TORONTO, ON Jan. 29, 2009 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the approval of atheist advocacy advertising on Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) buses. The application was approved yesterday. “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” or some similar message, will soon appear on buses in Toronto.
The Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada, which took an online collection to pay for the advertising, was inspired by a campaign that has plastered British buses with the message.
It was probably only a matter of time before these ads, which have already appeared on buses in several European cities as well as in England, came to Canada. As a free speech issue, there is little to be said about the organization’s right to advertise on transit systems, especially in Toronto where advertising from many groups, including faith groups, is accepted.
Many believers, accustomed to the frequent belittling of faith and faith organizations in the media, especially in comedy and other entertainment formats, will see such advertising as yet another attempt to diminish respect for religion. We don’t doubt that that is ultimately the intention of the advertising, but we certainly question whether that will be the effect. In fact, the promoters may get a surprise when the impact on belief in God proves to be positive. It is quite possible that the ads will do little more than provoke discussion of faith and belief. We are already seeing heated reaction in the phone-in shows and online polls about the ads.
“According to some reports, the ads are going to include a web address, presumably for people to express their solidarity with the organization,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “Based on our experience at the League, they can expect to hear a great deal from people who think they’re wrong. Free speech is a two-way street, and interactive technologies have made it a very busy one!”
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org