By now everyone’s heard about the atheist busboard campaign that’s been rejected by Ottawa Transit. The rationale for this decision is that “religious” advertising is a no-no — absurd on its face since the meaning of the word “atheist” is “without a god”. One might wonder where Ottawa Transit would get such a screwball idea.
But not me. I’ve been monitoring these religious right crackpots, and I’ve noticed they’ve been pushing this notion for some time now: atheism (also known as “secularism” or “humanism”) as a religion. And not just any innocuous religion, but a fundamentalist religion full of crazed Wild-Eyed Militants (*cough*Mike*cough*) intent on imposing their will on the world, as in this article I spotted last year from our buddies at Christian Government: “Don’t force your religion down our throats!” Um err, yeah, okay.
So it looks like Ottawa Transit may have caved in to a pre-emptive strike by fundies who don’t want atheism “forced down their throats”.
Here’s where CC brings up an intriguing point: if Ottawa Transit’s definition of “religion” is loose enough to include atheists, then it’s likely there are some other OT advertisers who’d fall into the same category. Especially anti-choice groups, who are largely funded by religious organizations… Google! Google! Google! took about 2 seconds to yield a particularly fetid example of anti-choice transit advertising that ran in Ottawa.
Last year, a large multimedia anti-abortion campaign ran in several cities nationwide, including Ottawa, which ran bus shelter ads like this:
The ads were pulled when the Advertising Standards Council deemed them misleading, suggesting as they did that abortion can be had on demand into the 9th month of pregnancy. Get that: it wasn’t pulled because Ottawa Transit recognized that it was offensive, idiotic bullshit, it was pulled because the Advertising Standards Council saw it for what it was, false advertising, and forced the issue.
So if this fraudulent, fundie-driven ad made the cut with Ottawa Transit, then why not the atheist ad?
UPDATE: The Rev. gets the last word.