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At least 31% of the people on board this bus are fools

Adapted Trinitarian Bus - Original Image CC / Flickr

Adapted Trinitarian Bus - Original Image CC / Flickr

Atheist buses are one thing, stating there’s probably no god. But how about the christian counter adverts now on the streets of London? The christian party adverts that are even a rip-off of the design of the atheist ads are rather inoffensive as far as I am concerned; imitation is the best form of flattery. However the ads that really annoy me are those from the trinitarian bible society that state “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” from Psalm 53.1 – you can see a picture of the original ad here.

Reflect on this a bit. Anyone that does not believe in god is a fool is the message they want to give, with the use of a quote to try to make it should less nasty. Don’t believe = fool. So let’s apply some stats to that. The best research that I can find is that between 31 and 44% of the UK population is atheist, agnostic or non-believer according to a 2005 academic study. So for the benefit of doubt I’ll take the lowest statistic and generate a slogan for a bus: “At least 31% of the people on board this bus are fools”. Now what would the ASA think of that slogan? Rather offensive don’t you think?

PLEASE NOTE: the opinions in this blog entry are those of Jon Worth alone and are NOT the opinions of BHA or anyone else involved in the atheist bus campaign.


9 Comments

  • MatGB |

    You remember that Theos report saying how “51% reject Darwin”? What they didn’t say was that they used dodgy push polling questions, and the only pro scientific evolution option was “evolution makes belief in God absurd”. A position I’d have problems with.

    Despite this, it got 34% say definitely or probably. So that’s 34% think belief in god isn’t just not for them, it’s absurd. Strangely, that didn’t feature in the Theos press release, nor in the press coverage the churnalists gave it.

    These adverts are daft, and I hope someone does take them to the ASA over something, but if they want to spend money to shoot themselves in the foot, I’m happy with that.

  • Jo |

    Jon, I find the trinitarian bibile society ads objectionable.
    Partly because the approach they’ve taken is hardly showing God’s love, also because they don’t try to engage interest in God in the way that the atheist ads did (inadvertantly?), but also because of the archaic language.
    Christianity is about a relationship with the living God – why would people choose to do it in language that my grandparents find old-fashioned?

    But Ekklesia have got it right, going to the ASA for judgement on the evidence for the existence of God was a ridiculous thing for Steven Green to do, and God doesn’t need to be treated as a commodity in tit-for-tat bus campaigns, fun as it might be to come up with alternative slogans. (I love the slogan generator that’s out there, but in particular I like the accidental similarity between the Atheist lettering and the Slumdog Millionaire bus ads – very confusing if you catch one out the corner of your eye!).

    Have we ever actually discussed the original objection? As I understand it was a question on whether Christians believe that God sends non-believers to hell.
    No, many of us don’t, at least not in the sense of eternal fiery torture. We believe that hell is separation from God, and the things that flow from his presence (love, hope, joy, good deeds no matter who God empowers to do them etc.). The judgement thing is not God sending anyone anywhere – we choose to be with him or not, that’s what free will’s about.
    And being Christian is about recognising yourself to be a flawed individual in need of unconditional love that is undeserved and sharing that with the world, not being a smug, self-satisfied individual calling others “fools” without explanation.
    Happy to discuss more (as this stuff is important). In the meantime, happy with being in the presence of God I’m off to be worry-free and enjoy my life :)

    PS stats-wise, agnostics should not be in the “no god” camp any more than the “god” camp, because they allow for the possibility that there is a God or equally that there is not. So the academic study you cite has an in-built assumption and therefore bias that is trying to identify more non-belief than belief…

  • Hettie |

    Oh come on, why do you take yourselves so seriously? Christians are called fools, bigots and worse on a daily basis by enlightened atheists agnostics etc

    What did you expect when you first organised the Atheist bus campaign? I love a good banter, now it’s your (and the others who organised the atheist bus campaign) turn again :D

  • Central Scrutiniser |

    Now see what you have started here Jon. It will be hard to take Bible quotes to the ASA and claim that they are offensive. It would be bit like claiming that parts of the Bible are blasphemous.

    There are people who truly believe that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. Equally there are people who still believe that financial derivative products are good for capital markets.

    Leave them alone and they will hopefully stay out of politics.

  • Jon |

    Not a hope. Some folks have contacted me re. the ads from The Christian Party that say that there definitely is a god. ASA’s response: that The Christian Party is a political party and therefore ASA cannot judge on the complaint.

    Just assuming religious folks will go away from politics is completely the wrong approach.

  • Central Scrutiniser |

    On reflection you are quite right Jon. Much of organised religion is de facto political. What baffles me is that religious parties appear to have little or no faith in their various gods to deliver the ‘right’ result at the polls.

    I suppose the ASA simply cannot apply the same rules to political parties that it applies to businesses. It would be like submitting political parties to some kind of truth test which, doubtless, they would all probably fail!

    For religious folk and politcians, the truth is often just another challenge to their faith.

  • Trooper Thompson |

    If you people are against religion, you should stop to think why you are against religion, and what it is that you are against, and then take effort to avoid becoming exactly the same yourselves, because the more you organise your atheism into a political force, the more religious you seem.

    Talking about Christians, Muslims etc are massive generalisations. The Christian Party, as y’all know, is a very small party and cannot count on the votes of more than a tiny fraction of people who call themselves Christian. This is no surprise, Christians don’t all agree on political matters, any more than atheists do.

    And one word of warning: As Voltaire noted in ‘Lettres Philosophiques’, religions tend to get stronger when you persecute them. The current upsurge in religiously-motivated political action has come about because Christians are being targeted by ‘thought-crime’ style laws.

  • LWJ |

    http://biblebrowser.com/matthew/5-22.htm

    They are showing that they don’t know their bibles very well.

    “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

    Matthew 5:22

    I was a Christian before I was an atheist and it is a very big no-no to call others fools.

So, what do you think ?