Sunday, November 09, 2008

All aboard the Atheist Bus!


At the same time that our friends to the south (the United States) are sinking even deeper into their own uniquely bizarre form of relignicity, the Big Kahunna, Commonwealth-wise (England) may be taking another step towards secular/superstition balance. Those on the English religious-right (where ‘right’ means they have the right to ram their beliefs down your throat at every opportunity) while pretending that they are not bothered by it actually are bothered by it. The ‘it’ is to put ads on the sides of London’s articulated buses saying, “There is probably no god. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.” This is in response to years of ads claiming salvation through Jesus and other superstitious silliness.

The religious-nut web-site, the Christian Voice, printed an article on October 19 of this year entitled, “Bendy-bus to take Dawkins message off-road.” (Professor Richard Dawkins is a well-known English atheist who has written a few books on the subject.) The article states that, “an atheist blogger named Jon Worth came up with the idea, but his fellow humanists, not known for their generosity, wouldn’t stump up the cash. Now Richard Dawkins, whose anti-Christian zeal knows no bounds, is to finance the doomed venture.”

Oh, where to begin. The idea actually came from comedy writer Ariane Sherine. She came up with the idea after noticing one too many religious ads on the London buses and when she went to one of the web-sites advertised she was told all about how unbelievers will burn in everlasting torment in Hell. She began looking for five-pound donations to finance her idea and soon gained the backing of The British Humanist Association. Professor Dawkins caught wind of this deal and promised to match donations up to 5500-pounds. Well donations were brisk and soon reached 36,000-pounds on their own (you know, from “humanists not known for their generosity”), so now the plan is to extend the campaign to other English cities. Not bad for a doomed venture.

But Christian Voice had another point to make. Stephen Green, the National Director of Christian Voice, pointed out that, “people don’t like being preached at.” Brilliant. A man of faith pointing out that people don’t like being preached at because those religious folk would never do something like that, would they? Never! It’s clear thinking like that… Well, maybe not. Big Steve seems to have a spot of trouble with the whole clear thinking thing, but that’s fine. He’s got a book to do his thinking for him.

The more “mainstream” religious organizations in England were, publicly at least, a little more accepting of the ads than their nutty brethren were. Spirituality and Discipleship officer, Reverend Jenny Ellis of the Methodist Church said, “This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life. Christianity is for people who aren’t afraid to think about like and meaning.” Professor Dawkins has a different take on things, saying, “this campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think, and thinking is anathema to religion.” I have to side with the professor on this one. There is a reason that preachers (by whatever name) are called ‘shepards’ and their followers are called the ‘flock’, and I don’t think the implied sheep reference is accidental, or flattering. It fits though.

Anyway… Humouroceros

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