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Archive for May 2009

Our Article in TIME Magazine

The other day TIME magazine published an article about the bus campaign. We’re certainly all pleased that our message and our intentions came through clearly, and that people are paying attention (we’re the 4th most-emailed article on right now).

2 comments May 29th, 2009

CFI Indiana supports the campaign

cfiThe Center for Inquiry, a transnational organization promoting science, reason, and freedom of inquiry in all areas of human endeavor, has shown its support for the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign.  The campaign would like to thank CFI, especially Reba Boyd Wooden at CFI Indiana, for their generous donation and endorsement of our goals and efforts.

If you are in Indianapolis, CFI has a wonderful center that you can visit in the canal walk area downtown.  They put on numerous events every month, with activities ranging in purpose from social, community-building nights to educational lectures and discussions.  One of the goals of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign is to get atheists involved in local community groups, and we encourage you to get involved with organizations like CFI who provide a great service to the secular community.

A message from Reba Boyd Wooden, Executive Director of CFI Indiana:

In my opinion, this is a great message to put out there.  Too many people think that you have to be religious to be a moral person.  They don’t know they have a choice.  They think that it is a given that there is a god, that everyone believes there is a god, and if you don’t believe in god you are a bad person.  We secular humanists know that is not true.  When I give talks to groups and when I talk with people who come into our center, I give them a copy of the Affirmations of Humanism.  The Common Moral Decencies cut across all cultures and religions.  Take away the theology and “god stuff” and that is what you have—those values that have been proven throughout the history of mankind to allow people to live in harmony, to respect each other, and to achieve their fullest potential as human beings.

When I am driving to and from CFI Indiana nearly every day from my home in Greenwood (about 10 miles), I pass numerous churches, some with signs that tell me that I will be “left behind” or “go to hell” if I do not believe the way they do, and a large billboard that says “Avoid Hell, Repent Today.”   So is it not controversial to post these religious signs, but controversial to post “You Can Be Good Without God”?

Again, thanks to the Center for Inquiry for their support.

10 comments May 24th, 2009

Next stop for the atheist bus: Chicago (UPDATED)

UPDATE: If you don’t believe we really have an ad this time, here’s a photo:

Chicago Bus Ad

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign is excited to announce its over-the-border expansion to neighboring Chicago, Illinois with the slogan “In the beginning, man created God” beginning May 18th.

Ad for Chicago

On May 11th we launched in South Bend, Indiana with “You can be good without God”, a slogan that challenges the notion that a good moral code requires supernatural direction and religion has a corner on morality. Our Chicago slogan espouses the idea that man created God as well as all religions, and encourages public and critical examination of the merits of religious belief.

The new slogan chosen for a Chicago was entirely paid for by a private donor to the organization.  All other donations received up to this point have gone towards ads in South Bend with the original slogan “You can be good without God.”

These two slogans are favored by different members of our organization, reflecting the fact that atheism is not an all-encompassing worldview or philosophy. Our members all do not believe in a god, but beyond that we have different ideas about how to approach this campaign. Some of us wish to promote a positive message about atheism, and encourage atheists to “come out” publicly with their beliefs. Others wish to tackle religious belief head-on with science and evidence-based approaches.

As we move onward with the campaign, we would like to hear what you think of the two slogans and the statements they make. We will soon be adding a poll to the site where you can vote on which slogan you prefer. In the meantime, add your comments, and stay tuned for photos of the Chicago ads on buses.

If you are a Chicagoan, we’d love to see your photos; please email them to us at .  We can’t wait for this exciting new chapter in the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign!

181 comments May 21st, 2009

TRANSPO board in South Bend has accepted our ads

We have a quick update for everyone: After a bit of hoopla in South Bend over the past week, we are happy to announce that TRANSPO, South Bend’s bus system, has accepted our ads saying “You can be good without god.” The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign is delighted with the decision by TRANSPO, which celebrates America’s rich diversity of peoples and cultures and religions and extols America’s unique and long-standing dedication to freedom of expression as embodied the the First Amendment of our Constitution.

Our ads were supposed to go up last Monday, in time for President Barack Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, but the ads were delayed when TRANSPO decided to review the matter. The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign had a contract with Burkhart stating the ads would be placed last Monday, May 11, or within a 5 day leeway period. As of today, because the ads are not yet up, that contract has been violated by Burkhart. You can read more about this in the latest South Bend Tribune article on the campaign. (Also, see more of our coverage on the Media page.)

The bus campaign is happy that a decision in favor of our ads has been made; however, there are details that must be worked out in relation to Burkhart’s breach of contract. We expect the message “You can be good without god” to be up and visible in South Bend shortly.

Here’s a video of WNDU coverage of the campaign:

Thank you all for your dedication to the campaign!

24 comments May 19th, 2009

Bloomington won’t defend bus system in lawsuit

That’s right. In an article in the Bloomington Herald Times(the local paper in the city where our lawsuit was filed) today:

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan said he disagrees with the BT policy and hes asked city governments legal department not to represent BT in court.

I felt strongly that the city shouldnt be defending on this issue, he said Thursday.

Bloomington Public Transportation Corp. operates as a separate municipal corporation, which contracts with the city of Bloomington legal department to provide legal services.

Kruzan said having city legal defend BT in court would amount to promoting government sanctioned censorship because the bus service gets city legals services at an hourly rate less than that of a private law firm, which is in essence a partial taxpayer subsidy.

This is in regards to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU in support of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign’s right to advertise on city buses. You can vote on whether or not you support the ads at the Herald Times website.

Yesterday, WFHB, a local radio station, did a “Voices in the Street” clip covering the bus campaign. It’s pretty shocking what some people are saying about atheists. A quote from one man:

Ya’ll atheist people, ya’ll are gonna die in a burning pit of hell, eternal pit of hellfire. Good luck.

However, we weren’t without supporters!

They should have the freedom of speech, that’s what we were given in the first amendment, right? Every other company can do it; why can’t they?

Download the audio clip on the ads here, or go to the WFHB website to listen to the full Daily Local News segment. (Our section starts around 22:45 and goes to 27:00.) Go to 25:47 to hear the first quote above; go to 25:55 to hear the second quote.

A few people mentioned the sentiment that it’s the “city’s call, because they pay for the buses, and they pay for the fuel.” This is a misleading argument, because the government, of course, represents the people. The bus system is not a private company with the right to refuse any ad. Saying it’s the city’s call is saying that it’s the people’s call. And atheists are members of our community just like Christians and Jews and agnostics and Buddhists and Sikhs, and any and all other religious groups.

32 comments May 15th, 2009

South Bend Ads Delayed (UPDATE)

SECOND UPDATE: As of Wednesday May 13, 6:00 PM, the campaign has now received a response from Burkhart Advertising in South Bend.

A representative of the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign just spoke with Rob Miller, the Vice President of Burkhart Advertising, and got their response. Miller said that Burkhart approved our ad (the one saying “You can be good without God”) without having TRANSPO (the South Bend bus corporation) review it. Burkhart has an agreement with the bus company that TRANSPO must make the final decision on ads, however, so TRANSPO will be having a board meeting on Monday to review the ad and make a final decision. Miller said that if the ad is not approved by the board on Monday, they will refund our money.

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign was under the impression that our ad had been improved. It was, in fact, approved by Burkhart, and we paid in full and signed a contract with them. Even if our ads do go up after the board meeting on Monday, this would be after commencement and after President Obama’s address. We are very disappointed that Burkhart’s mistake has led to this delay, which will (at best) significantly decrease the effectiveness of our ads.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday May 13, 1:30 AM, the campaign has not received a response from Burkhart Advertising about the status of our ads. We just learned from a new Bloomington Herald-Times article (emphases ours):

When reached on Tuesday, TRANSPO General Manager Rick Brown said his agency never gave permission for the atheist ads. He said Burkhart Advertising is supposed to check with him about potentially controversial advertising before it is approved.

Brown said TRANSPOs nine-member board of directors would have considered the ads content and determined whether they were appropriate, had they known. He read about them in the newspaper Tuesday.

We have that in our contract with them. If there is anything controversial, they are supposed to run it past us, Brown said. Usually, the ads are the kind of stuff we dont have to worry about.

TRANSPOs board of directors is scheduled to meet Monday and will consider the ads.

In light of this, we will be contacting Burkhart and Transpo in the morning to verify all information.

Original post:

According to out signed contract with Burkhart (the advertising agency that handles bus ads for the South Bend bus company, Transpo), Monday, May 11 was supposed to be the starting date for our month-long bus ad campaign. Based on this, we and the American Humanist Association issued a press release announcing the beginning of the campaign.

Unfortunately, this announcement turns out to have been premature. Transpo didn’t manage get the ads mounted in time to meet the target date, but presumably they will be able to do so within the five day leeway permitted in our contract for putting up the ads. We are thus optimistic that buses displaying ads with the slogan You can be good without God will be on the streets of South Bend by the end of the week. We apologize for any inconvenience that this confusion may have caused.

1 comment May 12th, 2009

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