Give Freethought Wheels: First U.S. Online Bus Appeal Announced
If you're looking for 'a sign,' look no further than buses in Madison, Wis. For the next two months, you won't find a 'sign from above'--but will discover irreverent, thought-provoking messages, compliments of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on 50 Madison Metropolitan buses. Six new and provocative bus sign designs featuring memorable quotes by famous freethinkers or skeptics just went up.
Among them is a quote from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of the blockbuster bestseller, The God Delusion: "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction."
Clarence Darrow, the agnostic "attorney for the damned" who famously represented John Scopes in the 1925 Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tenn., is quoted saying: "I don't believe in God, because I don't believe in Mother Goose."
Emily Dickinson's sly four-line poem reads:
"Faith" is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see–
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency!
Actress Butterfly McQueen, typecast as "Prissy" in the movie, "Gone with the Wind," was a nearly lifelong atheist, and a Lifetime Member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Foundation selected a quote from an interview she gave the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in 1989: "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."
A cryptic quote from "Puddinhead Wilson" by Mark Twain, author of the irreverent War Prayer and Letters from the Earth, is featured: "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
Actress Katharine Hepburn is quoted saying, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe that there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people" (Ladies Home Journal, Oct. 1991).
All except the sign with the longer quotation featuring Hepburn bear portraits of the featured freethinkers. The attractive bus signs were designed by Evan Schultz, with Adams Outdoor Co., Madison, Wis.
A lot of American freethinkers were impressed with the recent British bus campaign, in which they raised money to place bus signs saying: "There's probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life." The Foundation has been urged by its members to do something similar, noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
The Foundation placed what is believed to be the first nontheist bus sign anywhere, in 1983, in Madison, Wis., after halting a state/church violation involving Madison Metro. The city bus company had placed free ads for the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's club, saying: "Keep Christ in Christmas." The Foundation's first bus sign read: "The Bible: A Grim Fairy Tale." In December 1984, the Foundation placed a second bus sign, showing a delighted Mary running out of the stable, exclaiming, "It's a Girl!"
The Foundation has announced its first online fundraiser in hopes it can take its educational messages to major city transit systems, such as New York City or San Francisco.
"These new bus signs are a 'sign of the times,' that those of us who are free from religion are coming into our own," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president .
The Foundation launched a national billboard campaign in late 2007, and has placed billboards--variously reading "Imagine No Religion," "Beware of Dogma," "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief" and "Keep Religion OUT of Politics"--in about a third of the states so far. Like the billboards, the aesthetically-pleasing bus signs bear the Foundation's signature stained-glass window motif.
Gaylor said the Foundation gets new requests to place billboards every week, "and it's just a matter of raising the funds as we go, so we can take our billboard campaign and new bus/subway signs around the nation," Gaylor added.
The Foundation has placed its handsome billboard, "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief," at Randall and Regent Streets in Madison, Wis., in celebration of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday this February, as well as in Dayton, Tenn., Dover, Penn., Whitehall, Ohio, and Grand Junction, Colo. A Darwin billboard will be going up soon in Wichita, Kansas.
Make a tax-deductible donation to National FFRF Bus Campaign! Let's Show the Brits That 'Yes We Can' Do It, Too!
To access bus images: Feb. 13, 2009 press release