London buses may soon be plastered with ads proclaiming “There’s probably no God,” if a British atheist group has its way.
The slogan is the brainchild of the British Humanist Association (BHA), an atheist organization that seeks to promote a world without religion where people are “free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values.”
Among the campaign’s supporters is well-known atheist activist Richard Dawkins, who promised to match BHA’s goal of raising $9,000 for the ads, according to BBC.
But the group has now raised $59,000 on its own.
“Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children,” Dawkins told BBC.
“This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion,” he claimed.
BHA will use the funds to purchase four weeks worth of bus-long ad space on the outside of two sets of 30 Bendy buses.
The complete slogan reads: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Because more funds were raised than anticipated, BHA will also run posters inside the buses. The group is also considering to expand the campaign to other British cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.
"We see so many posters advertising salvation through Jesus or threatening us with eternal damnation, that I feel sure that a bus advert like this will be welcomed as a breath of fresh air,” said Hanne Stinson, chief executive of BHA.
"If it raises a smile as well as making people think, so much the better.”
In response, a British Christian group warned that people don’t like to be preached to and that it wouldn’t be surprising if the public retaliated.
“I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti,” said Stephen Green of U.K.-based Christian Voice.
But the U.K. Methodist Church, on the other hand, expressed appreciation to Dawkins for fueling a “continued interest in God.”
“This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life,” said the Rev. Jenny Ellis, a Methodist spirituality and discipleship officer.
She added, “Christianity is for people who aren’t afraid to think about life and meaning.”
It is well known that Christianity is in decline in the United Kingdom and across Europe.
A report by the United Nations, released earlier this year, found that two-thirds of Britons admit they have no religious affiliation. And a BBC poll last year found that four in five people believe Britain is in moral decline.
The Archbishop of York, Dr. David Hope, the second most senior member in the Church of England, declared in a 2004 interview that the United Kingdom can no longer be considered a Christian nation. He noted that Britons are less committed to the church and “secularist” tendencies were increasing.
The bus ads are slated to run in January.