- The Guardian, Wednesday 22 October 2008
The UK's first atheist advertising campaign has beaten its funding target in less than 24 hours, raising nearly nine times the amount needed to have its posters on bendy buses. Organisers of the campaign, which was launched yesterday, were seeking £5,500 to run adverts in London saying There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" on 30 buses for four weeks. By last night, individuals and organisations had pledged more than £47,900.
Writer Ariane Sherine suggested the idea in a Guardian Comment is Free blog last June, saying an atheist bus campaign would provide a reassuring counter-message to religious slogans threatening non-Christians with hell and damnation.
She said: "Ours is a fun and light-hearted message but it does have a serious point to it: that atheists want a secular country, we want a secular school and a secular government. The strength of feeling has been shown with so many people willing to pay for this campaign."
Sherine said she was surprised by the level of support but was pleased with the extra money, which would finance a more ambitious campaign.
"We could go national, we could have tube posters, different slogans, more buses, advertising inside buses. The sky's the limit - except, of course, there's nothing up there."
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, will donate a further £5,500. His contribution is not included in the sum featured on the Just Giving website, nor is the Gift Aid supplement, which will add at least £6,000 to the total. The British Humanist Association has agreed to administer all donations.
Churches have responded favourably. The British Methodist church welcomed Dawkins's "continued interest" in God, encouraging people to think about the issue. The Church of England said it would defend the right of any group representing a religious or philosophical position to promote that view through appropriate channels.
A spokesman added: "Christian belief is not about worrying or not enjoying life. Quite the opposite: our faith liberates us to put this life into a proper perspective.
"Seven in 10 people in this country describe themselves as Christian and know the joy that faith can bring."
The atheist buses will run from January in Westminster.