Ad Campaign Promoting Atheism Across U.S. Draws Ire and Protest

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"Our purpose is not to offend, but to reach out to our own," said Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "It would take more than a few words on the side of a bus to change someone's religion."

Rev. Kyev Tatum, pastor of Friendship Rock Baptist Church, has called for a boycott of the buses, and told ABC Houston station KTRK-TV that a dozen area churches will be providing transportation. He also said that he feels that the transportation authority is putting profit over principle.

"Why would you support an enterprise that's trying to demean the Christian principle?" Tatum said.

Two other religious ads -- including one with the message "Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas" -- have been in the works for several weeks and should be on buses soon, said authority spokeswoman Joan Hunter, who pointed out that religious-themed messages have run on buses and benches in Ft. Worth for years.

A National and Global Movement

The trend towards atheistic advertising is not exactly new, as similar ads were also seen in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

The Coalition of Reason sponsored a series of ads that ran on D.C. bus stops, billboards and Metro trains, which read "Don't believe in God? Join the club."

The ads pointed to WashingtonCoR.com, a site that informs visitors of the organization's mission -- to join non-believers together and increase the sense of community amongst atheists and agnostics.

A similar campaign took place in London last year, sponsored by the British Humanist Association along with prominent atheist and author of the 2006 bestseller, "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins.

The ads, which read, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," ran on London's buses, on billboards and in the Underground.

Although a similar controversy ensued over the ads, a fund raising drive called "The Bus Campaign" to ensure that the ads were placed brought in more than £140,000.

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