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Atheist Group Launches Ad Campaign on Chicago Buses

By Kalyn Belsha in News on May 23, 2009 5:00PM

A new ad campaign rolled out on 25 Chicago buses this week that aims at giving atheists, agnostics and non-believers the same voice on public transportation that other religions have used for years. The Chicago slogan, which has been seen on buses running from the North to South Side of Chicago, including downtown reads: “In the Beginning, Man Created God.”

According to its website, the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign -- the group that paid for the ad campaign -- says, “The 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 ads will run until June.

“Atheists, agnostics and secular humanists have a unique perspective on the topic that usually gets ignored in public discussion, and we’d like to make ourselves heard,” a spokesman for the group told the Trib’s Manya Brachear. “The ads aren’t an attack on religious people but an affirmation of a different point of view.”

The Indiana group collected private donations upwards of $10,000 to buy the ad space on public transportation in Chicago and in Indiana. The group wanted its other campaign, which read, “You can be good without God,” to appear on buses in Indiana before President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame. But stalled negotiations delayed the campaign. South Bend’s bus system has since accepted the ads, but Indiana’s chapter of the ACLU is suing transportation officials on the atheist group’s behalf.

The group says its campaign is modeled after similar ones that launched in Europe, such as the sardonic British public transportation ad: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

In 2008, eight religious organizations advertised on Chicago’s mass transit including Muslims, Roman Catholics, Christian Scientists and Seventh Day Adventists, according to the Tribune.