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Atheists claim bias over rejection of 'No God' ads - Comments

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 1 by SaganTheCat

always interesting to see the comments from faith heads congratulating NZ bus.

for all their assumed morality, there's nothing like an atheist having a voice to bring out their double standards. in some way I agree with the "good on NZ Bus" comment as it is important IMO for the truth of religion to become mainstream.

People who are not bothered about religion one way or another need to know that christianity stands against freedom of speech. 2 things we take for granted as being a staple of western democracies. Freedom of speech won't stop you worshiping god if you want to.

pathetic cowardly little outlook on life. look forward to seeing more publicity for the suppression of expression

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 16:49:00 UTC | #443814

geekchic's Avatar Comment 2 by geekchic

But i find that my stomach turns evrey time I see a poster proclaiming that 'jesus is the light of the world' and I wouldn't put that on a bus. Messages like this are divisive whatever side it's coming from

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 16:59:00 UTC | #443821

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 3 by Jos Gibbons

A few points:
1. To call "enjoy your life" divisive does make me wonder.
2. This article about a rejected atheist ad is unusual in that, unlike the others, it doesn't state the intended words. Were they the same as in the British example? Many alternative slogans have been used on buses, all reasonably mild-mannered. It would be nice to see the wording this time, so people can judge for themselves with whether NZ Bus was right.
Edit: thanks, j.mills (463683). Boy is my face red.
3. The Human Rights Commission? Is this even a matter of legal rights? No doubt a string of posters will mention in the coming hours that private companies can run what they like. At any rate, they certainly should refund any bills for services they decide not to provide (at least on the days for which they pulled it), but I bet that that's the limit of their legal liability.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 17:11:00 UTC | #443828

Ygern's Avatar Comment 4 by Ygern

How did the public express "distress" before the campaign ever hit the sides of buses?

Or have they equated offense-seeking religious groups with public opinion?

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 17:35:00 UTC | #443846

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 5 by Jos Gibbons

Comment #463649 by ReverendClog

Who is this fellow you mention and what does it have to do with this article?

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 17:38:00 UTC | #443847

Rich Wilson's Avatar Comment 6 by Rich Wilson

I wonder how:

"There might be a god, start praying."

would go over.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 18:36:00 UTC | #443869

j.mills's Avatar Comment 7 by j.mills

Jos, re the wording, see the caption under the picture.

I thought NZ was kinda laid back. It seems there are always people determined to make themselves look pathetic.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 18:47:00 UTC | #443875

smoo100's Avatar Comment 8 by smoo100

The Human Rights Commission was acting as mediator - the bus company refused to talk. The bus company is allowed to discriminate - the HRC's job is to point out the human rights aspects of the case. It is up to Government whether laws are changed - the HRC is purely independent.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 19:12:00 UTC | #443887

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 9 by DocWebster

Looks to me like the NZed's already are running from this, the link is down.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 19:27:00 UTC | #443890

shaunfletcher's Avatar Comment 10 by shaunfletcher

The bus company in question has a large number of public contracts, and thus has some inherited responsibility to behave in a manner appropriate when performing those contracts. They can do what they like the rest of the time but the buses which carry out public contracts are on council business in that time.

The two main channels of resistance to this are through the councils who contract their services out to this company, and through the inevitable sitckering campaign that is already being talked about 'under the radar'

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 19:28:00 UTC | #443891

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 11 by prolibertas

As a New Zealander, I'm thinking that most New Zealanders won't care if the buses run these ads. Even back when I was a theist I would've been pretty laid-back about it and defended the atheists' right to free speech vehemently. I would've even pointed out, back then, that being 'distressed' by the ad could only point to the believer's own insecurity. I mean, if you really are secure in your belief, why would it be shaken by a single line on a bloody bus ad??

In any case this is just a minority that's being loud and causing a fuss. Christianity is dying here. Most people I know who put 'Christian' down on the census form only did so because they were baptised at birth, and beyond that know next to nothing about Christianity. And many of them are actually new-agers.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 20:46:00 UTC | #443915

DeepFritz's Avatar Comment 12 by DeepFritz

Having flown over the ditch, I have found New Zealand to be a generally more progressive place than Australia with a few exceptions. There is no way that New Zealand wants to ditch the British Royal family and become a republic. The national anthem and the furor that a few buses can make.

I would prefer buses to look like this again.


Note that the music that they had on these buses was way better than anything else before or after in my opinion.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:36:00 UTC | #443923

Ian-S's Avatar Comment 13 by Ian-S

When I saw this on the morning news TV show yesterday, I just assumed it was a cheap way of getting the slogan shown on television for 5 minutes. They did the same thing months ago with the billboards.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:40:00 UTC | #443924

Fuller's Avatar Comment 14 by Fuller

Recently around town here in Melbourne I've seen a number of churches adopt big posters that say 'Jesus - the only way to God'. Talk about divisive.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:52:00 UTC | #443926

NakedCelt's Avatar Comment 15 by NakedCelt

How did the public express "distress" before the campaign ever hit the sides of buses?

Or have they equated offense-seeking religious groups with public opinion?

A bit of both... the campaign was in the news over here before it launched.
New Zealand has a kind of "don't ask, don't tell" attitude to religion. There's a sort of general feeling that somebody's religious beliefs are roughly equivalent to their sexual fantasies in terms of how mentionable they are. People make tasteless jokes about them, of course -- New Zealanders will kill for our right to make tasteless jokes -- but any discussion that is not a tasteless joke is in poor taste.
Yes, I thought very carefully about that last sentence.
So when minority religious groups burst onto the national stage, it makes the general New Zealand public uncomfortable, and that has happened several times in the last few years: the attempted hijack of the 2005 general election by the Exclusive Brethren; the spectacle of Brian Tamaki's black-shirted Destiny Church mob; the fight against the children's rights legislation (misleadingly labelled "anti-smacking" by its opponents, but alas, the name stuck)... I think that's where NZ Bus are coming from.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 21:53:00 UTC | #443928

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 16 by Chrysippus_Maximus

I think these ads would go over incalculably better if they had asterisked 'God*' and then said:

* i.e., Zeus, Thor, Odin, Jesus, Yaweh, Mithra, Allah, Krishna... etc.

Or something like that, as, sadly, most people don't seem to understand semantic ambiguity.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 22:06:00 UTC | #443930

LadyofInquiry's Avatar Comment 17 by LadyofInquiry

I'm with you on that one Spinoza, it needs to sound more inclusive.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 23:03:00 UTC | #443942

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 18 by Alovrin

I think that's where NZ Bus are coming from.

Yep from pandering to the.... hey you people shut up in the front there cause ya sound like a dick when ya talk like that, whadda ya mean, cant ya cross yerself or look up to the skoiy when youse score a try cause we's know gods musta bin on our side then, but otherwise put a lid on it mate.....crowd.
Ball games and gods.... we're doomed.

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 23:04:00 UTC | #443943

Gibbon's Avatar Comment 19 by Gibbon

First thought, and I know most people here won’t agree with this, but NZ Bus is a private business and has every right to turn down the atheist ad campaign. Being privately owned they are within the law to remove the ads if they receive negative feedback, which they obviously received, and there must have been enough in proportion to the amount of feedback in support of the ads, to warrant taking them down. They are just following the basic practice of business.

Second thought. Putting these ads up in New Zealand is a superfluous exercise. Atheists and other non-believers aren’t really maligned and discriminated against in NZ, nor do we have a problem with electing them to government, as both John Key, our current PM, and his predecessor Helen Clark, are agnostics. Additionally, as evidenced by the examples NakedCelt pointed out, Kiwis aren’t exactly that fond of religious organisations interfering in politics. Political collusions with the Exclusive Brethren led to the National Party losing the 2005 elections, and the extremist views of the Destiny Church have prevented its political arm from gaining any traction in government.

Religion isn’t much of a problem here in New Zealand, especially not like other countries like the USA, even though there is a minute population of fundamentalists here, so as to why NZ atheists here are essentially trying to import that problem into the country, along with its accompanying culture war, is beyond all reason. We should be trying to stay out of the war rather than getting involved.


By the way, here’s the link to the article, fixed:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/national/3366649/Atheists-claim-bias-over-rejection-of-No-God-ads

Plus another article from the same website:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3368326/No-God-bus-campaign-stalled

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 00:31:00 UTC | #443961

JustBusiness's Avatar Comment 20 by JustBusiness

I'm a marketing student so the following comes from industry knowledge:

Richard, your response to the online community here in light of recent events was a PR disaster. I have never participated on the forums and do not consider myself a part of the community, yet I was still insulted by your lack of empathy to these people. 20,000 regular users are rudely displaced, you have to expect a small batch of hate mail. But blaming the masses for the mistakes of the few is a biggoted approach.

I think if you spent a little time to understand the other side's point of view, you might understand the reasons for the highly emotional reactions that you received. Continue with your current path and it will have disastrous ramifications for everything you've worked so hard to build.

I can be found at http://forums.leagueofreason.co.uk if you want me to help you find the full story.

I'm hardly qualified to provide you real PR advice, although I am qualified enough to tell you -you need PR advice. These are your fans, your customers, and your biggest supporters. Don't be so quick to brush them aside because they can just as easily do the same to you.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 00:37:00 UTC | #443963

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 21 by Alovrin

They are just following the basic practice of business.

Yep its just business. Gibbon proudly says without fear or favour it's just business. Whatever Gibbon.

so as to why NZ atheists here are essentially trying to import that problem into the country, along with its accompanying culture war, is beyond all reason.

Well I'm glad for you that you live in a vacuum and 2000 yrs of religious stupidity has never sullied your life.
Where is this New Zealand you speak of? Where the pious and the heathen live together in perfect harmony, and culture wars rage somewhere else? And I would have thought "the problem" had pervaded all corners of the globe, tho' obviously not your corner. This is a debate, and how it is resolved, that should not be put off and we should all try to pay attention, keep abreast developments, and not say it's someone else's problem.
And you talk of reason, yet your every words drips of superficial thought and avoidance.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 02:01:00 UTC | #443970

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 22 by Shuggy

Gibbon wrote:

NZ Bus is a private business and has every right to turn down the atheist ad campaign.
Except that the Human Rights Act outlaws discrimination on the grounds of religion in the provision of services. Which it is doing, unless it also won't run advertisements saying "There's probably a God so stop getting on with your life and start worrying" or words to that effect, such as "For God so loved the world...."

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 02:39:00 UTC | #443975

thescotabroad's Avatar Comment 23 by thescotabroad

My experience of NZ is that there is very little religious conflict or aggravation and it is certainly not in the forefront of peoples mind, so in that respect Gibbon is correct, however the number of churches dotted around the towns and cities which proclaim "Jesus is the way", "Jesus is the light" or some other such banal tribute to their god, would indicate to me that the faithful want it to be in the forefront of our minds.
It is telling of this religious influence that I cannot get organised after school care for my children that does not involve them coming home and telling me that "God made me, it’s the truth, the teacher told me." and "We need to pray before we eat.” The fact it is not talked about does not mean there is not an agenda to spread the myth of god.
I see but choose to ignore the messages on the countless churches I pass every day, I don’t feel the need to go to the advertising standards and complain that I am being guaranteed eternal life with no evidence; or knock on the churches door and tell them their sign is divisive and that god is not “the only way”, I choose to turn the other cheek and let free speech thrive. Why are the religious unable to do this£ We all know the answer to that I suppose.
I don't see that non believers are importing a problem they are merely stating their position, in a way which the religious employ, letting others know that there is another option.
This is only a poster not a declaration of war.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 03:17:00 UTC | #443979

hmcook87's Avatar Comment 24 by hmcook87

Simon Fisher, the organizer of the NZ atheist bus campaign was on the last episode of The Unbelievers podcast talking about the bus company rejection and what might be done about it.

http://www.theunbelievers.tv/2010/02/24/the-unbelievers-34-the-missionary-position/

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 09:52:00 UTC | #444028

Gibbon's Avatar Comment 25 by Gibbon

alovrin

Well I'm glad for you that you live in a vacuum and 2000 yrs of religious stupidity has never sullied your life.

It’s not a vacuum. Religion is present in NZ, but what is NOT occurring here is religious conflict. There is no organised religious political movement trying to force its views on national politics and the general public, with the possible exception of the extreme minority of fundamentalists that are represented by likes of Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church, but they are barely even tolerated. The majority of Kiwis, including a lot of pious Christians, have nothing but disdain for Tamaki and his church. Fundamentalism hardly even has a foothold in this country.

Repeat. New Zealand doesn’t have the problems that are occurring in other parts of the world like the United States or Britain. Sure, there are people who don’t accept evolution or are opposed to homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage, but there is nothing comparable to the Religious Right in my country; locally there is nothing that has provoked atheists to start this campaign.

For the general public religion is barely even noticeable on a day by day basis, and there is hardly even any discussion of it, (unless you’re like me and are taking Religious Studies courses at university). Roughly two thirds of Kiwis may be religious, but they tend to keep their religion to themselves. In fact, the last piece of local news here that involved religion in any meaningful way had to do with a Presbyterian church putting up a billboard with a provocative theological message for Christmas, hardly the sort of thing to justify the conversation the atheist bus adverts.

There is nothing for atheists to fight against in New Zealand. That they are starting this campaign here strongly indicates that the problem resides with them and not with religion. Hence, I reiterate what I have already said, that they’re bringing a problem and culture war to New Zealand that is not already here.

And you talk of reason, yet your every words drips of superficial thought and avoidance.

And your words smack of hostility and personal bias towards religion, with a hint of arrogance and myopia.

Shuggy
Except that the Human Rights Act outlaws discrimination on the grounds of religion in the provision of services. Which it is doing, unless it also won't run advertisements saying "There's probably a God so stop getting on with your life and start worrying" or words to that effect, such as "For God so loved the world...."

Actually, it is not clear cut if it was discrimination. For it to be so NZ Bus would had to have dropped the ads on the grounds of religion, but if the news is to be believed and it was in fact because of consumer objections to the ads then it would simply mean that they were responding to market forces. The consumers may have objected to the ads on the grounds of religion, but the bus company responding by dropping the ads has nothing directly to do with religion. What NZ Bus has done is no different to a television broadcaster dropping a programme because of low ratings.


There are currently a hundred other issues that are far more important to New Zealanders than religion, so as to why we should be having a conversation on religion, especially of the sort the New Atheists want defies reason. Not only that, but the sort of debate that the atheists want is exactly that which deepens divisions and closes minds; put another way it’s the sort that tends to create fundamentalists. That Kiwis by and large are tolerant of their neighbours believing differently is actually encouraging, and not to be messed with. It’s unfortunate that the same can’t be said about Simon Fisher, who made it clear in a television interview yesterday that he was concerned with the personal beliefs of other people; he’s not following the great Kiwi tradition of turning the other cheek.


I don’t know if anyone here realises it, but the message of that advert, “There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy life,” is fallacious to a certain extent. It falsely assumes that anyone who believes in a deity is in fact not enjoying life and is instead worried. On that note it is easy to understand why it might be considered controversial or offensive to religious people.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 12:18:00 UTC | #444047

PERSON's Avatar Comment 26 by PERSON

25. Comment #463863 by Gibbon on February 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm
So hell is nothing to worry about?
If they aren't worrying, they can ignore it, right? Are you really saying no religious people are worried? That none are not enjoying their life, perhaps because of that worry, perhaps because of other impositions of their religion?
Would you say it's fair to object to a Samaritans ad because some people who see it might not be depressed? That's divisive, right? Depressed vs non-depressed people. Could lead to civil war (if the depressed people were able to summon the energy). So why not reject it on the same grounds?

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 12:54:00 UTC | #444053

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 27 by robotaholic

Gibbon your objection was predictable. The message is not inflammatory and should be posted. I guess New Zealand is not so perfect...

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 16:13:00 UTC | #444090

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 28 by Alovrin

And your words smack of hostility and personal bias towards religion, with a hint of arrogance and myopia.



Hee hee you sure you got that right?
A personal bias towards religion?
Hey Im a pussy cat, wouldnt hurt a fly.
And you are now sounding, in your denial that there is anything wrong in paradise, even more idiotic.

There is nothing for atheists to fight against in New Zealand. That they are starting this campaign here strongly indicates that the problem resides with them and not with religion. Hence, I reiterate what I have already said, that they’re bringing a problem and culture war to New Zealand that is not already here.


NO what you are doing is attempting to stifle a dialogue that needs to happen, in all countries. What the fuck are you scared off? I would say you have major issues around conflict and conflict resolution. Perhaps you are like my father and cant stand the sound of raised voices so you rush around telling off anyone who says anything which might be construed as inflammatory? Are you?
Cause your protestations make no sense.
Whats your problem stop hiding behind your bluster.

There are currently a hundred other issues that are far more important to New Zealanders than religion,


Thats you reason? other issues? Come on what are those issues?John Key hasnt addressed you problems of concern yet?

Not only that, but the sort of debate that the atheists want is exactly that which deepens divisions and closes minds; put another way it’s the sort that tends to create fundamentalists.


So you know what sort of debate atheists want?
Really? So if there are divisions and closed minds in New Zealand it's the fault of atheism? Really?
Gibbon you are a first class moron.

For the general public religion is barely even noticeable on a day by day basis, and there is hardly even any discussion of it, (unless you’re like me and are taking Religious Studies courses at university).


Easy to pass I hear.
See the thing is religion is barely noticable on a day to day basis.
Bit like the ads on the tele you notice them life goes on nothing changes, but what are those ads selling burgers to fat kids, possessions to people who cant afford them.
Anyway dont let me stop you on you mission to stop all the loud voices in NZ from disturbing the equanimity you think exists in you corner of the universe.
Just read thru some of your previous posts Hmm

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 17:23:00 UTC | #444098

Aquaria's Avatar Comment 29 by Aquaria

Alovrin: Nice post, but you forgot the most important thing.

If the majority of people in NZ don't have a problem with atheists...then why is this ad being rejected? Why would it be controversial?

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 18:31:00 UTC | #444107

Gibbon's Avatar Comment 30 by Gibbon

PERSON

If they aren't worrying, they can ignore it, right? Are you really saying no religious people are worried? That none are not enjoying their life, perhaps because of that worry, perhaps because of other impositions of their religion?

Let me tweak that statement of mine for a bit more accuracy.

“It falsely assumes that everyone who believes in a deity is in fact not enjoying life and is instead worried.”

There is no evidence that indicates that theists by virtue of their belief in deities are not enjoying life and are in fact worried.

robotaholic
I guess New Zealand is not so perfect...

Evidenced by the likes of Brian Tamaki and Simon Fisher, the latter of which has a problem in that he appears to be in lock-step with Richard Dawkins.

alovrin
Hee hee you sure you got that right?
A personal bias towards religion?

Yeah, well that personal bias is clouding your judgement and inhibiting your objectivity.

NO what you are doing is attempting to stifle a dialogue that needs to happen, in all countries. What the fuck are you scared off? I would say you have major issues around conflict and conflict resolution.

This is not a dialogue you people want; rather you want to start war. You can’t figure out why it is that people believe in things for which there is no evidence, like deities and the supernatural, so rather than trying to comprehend it you just want to eliminate it. Simon Fisher’s own words were that he wants people to “question their own beliefs”, and since the atheist campaign is targeted at theists what reason other than conversion to atheism could there possibly be for the adverts? It appears that you are irked by people believing things that you yourself can’t believe, which is why you’re basically objecting to religion. Any reasonable person would turn the other cheek to different beliefs.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
“It does me no injury if my neighbour chooses to believe in no god or twenty gods. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Thats you reason? other issues? Come on what are those issues?John Key hasnt addressed you problems of concern yet?

How about the economy? It may slowly be improving but there is still a high unemployment rate. The recent problems with the NZ telecommunications sector are of legitimate concern. How about the growing number of attacks on police officers here? Even the recent spate of dog attacks and animal cruelty incidents are of pressing concern. Those are real issues that need to be addressed; religion in New Zealand is not. Like I said, the vast majority of Kiwis aren’t fond of religion and politics mixing, so it is unlikely that we are going to ask our politicians to get involved with religious issues, which is justifiable really. If you desire church/state separation why would you want government getting involved in religious debates?

So you know what sort of debate atheists want?

War. You said it yourself, you perceive there to be a conflict. Atheists are trying to set things up where it is an “Us vs. Them” situation, one where people must necessarily take sides and fight. And you’re doing it as part of an unwarranted attempt to marginalise religion. It is not debate or conversation that atheists want, as there is no civility and respect in their statements; instead sentiments of the exact opposite effect are what they are expressing. It’s pretty clear that what the New Atheists want is conflict or war. You necessarily view people who disagree with you as being your enemies, which is a view that I would think any reasonable person would want to avoid.

Are you even aware that fundamentalism is largely reactionary? The first fundamentalists emerged as a response to German Higher Criticism in the 19th century, and the Moral Majority and Religious Right originated from a perceived marginalisation of religion in America in the mid 20th century. Islamic fundamentalism in Iran originated out of grass-roots opposition to the Shah’s oppressive regime, and the fundamentalism that emerged from Sayyid Qutb’s writings was the product of disaffection with certain Islamic governments and Western involvement in the Middle East.

Really? So if there are divisions and closed minds in New Zealand it's the fault of atheism? Really?
Gibbon you are a first class moron.

So I’m the moron, despite the fact that you just misinterpreted what I said. There was no implication that atheism itself creates divisions and closed minds, rather what I said is that it is a certain type of “debate” that does that; a type of debate that atheists among others, are trying to perpetuate.

Easy to pass I hear.

Based on your comments, it wouldn’t be so easy for you. Although chances are you would probably end up significantly changing your beliefs if you were to ever take any Religious Studies courses.

Aquaria
If the majority of people in NZ don't have a problem with atheists...then why is this ad being rejected? Why would it be controversial?

Because of all the feedback that NZ Bus received, the majority of it appears to have been opposed to the adverts. You would then have to assume that all that feedback the bus company received, both positive and negative, provides an accurate cross-section of New Zealand society for your question to have a legitimate point. But what do you base that assumption on?

As for why the advert is controversial, read my statement above about what the ad is in fact saying.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 23:09:00 UTC | #444151