    Were you there with Armstrong when he was about to be transported to the moon? Do you know if he prayed or not? America was founded on Christ and the Bible and now you try to turn your back on Him. E fe ge owo to fun yin lonje je. Omo to ni kiya ma sun, owun naa o ni sun.