Earlier this month, we learned that Pattison Outdoor Advertising, a billboard vendor in Vancouver, British Columbia, rejected atheist-themed signs without offering an explanation:
It’s not hard to guess why they said no since owner Jim Pattison is an evangelical Christian.
At the time, CFI said they would take action:
CFI will file a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for violation of the BC Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination in service provision. CFI intends to explore all other legal options.
“CFI has consistently opposed the use of human rights apparatuses as tools of censorship,” said [CFI President Kevin] Smith. “Now we intend to use these mechanisms to protect the right of free speech.”
It appears now that Pattison is changing its tune, saying they would allow the ad to go up with “minor tweaks” while another company has offered to put up the ads without any change whatsoever:
According to a press release from the Centre for Inquiry:
The Centre for Inquiry’s new atheist advertising campaign, initially rejected by Pattison Outdoor in Vancouver, has now been launched with CBS Outdoor. The ads replace religious proverbs with humanist phrases such as, “Praying won’t help. Doing will.”
The controversy has generated a heated discussion. In light of public support, CFI is raising funds to bring the ads across the country. “CFI is a voice for millions of Canadians who question the need for religion to live a good, meaningful life,” said CFI President Kevin Smith. “We’re pleased to bring their message into the public square, despite opposition.”
Pattison now claims they would approve the ads with minor tweaks, which is fundamentally different from their original notice. Pattison officials had rejected out of hand CFI’s request for explanation or guidelines behind their decision.
CBS Outdoor agreed to run the ads without changes. The ads can be seen on transit shelters in downtown Vancouver and on two billboards in Burnaby.
If you’d like to donate to put up those billboards (or ones like it) in other cities, you can pitch in right here.