Tag Archives: bus

New Zealand has bigots too

I actually thought this wouldn’t happen in good old New Zealand. We are a tolerant lot and seem quite happy with our largely secular society. But there’s always some die-hards wanting to spoil it, isn’t there?

This press release from the NZ Atheist Bus Campaign describes how the NZ Bus company has reversed their approval of the adverts because of public complaints.

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign, which late last year raised in excess of $20,000 from public donations, has met a set back in their plans. Nationwide bus company NZ Bus, who had tentatively approved the campaign’s ads on buses in major city centres, have now rejected them.

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.”

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.”

Advertisements with identical wording ran in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Spain. Similar campaigns also ran successfully in Croatia, Finland, Holland, Italy, America and across the Tasman in Australia.

“We are gravely concerned that in New Zealand we’re unable to present an atheistic message, showing that we do not have the same practical freedom of expression as in other first world countries. It highlights why this campaign is so necessary.” said spokesperson Simon Fisher.

The Campaign will continue to accept donations for advertising, see http://www.nogod.org.nz for further details.

Why don’t these complainants identify themselves? Let us hear their arguments. A complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal might provide us that opportunity.


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NZ Atheist Bus Campaign reaches fund raising target in under a week

Below is a press release from the organisers of the NZ Atheist Bus campaign. The current total raised is over NZ$20,200.

Proposed ad for NZ buses

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign is one step closer to placing atheist ads on buses, with their fund raising target of $20,000 having been easily reached in less than a week.

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Bus adverts and the 2011 NZ census

What is it with these atheists?

I go out of town for a few days and they launch their NZ bus adverts campaign.  When I get back I find that I almost miss my own chance to make a donation! Because they are going to cap it off after reaching $20,000!

Its obviously hit a spot because their original target of $10,000 was reached in less than 48 hrs (see $10,000 and growing fast).

But isn’t it strange that an appeal like this should be capped? Haven’t heard of any religious organisation doing this. They always have their hand out. Their “targets” seem to have no limit.

Anyway, good on the people who launched this campaign. They have decided to use the inoffensive slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The same as used in the successful UK campaign. The organisers say “This campaign is about challenging people to think critically about their beliefs, and especially to think critically about how much control they give over their lives to a supernatural being for which there is no evidence.”

The launch seems to have got a fair bit of media coverage. And most commenters on  blogs, etc., seem positive. There are of course a number who, for their own religious reason, attempt to damn it or label it as a waste of money, ineffective, or pointless. One of the funniest I saw was from blogger Macdoctor (see Zealots) who spent some time denouncing the campaign and then appealed to Christians to ignore it!

One can easily overestimate the effectiveness of these sorts of campaigns in changing the long held beliefs of people. But I think this misses the point. Many welcome these adverts because it shows the public face of non-theistic beliefs. It establishes the fact that we are there, we are normal people – no worse and (possibly) no better than others and should be accepted as normal members of society.

However, here’s one tangible result that we might see. Just imagine if more and more people come to think that it’s OK not to declare a religion. All those times people put C of E, Presbyterian, etc., on official forms because they somehow thought that “should” have a religion. They had seen having a religion as nothing to do with belief, but to do with family  or culture. And necessary for respectability.

So what will these people do when the next census comes around? Will they answer the “religion” question more honestly this time?

Already the number people claiming a Christian religion was down to 49.5% in the last, 2006, census (after correction for double dipping – see Is New Zealand a Christian nation?). Could that number really plummet in 2011?

See also:
Battle of the bgus ads
Givealittle – NZ Atheist Bus Campaign.
NZ Atheist Bus Campaign
“Is there a god” NZ poll


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Battle of the bus ads

des moine busI personally think these atheist bus adverts are a good idea. But I wouldn’t if they were agrressive or hostile to believers.

Their value lies in making people aware that there are people who don’t have religious beliefs. These people are human, deserving of respect and rights. They are a normal part of a healthy pluralist society. And their existence and rights are often ignored. We saw this with the NZ Statement on Religious diversity.

The adverts also represent a component of that open discussion in the public square that some religious people claim to support. Provided that discussion is respectful and open this can only be a good thing.

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“Probably” no God – probably acceptable

Debate around the ‘probably’ in the London atheist bus adverts is interesting. First, some background.

Arian Sherine raised the issue back in June with her Guardian article Atheists – gimme five:

“Yesterday I walked to work and saw not one, but two London buses with the question: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It seems you wait ages for a bus with an unsettling Bible quote, then two come along at once.

The errant capital letters weren’t the only disturbing thing about this (Faith Hill or Faith Evans?). There was also a web address on the ad, and when I visited the site, hoping for a straight answer to their rather pressing question, I received the following warning for anyone who doesn’t “accept the word of Jesus on the cross”: “You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits)” (Matthew 25:41). Lots to look forward to, then.”

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