According to the Brazilian web portal Terra, the Brazilian Atheists and Agnostics Association (Atea) wants to do something similar to what happened in Europe. Atheist ads would be hanged at the subway stations in São Paulo. The problem is that the company that manages the subway system in São Paulo doesn’t allow ads like that, according to engineer Daniel Sottomaior, 37 years old, the president of Atea. Item 20-a of chapter VI of the publicity regulations of the subway system in São Paulo vetoes ads with “controversial subjects, religious themes (…) that can harm the image of the company and give rise to inappropriate behavior.” Besides this restriction, the costs to pay for advertisement are great. “Here in Brazil, advertisement costs are only miniscule if you compare our resources with the ones of our rivals, the Church”, he jokes.
If the subway is discarted, Atea will think about the possibility of putting its ads on buses.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian atheists already have other plans. One of them would be the Atheist Pride Day, to be celebrated on February 12, Charles Darwin’s birthday. Another idea is the atheist Christmas, to be celebrated on December 25. The date would be called “Newtal” (a mix of Isaac Newton’s last name and the Portuguese word for Christmas, “Natal”), in a reference to Newton’s possible birth date.
According to Sottomaior, the idea of gathering atheists in a kind of union is an old one. Brazil has from 1% to 2% of atheists, more than Jews and followers of umbanda and candomblé (two Afro-Brazilian cults) together. “If we gather 10% of this 1%, it would be 190,000 atheists”, he says.
Atea now has 155 members and other 30 waiting for approval. People may register themselves on their website, www.atea.org.br. According to Sottomaior, the member may chose to donate money to the organization.
One of the themes of the campaign is “comming out of the closet”. Any coincidence with LGBT movement motto is 100% intentional.
Sottomaior says they use many analogies with the gay movement because many of them (gays) think they’re the last minority, when in fact atheists would be it. “Homossexuals have already got their place under the sun”, he says.
He still gets angry when people comment – when someone commits something horrible – by saying “this is something of people who don’t have God in their heart”. Sottomaior says he’s already tried to file a representation against this kind of behavior at the Prosecuting Counsel, but prosecuters didn’t listen to him.
Therefore, the main purpose of Atea is getting some space on society. It can even be a representative at the Brazilian Congress, who would file atheism-related bills. “It would be hard to be approved, but at least it would bring some debate”, Sottomaior believes.
The original report published by Terra is here (in Portuguese).