The first of five U.S. cities will be hit by a new atheist holiday ad campaign this Thanksgiving weekend.
Washington, D.C., residents can expect to see ads proclaiming, "No God?...No Problem!" inside buses, rail cars and on the side or tail of buses by week's end. The campaign, sponsored by the American Humanist Association, will then target the transit systems of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
According to AHA, the holiday ad campaign is the first by a humanist group to go nationwide.
"We're hoping this campaign will build awareness about the humanist movement and our ethical life philosophy – particularly among the 'nones:' the rapidly growing percentage of people who claim no religion," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA.
Speckhardt went on to contend that religion does not have a monopoly on morality and that people can be good without a belief in God.
"We want to change the way people think and talk about nontheists, and to pave the way for acceptance of humanism as a valid and positive philosophy of life," he said.
The humanist ad campaign this year, which features smiling people in Santa hats, follows a similar campaign that the Association ran last year in the nation's capital. Last Christmas season, the ads read, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."
In response, a Catholic-based organization in Maryland, The Center for Family Development, had countered the atheist campaign with pro-God ads. The pro-God ads read: "Why believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness' sake – GOD."
The upcoming AHA campaign in Washington, D.C., comes at the heels of a new atheist campaign in the United Kingdom. The British Humanist Association launched its latest ad on Nov. 20 that coincided with Universal Children's Day. The slogan reads, "Please don't label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself."
BHA is well known for its high profile atheist bus campaign launched earlier this year that read, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Recently in the United States, several atheist groups have also launched transit and billboard ad campaigns. Among the campaigns include the United Coalition of Reason's "A million New Yorkers are good without God" in New York; the Freedom from Religion Foundation's "Beware of Dogma" in Idaho; and Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign's "In the beginning, man created God" in Chicago.
According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, released in March this year, the percentage of people who claim no religion has nearly doubled since 1990. Those claiming no religion jumped from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008.