Today (July 1), the New Zealand Atheist Bus Campaign (NZABC) is unveiling controversial new billboards in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Why is a bus campaign putting up billboards? Because NZ Bus, the largest operator in New Zealand, won’t let them put ads on their buses.
Last year the NZABC raised $22,000 for an atheist bus campaign similar to those popping up all over the rest of the world and initially NZ Bus agreed to run their ads. Then they changed their minds.
From the New Zealand Herald:
NZ Bus said it declined to run the ads because the campaign had drawn a “significant reaction” from passengers and staff, with a number finding it distasteful or distressing.
“NZ Bus has the right to decline advertising that may, in its perception, be considered controversial or divisive,” spokeswoman Siobhan O’Donovan said.
The NZABC has applied for legal representation from the Office of Human Rights Proceedings to pursue a discrimination case against the bus company.
In the meantime, Simon Fisher, spokesperson for the atheist bus campaign, has said the group will be spending $10,000 to get their message out through billboards. The $22,000 raised for bus ads will be held in reserve until there’s a decision in the discrimination case.
The billboards going up today feature four different slogans. One, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” is from the original 2009 atheist bus campaign in London that started the whole phenomenon. The other three were chosen from among 900 slogans submitted to an online billboard generator. They are:
“In the beginning, man created God“, “Good without God? Over one million Kiwis are” and “We are all atheists about most gods. Some of us just go one God further“.
“While the bus campaign would have been limited to main centres, the great thing about these canvases is that once printed they can be toured to other centres” said Mr Fisher. “If a community wants to put one of our billboards up in their area they can contact us, arrange a location, and we’ll be delighted to lend them the canvas”.
There have, so far as I know, been no atheist billboard or bus campaigns here in Los Angeles. Last year however, we did have something of an anti-atheist billboard campaign sponsored by Ray Comfort (he of “Bananas: the Atheist’s Worst Nightmare” video fame) and his webpage, PullThePlugOnAtheism.com. That billboard featured a picture of Charles Darwin and read:
“ATHEIST: Someone who believes nothing made everything. A scientific impossibility!”
Ah well, Los Angeles is a world unto itself…
1) Kiwi bird caricature (source: Cruciality Word Press)
2) Ray Comfort’s anti-atheist billboard (source: his blog)
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