18 February 200919 February 2009 Main Posts that’s me told, then Jeff Sparrow In a previous post, I suggested that it didn’t take much courage to proclaim onself an atheist in most developed countries. I still think that’s basically true but I hadn’t counted on exactly how timid the public sphere has become. Australia’s largest outdoor advertising agency, APN Outdoor, rejected an attempt by the Atheist Foundation of Australia to put slogans on buses. British atheists have 800 buses around Ol’ Blighty emblazoned with: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” So the Little Aussie Atheists decided to do their bit for the cause. The cause being freedom of speech, rational thought, intelligent discussion and consciousness-raising. In the same way religious groups try to spread the good news to help ease people’s existential pain, so too are the atheists. […] The Atheist Foundation of Australia approached APN with a slogan and a fistful of cash. APN, a company that has run religious and political slogans in the past, initially said: “Sounds good, no problems.” So APN and AFA spent three weeks tweaking, diluting and compromising until APN abruptly pulled the plug. End of discussion. How offensive was the message? Was it, “Sucked in, there’s no God. Ha, ha, ha.”? Was it, “Those hours in church bored out of your brain, those years of guilt and all those prayers? Wasted. God’s not real.”? Was it, “The look on their faces when they find out God doesn’t exist? Priceless.”? No. It was, “Atheism — Celebrate Reason”. How scary is that? That was after “Atheism — Sleep in on Sundays” and “Atheism — Because there is no credible evidence” were knocked back. How flimsy does APN think people’s faith is if they’d be rocked by a gentle comment like that? Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 11 November 202211 November 2022 Main Posts On the last day of Subscriberthon, our amazing online editor gives you one last (very good) reason to subscribe Editorial team What's in store for the last day of Subscriberthon? First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202210 November 2022 Main Posts On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, our favourite editor-duo give you reason #1002 to subscribe to Overland Editorial team What's in store for the second-last day of Subscriberthon?