Atheist Bus Campaign in… America! November 12, 2008

Atheist Bus Campaign in… America!

The Atheist Bus campaign In the UK has raised over £118,718.06 (approximately $182,976.18).

Now, the American Humanist Association is going for a bus campaign of their own with this ad:

That ad will appear on the sides and insides of over 200 Washington D.C. Metro buses beginning next Tuesday. It was already appearing in yesterday’s issues of The New York Times and Washington Post.

“Humanists have always understood that you don’t need a god to be good,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “So that’s the point we’re making with this advertising campaign. Morality doesn’t come from religion. It’s a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience.”

“We expect these bus signs to generate a lot of public interest,” said Fred Edwords, director of communications for the American Humanist Association. “Some folks may be offended but that isn’t our purpose. We just want to reach those open to this message, but unaware how widespread their views are.

Will it get as much publicity and begin as many conversations as the British version? I’m not sure.

But it will be one of the more visible ad campaigns an atheist group has put together in recent years and it comes at a cost of $40,000. A billboard is nice, but it’s stationary. These ads will be seen all over the city and depending on the attention they get and the donations they generate, they’ll be seen in many other places, too.

More information on the ad campaign itself and how you can donate can be found at

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  • This is actually pretty cool. I almost can’t wait for the IRL Godbots to go crazy over this.

  • Oli

    I think this will generate more talk than the British adverts. We Brits are pretty laid back about atheism. The signs are cute and a good reminder but they aren’t really controversial the way they might be in the States.

    Still, I can’t imagine DC doesn’t have a fairly sizable atheist population. A good chunk of those fire and brimstone type republicans have got to be secret atheists 🙂

  • mikespeir

    Here,,2933,450445,00.html, we learn that the ad “doesn’t impress” American Family Association president Tim Wildmon. So I guess it must be a bad idea.

  • justin jm

    we learn that the ad “doesn’t impress” American Family Association president Tim Wildmon

    In the Fox News story linked to by mikespeir, Mr. Wildmon makes it clear he can’t figure out morality without being told what to do by his god, so no wonder he’s against homosexuality; his invisible space buddy told him so!

    With all due seriousness, if Mr. Wildmon is unable to consider the consequences of his actions, that explains a lot about the American “Family” Association as a whole.

  • TheDeadEye

    CNN is running it too.

    Moron alert:

    “It’s a stupid ad,” he said. “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

  • “Why believe in a god?”

    Maybe I’m too picky, but I think that gives defensive religious people a great opportunity to answer that question. But, maybe the ad isn’t for them, but then, who is it for?

  • mikespeir

    justin jm and TheDeadEye:

    Yep, that’s the first thing that struck me about the article, too. Widmon et al. are moral for the same reasons the rest of us are, but those reasons are a lot more primitive than the Bible, their god, or their religion.

  • Jeff Flowers


  • Bjorn: Defensive religious people are answering that question all the time, without anyone having to ask. Asking “Why believe?” implies that the answers they’ve been giving aren’t adequate. It’s also less confrontational than “Stop believing.” In order to get people to listen, it’s better to sound like you are starting a conversation rather than scolding or lecturing.

  • Dena

    CNN’s article also says: “Yet few Americans describe themselves as atheist or agnostic; a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll from earlier this year found 92 percent of Americans believe in God. ” Seriously, where do they get this information??

  • PrimeNumbers

    Those Christians are quite stupid, really. If they think that God defines good, then slavery is good. If they think God defines good, then God is using an arbitrary definition of good. Just defining “good” as “what I do” doesn’t make you good. God’s morals are therefore as arbitrary as anyone else’s. Stupid Christians. They value a belief in a higher power, yet even their own leader, God, does not believe in a higher power.

  • withheld

    Will we see bus drivers refusing to drive buses with these ads? In Minneapolis, there were a few drivers who refused buses with ads for Lavender Magazine, “Minnesota’s GLBT Magazine” and they didn’t want anyone to think they supported “teh gays.”

  • I approve of this.

  • SarahH

    I like it. I like what it’s encouraging: good deeds and critical thinking. I’m sure it will be cited as some giant example of the supposed “War on Christmas” but I think people will have a hard time trying to express outrage without sounding really silly.

    It’s telling (and sad) that some of these groups think that morality can’t exist without a God dictating everything.

  • Dustin

    I’ve already read coverage of this story on a few mainstream news outlets. Most stories are obviously biased, and the comments are painfully uninformed. This is great news, since the campaign will provoke critical thought and some reasoned debate. Most people havent’ come within a mile of a philosophy book or logical argument, so there’s nowhere to go but up!

  • I suspect that we’ll hear a good amount about these ads. I can already picture the the claims that it’s OK to pick on Christians, but not others.

  • Old Beezle

    TheDeadEye Says:

    November 12th, 2008 at 7:45 am

    CNN is running it too.

    Moron alert:

    “It’s a stupid ad,” he said. “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

    So many things wrong that statement…as if the thousands of religious sects out there today are not already defining for themselves what is good and making this world crazier by the minute.

    Crazier than that though is training large portions of the population to abdicate their own decision-making mental processes to a preacher (for money) and his invisible Sky Marshall of the Angelic Armies…

    Brilliant idea–let’s have the one imaginary person in the group decide what’s best for the group. Talk about stupid…

  • Richard Wade

    I can see it coming: Londoners will shrug it off and go on with their business, but in Washington DC, fundies from all over will descend on bus stops all over town picketing and trying to intimidate passengers from getting on buses that carry the posters. They will try to organize a boycott of the bus company to pressure them to take down the posters, and they’ll vandalize the posters. In an ironic way, once again buses will be the battleground for liberty.

  • Becky

    What a positive message. I love how it shows that we as atheists or humans do not need a book to give us a “moral code”. (The Bible is awful place to turn to for that, anyway) I hope this gets people talking and questioning. Blind faith is very dangerous.

  • valdemar

    Well done American atheists! I donated a tiny sum to the British campaign – a drop in the ocean, it turned out. I hope it does trigger a big, heated debate over there, if only to stop US politicians assuming that everyone has to have a religion. That really irritates me so I can’t imagine what it must do to millions of rational Americans.

  • There was something on the news here in VA last weekend about it, too. I don’t remember exactly what was said…I just remember hearing, “athiest” and “bus advertisement” in the same segment. Talking about Washington, D.C. It certainly gets people talking…

  • Epistaxis

    “Why believe in a god?”

    That seems too open-ended, at first, like it’s inviting the reader to answer. But there would be a lot more Humanists if more people simply considered that question.

  • Randomizer

    Its not confrontational, provocative or controversial enough. And its not going to generate much controversy..Better try something like:

    “There is no God.”

  • Joe

    Pretty stupid actually. It would be like putting “Why believe in Santa? Be good for goodness sake” on the inside and outside of a school bus. The only one’s it will affect are the kids who still believe in him–you’ll piss them off. If you don’t believe in Santa, why advertise it? If you don’t believe, you don’t believe. Why spoil it for those who do? :>)

  • Pseudonym

    I must say, I like this slogan much, much better than the British one. Very positive, and very friendly.

  • “Why believe in god? Be good for goodness’ sake.”

    I’m Israel Walker, and I approved this message.

  • Polly

    I kinda miss the days when functional objects were just that. Now it seems like everything is a bilboard, even personal automobiles. Everywhere I look is some slick, glossy ad for this or that. Why can’t a park bench just be a park bench?

    I realize it’s a revenue generator for the city, but I wish we could just support public infrastructure the old fashioned way rather than forcing our cities and counties and states to go hat-in-hand to major advertisers looking for money. Now everywhre you look is a battleground for competing ideas and, more often, BRANDS. I feel like my senses are constantly being assaulted. I find the bilboards along the long stretch of desert or coast especially irritating. Can’t I just enjoy the scenery?

  • Alex

    How sad it is that so many people are afraid to mention anything that may clash with ridiculous beliefs.

    How did humans get to a stage where we can take phone from our pocket and have a conference call between London, New York, Johannesburg and Sydney within seconds, yet still believe in virgin births, talking snakes and a man who walks on water?

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