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Why is there an Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign?

This campaign was created to continue the momentum started by similar successful campaigns in Canada and the United Kingdom.  Around Indiana and the rest of the United States, religious advertisements on buses and billboards are very common.  Some are as simple as ‘Jesus is Coming,’ while others feature long bible quotes.  The discussion fostered in Canada and the UK should be something that is brought to the United States as well, and Indiana is as good of a place as any to start.  We want to let everyone know that it’s all right not to believe in a deity, that you do not need to be ’saved,’ and that you can be a good person without religion.  We hope that everyone will look at the facts and evidence before making life decisions, including religion.

Why have two slogans?

Atheism is not a religion. We don’t have any sacred texts or anointed priests or gurus to tell us what to do or how to think. We support critical thinking.  This means there is diversity of opinion and goals in our ranks.  Some of us want to encourage non-believers to come out of the closet and combat the stigma that is associated with atheism. Some of us feel religion and religious belief should be met head-on with science and evidence-based approaches.  Our two slogans represent these overlapping, while different, goals.

Why say “In the beginning, man created God”?

Like Richard Dawkins and Susan Jacoby, we believe that religion enjoys an unofficial privileged status in this country. As Jacoby says, freedom of religion does not mean granting religion immunity from critical scrutiny. No one in the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign is denying people their right to believe what they want, but we have (or should have) the right to challenge those beliefs directly and without fear or shame.

Religions are human creations, like political and economic philosophies, literature, art, and science. They are a cultural development of humanity to explain (or explain away) the mysteries and/or suffering in the world.  ”In the beginning, man created God” turns the creation myths on their head, putting God and religion in their place. If God didn’t create man, then a whole series of other beliefs are up for question, including the all-important issue of morality and whether it is God-given.

Why say “You can be good without God”?

Though our members found it important to take a public stand in support of atheism, our members’ personal belief systems do not end here.  Atheism is not a full-fledged philosophy, and doesn’t explain the ethics or moral philosophy of any individual.

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign wants to challenge the widely-held notion that one must be religious to lead a good and purposeful life.  The goal of this slogan is to bring attention to the positive and rewarding aspects of non-belief.  Atheists are not good because they fear eternal damnation–they are good because they choose to be fair and kind to their fellow human beings.  The bus campaign wants to bring a positive message about atheism to the public, and to spark a lively discussion about the secular nature of morality.

How did begin?

A few individuals in Bloomington, IN heard about the wild success of the UK and Canada campaigns, and wondered if a similar campaign had started in the midwest.  Nothing turned up, so a group of about a dozen people got together, set up the website, and began collecting donations.

Why atheism?

The Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign recognizes that there are many people out there who do not believe in god, but are not necessarily atheist.  There are agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, secularists, and many others who share our goal of promoting the messages “You can be good without God” and “In the beginning, man created God.”

We chose the word ‘atheist’ to emphasize the importance of ending the stigma against coming out as an atheist in American society.  As the most distrusted minority in the U.S., atheists must work to encourage each other to come out to friends and family to discuss their beliefs openly.  As more atheists come out and are open about their beliefs, atheism will become more accepted and less feared.  We hope that this campaign will discuss reasonable, positive discussions about atheism, and encourage closeted members of the atheist community to come out!

Why don’t you donate your money to starving people around the world?

It would certainly be a noble cause to launch another campaign among thousands of projects already running that are trying to help those in need, but sometimes a campaign that prompts people to think critically can have grander effects.

Throughout human history we’ve had religious warfare and crusades, and those things continue even now.  If people questioned why they believed in something that has no supporting scientific evidence, and come to understand that each human being is of equal worth, then perhaps one day we can all love each other and be happy—no god necessary.

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