The Austrian Atheist Campaign’s adverts in Vienna

Those of you that have been paying attention to PZ Myers may be aware that some humanists in Austria managed to put adverts on buses in Vienna. That’s not quite correct, but close enough: they weren’t able to find anyone willing to publish their adverts on buses, but were able to advertise on static billboards, so they didn’t have to stoop to renting their own bus and driving through the country, like the German equivalent did in May. For maximum effect, click here to read this post in it’s original location

Subscribe to Blue-Genes.netThere are three messages displayed:

“Es gibt keinen Gott. Gutes tun ist menschlich. Auf uns kommt es an” (“There is no God. Doing good is human. It’s up to us”)

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” (the original message displayed in England)

And the absolutely genius:

“Gott ist mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit ein tschechischer Schlagersänger. Entspann dich. Er wird dir nichts tun” (God is almost certainly a Czech pop singer. Relax. He won’t hurt you)

Which plays on the Czech singer‘s name ‘Karel Gott’.

The (abridged) story is that three atheist organisations in Austria wanted to follow in the footsteps of the British Atheist Bus Campaign, but were turned down because:

“Einer der Grundsätze der Wiener Linien ist, keine Werbung für politische Parteien oder religiöse Glaubensgemeinschaften auf den Fahrzeugen der Wiener Linien zuzulassen. Auch bei Werbung für atheistische Gruppen oder Glaubenstendenzen greift dieser Unternehmensgrundsatz. Insofern wurde das Ansuchen des Freidenkerbundes bzw. der AG-ATHE nach sorgfältiger Prüfung abgelehnt.”

Which translates approximately to:

One of the ground rules of the “Weiner Linien” [the company that runs public transport in Vienna] is to forbid advertisement for political parties and religious organisations on our vehicles. This rule also applies to atheist groups and organisations. For this reason, the Free-Thinker-association, i.e. the AG-ATHE [Atheistic and Agnostic women for a secular Austria], have had their application denied.

However, Florian at Astrodicticum Simplex (who did his PhD in Vienna) claims that this is quite a strange reason, saying that there are lots of adverts for political parties.

So the atheists turned to a company that runs static commercials, and, as you can imagine, there’s been some controversy. The advertising company (Gewista) that runs the adverts had checked with the Austrian advertising standards agency (Werberat) who gave them the thumbs up, but only just. The Werberat said:

“Wir sind mit einer sehr knappen Mehrheit zur Überzeugung gekommen, dass auch für den Atheismus das Prinzip der Religionsfreiheit gilt”

(“By a very small majority, we have reached the conclusion that the principle of religious freedom applies to atheism too”)

Very small majority!?! Well I guess some resistance was to be expected. It simply strikes me that the freedom of religion is the sort of right that applies to everyone automatically, and is only revoked if you’re murdering people in your rites.

At any rate, the adverts are now up and I guess they are having some degree of effect. I can’t feel the ripples here in Frankfurt, but it’s hard to get a feel for these things when you’re not there. There’s a few indignant newpaper article (in German), but according to a quick Google search this campaign has hardly been heard of in the English-speaking world.

Please let me know if you find any updates to this story.

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