Morrissey was right: that joke isn’t funny anymore.
Whilst the young Moz was obviously not singing about atheist and Christian advertising campaigns on bendy buses – more likely unrequieted love and repressed sexuality – his words are amazingly apt. Particularly following the latest development to be reported in today’s Guardian. Funny? No, just petty and ridiculous.
What started as a somewhat tongue in cheek post on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ website, Ariane Sherine wrote after seeing a poster on a bus that suggested she would “be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then…spend all eternity in torment in hell”:
…if there are 4,680 atheists reading this and we all contribute £5, it’s possible that we can fund a much-needed atheist London bus ad with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life”…
Sadly, the British Humanist Association and far too many non-religionists (atheists, secularists and their ilk) took a literal interpretation of Sherine’s post – isn’t that what they dislike about religions? – and begun donating their respective £5’s. Even more sadly, not only did they raise the £5,500 needed to play their ‘joke’ but they raised more than £140,000. Being able to afford that well known southern atheist-belt evangelist Richard Dawkins to launch the campaign for them, Andrew Brown observed in his response on ‘Comment is Free’:
Like religious beliefs, though, belief in irreligion functions as a tribal marker. It divides us from them, and makes us feel better about doing them down. And some people obviously find in anti-religion the kind of cause and meaning which religion tells them is lacking from their lives
It amazes me that Dawkins and his tribe cannot see this for themselves. Obviously their pontificating and arrogance is different to that of their opposite other.
Following a series of individuals and organisations complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (around 150 at the last count) and one driver – Ron Heather – refusing to drive a bus around Southampton (there’s probably no God in Southampton, now stop worrying and get on with your life) that had the Humanist’s message emblazoned on its side, we now have three Christian groups launching their own campaigns: their ‘response’. The new campaign is organised by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church and their ‘pro-God’ campaigns will run on 175 buses for two weeks from Monday.
For the campaign, the Rev George Hargreaves of the Christian Party has created a bus advert which proclaims:
“There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”
Must have taken ages for him to have come up with that one.
The Russian Orthodox Church has booked 25 supersize bus advertisements, backed by a sponsorship deal with Russian Hour TV, using the line:
“There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.”
Whilst, the Trinitarian Bible Society has taken a more traditional and literalist approach preferring to use a line from the Psalms (53.1):
“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”
Sadly, since Sherine’s post, few – any? – seem to have seen the funny side of things. What the ‘trinity’ of Christian groups have done now is merely go right back to where this sorry episode began. That is, they have launched a bus campaign that tells non-believers that they are a ‘fool’ for believing in God. Surely all are fools for believing that anyone will either be brought to and turned away from believing/ not believing (delete as appropriate) in God merely by reading a stupid advertising slogan. As Sherine pointed out originally, it wasn’t about believing or not but about the depressive message of the initial Christian campaign. Nothing more, nothing less.
For many years I have viewed evangelical non-believers as being as bad as their believing evangelical counterparts. Now there is clear proof that this is true. They are little more than mirror images of the other. So please, let’s end these extremely irritating and petty ‘tit for tat’ campaigns and get back to seeing half naked women selling everything from cars to washing powder on our buses: that is of course what advertising was invented for. And let’s leave these irritating, humourless people to sit banging their heads against brick walls (metaphorically rather than literally of course).
As Morrissey put it:
Well, I’m afraid it doesn’t make me smile,
I wish I could laugh
But that joke isn’t funny anymore
Everything on this site by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. www.chris-allen.co.uk.