Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NO reciprocity to atheism in the SA republic?

The religion of me is offended.  Truth seems to have that effect.
From Britain's Daily Mail.

A church advertising campaign that depicted atheists as stupid has been banned by a watchdog in South Africa.
Officials ruled a billboard that suggested non-believers considered their existence to be accidental was likely to be found offensive.
The advertisement, which had been erected beside a church in Johannesburg, was pulled down following the ruling by South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority.
Pulled down: Officials ruled a billboard erected outside a Johannesburg church that suggested atheists considered their existence to be accidental was likely to be found offensive

The offending poster showed a picture of a man holding his hands against his temples in thought above the line 'An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident', famously attributed to British poet Francis Thompson.
It was erected last year in a prominent position on the property of the Rivers Church in the Sandton suburb of Johannesburg.
However, the ASA noted that it was obliged to consider the advertisement's content after it received a complaint from a non-Christian member of the public.

Laying out its judgement on the matter, the authority stated that the complainant, Eugene Gerber, felt offended by the suggestion he was stupid.
The ruling stated: 'In essence, the complainant submitted that the billboard offends him as an atheist as he does not consider his existence to be an accident.
'Secondly, the depiction of a man with an empty head communicates that atheists are stupid.'
In a four-page judgement, the ASA noted that it had considered the billboard in terms of a clause in South Africa's advertising code preventing content which could offend.
Where it hung: The billboard erected outside Rivers Church in the Sandton suburb of Johannesburg

The authority stated that the church leaders had responded to the complaint by saying they believed the public would recognise the quote as the work of Thompson, who wrote during the late nineteenth century and died in 1907.
The ASA wrote: 'The respondent submitted that the advertisement is based on Psalm 14v and Psalm 53v1, which say "only foolish say in their hearts there is no God".
'The implication of the image was meant to convey that if someone does not believe in God, then they are not wise.
'It quoted the famous English poet Francis Thompson thinking that most people would be familiar with his work and would possibly respect his comment.'
However, the advertising authority judgement said the watchdog believed the quotation printed alongside an image of a man shaking his head was likely to cause gratuitous offence to atheists.

'The visuals of a man holding the sides of his empty head suggest that atheists are "empty-headed" or lack intelligence, presumably as a result of the above "belief" communicated'

It wrote: 'It is apparent that the proverbial line is drawn when advertising propagates statements that undermine the dignity and constitutionally protected right to freedom of religious beliefs of any identifiable sector of society.
'The Directorate notes that the respondent has made use of a quote "An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident" by Francis Thompson, however this does not justify its use in this context.
'The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines an accident as, "An unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance".
'The quote therefore suggests that atheists believe that their existence is a result of an unforeseen and unplanned event. 
'The use of the word believe further strengthens this communication.
'Furthermore, the visuals of a man holding the sides of his empty head suggest that atheists are 'empty-headed' or lack intelligence, presumably as a result of the above "belief" communicated.
'This is something that would likely offend all atheists in a manner that the Code seeks to prevent.'
The ruling added: 'While the directorate accepts that the respondent is entitled to promote its view and commentary to all who choose to attend its services, it cannot ignore the fact that the respondent has chosen to publicly proclaim its viewpoint.'
The ASA ruling, published on January 6, concluded by stating that the complaint against the church had been upheld.
The institution was ordered to pull down the advert immediately and was banned from using the material again.

My thoughts? Well this humble blogger thinks a more accurate image would have a pile of manure and microchips in place of the empty space. The religion of 'me' has no problem making these kind of condescending adds, articles, billboards and the like - but when THEY are the target of criticism, the hysteria begins. 

All we can hope is that the 'justice' involved in the case is equally meted out to the vitriol filled Anti-Theist campaigns, BEFORE some sort of backlash is imminent.... but don't hold your breath. 


  1. If I had to put up a billboard on atheism I would write this:

    An atheist is a man who has failed his Biology 101 course.

    How else can you believe that all of life and its wonderful diversity are the result of luck?

    1. Indeed!
      The vapidity and shallowness of the position indicates an intellectual laziness, to me.
      The 'new Atheists' seem to have a profound lack of understand of ALL but their most specific fields. Even then the impartiality is not there, and they seem to be guided by a need to disprove the wisdom of their ancestors and any other field that contradicts their grandiose claims and pretensions.

  2. Maybe the "Publish or Perish" maxim should be abandoned. With the increasing numbers of PHds being handed out (the more there are the less they are worth) they all have to publish something, even way out and improvable ideas. Just have a look at scientific publications. The worst of the pack are the Darwinist gang: all talk and no evidence!

    PS: I am happy to be your "only reader" (:P) but I wish you many many more. Your blog is worth a lot of readers! Maybe you should mention it on Dr. Egnor blog and be prepared for the charge of the atheist brigade!


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