'There's probably no God' coming to a bus near you

NEXT STOP PURGATORY: The controversial advertisement  has upset  religious groups in Britain.
NEXT STOP PURGATORY: The controversial advertisement has upset religious groups in Britain.

An atheist campaign plans to raise $10,000 to run controversial slogan advertisements on New Zealand buses.

The adverts, which read "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life", created a storm when they ran on the London Underground and British buses earlier this year.

The campaign was launched here yesterday. New Zealand Atheist Bus Campaign spokesman Simon Fisher said it would provoke discussion on religion and take away the stigma of atheism.

"It's okay to say you don't believe in God," he said. "We like the slogan. It works, it's catchy, it's not perfect, it's a slogan, but it roughly encapsulates what we want to say."

The campaign will be funded by donations from the public, online at http://nogod.org.nz.

Mr Fisher hopes to raise $10,000 to pay for six bus advertisements in Auckland, four in Wellington and two in Christchurch. He hopes the slogans will be on buses by March 1.

The campaign began in London with a fundraising target of £5500 (NZ$12,350); so far it had raised more than £135,000 (NZ$303,100).

Since January more than 800 buses with the advertisements had been on the streets in Britain.

Other countries, including the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, Australia, Finland and Germany, have run similar campaigns.

But there was a backlash from some religious groups. People who said they were offended made complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority – but the British watchdog ruled it did not breach advertising codes.

In the 2006 census, 34.7 per cent of people said they had no religion.

NZ Bus said it outsourced its advertising on its bus fleet to an external company, i-Site.

Wayne Chapman, chief executive of i-Site, said the advertisement did not appear to breach an advertising standards code but he would reserve judgment until the firm saw a final copy.

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The Dominion Post