Hot on the heels of the Atheist Bus campaign, three different Christian groups have jumped onto the slogan bandwagon with their own, pro-God commercials.
Apparently, The Christian Party is going for the somewhat unoriginal
“There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”
Printed and phrased to look very similar to the atheist advert
There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Even down to font and colouring. So close in fact that I wondered whether the photo was just generated using the atheist bus slogan generator. Photo-shopped the picture might be at the moment, but it surely will get more interesting when the ASA start to receive complaints. Remember, Christian Voice previously lodged an objection to the original atheist advertisment and then proclaimed that:
‘If the ASA had thought the humanists could provide evidence for their claim, they would have asked them for it. As they know there is no evidence for the proposition that ‘there is probably no God’, they have let their secularist friends off the hook. ‘I debated this issue secularists five times in recent days, and despite repeated challenges, they could not once come up with anything to back up their claim that there is ‘probably no God’.
I’m now really looking forward to seeing the evidence to support the new Christian Party slogan. You note that they didn’t even go for a hedge of ‘probably‘, so it’s presumably a cut-and-dried put up, or shut up statement. Strikes me than anything short of divine manifestation in the witness box, ‘I pledge to tell the truth, so help me me‘, isn’t going to cut it to back up that statement.
The Russian Orthadox Church are displaying a similar lack of originality with the slogan:
There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.
I wonder if the Humanist Society should feel flattered at how much everyone liked their phrasing, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all
Finally, the Trinitarian Bible Society are just dropping to the level of the school-yard.
“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God – Psalm 53.1”
They’re cunningly avoiding the substantiation requirement of the ASA with that one, by just quoting the Bible, but surely that’s far more insulting than the atheist message?
Just to confirm who’s firmly grabbed the high ground in this discussion, the British Humanist Association released the following comments:
We entirely support free expression and freedom of belief, and so fully support the right of these Christian groups to place their ads on buses. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Of course, there are differences between the Atheist Bus ads and the new Christian ones and I want to take this opportunity to reflect them.
Our ads were a response to ads run by jesussaid.org whose website promised an eternity of hellfire for non-Christians. Our response message, suggested by comedy writer Ariane Sherine was intended to be reassuring, telling people not to worry and enjoy life, as there was probably no god and so no cause to fear an eternity of hellfire.
Our ads were funded entirely by thousands of individual donors who gave small amounts in an outpouring of popular support for the positive message. The ads now launched in response to our response are funded by organisations or wealthy individuals.
Our ads were positive and peaceful. They didn’t say, for example, that religious people were ‘fools’, unlike one of the response ads being run, which says that “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”
Our ads were undogmatic and funny, with the addition of the ‘probably’ in line with the continuing openness of humanists to new evidence and in an echo of previous funny ads, like the Carlsberg ad which stated that it was ‘probably the best lager in the world’. The new ads are dogmatic and declaratory, leaving no room for reason and debate.
Of course, these groups are free to express themselves as they choose. Our ads encouraged people to think for themselves and I am convinced that they will continue to do so.
Image from the Atheist Bus Slogan generator, based on an original photo © John Worth