November 11, 2008
“Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” proclaims a new holiday ad from the American Humanist Association. Already appearing today in the New York Times and Washington Post, the message will soon be blazoned on the sides, taillights, and interiors of over 200 Washington DC Metro buses.
It’s the first ad campaign of its kind in the United States, and the American Humanist Association predicts it will raise public awareness of humanism as well as controversy over humanist ideas.
“Humanists have always understood that you don’t need a god to be good,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “So that’s the point we’re making with this advertising campaign. Morality doesn’t come from religion. It’s a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience.”
At a press conference today launching the campaign, large displays were featured showing the ads in today’s New York Times and Washington Post, the bus posters, and how the posters will look mounted on the side of a bus and inside, behind the driver’s seat. (High resolution photos of the bus posters, including images of them mounted on and in a bus, are available online at http://www.whybelieveinagod.org/moreabout.html .) The exterior posters will appear on buses in Northwest Washington starting Tuesday, November 18. The interior posters will begin December 1 in Northwest and Southeast.
“We expect these bus signs to generate a lot of public interest,” said Fred Edwords, director of communications for the American Humanist Association. “Some folks may be offended but that isn’t our purpose. We just want to reach those open to this message but unaware how widespread their views are.
The “goodness’ sake” ads and posters direct people to a special Web site at http://www.whybelieveinagod.org/ that helps people find others of like mind in the Washington, D.C., metro area and nationally. The site also informs the public about humanism and answers common objections to the slogan as well as to the appropriateness of running the campaign during the holidays.
Such high-profile promotion isn’t new to the American Humanist Association. Throughout 2008, humanist advertising has become more visible across the nation. In particular, highway billboards have been erected just outside of New York City, Philadelphia, and other major cities. They read: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
“Those billboards,” Fred Edwords added, “started raising the profile of our movement and generated an avalanche of responses, both from people who realized that they, too, were humanists as well as from those who disagreed with us. But everyone heard our message loud and clear. And this is what it takes for us to reach our audience.”
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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.