Atheist Bus Shelter Ads Go Up in Washington, D.C. October 20, 2010

Atheist Bus Shelter Ads Go Up in Washington, D.C.

The brand new Washington DC Area Coalition of Reason has put up ads on bus shelters by the National Mall reading, “Don’t Believe in God? Join the club.” The cost? $7,875:

Reaching out to the like-minded isn’t the only goal of the effort. “We also want the public to see that there are many humanists, agnostics and atheists living here as part of the community,” added Shelley Mountjoy, coordinator of Washington CoR. “We’re your friends, neighbors, coworkers and relatives. And like many people, we are leading quality lives: contributing to neighborhood and nation and living our values.”

Clearly, the work of evil, evil heathens.

Can’t wait to see the ads near the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rallies in a couple weeks 🙂

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  • It’s an attractive ad. It would be neat if something could be produced that would play off the March with more of an explicit emphasis on Reason/Sanity.

    It would also be interesting to find out how these ads (among others) impact those who are uncertain or still questioning toward disbelief.

    Do the ads nudge them to question and explore more or do they feel like outsiders because they aren’t “sure” about there being no god?

    It is exciting to see more targeted approaches developing, some to support atheists and others, like the Madison ads, to demythologize atheists for the typical person.

  • “Don’t Believe in God? Join the club.” The cost? $7,875.

    Man, those are steep membership dues!

    Now that I’m done ribbing you for a grammar slip-up:

    These are great and I can’t wait to see what comes with the Stewart/Colber rallies either. Or what comes from them. Only wish I could be there.

    I agree with “Eh”. I rather like the individual ads in the local areas but I am a tad worried about what fallout may come for those brave enough to do it. I’d find it tempting but I have to think about fundie wackos I couldn’t defend against and landlords that it might prejudice since I rent. I’m retired so work’s not a problem but it could be a problem for my daughter (who works for Catholic Charities albeit with their knowledge that she’s Atheist) and my grandson (in school). We shouldn’t have to worry about these things but the reality is we do.

  • Canny

    Atheists may be part of the community, but I disagree that they contribute significantly to it. When have you heard of a prominent atheist organization that donates food and time as much as one Christian church does? What about missionaries that provided one of my friends with numerous contact papers in the community to find shelter, and a phone to call family? When you hear about so many wonderful events in communities, how often is God mentioned by the rescue workers when, say, children are rescued? Numerous times.

  • @Canny

    So the christian church is better because it gets more media time for its good deeds? You might want to reread the first few verses of Matthew chapter 6 in a couple of different translations.

    Likewise, when I help people it is because I care about them, not for the approval or promotion of a third party (i.e. god). As an experiment, bring your significant other flowers and then explain that you bought them so others would think you were a good and caring individual-note carefully the response you get.

    Just a couple of things to ponder during your devotions.

  • pansies4me

    I don’t doubt that many Christians do good works out of the goodness of their hearts, but when it is used as a platform for proselytization that is a problem. Especially when they do it to children. What about just helping people because it’s the right thing to do?

    I’m tired of the religious acting like they have a monopoly on charity. Atheists don’t have the equivalent of churches on every corner to pool their resources in the same way that religious people do. Perhaps if churches had to pay property taxes you’d see a reduction in such charitable activities. Just sayin’. Atheists do give to many secular charities as individuals without mentioning our religious non-affiliation. That being said, there are now atheist/humanist charities popping up. Foundation Beyond Belief is just one, maybe other people can give you the names of some others.

    I’d like to tell you off, but for some reason my temper is in check this morning, Mr. High and Mighty.

  • Ali

    @canny: Please check out this article.

    I know more service is in the works. Please do research before you make a judgment. Thanks.

  • Rich Wilson

    A little bit to @Canny…

    If I’m about to, or have just, helped someone, and they bring religion into it, I usually mention that I’m an atheist, but “you’re welcome just the same”. I have yet had anyone turn down the aid, although some are clearly shaken.

  • Thanks for posting this, Hemant! The DC area has the greatest number of member groups (at launch) to date.

    If you come to the rallies, stop by and check out the ads!

  • @ Canny,

    Actually, the most Atheistic countries in the world give the largest percentage of their GDP to charity. On a percentage basis – Sweden (1.12%), Norway (1.06%), Luxembourg (1.01%), Denmark (0.88%), netherlands (0.82%), belgium (0.55%), Finland (0.54%), Ireland (0.54%), UK (0.52%), Switzerland (0.47). Nearly all of these countries have VERY high levels of irreligiosity.

    The United States, which is actually not all that religious globally speaking, comes in at (0.20%). So actually yes, Atheists DO contribute to their community. Often more than their Theistic counterparts.

  • Vas

    Hi Canny
    Welcome to these forums. I say welcome because judging from your post you must be new here as the subject of atheists and charity is one covered often here. Atheists are in fact just as charitable as Christians however much atheist charity goes unnoticed as they often are acts of individual charity not associated with atheist organizations. This is not to say they don’t contribute to organized charities, they do, they just tend to make donations to charities that are not religiously affiliated. Christian charities tend to be very concerned that they get credit as Christians for their charity work and often it comes with strings attached, they want to share the word of god with those who they help and this is often a requirement for the recipient of the charity. Why do you think most Christian homeless shelters have chapels? They find people in vulnerable circumstances and leverage their misfortune to gain access to them so they can evangelize.

    In the end I’d say you are just uninformed as to the charitable contributions of atheists, in large part because atheists tend not to be self congratulatory about their charitable contributions.

    Atheist contributions to society are plentiful and important for example in the field of science and medicine. Germ theory as opposed to demonic influences as a cause of illness springs to mind. I’d bet when you or your loved ones get sick you go to a doctor for treatment rather than a clergyman to exercise the demon that made you sick. Even a doctor who is also a Christian turns to science to heal you.

    The point is that atheists do contribute to societies and communities just as much as Christians and other religious folks. I won’t fault you for your ignorance as this is an easy fix, just go out and find information, it’s out there and I’m sure the posters at this site will help you get started. If you are stupid there may be no hope for you but I don’t think you are stupid just ignorant and ignorance is easy to fix. Once you make yourself aware of the many non Christian charities and their good works, perhaps you will join us in making contribution to these fine organizations, if you are truly charitable and really want to help those in need it should not matter to you that “team Jesus” gets credit, it should only matter that those in need are getting help. So what will you do… quietly help out of the goodness of your heart or help to score points for your clique so you can shout from the mountain top with great pride, look how good we are everybody, look how much we care, (dinner will be served after the prayer meeting).

    (please let canny be sincere and not another troll, we seem to have a troll infestation recently)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Canny the Poe: When have you heard of a prominent atheist organization that donates food and time as much as one Christian church does?

    That’s a good point: religious organizations use their charitable activities for proselytization and marketing. They don’t do it just to be good.

  • littlejohn

    Hemant, I trust you’re aware that Colbert teaches Sunday School.
    I realize that the guy who used to operate the God Machine on the Daily Show teaches Sunday School is hard to understand, but he does. Go figure.

  • pansies4me


    I just wandered over to ScienceBlogs, specifically the blog Dispatches From the Culture Wars. In the comments section for today’s post about Christine O’Donnell’s dog whistle comment for her minions about “separation of church and state” not being in the Constitution, lo and behold there’s a commenter named Canny. I don’t want to assume you are a liberal, but the readers of that blog are and they don’t like the comments he/she has made about liberals. I can’t prove it’s the same individual, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. You know we’re all atheist, commie, pinko, liberal scum to people like Canny so he probably trolls elsewhere as well.

  • Greg

    Has anybody else noticed that local representatives of CoR always rattle off that same quote, verbatim?

    Hemant, you must have noticed, and in fact make it obvious by always featuring it, as seen here in stories about CoR billboards going up in Lousville, Austin, and Florida.

    It’s a really bad example of “freethinking” if you ask me.

  • I like this one! It’s bright and affirmative, and “Join the club” sounds more positive than “You are not alone.” Plus, it’s less easily mistaken for a religious sentiment.

    Hemant, I trust you’re aware that Colbert teaches Sunday School. I realize that the guy who used to operate the God Machine on the Daily Show teaches Sunday School is hard to understand, but he does. Go figure.

    I always have to remind myself that Colbert is a believer. He does seem to be one, but he’s not unfriendly to atheists, as he’s done segments on MAAF, Camp Quest, and the Secular Coalition for America.

    Colbert’s 8 Best Atheist Moments

    I bet some of his writers are atheists. And of course he has lots of atheist fans who are sure to be attending the rally.

  • One of the first things that the Washingon CoR did was to organize a service project at the Wahington Area Food Bank. We do value charity in many forms. Beyond that there is a philospohical conflict that secularists have with many fundamentalist theists. Many of us want a robust governmental safety net and we are quite willing to pay additional taxes to finance it. The notion that social needs should be met by private charity has the implicit consequence that many people fall between the cracks with devastating results. Fundamentalists rage against Darwinism and then they create a society that has the worst aspects of social Darwinism.

  • jack

    @ Canny. Imagine where the human race would be in scientific and medical advance without the existence of Athiests. Surely advancing our knowledge of the conditions we exist in our ability to improve our well-being are significant contributions?
    Besides, why should you feel sorry for these people who have not clothing, food, shelter etc. Who are you to meddle in gods wishes. Does he not move in mysterious ways. How do you know that you are not in fact going directly against his intention by helping these people?

    In Australia our Prime Minister is Athiest. She is essentially in charge of the government. The government dishes out more charity than the church ever will. Therefore in Australia Athiests make far greater contributions than the chuch.

  • Has anybody else noticed that local representatives of CoR always rattle off that same quote, verbatim?

    Hemant, you must have noticed, and in fact make it obvious by always featuring it, as seen here in stories about CoR billboards going up in Lousville, Austin, and Florida.

    It’s a really bad example of “freethinking” if you ask me.

    @Greg — The press releases are written by the United CoR staff and the quotes are approved by the spokespeople. Certainly, there’s a template that’s changed only a bit from place to place, because the message is virtually identical everywhere. I don’t think it’s deserving of a knock on “freethinkers” — it’s just standard practice.

  • bigjohn756

    I would like to have my picture taken standing beside one of those ads.

  • Mike

    I just finished running the Army 10-miler around the National Mall, and I saw two of these ads on bus shelters on Independence Avenue (one was across the street from the Natl Museum of the American Indian and the other was by the Dept of Agriculture).

  • Peanutbuttercup

    I love you christopher ebert!!! Last week…MMMMMMMM!

  • Peanutbuttercup

    Why did you tell me that your name was “Christopher” Travis.  Just to get me in bed!!!!

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