Article: FAC transit ads on TTC

Doug Thomas of SOFREE comments on the FAC ads.

A while ago the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) began to display ads placed by the Freethought Association of Canada (FAC) repeating those on the London, England transit system – “There Probably Is No God. Stop worrying and enjoy your Life.”

The TTC did not insist on the word probably, but FAC chose to include it because FAC felt a better debate would result. At the same time Humanist Canada (HC), aka the Humanist Association of Canada ran an ad saying, "We Can be Good Without God," in a high-traffic Toronto subway station.

Local fundamentalists reacted predictably. Apparently attacking non-believers is fine, but any glimmer of a positive presence from those same non-believers is not. According to Kathy Meidell, Executive Director of HC, they have received dozens of negative phone calls and emails mixed in with new inquiries about HC and applications for membership.

A panel discussion, regarding the ads, on TV Ontario’s (TVO) "The Agenda" was revealing. The pro participants included Justin Trottier, president of FAC, Dr. Robert Buckman, author of We Can Be Good Without God, and Greta Vosper, chairperson of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity.

Kathy Shaidle, conservative Catholic blogger (fivefeetoffury), and Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, responded on the con side. The pro side emphasized the notion of promoting dialogue and of moving nonbelievers more into the mainstream of ethical debates. The con side seemed to emphasize the fears of chaos threatened by such ads...

...So, the ads sparked debate. Religious fundamentalists have responded in predictable ways – fear and loathing. However, Trottier, Buckman and Vosper are correct; positive dialogue is occurring. One United Church responded with an ad of its own: "There probably is a God. Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life."