Atheist 'Holiday' Ads Spark Controversy in DC

Through the month of December new “holiday” ads will appear on buses around Washington DC that read “Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake”.

The ads came from the American Humanist Association (AHA), “Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead,” says AHA quoting Kurt Vonnegut.

Their spokesman boasts since the launch of their ads 638 new members have signed up signed up with the Humanist Association and their web traffic has increased significantly.

Hundreds of complaints have been launched to DC Metro authorities about the ads. A local DC newspaper The Examiner printed some of the reactions and complaints:

“That ad is obscene to me!? I wouldn’t want my children reading that.”

“Your city represents the United States, and to turn your system into a billboard for this organization is offensive to me and most American People. There is free speech but there is also responsibility to not offend a group of people in this country. Your acceptance of this advertisement is offensive to me as a Christian and I strong urge you to take them down.”

“May all your atheist buses break down.”

DC Metro spokesperson Candace Smith told The Examiner “As a public agency, Metro must observe the First Amendment with respect to the acceptance of commercial advertising”.

“Although we understand that feelings and perceptions will vary among individuals within the community, we cannot reject advertising because an individual, or group, finds it inappropriate or offensive,” said Smith

While DC Metro sales are unlikely suffer due to the controversial ads, it’s clear that the American Human Association is benefiting after spending less than $12,000 on the campaign.

In the true spirit of First Amendment rights, The Center for Family Development, a Catholic-based non-profit in Bethesda, Md. is trying to raise money to counter the AHA’s campaign and run ads on 10 DC buses and that say "Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake — GOD."

Cartoon by Brett Noel