Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fear His Wrath... or don't... maybe

Ah, the power of the media: post an idea in the ‘comment is free’ section of a national newspaper’s website and watch it grow. Or in the case of Ariane Sherine, you can also watch the public falling over each other to pledge their pennies towards your humble cause.

Sherine wanted to raise £11,000 in order put an atheist message on no less than 30 London buses for 4 weeks – the rationale being to counter all the damnation-style religious advertising that plague public transport (something, I must admit, I have been blissfully oblivious to). After enrolling the British Humanist Association, plus everyone’s favourite anti-God spokesman, Richard Dawkins (who promised to match whatever the public throws in – but only up to £5,500) Sherine has already amassed a healthy £115,820.10.

I’m not quite sure what to make of it all. Part of me thinks ‘fair enough’ and another part is left wondering, as you always do with such matters, whether all those lovely pennies (and the formidable power of the public forum) could be put to better use. Much has also been made of the phrasing of the ad, said to make its debut in January. What will it achieve? I can’t imagine a mini-ambush of atheist buses will weald significant influence over commuters, but I suppose in light of all the lovely debate it’s inspired, the ad itself is almost incidental. Interestingly, theologian think-tank Theos has also donated £50, under the reasoning that, hey, at least it gets people talking. It’s all publicity, innit.

A more eloquent (and informed) take on it all.

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