AtheistCampaign.org began when comedy writer Ariane Sherine saw an advert on a London bus featuring the Bible quote, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on this Earth?” [sic]. A website URL ran underneath the quote, and when Sherine visited the site she learned that, as a non-believer, she would be “condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell”.
Unsettled that religious groups were allowed to advertise websites which warned that the non-religious would face torture at the end of their lives, Sherine pitched and began to write a comment piece for The Guardian’s Cif (Comment is free) website, called Atheists - Gimme Five. As part of her research for the piece, she called the Advertising Standards Authority, but was told that the website advertised wasn’t part of their remit. At the end of her article, keen to suggest a solution, she proposed:
[if all atheists reading this] contribute £5, it’s possible that we can fund a much-needed atheist London bus ad with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and [enjoy] your life.”
To Sherine’s surprise and excitement, the majority of reader comments under the article were very positive and enthusiastic about the idea, with dozens of commenters offering to contribute to the campaign.
Political blogger Jon Worth read the piece, thought the proposal was a smart and sweet idea, and emailed Sherine asking if he could set up a Pledgebank page, where readers could pledge to donate to the campaign. The Pledgebank link was placed in the comments of the original article, and although the piece was archived after three days, dozens of blogs picked up on the idea and it spread across the internet.
877 people signed up to the Pledgebank page before it closed six weeks later, and Matthew Parris wrote positively about the idea in his column in The Times on the page’s very last day. However, the Daily Telegraph published an inaccurate report after the page closed, saying that atheists had failed to donate enough money to the campaign, not acknowledging that there had in fact been no donation phase and almost no publicity.
To set the record straight, Sherine wrote a second article for Cif called Dawkin ‘Bout A Revolution, explaining what had happened, and announced that the campaign would relaunch in the autumn “with a new website [AtheistCampaign.org] and a more proactive campaign”. 262 readers signed up to the campaign after the second Cif piece, and over 1,200 joined the newly set up Atheist Bus Campaign Facebook Group.
The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21 2008. To donate, please visit [link].
Campaign: Atheist Bus
83 comments | 14.10.08 | Ariane | Email this post Email this post
** We reached the total at 10.06am - thank you so much to everyone who contributed! If you haven’t donated yet and would like to then please do - we can then get adverts inside the same buses to strengthen the campaign’s impact! **
The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21. With your support, we hope to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Donate online now!
Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, is officially supporting the Atheist Bus Campaign, and has generously agreed to match all donations up to a maximum of £5,500, giving us a total of £11,000 if we reach the full amount – enough for a much bigger campaign. The British Humanist Association have kindly agreed to administer all donations.
With your help, we can brighten people’s days on the way to work, help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves.
As Richard Dawkins says: “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion.”
Originally posted by Nathan Dunn