Are you sitting down? Got some smelling salts available near by? Prepared to clutch your pearls? Well then take a look at this horrible bus ad the NEPA Freethought Society wanted to run in Pennsylvania!
Awful, right? That’s why the ad was rejected outright by the bus company:
Jim Smith, the advertising contact at COLTS, said that the reason for refusal — appealing to the very questionable and vague advertising policyof COLTS — was that COLTS does not accept ads which could be deemed controversial or otherwise spark public debate.
The ironic part? This ad was created specifically to be as inoffensive as possible,inspired by this idea from Richard Wade:
In the continuing debate over the benefits and drawbacks of “in your face” atheist billboards versus “soft sell” atheist billboards, the assertion that the religious public will claim that they’re “offended” whether the message is strident or mild is frequently put forward.
As a good skeptic, I thought that perhaps this proposition should be put to a test. So in a half-serious, half-lighthearted spirit, I propose that we try displaying billboards that are truly innocuous, so that the only thing that might provoke “offense” would be the word “atheist” in the billboard sponsor’s name. Then we would see if the claim is true that “our mere existence is what offends them.”
So yes, it’s not just controversial to say that the claims made by religions are false. It’s not just controversial to say that atheists can be moral. It’s controversial to say the word “atheist” because our existence implicitly says that we think the religious beliefs of others are wrong.