Seattle Atheists Starting New Bus Ad Campaign

Are Metro buses the best place to influence hearts and minds? Nuns seem to think so. And now, it appears, atheists agree. A group of local atheists are launching a Metro bus campaign to try to bring this mostly-godless city around even further to their cause.

In contrast to the holiday hubbub caused by those signs in the state Capitol building last December ("Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds")--which were put up by an out-of-town group and arguably backfired--Seattle Atheists is trying an approach that's more nuanced and less confrontational.

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The Olympia sign "was a shit storm for us," says Case, a representative of the group. "Someone drops a sign and takes off, and we ended up getting a lot of complaints, even though it wasn't us. That sign wasn't pro-critical thinking and it wasn't pro-questioning the status quo. That's not who we are."

Case wants these new signs to have an opposite effect. "We're not trying to draw any lines," he says. "We want to have a positive impact on the community." The ironic choice of April Fool's day as the launch date is a throwback to a running joke about it being the "atheist's holiday."

Using buses to promote atheism has become quite popular of late. It originated in London with the aptly named Atheist Bus Campaign, and the first ads appeared in October of 2008. Here in Seattle, three different ads will be displayed inside 40 Seattle-area buses, using quotes from Jefferson, Einstein, and Susan B. Anthony. Because the signs will be displayed on the interior rather than exterior, passengers will have more time to read and contemplate the messages.

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