Public buses in Spokane, Wash., are carrying a godless message as part of a campaign being run by a local group of atheists that is headed by a former Lutheran minister.
“Are you good without God? Millions are,” say the ads installed on the buses.
Spokane Coalition of Reason, an alliance of three local atheist organizations, explains, “These words, superimposed over an image of blue sky and white clouds, appear on king-sized ads placed on the outsides of 11 Spokane Transit Authority buses.”
The group says the ads are meant to show solidarity with non-believers and gain social acceptance.
The ads, which will remain in place until Sept. 25, cost $4,516 and are being run by the United Coalition of Reason on behalf of the newly formed local group. Besides the campaign, atheists have also set up a booth at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.
“It’s to let the people know that we are here, and we are at the fair for them to come talk to us,” The Spokesman-Review quoted Ray Ideus, a former Lutheran minister who is now coordinator of the Spokane Coalition of Reason, as saying.
Ideus said reaching out to like-minded individuals wasn’t the only goal of the effort.
“We want people to understand that we are a legitimate part of the community,” he said.
He also claimed that he had brought more people “out of the closet than I ever converted to Christ when I was a minister for 30 years.”
“Nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn,” Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason, said in a statement. “We hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”
Edwords, who believes “there are more atheists than people realize,” added that atheist groups had been running similar ad campaigns since 2009 with billboards and buses in 25 states and the District of Columbia carrying messages for atheists. These include campaigns in Seattle, Washington, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Edwords’ group is made up of 52 local coalitions nationwide and works to “raise the visibility and sense of unity among nontheistic groups.”
The Spokane atheist coalition carries out activities ranging from support to education to activism.
“As part of its (the group’s) launch, during the run of the bus ads, the Coalition will have an exhibit booth at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The fair will be open September 9 through 18 and the Coalition’s booth is number 95, located outdoors, west of the south end of the grandstand.”