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Atheist bus: 'Sleep in on Sunday morning' adverts banned

Atheist bus adverts celebrating the fact that non-believers get to "sleep in on Sunday morning" have been banned.

 
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Atheist bus: 'Sleep in on Sunday morning' adverts banned
Professor Richard Dawkins on a bus displaying an atheist message in Kensington Gardens, London Photo: PA
Atheist bus: 'Sleep in on Sunday morning' adverts
The Uk's first ever atheist advertising campaigne launched on a bus, Tottenham Court Road, London Photo: PA

Secular groups in Australia wanted to put the posters on local public transport after being inspired by the campaign in Britain, which took to the streets this week after raising £140,000 in donations.

They hoped to put adverts on the back of buses with slogans stating "atheism – celebrate reason" or "atheism - sleep in on Sunday mornings".

But the proposed campaign was rejected by APN Outdoor, the country's biggest outdoor advertising company.

David Nicholls, president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, said: "I am flabbergasted. This is extremely disappointing and a severe blow to freedom of expression in Australia.

"Australia is going to look provincial and narrow in outlook to the rest of the world because of this decision. The planet is moving to a more enlightened era but apparently, public transport advertising agents in Australia have missed the bus."

A similar plan for atheist bus adverts in Tasmania was thrown out by the state-owned bus company, Metro, which is set to lead to legal action on the grounds that it is discriminatory.

Metro has previously allowed adverts from religious groups including anti-abortion campaigners, but says it has now changed its policy to ban all material deemed controversial.

A spokesman said: "We try to apply it equitably to all people that wish to advertise on our buses."

Atheist adverts – stating "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" – have now been placed on 200 buses in London and 600 others around Britain, while different slogans will be put on 1,000 Tube trains from next week.

Secularist slogans were placed on buses in Washington DC last November, triggering hundreds of complaints and counter-campaigns by religious groups, while atheist buses will be launched in Barcelona on Monday.

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