Atheists Storm Calif. Bus Shelters With 'No God' Ads

A local atheist group has erected ad panels on 30 bus shelters across Orange County encouraging commuters to doubt the Bible and God.

Backyard Skeptics, the group behind the $8,000 campaign, boasts on its website that it has put up 30 bus-shelter ads from Anaheim to Mission Viejo. One outside a Target shopping center at Euclid Street carries a picture of the Holy Bible with the slogan, “Have Doubts? So Do We,” written underneath.

The campaign is aimed at letting other nonbelievers know “there is a community of non-theists who share the idea that we can be good without God,” The Orange County Register quoted Backyard Skeptics director Bruce Gleason as saying.

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Gleason, a Villa Park resident, says his group “supports the atheist, agnostic, skeptic and humanist community with local meetings, potluck parties, food drives for the homeless and other events” and has about 400 members.

The ads are offending commuter, the newspaper noted. “If they don’t want to believe in God then they should just be quiet about it,” an Anaheim resident, Melinda Holt, was quoted as saying. “Why do they have to buy a poster and put it in public view? I’m a Christian and to see the Holy Bible in an ad that questions its worth – that’s just not OK.”

Gleason has his own way to defend his group. “If we put one up that said something about Muslims or Mormons, they would be offended, too,” he told the newspaper. “We are against any supernatural belief that harms the world. And that’s what we believe religion does.”

The atheist group is not done yet. It now plans to display similar ads in other cities, including Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, and Newport Beach.

According to the atheist website, the group holds monthly meetings “with interesting topics each month as well as movie nights, science-oriented field trips and outreach programs to encourage other non-believers to join our group.” The members meet on the fourth Wednesday or Thursday of each month.

Backyard Skeptics seeks to aggressively encourage atheism. “We enjoy spreading the word that skeptics and non-believers are good and moral people, and we cherish humanistic values over any supernatural superstitions. We encourage others to look at their world view with critical thinking skills so they too can feel they can be good without God,” says the website.

The group also supports “all efforts to keep church and state separate.” It claims that the country’s constitution is secular because the establishment clause was placed as the First Amendment. Christians, on the other hand, say the objective of the first 16 words of the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” is to encourage religion in public life.

“Our founders were above all, secularists. Some were deists but all were strongly opposed to mixing government and religion. Our country is founded upon constitutional and humanistic values, not religious ones, although religious values have some shared instances with civil laws,” the group argues.

Backyard Skeptics was among the 14 groups that put a billboard up in Westminster earlier this year informing fellow atheists they were not alone.

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