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!

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  1. Brian’s avatar

    Hargreaves’ article was hilariously poor, wasn’t it? He really is the kind of Christians that atheists love, congenitally unable to conceal his intolerance; in fact he seems to have no idea what tolerance is. And the blank recourse to the argument that “the Bible says x, therefore there can be no question of its truth” is about the weakest anyone could put. Maybe he is a secret atheist propagandist.

    Anyway, in the “Christian” spirit of an eye for an eye, I’m looking out for one of those adverts so I can complain to the ASA. If the ASA says it’s ok, then presumably it would be OK for the next ABC adverts to say “there’s definitely no god”. I don’t see how “there definitely isn’t” could need any stronger evidence than “there definitely is”.

    Also, the Christian Party is a political party. Presumably the rules governing their ads are more rigorous.

    Reply

  2. admin’s avatar

    Hi Brian,

    I posted an article about the Christian Party this morning, which I wrote in response to Hargreaves’ CiF piece. He does sound like a pretty “interesting” chap, actually, what with a past career as pop impresario producing records that were popular with the gay disco crowd (but now, of course, he’s taken against homosexuality).

    I did come across a reference to the Christian Party fielding a muslim candidate somewhere in Scotland, which struck me as interesting.

    Robert

    Reply

  3. tim Maguire’s avatar

    Hi Robert

    if you’ve been following the campaign on Comment is Free, you’ll know that this Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) campaign is simply designed to show the public and the BBC that secular thinkers have something to offer TFTD. We hope that they’ll visit Thought for the World listen to the podcasts and if they like what they hear, sign our petition to open up TFTD to secular thinkers and – if they think it would be good to have a regular secular alternative TFTD, make a donation so we can continue to produce them on a more regular basis

    I hope you enjoy the podcasts, and that you’ll support the campaign

    Tim

    Reply

  4. admin’s avatar

    Tim,
    I just listened to Muriel Gray’s podcast. Excellent stuff, and I think my own personal position between the two. Quite thought-provoking.
    Robert

    Reply

  5. Macca’s avatar

    I spotted the theist bus last night on a walk through London and was outraged that the ASA, though forcing the atheist campaign to use the word ‘probably’, have allowed the Christian Party (of all people!) to publish an advertisement that clearly breaks clause 3 of their code. I have complained, and invited others to do so on my blog.

    It’s a matter of principle. I don’t mind a Christian counter-argument, what I mind is that they haven’t been as graceful and open minded about it as the atheists were. Of course, the atheists are all so close minded, and we mustn’t tolerate their kind… *sigh*

    Historically, out country may have been a Christian one, but why do we still try to uphold their views above that of the nonbeliever at this day in age? It shocks me daily to read the horribly corrupt opinions of Christian leaders.

    Reply

  6. admin’s avatar

    Oh, so they did go ahead with the theist bus adverts, then? What was the wording?
    As far as I know the ASA didn’t force the insertion of “probably” – that was the orgainsers’ decision early on.
    Robert

    Reply

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