Please Don’t Label Me

Last night I was discussing my opinions of religion with some friends. I made it clear that, contrary to what it might appear from what I write, I don’t actually want religion banned. I believe that people should be free to believe whatever nonsense they like. There are, however, three conditions that need to be met. You can belief whatever you like as long as you do it a) in private, b) amongst consenting adults and c) never in front of the children.

I think that these are three very important conditions. The first would curtail the effect that religious groups have on public life, the second would prevent anyone from forcing their religious beliefs on anyone else and the third would stop parents from forcing religion onto children while the children are still gullible enough to believe anything their parents tell them.

And completely coincidently, I see today that the people behind the Atheist Bus Campaign (was that really a year ago?) have launched a new campaign and that the subject of this campaign is faith schools – which neatly addresses my third point.

The “please don’t label me” slogan of the campaign comes from a theme that Richard Dawkins covered in The God Delusion. Speaking at the launch of this campaign, he said:

We urgently need to raise consciousnesses on this issue. Nobody would seriously describe a tiny child as a ‘Marxist child’ or an ‘Anarchist child’ or a ‘Post-modernist child’. Yet children are routinely labelled with the religion of their parents. We need to encourage people to think carefully before labelling any child too young to know their own opinions and our adverts will help to do that.

This campaign is initially being funded from money left over from the Atheist Bus Campaign, but there’s a page where you can donate more money if you like.

I firmly believe that the majority of religious people only have those beliefs because they were indoctrinated as children. If people decide to follow a religion when they are old enough to make up their own mind then of course I have no objections to that. But forcing children to believe the same fairy stories as their parents is clearly wrong and should be stopped.


There’s Probably No Bus

Rather appropriate, I thought, given yesterday’s transport chaos.

[Bus slogan generator]


More Christian Voice Idiocy

Christian Voice (Stephen Green’s one-man extreme christian hate-squad) have written to the Advertising Standards Authority registering an objection to the atheist bus adverts. Green is quoted as saying that the adverts “break the ASA’s codes on substantiation and truthfulness”. He claims that the atheists need to produce evidence that there’s probably no god and goes on to say:

There is plenty of evidence for God, from peoples’ personal experience,
to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural
world. But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the
advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an
exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.

Stop and think about that claim for a second – Green obviously hasn’t. This is a religious person objecting to atheist adverts by citing “truth in advertising”. How stupid does that make him sound?

Part of me hopes that the ASA find in favour of this complaint. Because then we could turn it back on them and ban all religious advertising overnight.

But mainly I want the ASA to just laugh in his face.

Update: They pretty much just laughed in his face.


Atheist Quotations

The Atheist bus campaign raised so much money last year that they have been able to massively expand their plans.

Instead of the original 30 buses they were planning in London, they are now running 200 buses in London and 600 more in other places in the UK. The bus campaign officially launched yesterday. They also have the money to pay for adverts in tube trains which will appear next week. These adverts contain quotations from well-known atheists. I’m particularly happy to see that they have included on of my favourite quotations from Douglas Adams.