Ron Heather is the Christian bus driver who has refused to drive the UK atheist buses, creating a news story which has been in the press a lot over the past 24 hours. He and I have something in common: we’ve both taken exception to websites promoting belief systems different to our own.
The website I took issue with was JesusSaid.org, advertised on buses and tube cards in June last year, which - as you can read here - promotes the idea of God’s wrath and eternal punishment. It insists:
“God’s wrath includes the prospect of eternal punishment - it is appointed to men to die once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). You will rise from the dead and will face the Judge and know that you rejected His kind and merciful answer. You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels.”
Our adverts were designed to counter these rather alarming ideas.
Conversely, the website Mr Heather didn’t like much was… er… this one. The Guardian revealed today that “Heather said he had been particularly offended by the name of the website featured on the ad, atheistcampaign.org.”
Maybe the words “atheist” and “campaign” unsettled him for some reason, but they really shouldn’t have, because this campaign is as gentle as any. I truly don’t think he’s visited this site, because we’ve taken great care to make it very peaceful and upbeat (as we have with the entire campaign). We wanted to create a calm place where people could talk freely about their beliefs - the very opposite of JesusSaid.org, in fact. We believe in freedom of speech, so we rarely delete comments, but the main content of this site is very mild, friendly and straightforward.
If Ron ever does visit, he’ll be very welcome here. But somehow we don’t think he will.
Here’s the quote I gave to the press yesterday:
“We live in a democratic society, which will only function as such if we are allowed to peacefully express different viewpoints. The bus companies have accepted the adverts, and nobody imagines that bus drivers wholeheartedly endorse everything advertised on the sides of the buses they drive.“