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January 11, 2009

Is disputing God false advertising?

bus sign

Earlier this month buses starting appearing around the UK with ads bearing this provocative message...

""There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.""

The ads are the brainchild of British comedienne Ariane Sherine, who says she got tired of seeing religious ads that threaten non-believers with eternal damnation. Volunteers quickly kicked in the £140,000 cost, and the signs started popping up on buses and in tube stations from Glasgow to London.

Not surprisingly, many religious groups have taken offense to the ads(*), and this is where things get interesting. A number of groups have filed formal complaints with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, saying that an ad denying God's existence amounts to false advertising. (Atheists have been saying the same thing about religious ads for years, but evidently they never went through the formal complaint process).

Even though the ASA is not an official government agency, it holds significant influence in British society. Many organizations, such as municipal transit companies, will not accept ads that are not approved by the ASA. Which means the ASA, if it decides to act on the complaints, may end up having to make an official ruling on God's existence. The Telegraph newspaper's website has a story and video on the whole thing.

By the way, atheist bus ads appears to be a growing movement around the world. The official Atheist Bus website is tracking the latest developments.

(*) In fairness, it needs to be said that many religious groups do not object to the signs, saying that they welcome the public thinking about God's place in their lives.


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at January 11, 2009 04:12 PM


To prove a charge of False Advertising, wouldn't the religious objectors have to prove God's existence in a court of law? What do the relevant statutes say? Didn't Billy Connolly make a movie about something like this?

Posted by: G.L. Dryfoos at January 11, 2009 05:31 PM

I think you are thinking like sukrat, but I think you should cover the other side of the topic in the post too...

Posted by: Natural at January 18, 2009 10:06 PM