The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign, which late last year raised in excess of $20,000 from public donations, has met a set back in their plans. Nationwide bus company NZ Bus, who had tentatively approved the campaign’s ads on buses in major city centres, have now rejected them.
NZ Bus stated that they have received a number of complaints from the public about the proposed ads, which read “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Spokesperson for the Atheist Bus Campaign Simon Fisher says “It’s concerning that peaceful atheist messages are not allowed on buses while religious messages are often seen on buses and in public. Messages of atheism are rare in New Zealand and we aim to raise awareness for the one-third of New Zealanders who are unconvinced by the claims of religion.”
Organisers of the Campaign tried to reach a resolution with NZ Bus, and later attempted mediation sessions through the Human Rights Commission. NZ Bus refused to participate in these mediation sessions. Because they are refusing to discuss the matter and reach an agreement, the organisers of the Campaign are now investigating the possibility of taking this case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Simon Fisher says “we’re disappointed at the response from NZ Bus and plan to look at options going forward. We owe it to the thousands of Kiwis who have supported this campaign with donations and messages of support.”
Advertisements with identical wording ran in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Spain. Similar campaigns also ran successfully in Croatia, Finland, Holland, Italy, America and across the Tasman in Australia.
“We are gravely concerned that in New Zealand we’re unable to present an atheistic message, showing that we do not have the same practical freedom of expression as in other first world countries. It highlights why this campaign is so necessary.” said spokesperson Simon Fisher.
The Campaign will continue to accept donations for advertising, see http://www.nogod.org.nz for further details.