Bus ads promote atheist group

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"No God? Good" not intended to offend, only attract new members

The Society of Edmonton Atheists is hoping to gain new members with its current ad campaign, now running on the sides of Edmonton Transit buses.

“Godless? Good!” is the message that will be found on 10 buses for the next four weeks.

Society president Karen Lumley Kerr said the group is not trying to inflame the religious right but rather just to draw attention to a growing segment of the population at large.

“It was just to raise awareness of the group,” she explained, adding that this is a different campaign entirely from others such as a notable one from the last several years by the Freethought Association. Those ads (found on buses in Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto) contained the motto, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

“Obviously, we’re not trying to convert anybody, and our ad portrays that. It’s saying, ‘if you are an atheist, then here we are!’” Kerr said. “I think that ad was why we chose the message we chose. There’s a myth that atheists and non-believers don’t have any morality. That’s why we wanted to put the ‘Good’ in there. We are moral people.”

She averred that the ad was not intended to be offensive to anyone.

She offered statistics that show how people with no religious affiliation are one of the fastest-growing segments of Canadian demographics. Her information stated that 25 per cent of the population identify as nonreligious (according to the most recent census), which is an increase from 16.5 per cent from the 2001 figures.

Kerr admitted that she was unable to speculate whether those figures indicate that more people feel comfortable identifying as atheists or if more people are leaving religion, or a combination of both.

She continued that many people who leave religion or were raised without religion often seek out support from a community of other like-minded individuals.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we’re around.”

The Society of Edmonton Atheists, she said, aims to provide that community, and in turn, the group helps society at large too. The group organizes and participates in a number of community efforts including helping with Habitat for Humanity builds, blood drives, and highway cleanups.

So far, the society plans to run these ads on the Edmonton Transit buses, and not those of other systems around the metropolitan area, including St. Albert.

More information on the group can be found at www.edmontonatheists.ca.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.