British Columbia to Get Atheist Bus Ads April 1, 2011

British Columbia to Get Atheist Bus Ads

In British Columbia, Canada, the cities of Kamloops and Kelowna are getting their first atheist bus ads next week:

They’ll be up on April 11th and stay there for a month.

The ads, which are 2.5 feet high and 11.5 feet wide, cost $514 to run for four weeks and are being paid for by Centre for Inquiry, of which the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought is an affiliate.

Kamloops director Bill Ligertwood hopes the ads will stimulate conversation about what he feels is an important topic.

“We are committed to a worldview which values evidence and reason as opposed to superstition and unsubstantiated claims about the supernatural,” he said.

Great! It’s a strong message and a well-designed billboard that we know has received attention in the past. Should go off without a hitch, right?

Unless there’s a problem with the local advertising company… and that’s where I’m confused.

Current policy dictates they can’t reject the ad, but Public Relations manager Joanna Linsangan is giving them an out…

… Linsangan added… the atheism ads will be removed if their arrival coincides with negative behaviour, such as vandalism or harassment of a bus driver.

That seems like an odd thing to say. Presumably, atheists wouldn’t vandalize their own billboards or harass drivers of buses with the ads on them…

So if someone else does these things, why would the ads come down? That’s like punishing atheists for someone else’s crime.

Can someone please explain that to me?


Canada… America’s muffin top.

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  • Of course, the muffin top is the best part!

  • Goldarn

    Where I used to live in Utah, schools had that policy a few years back. Kids to wear shirts with pretty much any legal message, but if wearing the shirt resulted in disturbances, they had to change.
    What a great message! Some redneck doesn’t like a pro-Gay-rights shirt? Start a fight, and the kid has to change. Some Mormon doesn’t like a pro-atheist shirt? Start a fight, and the atheist has to change clothes.
    Don’t like a pro-Mormon shirt? Start a fight, and get suspended from school for a few days. It was a pretty clear message.

  • CanadianNihilist

    Damn strait Daniel.

    It almost looks, to the cynical eye i.e. mine, that Joanna Linsangan is telling religious people that there’s nothing she can do about the ads, however if you go and vandalize them or threaten the bus drivers then the ads come down and we win.

    But a good christian would never do anything like that right?

  • Alt+3

    I hope the ads stay up. I’m going to Kelowna in two weeks and it’d be nice to see these. I don’t think I’ll be seeing any ads like this anytime soon in my small northern Alberta town (for non Canadian readers I should point out that Alberta is the Texas of Canada).

  • Canadian Atheist, Eh!

    Daniel took the words right out of my mouth. I’m actually a bit surprised that Hemant would allow such a slur, however mild and perhaps even unintentional, to slip. Please don’t malign my entire country over the illogical comments of a single PR person — and certainly not in matters of religious double standards. We’ve got nothing on the US in this regard.

  • qwertyuiop

    I wonder if someone vandalizes a McDonald’s ad if it will be taken down?

  • Richard P.

    I think this is more a knee jerk reaction to something new, more than it is any kind of threat. We see how ridiculous xians reacted down in the states and some fear the same reaction here. I would think it is a pretty empty threat.

    I would also like to offer up a salute to Loren from CFI Kelowna. It is a separate group from the Kamloops chapter, Loren has invested an incredible amount of time to make this happen. So a big salute to the Kamloops chapter, but also to the Kelowna chapter, for all the work they put into making this happen.

    I think it is necessary to see the Canadian battle in the religious arena is a lot different that the battle Americans put on. We do have some batshit crazies, however, it is seldom as intrusive into public life that your xians are noted for. Don’t get me wrong, I just think it has not caught on here as much as the states. I do think it could, and believe we need to fight hard now to prevent becoming as bad. We have legal abortion laws. Fairly decent marriage equality laws, and take strong human rights laws against sexual discrimination. Including laws against discrimination of the LGBT community.

    For Canada most of the religious stuff was stuff put in there from the beginning. It as been there and much of it has never been an issue. When things do become an issue We do tend to deal with them, sometimes in small steps but progress does get made.

  • Justin Miyundees

    So, murder and mayhem would be rewarded. Where have I seen that lately?

  • Opium_4_the_Masses

    Thanks Richard P. Drop me a line sometime. Loren

  • David

    Alt+3 Does your town even have buses?

  • What the heck does the muffin top thing even mean? The “sigh” suggests it is meant in a negative light, for sure.

  • Kdb

    If only they would put these ads in places like Vancouver where it’s less isolated …still I suppose it’s a start 🙂

  • Alt+3


    Not my town specifically but I live close to and work in Grande Prairie which does have a few busses.

  • corhen

    hey, just saw this article, and as someone who lives in Kelowna, this makes me real excited!

    i have been hoping something like this would happen, and while i feel that kelowna is a relitivly Low religion town (or atleast, my age group is) it is always nice to see stuff like this happen.

  • Michael D

    Top of the muffin to ya!

  • Chelsea

    First a revealed bias against arts majors recently (“If they like science or math, they might be an atheist. If they like English or social studies, you may have found a religious person.”) and now a slur against Canada? Really, Hement, you’re allowing your prejudices to show through and I’m quickly losing respect.
    Canada is nothing compared to America when it comes to bigoted religious assholes. If anything, I would criticize my fellow Canadians for being too nice and tolerant of religions, but that includes tolerance of atheists. Meeting an atheist up here is no big deal, and I have yet to meet one who feels the need to hide it from their families. So stop being so biased, Canada has a good thing going.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, you’re taking Hemant’s muffin top joke to mean he’s a nationalist who thinks “America rules, Canada drools”?


    You have seen his coverage of the Dallas bus ads and the Florida atheist drama and… just about everything else on this blog, right?

  • Min

    Has anybody considered that maybe the “muffin top” bit was just a joke?

    What do you think it even means, anyway, that you’re so offended about? Everybody knows the top of the muffin is the tastiest part.

  • kelowna rob

    As a Kelownian this does my heart good, the area I live in has SO MANY churches it boggles my mind.

  • thegiggle

    Chelsea Says:

    Meeting an atheist up here is no big deal, and I have yet to meet one who feels the need to hide it from their families.

    It really depends on where you’re from and how religious your family is. I’m from small town BC, and it would probably kill my grandmother if I told her, at least one of my aunts would weep, and my parents would try to force me to move back in with them and go to church. Any out atheist in my town would have to have a commanding personality to keep their friends and social clout.

    I do agree that it’s not as severe as the Bible Belt, but it’s not always ‘no big deal’.

  • Richard P.

    you’re allowing your prejudices to show through and I’m quickly losing respect.

    Really, I think your taking this way to seriously. After all the shit a number of us Canadians have slammed Americans here for, without one wimpier of complaining about us being arrogant asses and you find offense to muffin top?

    The only reason he mentions us at all is because, when stuff like this happens, he’s just disappointed, because he expected more of us. Can you really blame him, we are pretty terrific up here. You have to let them squeak in a slam when they can, they are Americans after all.

  • Opium_4_the_Masses
  • Anonymous

    Can you really blame him, we are pretty terrific up here.

    Very true. So what’s going on with this Science Minister guy?!?! We need Canada as a safe space to move up to when the US becomes a theocracy. 🙂

  • Percival

    Rather than “America’s Muffin Top”, I think “Icing on America’s Cake” would be more appropriate.

  • Chelsea

    No, I don’t think he’s saying “America rules, Canada drools” and maybe I did come off as taking it too seriously. And yeah, thanks, I have followed everything else on this blog for over a year and a half. The reason I reacted that way is because it is so out of character for the blog as a whole, and it alienates a large portion of the readership. I sympathize with Canadian Atheist, Eh’s comment:
    “I’m actually a bit surprised that Hemant would allow such a slur, however mild and perhaps even unintentional, to slip. Please don’t malign my entire country over the illogical comments of a single PR person”
    Perhaps I over-reacted but I was only essentially rewording Canadian Atheist’s comment in somewhat stronger words.

  • Chelsea

    And yes it probably was a joke- very funny, ha ha. I’ll get over it. It was just annoying to see a blogger I like and respect subordinate my country because of some stupid people in Kelowna.

    True though, muffin tops are pretty delicious so it’s possible it was a compliment after all. 🙂

  • CanadianChick

    Hey – the muffin top is the best part. Maximum maillard reaction to fluffy goodness ratio. At least that was my reaction (other than groaning) when it was one of the silly names we came up with for Canada last weekend at the Portland freethought conference. The only other polite one I recall was “America’s big hat”. I preferred “the US is Canada’s bottom”.

    I believe the spokesperson is attempting to indicate that unless the signs are vandalized, they will stay up. BC Transit’s practice has generally been to remove vandalized external signage on buses…it’s nothing new. I wouldn’t sweat it. It won’t be popular, but I’d be surprised if it was vandalized by rabid Canadian Xians.

  • Angel

    I always thought that the best part of being a Canadian was being able to take a little ribbing from anyone about the country and slinging it back in good fun. If you’re taking offense to the choice of words, perhaps a good dose of living without the internet would be beneficial. Especially when the perceived insult was “muffin top”. FFS, people. MUFFIN TOP.

    I can’t believe I have to say this. I’m Canadian. I don’t give a shit about Hemant’s choice of words. I have better and more important things to concern myself with. And I’m 99% certain everyone else does as well.

  • Cents

    Being from South Surrey we call the rest of Surrey the “muffin top” as its above us down here near Wrinkle Rock. Look where its located. (The rest of Surrey is above us and and its bigger). Now look where we are located compare to the US. We are above it. Look at our size compared to the US. Well then we sure as hell are their muffin top.
    That sigh from Hemant was the typical sigh of envy reaction from any rational American wannabe Canadian. You can’t blame them really. Canada has great air, scenery and isn’t going bankrupt any time soon. We only have a few fundies and nutters. (Let’s not talk about polygamists). It’s paradise here in Canada. Wait is paradise a religious word?
    Looking forward to hearing the reaction to the ads in Kelowna and Kamloops. In Vancouver I expect it would be a big yawn. Now bus ads in Abbotsford, the reaction there would be interesting. With all the guns owned by all the gangsters and the religious fundies in Abbotsford you might end up with a bus or two with a few holes in them. 🙂

  • Richard P.

    So what’s going on with this Science Minister guy?

    See, this is where I see a huge difference in how most xians act in our country. He emphatically states his religious views don’t conflict with how he does his job. He completely discounts it as a non issue. Until I can see evidence this is not a witch hunt because, some whinny ass researcher got a funding cut, then I have no problem trusting he will do the job as necessary, be-damned what he does on Sunday. He probably hasn’t been to church since his last fundraiser.

    Why does he refuse to answer, because it doesn’t matter. It is not the basis on of how he does, what is expected of him, so it not worth talking about.

    Two things I am sure of, if he thought is was an issue, he would admit it and If those around him thought he was a cracker jack, he would never have been given the position in the first place. I have known a number of politicians in this country, being overtly religious it not to big of a concern. Crooked and self serving, yes. However, I think if we start making it a front and center issue it will become one and then we will be on the steep slop of becoming as screwed up as you guys.

    You may think his history as a chiropractor is a sure sign of a woo mister. I kinda think there are fundamental differences in the professions between US and Canada. I don’t mean to speak about all all chiro’s but, I have been to a few. As one example, I had a hip injury from jumping off the back of a semi. I went to the clinic and the doc recommended some drugs and a couple weeks off work. He recommended a chiro treatment as an alternative to drugs. I went to see the chiro and after the treatment the pain was significantly reduced. I don’t remember any kind of woo being pushed, simple adjusting of the hip bone, something that I could feel, something that did reduce the pain, a treatment that let me go back to work sooner, in only three days, and I didn’t need to take any pain killers. I don’t think he cured me but, what he did helped. Maybe our medical regulations differ in what they allow chiro’s to practice. Here being a chiro is a fairly respectable profession. I have known a few personally and I have never known them to push woo. I have a passionate hate for woo, so if it was something that was obvious, I am fairly sure I would have picked up on it.
    So what is it with the science minister, it’s probably a label he hangs on himself, because it’s good for fund raising.

  • Nicholas

    “… Linsangan added… the atheism ads will be removed if their arrival coincides with negative behaviour, such as vandalism or harassment of a bus driver. ”

    Well it provides a easy but petty way to get rid of any religious ads they might put up. And if those aren’t removed after cases of vandalism or harassment, then complain about double standards.

  • BoomerChick

    I wish they would choose another color scheme.
    This one makes me crave Dunkin’ Donuts.

  • There are a lot of cases where punishment is enacted based on some misguided sense of justice. Airport security is another obvious one. “Lets enact a bunch of policies that make no sense and have never been shown to actually deter anything and call it increased safety.”

  • kitsunerei

    As another Canadian, I also have to say: you’re all just jealous!

    How accepted you are as an atheist largely depends on where you live – smaller, country towns are less accepting, but even there it’s nothing like what you could get in the US. In Toronto, where I am, being an atheist has never, ever been a problem.

    I wouldn’t even say we’re too tolerant. Even though our legal interpretations of freedom of religion is really broad (“a sincere belief with a nexus in religion”), we also limit with s 1 of the Charter anything too crazy. For example, unlike in the US, if you claim your religion requires faith-healing and your child is sick, Children’s Aid will seize your children and give them the care they need (B. (R.) v. Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto; check out the statements of freedom of religion on pg 322). Traditionally, Canadian law has allowed greater rights infringement and higher regulation than Americans have.

    Anyway, like every country, we have crazies. But I bet the signs won’t even be touched and a whole lot of atheists will probably wonder about the importance of signs anyway. Most atheists here are not part of any sort of SSA, CFI type thing, because we just don’t see the need. Mostly, groups like that cater to recent deconverts, which is important and all, but people like me who’ve always been non-religious tend to find groups like that a little alienating and prefer to socialize in groups around our other interests.

  • JB

    I am Canadian. I am proud to be characterized as a muffin top–that is where all the sweetness and wholesome goodness migrates as the muffin matures.

  • Chelsea

    @ Angel- Fair enough. It is a really good thing to be able to laugh at ourselves now and then.

    Anyway, I am excited to see what happens with these ads in Kelowna. I’ve got a friend living there now, hope she sees them!

  • Lynda

    Yay Kamloops! But as kitsunerei suggests, I’ve never felt the need to join a group that “supports” atheists as I feel quite free to express whatever belief I hold to anyone and not feel that they will persecute me for said belief (or lack thereof in my case). I have always been astounded at what American atheists have to put up with. And the rhetoric! Don’t even get me started. I do think we have it easier up here.

  • CanadianChick

    we DO have it easier here, IMO. I joined CFI Vancouver not because I wanted a forum for sharing my atheism, but to join with like-minded skeptics to try to do something about other aspects of a non-skeptical credulous society. Vancouver is horrible for “woo”. No one cares if you’re a christian, but denigrating chiropractic? Careful there! *lol*

    I’d also love to see less deference to religion…we still have a whole lotta that.

  • AxeGrrl

    BoomerChick wrote:

    I wish they would choose another color scheme.
    This one makes me crave Dunkin’ Donuts.

    Bwahahaha….YES! 🙂

  • AxeGrrl

    JB wrote:

    I am Canadian. I am proud to be characterized as a muffin top–that is where all the sweetness and wholesome goodness migrates as the muffin matures

    Plus, doesn’t anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine asserts that the muffin top is the BEST part, which inspires her ex-boss to open a shop called “Top of the Muffin to You”? 🙂

    *embracing my yummy Canadian muffin-top-edness*


  • Charlotte

    This is awesome. But I doubt that it will last for very long. I’m originally from Kelowna, and it has a sizeable population of evangelical Christians, Mormons, etc. Tourists always comment on the ridiculously large number of churches. I have met plenty of people from Kelowna who don’t believe that evolution is possible, who go on missionary trips, who think that speaking in tongues is a legitimate thing, and I even used to have a roommate who didn’t even believe that gay people *existed*. Yeah – so this won’t go over very well.

    That said, for as long as these ads are allowed, I’m sure that they will have a positive effect, especially by encouraging younger atheists to be more vocal about their lack of religious beliefs.

    …Also, it was my understanding that we were “America’s hat”.

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