Justin Vacula, co-organizer of the NEPA Freethought Society, has announced a proposal for the NEPA Freethought Society to advertise on COLTS (County of Lackawanna Transportation System) buses in Scranton, PA with a very innocuous and intentionally really, really, really inoffensive message inspired by Richard Wade writing for the Friendly Atheist blog and atheist activist Carl Silverman.
“Various ads placed by atheists on billboards, buses, and elsewhere -- no matter how innocuous they may be -- throughout the United States have been called 'offensive' by theists. This led me and others to question if some theists are offended merely because atheists exist and are promoting a message (regardless of its content),” Vacula says. “Instead of theists reacting to messages from atheists with vitriol,” Vacula explains, “they should take some time to learn what atheists have to offer and what individual atheists believe. In the case of the NEPA Freethought Society, all persons have the opportunity to visit our website, read our content, listen to our podcast episodes, and even listen to a recent respectful debate I had with a Methodist minister. There's no reason to be angry with us.”
Vacula continues, “The NEPA Freethought Society wants other atheists, additionally, to know that a local organization for atheists exists. You're not alone; a group is here to provide community, intellectual discussion, and a resource for atheists who feel marginalized, stigmatized, and rendered invisible.”
Vacula explains that the advertisement is also a response to the "God Bless America" messages on Lackawanna County buses. “If God Bless America can be placed on the scrolling text of buses,” Vacula explains, “I don't see why the bus company would not allow a 'response' message. This, I think, is a good way to challenge a potential church/state violation and test COLTS' advertising policy. This is the perfect storm.”
When and if this advertisement is approved by COLTS, Vacula will be collecting donations for the advertisements. He plans to display these signs on buses for one month. The amount of donations will dictate how many signs will appear on buses; if more money is collected, more signs will be placed on buses. Additional funds will go to benefit Foundation Beyond Belief. “Donors from all across the United States and in various other countries have already come forth with a willingness to donate to make this advertising campaign happen,” Vacula notes, “but we just need to wait on approval from COLTS in order to make a move.”
More information can be found in recent posts on Vacula's website/blog.
The advertisement campaign will be sponsored by individual donors, American Atheists, and, of course, the NEPA Freethought Society.