No More Atheist Bus Ads in Barcelona December 11, 2009

No More Atheist Bus Ads in Barcelona

Earlier this year, atheist bus ads went up in Barcelona, Spain, thanks to the country’s Union of Atheists and Freethinkers.

It’s a good thing they got the ads in then. Because they won’t be able to do it anymore.

Promedios, the company in charge of the advertising, has decided to ban all ads causing “social controversy.”

So should atheists fight back? Not quite. The first victims of the ban aren’t the atheists:

The first hit has been a campaign by the ultra-Catholic religious group E-cristians against divorce and abortion.

Well, as long as they enforce the policy and apply it to religious groups as much as atheist ones, I’m fine with it.

Though I still don’t think an ad which translates to “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” is very controversial.

(Thanks to Facundo for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Alec

    Though I still don’t think an ad which translates to “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” is very controversial.

    A classic “what is vs. what should be” situation. *Sigh*

  • Eliza

    “Social controversy” – is there another kind?

    I can just see them accepting bus ads for scientific controversies, but only in the very driest of subjects, which no-one except two small groups of scientists care about.

  • David D.G.

    The ad company in question, in its desire to avoid “social controversy” at all costs, stands in marked contrast to the bookstore owner and his employees who refused to stop selling The Satanic Verses — even after the store got firebombed for carrying the book. Now THAT is what I call a really serious “social controversy,” and the people who faced up to it and put their lives on the line were heroes. This ad company? Not so much.

    ~David D.G.

  • Trace


  • jose

    In Spain, a lot of people just try not to think about religion. It’s an uncool-uncomfortable-awkward topic. Spain might be considered as a catholic country, but I think religion is becoming mere ritual and tradition. Cultural catholic would be a better description.

    So when someone starts an atheist campaign in your buses, you think it may not be such a big deal since nobody seems to care. But people start to murmur (and some grumbling) while staring at your buses. Then, the ultra-catholic guys strike back with their own ads. In your buses. It becomes a big deal. Everyone’s talking. Suddenly you’re in the news. You’re in the news because of religion. So you start to think “aww, I remember back when we used to have some absolutely inofensive, little nice deodorant ad here. Nobody screams about deodorant. They just buy it.”

    Honestly, I can understand why they’ve decided they’ve had enough.

  • jemand

    @jose, that made me laugh. But I agree with you.

  • muggle

    I guess it’s an American thing but I find the blow to free speech — on both sides — pretty damned troubling.

  • Claudia

    To add onto Jose’s comment religion is a very different matter in Spain than in the US. The country is officially Catholic and all our holidays are religious, but oddly enough we’re a MUCH more secular country than in the US. Sure 80% of Spaniards are counted as Catholics, but that’s only because most babies are baptized out of tradition and they are henceforth counted as Catholics even if they never step into a Church again (OT: The RCC flatly refuses to take people off their rolls, even by explicit request by those persons).

    Religion is generally thought of as a private affair, and very public flaunting of it or usage of it for political ends is thought of as distasteful or even freakish. Sure there are still many very religious people, but they aren’t as politically active. The attitude of your average Spaniard to the atheist sign is going to be “Huh, ok, whatever, let’s go have a coffee.”

    I would prefer it if the company took a principled stand for free speech, but I understand them caring more about revenue and the undoubted fear they have that eventually they’ll be put in the position of running a truly controversial ad like “Islam is not a religion of peace” or whatever.

  • So, no more religious rambling on Las Ramblas?

  • Aphanes

    “I remember back when we used to have some absolutely inoffensive, little nice deodorant ad here”

    So you are saying the Spanish stink?? lol

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