George Hargreaves (a minister and leader of the Christian Party) has posted a terribly aggrieved article at The Guardian’s Comment is Free (Our answer to the atheists). In the article, he grumbles how:
over the past month I have had to be at my most tolerant as the 149 bus passes my office bearing the words “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.“
Well, he’s upset is he? George should just get on with his life. As an atheist, I have to deal with a considerable barrage of religious tosh thrust at me via quite a range of media, including bus adverts. He’s advocating a religious backlash in the shape of their own bus adverts. He goes on:
[...] atheists and humanist are, of course, a minority group. Most people, whilst not being attached to an “organised religion”, do believe in God. There is, as it were, an innate recognition of God in mankind. The Bible does, however, say “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.’ (Proverbs 26:5). Our party’s bus advertising campaign, which says “There is definitely a God. So join the Christian party and enjoy your life”, does just that – it answers the foolishness of the atheist and humanist ad. Indeed, the recent Advertising Standards Authority ruling on the humanist ad seems to suggest that we all can express our opinions on the side of buses. So from next week our adverts will compete alongside the atheist ads in a simple case of “Don’t get mad, get your own advert up.”
An interesting thing to write. I’m rather looking forward to the ASA adjudicating on whether these guys can produce the evidence that there is definitely a god. And what evidence does George provide in his article? He says “The Bible is clear that only a fool says “There is no God” (Psalm 53).” Well, gosh, that’s pretty good evidence isn’t it!
As a regular listener to “Today” on BBC Radio 4 each morning, I am assailed by a daily reminder of religion, in the form of “Thought for the Day”, presented by representatives of a variety of faiths. But not, interestingly, by someone of a humanist persuasion. This of course is exactly the sort of thing that George has got so het up about in his CiF article. Of course, we can counter by linking to sites like Platitude of the Day, which rather excellently paraphrases the Thought for the Day tosh for us. The BBC have resisted the requests for humanists to be given their shot at a Thought for the Day for years. Now, some of the regulars at the Guardian will weigh in with their version of the world in a series of short podcasts. In an impassioned article, also at Comment is Free (Give the irreligious a turn at the holy microphone), Claire Rayner points out:
In a British Social Attitudes survey, 69% of participants either had no belief or never attended any religious service. Church attendance has dribbled down from 10% in the 1990s to an estimated 5.5%. The BBC can’t claim it is offering what most people want. The secular society points out that its 46% of the population is more than all the minority faiths put together. In the last census, Judaism claimed only 0.5%; and Methodism, Catholicism and Spiritualism 0.6% each. Even the Jedi Knights got 0.75%.
In an increasingly secular age, with church attendances falling, why should the BBC be maintaining the religious rights to bend our ear, usually in a variety of portentous, po-faced or platitudinous ways on a daily basis? Amusingly, if you follow the link to the another thought for the day, what do we find but another CiF belief article, this time by Giles Fraser (Atheists should get a life and leave our slot alone). In an idiotic opening paragraph, Giles (who is the vicar of Putney) illustrates his paranoia:
Contributors to Thought for the Day mustn’t attack the beliefs of others. It’s a basic BBC rule. This is not a place where Christians can fire pot shots at Hindus or Muslims have a go at Judaism. Which is why it’s just not appropriate for atheists. Not that they haven’t important things to say. The problem is that atheism is defined by what it’s against, that it is not theism. And to introduce such a sense of “againstness” would fundamentally alter TftD’s character.
So, why does he think a humanist comment of current events is going to focus on religion-bashing? Perhaps Giles Fraser, George Hargreaves and all the others should just accept that there are others in this country who feel their (humanist) take on the world around us is worth expression. After all, they seem happy for those of other religions to take part, and let’s face it they can’t all be right, can they!