United Church of Canada to come out with counter ads.

*Update* Go have your say in their Yes/No poll!

Leave it to the United Church of Canada to come out and counter our ads. I think this is a really exciting new development. They’re hoping their ads have the same effect as ours – to spring up discussion in the public. I’ve been a member of their site wonder cafe for many years now because it’s proven time and again to be a really great place to have this exact discussion (and many others) with believers who have an open mind.  I’m just hoping they don’t pour  too much money into their campaign making our ads way more obscure than theirs.

Although, the discussion surrounding the ad on their website is way ….below…what I’ve found their usual conversation to be, I expected the people there to actually talk about it instead of just saying it is a silly and useless comment. I’d love to hear their intelligent thoughts surrounding the message instead of them just assuming that we’re attacking them.

With silly comments like “there’s probably no science” and “why aren’t they attacking Muslims” it’s very easy to brush the entire thread off as more people who aren’t interested in opening their mind up to new ideas and actually talking to us about the meat of the issues. However, there are a couple people on there going against that statement. Such as…


I’m with those who see this as an opening for discussion. To me the sign is not funny so much as it is a statement, “Hey, look, we really DO live in a country that supports free speech, if the exercise does not take away the fundamental rights of others.”

Posted on: 01/21/2009 15:50

Alas – Good on you, UCC!

The Correct Dates…

CBC today at 6pm did a clip about our campaign, unfortunately they made a mistake and reported the campaign would debut in Calgary and Halifax with Toronto starting a few months later. This is not true, we will be debuting in Toronto mid-February with Calgary and Halifax to come in the following months.

Justin Trottier, President of the Freethought Association of Canada had said that he was very clear about this, we have contacted the CBC producers and they will correct the dates for future broadcasts. Again I encourage everyone to please read our website as a primary source of information to get accurate dates, listings, and timings of the campaign.

Thanks :)

Where are the donations being spent?

I want to take a moment and provide some clarification about where donations are going. A few times now the press has inaccurately reported about our campaign and so some clarification is needed.

All donations will be spent advertising on city transit systems with the possibility of a billboard advertisement in the future but that is not part of our initial campaign. We will be advertising in Halifax, Calgary, and Toronto. We will initially be spending $10,000 in Toronto, $5,000 in Calgary, and $5,000 in Halifax. We’ve received over $30,000 in donations and so the money not spent on initial advertisements will be used to prolong the first advertisements put up or to buy new advertisements in Toronto, Calgary, and Halifax. We do not want to spend all donations at once, we want the campaign to last as long as possible and ideally we would want it to continue indefinitely.

CityTV reported today that we are going to be spending “[…] tens of thousands of dollars in donations […] to post similar ads in Calgary and Halifax.” [1] This is an error on their part as we made it clear to them that we would only be spending $5,000 in Halifax and $5,000 in Calgary. If we receive the financial support through donations then we will spend more to prolong the advertisements.

We’re aiming to put the Toronto advertisements up around  mid-February (provided everything goes smooth in production). We are working with our contacts in Calgary and Halifax on rates and prices and we’re in the planning stages right now with regards to those two cities.

To ensure you have accurate information about the campaign please use our website, atheistbus.ca, as a primary source. I encourage you to read through the website FAQ and other pages on the website to learn more about the campaign.


[1] – ‘No God’ Ads, Soon To Appear On TTC Vehicles, Spark Heated Debate – CityTV News –  January 29th, 2009 – http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_31470.aspx

CBC Radio One this morning at 8:15am

This morning at around 7:40am 8:15am I’ll be on the Toronto CBC Radio Metro Morning show with Matt Galloway. Tune in and listen online at http://cbc.ca/radio.

We’ll be discussing why we want to bring the campaign to Toronto, the importance of it, and the response to the campaign so far.

*Update* The interview was at 8:15am, just after Jim Flaherty discussed the budget.

Angry Calls and Newspaper Queries: The Atheist Bus Campaign Rolls Along

I wish I had more time to post entries as we receive ongoing press in the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign, but as President of the sponsoring organization, I wanted to share a short report on some of the attention we’ve been getting.  So here are a few highlights from one of the busier days this week.  It started, appropriately enough, with an odd phone call.  I was asked

Are you the atheist?

After some hesitation over how to approach an answer, I simply gave my name and addressed my title with the Freethought Association of Canada.  After a first awkward question where he asked how the bus campaign was

meant to make me feel better

he proceeded to inquire about our motives. I stated we wished to introduce our perspective into an ongoing discussion on the role of faith in a secular society and sincerely hoped it would create fruitful dialogue.  That he took as an invitation to embark on a one on one debate with me at that very moment.  Fair enough, but I was technically at work.

His questions showed a depressingly low lack of understanding of secularism.  He couldn’t figure out the difference between having an open public space like the side of a bus on which every group – religious or not – could publish their ads, and having the government actually endorse a single worldview through publicly funded catholic schools or opening prayer at legislative meetings.  He kept repeating that

atheists just want to get rid of god everywhere

When he said that atheists should just keep in their place and happily fund public god-invoking ceremonies, I told him, rather passionately, that the entire point of this campaign was to make it clear that atheists are a large percentage of organized individuals and that we are no longer accepting marginalization from public debates concerning the role of religion and secularism in a democratic society.  Realizing he had hit a nerve, he promptly pulled out the “atheists are all angry about trivial things” card to which I kindly reminded him that he had called me for a half hour debate on this “trivial matter”.

In short, it quickly became clear he wished to engage in a never-ending diatribe.  I had to end this, which I hope I did respectfully by letting him know that I would have to be going and that his next question would have to be the last one.

Fortunately, I ended up ending that call just in time to pick one up from the Toronto Star.  It ended up being a rather challenging interview for Saturday’s Ideas section.  I was forced to think quickly about such issues as how the different political climates in the UK and Canada vis a vis religious tolerance would effect the dynamics of these atheist bus campaigns, and whether my skepticism and scientific inquiry was another brand of ideology.  I hope I said something coherent.  While there’s nothing so annoying as reading back your own inelegant words quoted in the paper and knowing that’s not what you said, it’s much worse to realize that that inelegance is precisely what you said.

Later in the day I was able to field a call from a reporter with the National Post (which we’ve been debating already), as well as one from the Corriere Canadese, an Italian language paper I have not yet come across.  These interviews were more laid back, although I recall one question regarding my concern that parents would feel threatened by an atheistic message that might undermine their ability to effectively brainwash, sorry indoctrinate, sorry educate, yes educate, their children in their faith tradition.  I really have no apologies coming to parents who feel that years of focused efforts to instill their version of reality on their vulnerable children – sometimes including isolation from other points of view and outright lies – will be overturned by the sheer knowledge that atheists exist and such an offensive statement as

There’s probably no god.  Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

If your faith is that easily shaken it hardly deserves my respect in the first place.  Plus, with a stance you might term a “child-centred libertarian,” I believe children are not owned by parents.  They should not be forced to undergo anything that so permanently marks them that they are unable to make a free and informed decision or change later in life.

We’re Not Rivals

An article was published recently in the National Post claiming that the Humanist Association of Canada and the Freethought Association of Canada have nothing in common except that we don’t believe in god. It also mentioned that we’re “rivals” and that we’re essentially fighting over who can have the best campaign.

This just simply isn’t true. HAC and FAC have no tiff with one another, especially not one that would make us “rivals”.

Two rival atheist groups will attempt to peddle their different views of non-belief to Canadians through separate advertising campaigns on public transit.

We are not rival groups. We are different groups, with different mandates and who focus on different priorities. Every organization that has called telling me they are going to do their own atheist bus campaign, I have supported whole  heartedly because it just means more buses with our messages being displayed. This is not a competition, the humanist group wants a different message than ours – and I don’t think that all freethinking groups need to be lumped into one. The more messages – the better.

The humanists doing their campaign is amazing, and I hope that this can spread even farther across Canada. The more messages, the more dialogue!

Continue reading “We’re Not Rivals”

So Overwhelming!

The amount of response that we have received today has been totally overwhelming. I always knew the Canadians were out there who wanted to support the freethought and secular movement – and it’s so great to finally be getting in contact with those people. Donations are rolling in left right and center and I would specifically like to thank Mr. Trevor Byrne for donating $3000 to our campaign this morning! If you want to see your name on the donation list along with Trevor Byrne and other donors, please follow the instrutions listed here before you donate. Thanks everyone!

Help us grow faster.

There are many ways to gain popularity and website traffic with the internet, some of these are through facebook, digg, myspace,  reddit, buzz up, stumbleupon, and delicious. You may have noticed a “ShareThis” icon on some of our pages and posts, if you’ve clicked on it you’ve seen all of the Social Web tools available to help share our website with the rest of the world. If you haven’t yet, give it a try, because it allows you to quickly and easily broadcast our website with friends, family, and the rest of your social group. Continue reading “Help us grow faster.”

Proposal of adverts..

We are still deciding on the best type of adverts to put up along buses and subways, if you have any suggestions please feel free to comment. As of right now I think it would be best to use quotes that encourage free thinking from famous atheists and humanists. These quotes would be a great rebuttal to all of those adverts around the country that display bible verses. Nonetheless we should still have some sort of original slogan for the campaign as well. Continue reading “Proposal of adverts..”