Freethought Today · Vol. 26 No. 3 April 2009

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Nonbelievers No Longer in 'Back of the Bus'

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The Foundation is holding an online ballot/contest to 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.”

The “war of the bus signs” escalated in Madison, Wis., with the debut in late March of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first exterior bus sign, advising: “Sleep in on Sundays.”

The signs respond to large bus signs placed in Madison by a homophobic, religious-right ministry, employing the biblical insult to atheists found in Psalm 14:1: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”

The Pilgrims Covenant Church of Monroe, Wis., in turn, had placed those signs in response to the Foundation’s six thought-provoking bus messages placed inside 50 Madison buses in February.

Those provocative bus signs, which will stay up through April, feature freethinking quotes, such as Clarence Darrow’s observation, “I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose."

The Foundation’s new exterior bus sign, playfully tweaking religion via its Gothic lettering and stained-glass motif, went on 11 Metro Transit buses for a month.

“FFRF’s bus signs don’t name-call,” noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. “We freethinkers are much more polite than the bible!”

Rev. Ralph Ovadal of the Monroe church apparently forgot that Jesus, in the New Testament (Matt. 5:22), warns that you are in danger of hellfire if you call someone a fool, added Foundation Co-President Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister and author of Godless and Losing Faith in Faith. (Jesus, in one of many bible contradictions, then goes on to call people fools, Matt. 23:17!)

“Obviously, there are many reasons to reject religion, most of them intellectual,” said 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 deemed too controversial. “We like the idea of running a message that has been censored elsewhere,” Gaylor said. “We’re looking for our next venue for bus signs–and donations to help support a National Bus Sign campaign, similar to what the British humanists did earlier this year,” added Barker.

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