There was a time when you could expect to see atheist bus ads in New Zealand. Atheists had raised tens of thousands of dollars and everything was going as planned.
Now, the company NZ Bus — which had tentatively approved the ad — has said they will not accept it.
Apparently, that phrase is too controversial:
NZ Bus stated that they have received a number of complaints from the public about the proposed ads, which read “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Spokesperson for the Atheist Bus Campaign Simon Fisher says “It’s concerning that peaceful atheist messages are not allowed on buses while religious messages are often seen on buses and in public. Messages of atheism are rare in New Zealand and we aim to raise awareness for the one-third of New Zealanders who are unconvinced by the claims of religion.”
The Atheist Bus Campaign is fighting back, though.
Organisers of the Campaign tried to reach a resolution with NZ Bus, and later attempted mediation sessions through the Human Rights Commission. NZ Bus refused to participate in these mediation sessions. Because they are refusing to discuss the matter and reach an agreement, the organisers of the Campaign are now investigating the possibility of taking this case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Simon Fisher says “we’re disappointed at the response from NZ Bus and plan to look at options going forward. We owe it to the thousands of Kiwis who have supported this campaign with donations and messages of support.”
This is perfect and NZ Bus is playing right into the atheists’ hands.
Very few of these atheist ads get publicity for the sake of the message alone. They get publicity because of the controversy surrounding them.
The bigger the fuss that Christians make over them, the more bang for the buck the atheists get. (And we *love* it.)
A bus campaign can essentially be deemed a failure if there’s no press/controversy surrounding it.
In this case, Christians’ complaints are just backfiring and they don’t even realize what’s happening. It’s all great for the atheists.
So I hope the New Zealand atheists can keep up their fight. The more people talk about the whole affair, the better.
(Thanks to Nigel for the link!)