FFRF Bus Ballot/Contest Attracts Thousands!
Nonbelievers No Longer Ride in the 'Back of the Bus'!
The "war of the bus signs" is escalating in Madison, Wis., with the debut this week of the Freedom From Religion Foundation's first exterior bus sign, advising: "Sleep in on Sundays."
The Foundation's new slogan, which will appear on 12 Metro Transit buses for a month, playfully tweaks religion via its Gothic lettering and stained-glass window background, and advertises the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its website, ffrf.org.
Said Foundation Co-President Dan Barker: "The fact that secular groups around the world are taking their message to public transit systems has great symbolic import. Nonbelievers are not just relegated to 'the back of the bus' anymore."
The Foundation, the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics with nearly 14,000 members, unveiled six thoughtful-provoking signs inside 50 Madison buses in February. The bus signs, which will stay up another month, feature freethinking quotes, such as Clarence Darrow's observation, "I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose."
Notorious homophobic minister Rev. Ralph Ovadal and his church, Pilgrims Covenant Church in Monroe, Wis., responded by placing signs on the outside of a dozen Madison buses employing the biblical insult to atheists found in Psalm 14:1: "The fool has said in his heart there is no God."
"FFRF's bus signs don't name-call," responded Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "We freethinkers are much more polite than the bible!"
"Rev. Ovadal apparently has forgotten that Jesus, in the New Testament (Matt. 5:22), even warns that you are in danger of hellfire if you call someone a fool," added Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister and author of Godless and Losing Faith in Faith. (Jesus then goes on to call people fools, Matt. 23:17!)
"Obviously, there are many reasons to reject religion, most of them intellectual," noted Barker. "But face it—one of the immediate benefits of quitting church, besides a 10% raise, is getting to sleep in on Sundays! What the world really needs is a good night's sleep."
The Atheist Foundation of Australia tried to place bus advertisements there saying "Sleep in on Sunday Mornings." That slogan was inexplicably deemed too controversial, Gaylor said. "We like the idea of running a message that has been censored elsewhere."
The Foundation is also conducting an online ballot/contest so freethinkers around the country can help FFRF choose a second slogan for bus exteriors. Suggested slogans include: "Religion Once Ruled the World. It was Known as the Dark Ages" (taken from Ruth Hurmence Green), "The Truth Shall Set You Free From Religion" (suggested by poet Philip Appleman), and several about 9/11, including author Victor Stenger's suggestion: "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings." Since being launched online last week, the contest has attracted about a thousand voters, who may also suggest their own slogans.
By coincidence, FFRF learned, after starting its ballot, that German humanists are doing the same thing. However, in order to vote at the German site, you have to donate! British Humanists, who took the world by storm by placing bus signs saying, "There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy your Life," raised more than $200,000 in a short period last fall through an online campaign. Spanish nonbelievers also put up bus signs after raising money online.
The Foundation announced its first online campaign to raise funds to post bus signs in February.
"We have a lot more ground to cover than freethinkers in European countries do, but so far, we've taken in under $4,000," Gaylor reported. "We're grateful for all donations and we're in it for the long haul. We encourage freethinkers who are weathering the economy to consider making a tax-deductible donation. It's patriotic! It's a stimulus plan for public transit systems!"
The Foundation hopes to launch campaigns on transit systems in at least a couple of major cities this year. FFRF bus signs join the Foundation's national billboard campaign, in which it has posted more than 30 billboards in cities in more than 15 states, saying "Imagine No Religion," "Beware of Dogma," "Praise Darwin–Evolve Beyond Belief," and "Keep Religion OUT of Politics."
Make a tax-deductible donation to National FFRF Bus Campaign! Let's Show the Brits That 'Yes We Can' Do It, Too!