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March 1, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Denying existence of God denied

There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.

New Zealand’s attempt to run a Kiwi version of the Atheist Bus ads has hit a major speedbump, with nationwide bus company NZBus rejecting the advertising campaign.

The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign, which late last year raised over $20,000 from public donations, had previously received tentative approval from NZBus.

Spokesperson for the Atheist Bus Campaign Simon Fisher says the ads were designed to raise awareness of atheism in New Zealand.

“It’s concerning that peaceful atheist messages are not allowed on buses, while religious messages are often seen on buses and in public.

“Messages of atheism are rare in New Zealand and we aim to raise awareness for the one third of New Zealanders who are unconvinced by the claims of religion.”

Campaign organisers tried to reach a resolution with NZBus, and attempted mediation through the Human Rights Commission. NZBus refused to participate in these sessions.

Campaign organisers are now investigating taking their case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

NZBus would not answer specific questions, but sent a statement saying the company had received a number of emails from customers “expressing their distaste for the campaign and their distress”.

“Mr Fisher’s PR campaign drew significant reaction from the travelling public and our people to be deemed controversial and divisive.” [sic]

Former VUWSA President, now Wellington Tramways Union President and GoWellington driver, Nick Kelly, does not support NZBus’s decision to not run the ads.

In a letter to NZBus boss Bruce Emson, Kelly stated that if all advertising shouldn’t cause offence then there would be little advertising on buses, as most advertising will offend somebody.

“I can understand how those who believe in god would find these adverts offensive. Moreover I defend the right of bus drivers to refuse to drive these buses if it goes against their religious beliefs. However, I would also defend the right of a driver to refuse a bus advertising anti-worker corporations such as Telecom, especially when they are in the middle of an industrial dispute.

“Likewise the many disgruntled customers on the new Telecom XT network are no doubt less than impressed to see Telecom products still being pushed on our buses.”

Fisher told Salient he would consider moving the campaign to billboards or bus stops if an agreement cannot be reached with bus companies.

“It would make a nice selling point, the bus campaign could now be the bus stop campaign.”


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