Posted on October 26, 2009
If you’re used to seeing ads for community colleges, lurid best bestsellers, and video game systems on the New York City subway system, get ready for something completely different: Ads for a coalition of eight atheist organizations start running today, October 26. About a dozen subway stations across the city will start running the ads, which bear the tagline: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” The words appear over a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. The Big Apple Coalition for Reason decided that putting up the ads in the subway provided the most potential viewership—and since the New York City subway system serves more than 5 million riders per day, they’re probably right. The groups in the coalition include the Secular Humanist Society of New York and the New York Center for Inquiry. The campaign came about when The United Coalition of Reason, a national organization, approached the New York atheist associations over the summer. An anonymous source had offered to help pay for the subway campaign, and thus were the ads born. Will we see a backlash? In a city that regularly sees ads for strip clubs and escort services splashed across public areas, is religion the last taboo? Well, an American Religious Identification Survey released earlier this year showed a shift in religious identity in this country: Those checking "none" for religion rose from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008. We’ll see if atheist-themed blue skies or bedroom-eyed blondes cause more of a ruckus.