The Society of Edmonton Atheists revealed that it will be running ads on 10 buses for four weeks in the Edmonton area with a message that it's "good" for people to be "godless." The ads feature the famous painting "The Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo, but with God erased.
The group explained in a statement that it chose the message for a number of reasons, part of which is to push back "against the myth that non-believers lack morality," and to support a "non-supernatural" view of reality that "encourages better informed decisions and is good for society." Similarly, one of the stated goals behind the ads is an effort to remove stigma of the word 'atheist.'"
For the artwork, the original of which is part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and features God giving Adam life, the group explained: "It's instantly recognizable which quickly conveys a message. Since these ads are on buses we wanted our message to be easily recognizable even if it passes by in quick traffic. We also think that it's a beautiful piece of artwork."
630 CHED Edmonton News reported that Luke Fevin, the director of the Society of Edmonton Atheists, has said that the bus ads will seek to "clear up a popular misnomer about the faithless."
"That somehow we're immoral or we've got no grounding in morals. In fact, there was a study out of U B.C. that said that Christians viewed atheists on a similar level of the trust that they have for rapists. So clearly we have some marketing to be done," Fevin said, referring to a 2011 study by psychologists at the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon.
The group says on its website that its goal is to foster "a community among atheists, agnostics and freethinkers through discussion, constructive activism, education and philanthropy.
The Canadian Census shows that as many as 23.9 percent of the country's population identify as non-religious, which is up from the 16.5 percent recorded in the 2001 survey.
The largest faith in Canada remains Christianity, with 67.3 percent of those surveyed identifying with the religion. Another 7.2 percent identified either as Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist.