Coming soon to TTC vehicles is an ad paid for by the Freethought Association of Canada. The ad, already on buses in the United Kingdom, reads: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Ads also carry quotes by famous atheists such as Douglas Adams, Katherine Hepburn and Albert Einstein, who said:
"It was, of course, a lie, what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
Meant to stimulate discussion, the ads are part of the “Atheistbus” campaign. The Canadian campaign, www.atheistbus.ca, raised $26,000 in one week. Of course, before the discussion even gets started, there are those who feel that their religious beliefs apparently aren’t hearty enough to stand up to bus adverts.
Charles McVety, the president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, who has made a name for himself espousing extreme social conservatism and by viciously opposing gay marriage, has bellowed that these are “attack ads” and that he’s only supportive of free speech “on the surface”. I suppose this means he supports free speech as long as that speech agrees with his parochial point of view.
The Atheistbus campaign, which found its early support amongst readers of richardawkins.net, is planning to expand to Halifax and Calgary.
I should conclude by noting that I’ve seen religious ads (quotes from the Bible, for example) on TTC subways, buses and streetcars for ages. Therefore, I don’t know why anyone should feel threatened by an atheist campaign, particularly since 1 in 5 Canadians say that they are atheist/agnostic/no religion – a population second to Christianity in Canada and more numerous than Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. If one is threatened, then I suspect they share McVety’s limited concept of free speech.