Christian Response to Atheist Bus Ad December 6, 2008

Christian Response to Atheist Bus Ad

In response to the American Humanist Association’s bus ad (seen above), a Christian woman has decide to start a campaign to raise money for a response ad:

My name is JoEllen. After a friend forwarded me an article about the AHA ad campaign, I thought, “Enough!” I am so tired of God and religion being attacked that I decided to start a counter ad campaign. To entice people even further by making their donation tax deductible, the Center for Family Development offered to partner with me.

She’s trying to raise $14,000. She’s almost halfway there. (For the sake of comparison, the AHA campaign cost a little over $40,000.)

Here’s the response ad you may soon be seeing if you live in Washington, D.C.:

Meh. Not very convincing. The tagline makes me want to believe in my parents, not a god.

John Kelly of The Washington Post writes this about the two ads:

So, how do the ads compare? I like the impish tone of the original atheistic ad, co-opting a Christmas carol for its godless message. The humanists were also careful to include their toll-free number and Web address and they slam the Judeo-Christian tradition with that little “a”: “Why believe in a god” not just “god.” Ouch. The godly ad presupposes you’ve seen the first ad and is a direct answer to it. It gets points for using a portion of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. It stumbles a little with its tagline–“Because I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake”–which sounds like something Aunt Bee would say: “Opie, take off those dirty britches, for goodness’ sake.” But it ends on a strong note, signed simply “God.” Wow, the big guy himself. The only thing that’s missing is a final note that reads, “I’m God and I approve this message.”

Ultimately, he calls the ads a draw (a total copout).

(via John Kelly’s Commons)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • And I always thought that if you heard God speaking directly to you, that was a sign of insanity. Shows what I know…

  • Regardless of what you think of the wording, I encourage you all to call the WMATA (DC Metro) and voice your support for the AHA ad and the overall decision to allow *everyone* to purchase ad space. I’m appalled by what has happened re: advertising in CA and Australia.

    You can make a comment to Metro here: or by calling their media relations number – 202-962-1051. I posted this idea on the Beltway Atheists mailing list a few days ago and one of our members mentioned that they were told by Metro to call the following number – 202-637-1328.

  • One of the things I like most about the Humanist Association’s ad—something JoEllen and John Kelly both seem to have missed—is that it doesn’t attack any gods or their believers. It respects its readers by allowing them their own answer to its rhetorical question.

    Another thing I like about the ad is that it summarizes all of Humanism in one simple sentence: goodness for the welfare of humanity (i.e., for goodness’ sake). If JoEllen’s ad similarly summarizes her own worldview, hers hinges on subscription to Christianity’s weakest tradition: the Genesis story of man’s origin. Still, a response ad was inevitable, and I’m glad she’s chosen to stress love rather than some of the other qualities that’ve been attributed to gods over the years.

  • Jesse

    Like Falterer, my favorite thing about the Humanist ad is its tone – not arrogant, not insulting, not demeaning. The response fails to meet this standard because the people who wrote it claim to be speaking for “god.”

  • Miko

    In terms of convincing anyone, it is a draw: chances are neither will have an effect of a size worth measuring. In chance of outreach, the humanist one clearly wins: it provides a way for those already interested in the view in promotes to connect, whereas the religious one does no such thing. Of course, it’s a small win since the religious outreach is already orders of magnitude greater.

  • I can understand the first ad, although I still think money could be better spent elsewhere. But the 2nd ad, and the priority they’re giving such an ad war, exhibits a lack of compassion that we should be surprised to see from a Christian community.

    Hopefully Christians will think twice about donating money to something like this. Many hungry and thirsty could have needs met with those dollars.

  • Don’t we have enough Christian advertising as is? >_>

  • Ian

    I say good on her for approaching this reasonably. I’d rather have counter ads then AHA ads being ripped down. Too bad the Christians likely have more $$$ for this kind of thing though. In the end it’s likely all pretty trivial though.

  • I want to see the source of that “quote.” Oh, wait, they made it up like every quote from every other supernatural being ever. Arrogant bastards.

  • Just like the darwin fish is funny, but the Jesus fish eating the darwin fish isn’t. These people have no sense of humor.

  • Shane


    Because I created you and I love you and if you don’t, I will #@%!ing torture you forever, for goodness’ sake. Yeah, I’m cruel and arbitrary like that. Now excuse me while I go deform some developing babies and kill a few thousand people with a tidal wave. – God

    I don’t see what the point of these ads are anyway. If you’re intellectually vacuous enough to be swayed by some cheap billboard then why do I care what you think anyway? Go off somewhere by yourself and get an extended warranty for your Q-ray bracelet.

  • Can’t you just see the headline on the Onion:

    “Christians shocked to learn that atheists covered under the First Amendment too”

  • mikespeir

    Because John Q. Pastor says that the Bible says that the Apostle Paul says that God says….

  • They put up a response ad? Well, good for them. The message is a little, um, circular, but hey, what do I care about that?

  • Jen

    I am so tired of God and religion being attacked that I decided to start a counter ad campaign.

    I know what she means. She is part of an small, nearly unheard-of minority religion in a small country that promotes atheism on the money, in the pledge, and in front of Illinois state Capital buildings. Her president has gone on record saying he hates God and doesn’t have a direct line to him. In fact, nearly all the government in the country is atheistic. And the churches are heavily taxed. I can see why this bus was the last straw.

  • jedipunk

    I thought “pull my finger”

  • The tone of her add is very…indignant

  • Tao Jones

    I second the request for a citation of that “god” quote.

    Why do Christians believe they can speak for God?

  • Jeebus

    Citation not needed…

    They are not speaking for God, God is just… uhh… speaking through them (yeah that’s the ticket)

  • Epistaxis


    Enough?! A single ad campaign in one metro area? That’s not nearly enough.

    The humanists were also careful to include their toll-free number and Web address

    I think “GOD” at the end of the new ad is the contact information.

    ”Because I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake”–which sounds like something Aunt Bee would say

    Yeah, it should really be “for My sake.”

    I, for one, welcome the counter-ad. It stays well within the bounds of fair play. It’s as positive and inoffensive as the original (even though the article makes its sponsors sound otherwise). The tagline seems silly to me, but I’m not their target audience, and I’m sure the humanists’ ad isn’t targeted at my counterparts on the other end of the spectrum either. Hooray for a free marketplace of ideas, where the profits support public transportation.

  • For a Christian, the quote is just the Truth of our faith: that God created us and that he loves us. (Although it goes further than that, of course). The quote takes two elements of Scripture and places them in a single thought. So, for the purists out there, yes, the quote is not verbatim, it paraphrases. I recognize that you do not accept the validity of the source.

    I think JoEllen has been pretty consistent in saying (if you watch the interviews on DC Ch.5 – – and DC Ch. 7 – that, as for 1st amendment rights, she’s all for the AHAs freedom to advertise.

    The AHA ad posed a question. The “I Believe Too” campaign ad provides an answer. It’s both dialogue and testimony. It’s not meant to convert humanists, it’s not meant to tear down atheists rights in any way. Since the question was posed, an answer was provided: albeit not one you might like. As Humanists or Atheists you have already rejected the evidence of God so what could possible convince you otherwise? An ad that makes for a nifty bumper sticker? Probably not.

    But, as an example of how dialogue about belief and non-belief can take place in the public square, this is hardly the worst example. And as an example of one person deciding not to sit around and gripe when they believe in something, this is a pretty good example too.

    Any believer could have responded with their own take on “Why believe?” Why believe? Because the order of the universe is unlikely to be coincidental. Why believe? Because there is no god but Allah and Mohamed is his prophet. Why believe? Because so living has potentially everything to gain, and certainly nothing to lose.

    Or, why believe? I choose not to. These are all part of the spectrum of choices which your free will permits you to perceive and to accept or reject at your own discretion.

  • I think the counter ad would be excellent if they left off the fake ‘God’ quote and let people just mull over the question for themselves. When I first saw it on my screen, with the quote just below the viewing area, I thought it could be another AHA sign.

  • Excellent, the Christian ad sop obviously references the atheist ad that it is bound to raise awareness for the atheist ad even more.

    However believing because we are apparently created and loved isn’t a reason. I know I was born and not made so that point is moot. Claiming to be loved is also moot. Where is the evidence? I didn’t even get a Christmas card from any of the gods last year, some loving father figure. I know of dead beat dads who love more.

    Christian ad FAIL.

  • Hi Gang,

    . . . and an eight-year-old on the bus sees the Atheist message and begins to think and realize that there is a bigger world, and other views of that world!!!! So far, every comment I have read and heard is so intensely personal that no one considers the audience. I guess it is just a matter of Atheists and Christians being so full of themselves that they don’t even take the time to realize that some one is watching. To the Christians, its their god, and he is not pleased. To the Atheists, it is the children, and they have to wonder what all this angst is about anyway!!!! Frame the message for the kids and you communicate with everybody. And the intellectual wannabees should stand aside and quite impressing themselves, impress the kids!!!!

  • Francis

    “Be good for goodness’ sake” is an excellent message. Then regrettably the AHA weakens its impact by introducing meaningless talk of an undefined “God.” Humanism is NOT about gods at all. Humanism is a process of ETHICS, not a metaphysical conclusion; not about “God” at all but about what is human.

  • Francis

    “Be good for goodness’ sake” is an excellent message. Then regrettably the AHA weakens its impact by introducing meaningless talk of an undefined “God.” Humanism is NOT about gods at all. Humanism is a process of ETHICS, not a metaphysical conclusion; not about “God” but about what is human.

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