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Athesists strike hard at London

Ariane Sherine

Anyone who has spent a chilly half-hour waiting for a bus here may already have doubted the existence of a deity.
But for those who need further proof, a U.K.-wide advertising campaign aimed at persuading more people to “come out” as atheists was launched on Tuesday with the backing of some of Britain’s most famous non-believers.
The principal slogan — “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” — can already be seen on four London bus routes. Now 200 bendy buses in London and 600 others across the country are to carry the advert after a fundraising drive that brought in more than £140,000, far exceeding the original target of £5,500.
The money will pay for 1,000 advertisements on the London Underground train network from next Monday and advertisements on a pair of giant LCD screens opposite Bond Street subway train station in Oxford Street.

Organisers unveiled quotes from public figures — including Albert Einstein, Douglas Adams and Katharine Hepburn — who have endorsed atheism, or at least expressed scepticism about any Creator. The words “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” are quoted from the poet Emily Dickinson. At the launch in a marquee next to the Albert Memorial in west London, the television comedy writer Ariane Sherine, creator of the campaign, said: “You wait ages for an atheist bus and then 800 come along at once. I hope they’ll brighten people’s days and make them smile on their way to work.”

She suggested the campaign in a Guardian Comment is Free blogpost last June, saying it would be a reassuring alternative to religious slogans threatening non-Christians with hell and damnation.

At yesterday’s launch she said the sheer number of donations, still being added to, demonstrated the strength of feeling. “This is a great day for freedom of speech in Britain. I am very glad that we live in a country where people have the freedom to believe in whatever they want.”

Joining Sherine were Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, Hanne Stinson, from the British Humanist Association (BHA), the philosopher A.C. Grayling, and Graham Linehan, who wrote the TV shows Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd. There were messages of support from the actor Stephen Fry and the writer Charlie Brooker. According to the BHA, “huge numbers” of people in Britain have non-religious beliefs — between 30 and 40 per cent of the population. Among young people the figure is between 60 and 65 per cent.
Mr. Stinson said: “We all, whether we have religious or non-religious beliefs, have a right to be heard, and no one particular set of beliefs has any more right to influence the public debate than any other.

January 8, 2009 - Posted by | news | , , , , , ,

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