Christian challenges atheist bus advert

The source of the problem
The source of the problem

By Ian Dunt

A leading Christian activist has made a formal complaint about the atheist bus adverts which were launched nationwide this week.

The 800 buses launched for the campaign feature the slogan: "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Now Stephen Green of Christian Voice, who formerly hit the front pages by launching a legal challenge against Jerry Springer the Opera on the BBC, has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and is calling for the adverts to be withdrawn.

Mr Green released a statement saying: "I believe the ad breaks the Advertising Code, unless the advertisers hold evidence that God probably does not exist.

"The ASA does not just cover goods and services, it covers all advertising. The advertisers cannot hide behind the ASA's 'matters of opinion' exclusion, because no person or body is named as the author of the statement. It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules."

Mr Green has challenged the adverts on grounds of "truthfulness" and "substantiation", suggesting that there is not "a shred of supporting evidence" that there is probably no God.

Speaking to distinguished philosopher A C Grayling defended the slogan, saying there was ample justification for the claim.

"The evidential basis for God is the same as for believing there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, and if you don't believe the latter, you shouldn't believe the former," he said.

Professor Grayling admitted secretly welcoming any Advertising Standards inquiry into the adverts, because it would necessarily impact on Christian adverts as well.

Most notably, it could effect the adverts of the Alpha Foundation, an organisation whose advert prompted the atheist response. It organises Christian seminars nationwide and is described by God Delusion author Richard Dawkins as "a pretty dopey sort of organisation".

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), said: "I've sought advice from some of our key people here, but I'm afraid all I've got out of them so far is peals of laughter.

"I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in) but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of god's existence."

The spate follows a week of religious controversy in the UK, with prominent atheist Richard Dawkins describing creationist science teachers as ignorant and a successful campaign to have secular speakers on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day.

Mr Green was unavailable for comment.


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