Atheist Bus Campaign in… Chicago! May 22, 2009

Atheist Bus Campaign in… Chicago!

***Update***: There are 25 buses with the ads. They will be up through June.

Finally! Atheist bus ads come to my city of of Chicago, thanks to a private donor who gave money to the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign.

What will the ads look like?


A simple and true statement, yet powerful enough to begin several conversations.

I’m not sure when these will go live, but I’m already looking forward to the fake controversy that local media will generate over this.

(via Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign)

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  • Oh, I do like that one! Nice and calm, factual, understated but guaranteed to raise epic levels of controversy 🙂

  • Tony

    Well, this is awesome! I can’t wait to see the buses on the roads. They need to send some of those buses up to the Lake County area, since we’re knee-deep in “god’s sheep” here.

  • Chas

    Oh good. Another “we’re looking for a rightful place in society by tweaking the majority opinion” billboard. Very similar to MLK Jr’s “Whitey Can’t Dance” billboard campaign in 1964.

    Cleverness itself is not effective communication.

  • Clive

    Cleverness itself is not effective communication.

    No, Chas, but truth is.

  • Rich

    Good stuff! Nice to see that free thought & reason finally gets to this side of the Atlantic! Good luck!

  • I like it! That’s the kind of messages I would’ve loved to see everywhere: Straight, instead of “maybe there’s no god”.

  • Rhino369

    I saw one yesterday at Lawrence and Damen. I had to double check to make sure it said “man created god”. Great advertisement.

  • Chris B.

    As much as I love a good crack and enjoy the freedom of mind in being and Atheist, I have trouble with people who are willing to brandish such campaigns as above. Christianity has a way of being a nasty, rebellious, and underhanded religion, but that doesn’t mean that we (Atheists) should sink to that level. Let them thump their Bibles and never actually crack ’em open to find out they’re committing just as many, if not more sins as we do. I don’t feel any urge to have to make an attack on someone else’s choice unless they directly attack mine on an issue like this.

  • Claudia

    I love it. Of course, it’s not the extremely meek “maybe there’s no god” or “it’s fine if you’re an atheist”. It’s more direct, and given the ultra-thin skins of some religious folk (who somehow cannot see why informing us of our destiny in eternal torture is offensive) bound to cause some controversy, but I like it.

    Still, I think it needs to be well targeted. It’s fine going to big cities, but how about targetting neighborhoods less likely to be accepting to nonbelief. I think putting it on bus-lines that go through the South Side (the nasty bits) and other poor areas of Chicago would be better than putting it through the more affluent, middle class areas of the city.

  • Caitlin

    I am so excited to see these! I hope they’re on the routes I take. I’m sure there will be controversy, though. In a city this size, it’s easy to bring out the crazies.

  • Vik

    I agree with chas. I don’t see why these signs have to be so dickish. I think the “you’re not alone” message is good. But the best strategy would be thought provoking questions like “what makes the bible more beleivable than ‘the Illad’? Or ‘Moby Dick’?”
    Or bible inconsitances “ever wonder why god said x here and then said y here? So did we: find out at: http://www.not intimidating atheist”

  • Michael Gasser

    The ads are already up (have been since Monday in fact)! See the picture on our website.

  • Brian E

    This is the best sign yet. There’s nothing ‘dickish’ about it at all. It’s short, to the point, and blunt truth. And if that’s dickish to you than maybe you need to grow one.

    Is there a link for donating to this, or do they already have their money?

  • Erik

    I think you guys should at least register even if it just redirects back to the Indiana site.

  • Oh good. Another “we’re looking for a rightful place in society by tweaking the majority opinion” billboard. Very similar to MLK Jr’s “Whitey Can’t Dance” billboard campaign in 1964.

    Cleverness itself is not effective communication.

    I agree entirely with this opinion. Today’s society is still woefully ignorant about atheism and what atheists claim to stand for, and the general atheist attitude — frustrated, angry and defensive (in response, of course, to feeling more or less constantly attacked by the masses) — is not helping.

    We may not like that the burden of proof is on us, but that’s our reality as it stands at this moment in time; and rather than attempting to brutally break through that reality by segregating ourselves with ads like these, we should be finding ways to rise above it and move beyond it to actually connect with those who have yet to understand.

  • Aj

    I love how reasonable and uninflammatory expression is described as “tweaking” and “dickish”. Is it the parodying of a line in Genesis? Perhaps it’s daring to suggest God is man-made? Grow up, and grow a pair, please.

  • Jill

    YES! I am so glad to see this happening in Chicago. Nice message..can’t wait to hear about the Christian backlash. I wish they would do this in Minneapolis too.

  • Abbie

    WHY did I not think of that first?


  • Audrey

    Clearly I need to find more reasons to ride the CTA!

  • Cannonball Jones hit the nail on the head. All pop-atheists care about is controversy. There is no genuine concern other than to upset those who believe opposite what they believe.

    Yet, I’ve always found it funny that no one has tried these bus ads in the middle east or Asia. Guess they want only push Christians around because they are an easy target that won’t fight back by blowing that bus up.

    It’s all so very transparent.

  • JD

    Aw man, I wish I could’ve donated, the fact that there’s one on the Damen 50 makes me happy.

  • charlie

    In case you were are expecting to be able to read the slogans in the OP …

    “In the beginning, man created God”


    “You can be good without God”

  • benjdm

    That’s the best one yet.

  • Johnny Appleseed

    @Chas – you’re just upset because you didn’t think of it 😉

  • Nick

    Chas Says:
    “Cleverness itself is not effective communication.”

    Thousands of companies that hire hundreds of ad agencies and spend millions of dollars every year on billboards, and pretty much any other form of advertising you can think of in order to communicate an idea, product or service…disagree with you.

  • cjl

    The sign expresses the core belief of atheists and alludes to a fundamental human characteristc: to explain the world around oneself. And it does so with brevity and irony while underscoring precisely how they disagree with theists without insulting them. Yeah, that is clever. And effective communication.

    We should be so lucky to have more such communication in the public sphere.

  • Cody

    Chas, try telling that to Lech Wa??sa.
    Cleverness does have its advantages. And it works; over and over.

  • moi

    chas: yes it is. the ad being clever is the driver behind “communication” such as this blog posting.

  • Winston

    Wow! Awesome – I was already pretty pumped to move to Chicago post-grad, but this makes it even better!

  • Tephlon

    1) Are you saying Atheists do not have a rightful place in society?

    2) The statement is made to make you think.

  • B


  • This comes across as just a glib comment. It makes a statement without hinting in any way that there might be a reason we believe that, which I think is vital to the understanding of atheism (and any other material worldview). Controversy is good, but discussion is better (really, the point of creating controversy is to create discussion). I don’t think the controversy this creates will lead to discussion.

    It’s also worth noting the sexism in the phrasing. I know it’s drawing parallels to sexist phrasing in the bible, but it still feels a bit off.

  • Alan E.

    The muslim-themed buses have been big recently in San Francisco. I think one of them says “Submission to God” or something along those lines. I’m pretty sure it’s part of a struggle between Nation of Islam and Mayor Newsom’s office.

  • Bob Dobbs

    As an athiest myself, I find these sorts of things to be extremely childish. After all, this is nothing less than prosthletyzing…just like the religious do. It’s not enough to just be an athiest, you feel you must force your opinion on others? Whatever…

  • John

    hysterical – atheists are now proselytizing.

  • Jen

    I love it! Can’t wait to see that in the flesh (in the bus?)!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Yet, I’ve always found it funny that no one has tried these bus ads in the middle east or Asia. Guess they want only push Christians around because they are an easy target that won’t fight back by blowing that bus up.

    Wow, what a great advertisement for Christianity: “At least we’re not as backward and violent as those muslims.”

  • Awesome

    Cleverness with implied context is a perfect form of communication. In fact I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t understand this billboard. Maybe there’s something to this style if it’s been used since at least 1964.

    Or maybe you were just offended by the message.

  • owlathome

    It’s all fine and good, but it really should read “In the beginning, MAN created GODS.” Though that would shift the focus from Christianity it would say a lot about our species need to have a Big Daddy to take care of us.

  • Marc Savoy

    Lol. People are just abjectly stupid, dumb, ignorant.

    Something may very well have been inspired, thought of, devised far in the distant past but to those who have yet been made aware of its long ago revelation, it’s like, golly, gee, it’s like wow! Those with a modicum of intelligence, intellectual capacity, don’t very often get so awestruck as if having some profound mind-blowing revelation as say, discovering the sun, sky, the oceans for the very first time, if having noticed some clever play on words appeared on the side of a bus.

    The concept that God, in fact, did not, could not, create Man, because God does not exist, is as old as civilization itself.

    Man in inexplicable desperation to instill, fill the void within, who created God as prop to find meaning within himself.

    It’s rather unbelievable, how abjectly uninformed, clueless, ignorant, most people really are.

  • medussa

    I LOVE THIS! And I want the bumper sticker…

    To those who think this is just atheistic proselytizing: When I am no longer forced to live according to biblical and other religious notions that have been codified into law and traditions , I will have no need to remind everyone that there are other ways of living.
    But so far, I’ve lost the love of my life to christian ideas of marriage (gays can’t get green cards for each other by getting married), and I have just lived through 8 years of religious abuse of the US Constitution. So, we still have a ways to go, and this ad campaign is a perfect step.

  • John

    cool medussa – and sorry to hear about your immigration issues….you are ok with trying to convert people to atheism. I just hope you afford the same respect to people who try to convert you to their religion. proselytizing is what it is….and if you think it is a good technique, don’t get mad when those you don’t agree with try to do it too. fair is fair, right?

  • Is it so dreadfully wrong to put our opinion out there in the public sphere?

    Yes, I get that some people have a fear of anything that has to do with religion or any tactic that may have ever been used by a religion. In short, get over it.

    If you sincerely believe something, you should not be afraid to say it. As many other commenters have stated, please relax and let those who want to have their say, have their say.

    What are you afraid of?

  • Red

    Man oh man, wouldn’t I turn a bunch of heads if I rolled up with that on my bumper sticker to one of my mostly Christian (even though I am not) home school events. Boo Yah!

  • I don’t like this message, which just seems like a snide comment with no real purpose behind it. What would we atheists say if we saw a sign on a bus that said:

    In the Beginning, God Created Man – InChristianBus.Org?

    Wouldn’t we roll our eyes at the proselytization? How is this message any different? It’s not inviting atheists to join the movement. It’s not designed to make Christians think. Frankly, to me, it looks like it’s just designed to get their goat. No Christian will look at this ad and come away with a favorable impression of atheists or atheism.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do like some of the atheist bus ads. I’m definitely in favor of the Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone and the You Can Be Good Without God messages, but this one just strikes me as counterproductive.

  • Brooks

    I fail to see how this ad is any more proselytizing than it is proselytizing to say that black cats do not bring bad luck. It’s not like the sign is saying “join atheism or else” and it’s not like anyone is forcing them to read it anymore than people are forced to read any other billboard. And I don’t see how this billboard is anymore dickish than it is to say, oh, that chiropractors are bogus, for example. Does anyone else feel like atheists’ criticism of religion is sometimes held to a different standard than what we hold religious people’s criticism to? Like for a religious person to be considered dickish, they have to threaten us with eternal torture and be homophobic and sexist, but for atheists to be considered “dickish”, all we have to do is speak the truth.

  • Zar

    I like it. Very cheeky.

    I wouldn’t worry about being too offensive. There is absolutely no athiest message neutered enough to keep religious fundamentalists from getting their panties in a twist.

  • natheist

    man created god in his image. intolerant, sexist, homophobic and violent.

  • medussa

    I’m not sure if you got the point at all.
    There is nothing “fair” about how things are right now. Pointing this out in every way possible does not constitute proselytizing.
    There are facts, and there are superstitions: Fact is that there is no god, and that humans created them in their image (using the term “man” is simply a reference to the holy book of their superstitions).
    When believers ring my doorbell, and insist on telling me I’m going to hell, they are proselytizing, not defending their right to be believers. When they insist on prayers in school, they are proselytizing, not defending their right to raise their children as christians. When they “protect” marriage, they are proselytizing, not defending their right to get married any way they deem fit.

    To equate the bus ad with any of the above is bull. I realize christians don’t think THEIR god was created by humans, but they are willing enough to believe that about zeus, apollo and any other cultures’ gods. Just because it’s an uncomfortable truth doesn’t make it proselytizing.

  • Eric

    I love it.

    Two quick comments:
    I do agree with many other commenters that atheists are apparently held to a different standard when it comes to how vocal & fervent we could/should be. I love it when a religious commentator bleats on about how Dawkin’s book is so mean and has sold so many copies (just shy of 2 million). Yet a book by any notable mega church paster is likely to do far better and be far more condemning in it’s language. Hell, hasn’t a Purpose Drive Life sold upwards of 50 million?

    Next, we need all tactics to get the message out and get other non-believers to speak up for themselves. It’s not about communing with other non-believers, it’s just about galvanizing them to have a voice in numbers. We need to do this through humor, confrontation, parody, terseness and any other way. Not everyone reacts to the same tact. Always being tactful & polite will not get us anywhere.

  • steve white

    great copy, backgrounds a little busy.

    well done

  • woot

    This is quite the campaign. I’m actually surprised that they would do this on a Chicago bus.

  • Viper Eyes

    The fact that this campaign makes atheists more visible is what is positive about it. It’s not an attempt to “convert” theists, IMO. As long as we don’t let people know that we’re out there and we’re not going to take the usual crap [people trying to turn their religious beliefs into the law of the land, replace science with religion, etc.] anymore, they will continue getting away with it. (Just take a look at the current US Supreme Court if you don’t believe me.) Coming out has worked for the GLBTetc. movement: while stories like medussa’s are horrible and tragic and still far too common, gays (& co.) have come a long way in their fight for the equal treatment they deserve, and in a surprisingly short time. (I mean, gay marriage in *Iowa*? Who’d’ve predicted that!)

    As for the common experience where some “Christian’ (personally I think if Jesus were alive today he’d be pretty ticked off at the things that are being done in his name) tells you that you’re going to hell, personally I find that the best thing to do is laugh in their face. (Okay, maybe it’s not the best thing, but I can’t help myself.) I mean, threatening you with something you don’t even believe is real — that’s not liable to a very effective threat, is it? (Besides, even if anyone ever did agree to become a theist “just in case,” it would no more be a genuine change in belief than a promise extracted under the threat of torture would be legit.)

    To anyone who believes that “Christians” aren’t fanatical or violent or whatever enough to blow up buses: I suggest you try doing some volunteer work at your local Planned Parenthood clinic. Christian extremists may not be as organised as Al Qaeda, but be assured, they’re every bit as twisted.

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