Sic gloria transit

atheist-busBy 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.

14 Responses to “Sic gloria transit”

  1. 1 Beijing York Monday, February 16, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I really doubt that ad would have been denied a mere decade ago. And that really worries me. Some how, social conservatives have made incredible inroads, even here in relatively secular Canada.

    And those idiots that brand “secularists” as some kind of religious followers have no idea of what the word means. Secular means public services and spaces are available to all, regardless of belief system. Public transportation is such a service and space and thus the group promoting this ad campaign have every right to buy space. It’s not “false” advertising, nor is it prosthelizing.

    If OC Transpo wants to play that game, they should ban all Salvation Army ads before even seeing them.

  2. 2 Torontonian Monday, February 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Question: are the bus shelters property of OC Transpo or are they private property–a situation that happens in other cities.

  3. 3 Miss Vicky Monday, February 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    They’re not run by OC Transpo, but by Clear Channel, a private contractor.

    However, OC Transpo does run plenty of ads by Birthright crisis pregnancy centres. Just sayin’

  4. 4 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Torontonian – The City of Ottawa owns the bus shelters.

    In this article, the city was criticized for rejecting Public Service Union bus shelter ads a couple of years ago.

  5. 5 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Miss Vicky – Whoops! My bad. Is that a recent development?

  6. 6 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    OK, we’re both right. The city owns the shelters, but Clear Channel is contracted to maintain them, sell ad space on them and produce the ads. So the city makes money off them and can influence what is posted in them.

    It’s the same with busboard advertising (like on the atheist busboard ad in the pic, which Ottawa Transit rejected) — Pattison is contracted to sell the space and produce the ads, but Ottawa Transit still has a say in what they will carry.

  7. 7 fern hill Monday, February 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    But Ottawa Transport is totally cool with these godful ads. Go figure.

  8. 8 Jennifer Smith Monday, February 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment (ha ha), the TTC does apparently allow ‘religious’ advertising, while OC Transpo (officially) does not. This still leaves the ridiculous issue of defining atheism as a ‘religion’, of course.

    Personally, I much prefer the approach of the United Church of Canada which, instead of shrieking and trying to get the ads banned, is simply posting their own counter-ads:

    “There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

  9. 9 Bruce Monday, February 16, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    The reason this is an issue is people have seen Atheism start to get a little voice among all the cacophony and started calling it a religion because they have no other way to relate to it. This is what is we call projection, bringing someone to your level so you can finally argue with them.

    Christianity still has a huge stranglehold on our society and even the slightest chance of another opinion is seen as an attack on a system that has attacked and repressed others for millennia. Get off the cross already.

    OC Transpo is probably still wishing they were on strike just to avoid this.

  10. 10 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    fern hill – Ack! I can hardly believe that! Lock up your daughters?? What century is this?

  11. 11 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Jennifer – That’s not a bad idea the United Church came up with. Good for them. We need more laid-back Christians with senses of humour to offset all the fundamentalist hairshirt punishment freaks.

  12. 12 JJ Monday, February 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm


    Get off the cross already.

    😆 Are you kidding? They like the view up there, it allows them to see into everyone’s bedrooms!!!

  1. 1 JABbering Stooge :: Free Speech for Me, But Not for Thee! :: March :: 2009 Trackback on Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

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