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Saturday 20 December  
Good news for non-religious New Yorkers
marijkepeters's picture
New York, United States of America
New York, United States of America

Good news for non-religious New Yorkers

Published on : 26 October 2009 - 1:13pm | By Marijke Peters
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Frustrated New Yorkers in the habit of muttering ‘for God’s sake’ under their breath as they suffer on crowded trains, may soon think twice about the content of their curses. A poster campaign launched by American atheist groups today will see anti-religious messages plastered across metro stations. This is just the kind of good news, they say, that the city needs to get it thinking.

“A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” That is the question being asked of commuters in the city’s subway stations, which see more than five million passengers every day.


Michael De Dora explains the campaign


Coalition of Reason
The campaign has been launched by the Big Apple Coalition of Reason (COR) which is made up of various atheist and humanist organisations in New York. Michael De Dora, director of the New York Center for Inquiry which is in the umbrella group, told Radio Netherlands it is the first time atheism has been promoted in this kind of way.

“We have a few different objectives. At the very least we want to foster conversation about issues such as religion and morality, we want to get people talking about these sorts of things, we want to get people thinking about these sorts of things and get this conversation on the table because we feel as if it’s been left off the table and hasn’t been talked about, and too many people think religion and morality are private issues.”


British campaign
The Big Apple COR took its inspiration from a similar British campaign launched earlier this year, spearheaded by the theorist Richard Dawkins. Hundreds of buses carried the message “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” which provoked a storm of controversy as well as a lively debate.

And although the US may not be the obvious home of a large atheist movement, the American Religious Identification Survey released earlier this year revealed a shift away from organised religion. In 2008 the number of people who described themselves as having no religion was 15 percent – almost double the number in 1990.

De Dora stresses the campaign is aimed at those who are just curious, as well as people who want to join one of the groups involved in the project. He hopes it may even be of interest to people who already have a faith.


Not inappropriate
But he denies that it is inappropriate to promote humanism in such a blatant way, in fact arguing the media attention the campaign’s received is evidence of a strong public interest in the issue. Dr Anne Klaeysen, head of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, another member, says the time is ripe for this kind of discussion.

“Our real emphasis is on personal choice and integrity and not a knee-jerk dogmatic approach to religion or to life in general. The impetus behind this was to say there are a number of groups out there who share similar values and similar missions, and how might they get together now we finally have a president who recognises what he calls ‘non-believers’. So there’s a window of opportunity to actually name it.”


Mixed response
The response to the posters has not all been positive and some people feel belief and faith should be confined to the private sphere. De Dora says he is expecting a mixed reaction from people on the subway today, but is hoping New York’s tradition of secularity and liberalism will help make the adverts a success:

“I’ve had emails from both sides already, either atheists or believers who think this is pushing beliefs out too much into the public sphere. We don’t agree. We think that these beliefs about religion and morality are central to what makes a good civil society and we should openly talk about all of this.”



Harrishcolin 8 December 2010 - 9:51am

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Anonymous 5 November 2009 - 3:02am
Jasmin , I agree with you regarding connecting with your inner self through spirituality ( I would like to add through meditation as well) . However , I do not believe in a creator god. The concept of a single creator god works well for the masses . They want something simple to believe in so they can continue with their normal living. However for those few longing to escape from the clutches of ignorance , the concept of creator god(s) must be removed . I admit few indeed have understood this concept as it is not easy on the ear .
jasmin 4 November 2009 - 9:15am
Very true, Anonymous!However, having faith in God and being spiritual is entirely different from being religious or an atheist.Do not restrict yourself by following any religious dogma, but embrace God and Nature with an open mind.Yes, please wake up and be the master of yourself by realising the truth that there is a Master Architect as Hiram says. We always attribute monuments, buildings, and other things to human architects, but when it comes to the Universe and the Earth, we deny the existence of its Maker. Isn't it strange!
Anonymous 4 November 2009 - 8:48am
Haven't you watched the Golden Compass? It shows that institutionalized religion can go to great lengths to confuse people, eliminate those who refuse to conform, and control everything in its path. They hold that the only truth is their own truth. It is the survival instinct of these institutions and greed for more power that made humanity suffer for so long. Please wake up.
jasmin 2 November 2009 - 7:54pm
Realist, you are very right when you say,'' Humans once believed in (and prayed to) a rain god because we did not know why it rained. Humans once believed in (and prayed to) a sun god because we did not know why this "bright object" moved across the sky. As science gave us the answers to these mysteries ... these gods were no longer needed ... and they disappeared.'' But the truth is that so long as people, whom you call ignorant, were revering them and were being grateful to them, rains and sun were benevolent..Now you and your like, the scientists, don't give a damn to them, the rains are vanishing and the sun is being harmful...Realist, we need to rever the bounties, Nature has given us, as gods. And about reward and punishment, it is not a rule made by God but by humans to instil faith in people. God doesn't really bother about what petty humans think of Him!! And for you: which person will you befriend, the one who loves you and respects you or the one who hates you and ignores you? Be truthful...I feel, God is nearer to the persons who have faith in Him
Realist 2 November 2009 - 6:36pm
In recorded human history, there have been 100's of religions and 1000's of Deities (gods and goddesses). Christianity ( and the christian god) is just the FLAVOR OF THE MOMENT and it too shall pass. Humans once believed in (and prayed to) a rain god because we did not know why it rained. Humans once believed in (and prayed to) a sun god because we did not know why this "bright object" moved across the sky. As science gave us the answers to these mysteries ... these gods were no longer needed ... and they disappeared. The only unanswered questions are 1) the beginning (where did we come from)? ... and 2) the end (where do we go after we die)? Once we have the answers to those questions, we won't need the "created by man" christian god any longer either. This day can not come soon enough because the christian god mandates violence and kills millions. In conclusion, how can anyone be a member of any organization that states that if you believe you are eternally rewarded, and if you don't you are eternally punished. This is a very vain approach to human existance.
Hiram 2 November 2009 - 11:06pm
Realism is "concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary."........Reality is "a real event, entity, or state of affairs"........Therefore, I hear you saying that you reject Christianity because it is not practical and visionary in your reality. Just because you haven't experienced G-d doesn't mean G-d doesn't exist. People become Christians because they expanded their reality. My friend, vain is a state of mind where one makes himself believe that the world of humans is limited and a Master Architect does not exist. He exists but you blind yourself to His existence by a self-imposed, restricted belief system. Be nice, okay, because Christianity, Yeshua, does not mandate violence.
jasmin 2 November 2009 - 9:31am
Thanks Hiram, for believing me and for an apt reply.
Hiram 31 October 2009 - 5:14pm
“A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”........One million New Yorkers, who don't believe in G-d, is a very small percentage of all the millions of New Yorkers who do believe in G-d. It looks like there are more believers in G-d than there are for non-believers. G-d is alive and well and His spirit dwells within believers and as the Yeshua stated "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." Therefore, G-d is a spirit and He dwells within those who have been born again in the spirit. One who has been born again sees the spirit of G-d and therefore has seen G-d. One can not see G-d as one sees another human because He does not exist in a quality that confers reality or lifelikeness of a human. If Jasmin stated she has seen G-d, then she has seen Him. Stop looking for the Creator as a human because He is not a human. When G-d makes Himself known to you, you, too, will see Him.
DEVOUTATHEIST 30 October 2009 - 11:06pm
You have it all wrong. Atheists object to taxpayer money being used to promote religion. And the current ads are privately paid, so are nothing more than free speech.
eagle451 29 October 2009 - 1:28am
People should have a choice. The US Constitution says the government shall make no laws favoring any religion. Yet the atheists holler at a Nativity scene on the government property. There is no law making people worship it. As long as other religious symbols are allowed I see nothing wrong with it. If the atheists are offended by others believing in God then maybe we should bew offend by the sign and sue them.
jasmin 27 October 2009 - 11:35am
I can empathise with you all. The word God seems hollow; the churches, temples, mosques seem empty; there is no One in the skies above and the oceans below, not even in the Himalayes and the forests. Yes, you all are right because we are searching for God in the wrong places! God is within us! You just have to close your eyes and go deep into yourself. He is waiting there for you to be realised! The experience is beyond words and enlightens your soul, enriches your mind and beautifies your body. You are transformed and become love and peace, personified. All the negative traits vanish and make you a godly person. You enrich others too and touch their souls. However, you cannot gift this God realisation to others; you have to realise it yourself. You will find love pouring in from all sides and peace within. And, yes,parents are always to be revered, however old you become. You can never be greater than your source. You might be more knowledgeable than them, but never wiser than them. Wisdom comes with experience. Just as the words: pain, sorrow, bliss, love seem hollow to persons who have never experienced them ; God seems untrue to those who have never realised Him. I wish you all a journey within yourselves. You won't be same again!
Alice 27 October 2009 - 10:46am
Of course there will be always some who needs God and some who don't. But it's really good that non-believers in US can finally raise their voice.
Dave Lucas 27 October 2009 - 10:11am
When I first saw this page linked on a tweet, I thought it was a Christian campaign. i.e. A million New Yorkers don't know God, are you? Because you need to get to know him. I think this is good news for atheists, but also great news for those of faith, allowing an open door for conversation.
Anonymous 27 October 2009 - 8:44am
Asia is swamped by Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. Atheists please help ! Islamic influence (getting more radical): Indonesia, Malaysia Christian influence (well established in society and mass media): Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong Countries under threat by Christianization: The rest of Asia especially China.
TV1photog 27 October 2009 - 3:15am
I would like to see the sign that says, "There is no God." To me that is about as plan and clear as you can say it.
Anonymous 27 October 2009 - 1:22am
No man with any sense of humor, ever founded a religion.
Steve 26 October 2009 - 3:03pm
This campaign is running in Chicago. I have not heard about anyone having a problem with it. It is just like advertising an alternative church on a bus or a subway.
jasmin 26 October 2009 - 2:14pm
Hahaha..That's great! But, it is just like 'grown up kids' proclaiming, “A million New Yorkers are good without parents. Are you?” But I believe in God and have seen Him several times.
Patrick Morcillo 30 October 2009 - 9:00pm
You are delude, I am afraid, specially when you state that you have seen God. See link below Take care
charts 28 October 2009 - 3:12pm
JASMIN: Its obvious you are one of those dillusional religious christians. You say you have seen god? Please read your bible: Timothy 6:15-17 "GOD IS THE BLESSED AND HOLY RULER WHOM NO ONE HAS SEEN OR CAN SEE" Don't know what you are seeing but maybe put down that crack pipe and clear your head.
jasmin 28 October 2009 - 4:22pm
Thanks for the enlightening message, Charts. However, I am neither a christain nor do I smoke crack pipe.My head is clear, and if you are interested, you can scroll down the page and read my second message. God bless you..;)...
Anonymous 26 October 2009 - 9:43pm
That's not insulting at all. Trying to liken atheists to children. Just because you believe doesn't give you a right to insult those who don't. Besides that, your logic makes no sense: We're children because we don't need an ever-present father figure for us to be good? Sounds like you may have it backwards. Being good shouldn't rely on having a parental figure- this is essentially what we teach children when we say that your character is who you are when no one is looking. The effort is to get them to be good without having to dote over them 24/7.
Anonymous 27 October 2009 - 2:39am
Haha, hit that on the nose, what a perfect response to that insulting comment.
thesmartestdon'tbelieve 26 October 2009 - 9:40pm
May I inquire where and when you had these hallucinations? This is miraculous!
Ian Clark 26 October 2009 - 1:34pm
Im spiritual, I believe there must be some kind of point to this. Do I worry about a God, NO. Why? Because im not bound to any religion. I just go about my daily business and get on with life : )

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