German atheists rally the non-faithful one bus at a time

German atheists rally the non-faithful one bus at a time
A bus from the UK campaign last year. Photo: DPA
A controversial campaign discounting belief in God started by British atheists is coming to Germany – ads on public buses will promote a happy life without religion.

The atheists behind the group Buskampagne, or Bus Campaign, hope to raise the profile of non-believers in German society and combat “religious arrogance” by plastering the slogan “There is (with almost near certainty) no God” on public buses across the country.

The initiative, which completely relies on donations for funding, has already managed to raise enough money to place ads on three buses in Berlin. Cologne and Munich are supposed to follow.

“We are campaigning for scepticism – otherwise people without any religious affiliation are just going to disappear under massive amounts of religion propaganda,” atheist spokesman Philipp Möller told The Local.

The German initiative was inspired by a similar campaign started last year in Britain. It has consulted with Ariane Sherine – the founder of the UK group – and uses a similar design for its bus posters, but operates on its own.

Roughly a third of Germans don’t belong to a religion and so far the campaign hasn’t run afoul of the country’s clergy. And Möller emphasised Buskampagne was pro-atheist rather than anti-religion. However, even he admits the campaign is meant to provoke a reaction.

“We want to be able to express our justified doubts and disinterest in the existence of a God without being looked at as if we stole some old lady’s purse,” he said.

But Möller cautioned the initiative wasn’t a group of missionaries out to spread their own faith of non-belief.

“We aren’t out to convert anyone,” he said. “We just want to point out that ethics and morals have nothing to do with religion. Religion is made by people for people.”