NY Group to Launch Atheist Ad Campaign

A coalition of eight atheist organizations will be placing ads throughout New York City’s subway stations as part of an effort to raise awareness of the state’s secular community.

The ads will feature the slogan, “A Million New Yorkers Are Good Without God. Are You?”

The month-long campaign will kick off October 26. It is “designed to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in a God,” the atheist group Big Apple Coalition of Reason announced.

The group also hopes to encourage “talking and thinking about religion and morality,” as well as foster a sense of community among New York’s atheist residents said Michael De Dora Jr., executive director of the New York Center for Inquiry.

John Rafferty is the president of the Secular Humanist Society of New York, another member group of the coalition. He insists the ads are “not poking fun at religion and not being outright nasty.”

According to one estimate, New York is currently home to about 1 million atheists.

Metro Transit Authority reports New York City’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world, accommodating over 5 million riders per day.

Last year, the American Humanist Organization launched a similar campaign during the holiday season in Washington, D.C., posting ads on the city’s metro buses. Those ads read “Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake.”


What is the Church and/or Church groups doing about this? Has anyone heard of any Christian campaigns be to launched anywhere in the US or Europe?

Another article:

The $25,000 campaign is funded by an anonymous donor and will run for a month. The ads state: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”

The one million New Yorkers is an estimate based on findings from surveys on religion, said Michael De Dora Jr., the executive director for the New York branch of the Center for Inquiry, according to The New York Times. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, released in March, revealed that 15 percent of the U.S. population claims no religion.

Ads will be launched in the Big Apple just before the release of Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein’s new book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. The United Coalition of Reason teamed up with the Harvard Secular Society for the first ever National Secular Service Day this past Sunday where nontheistic people volunteered for community service. The service day was aimed at promoting the message that secular groups are committed to “leading full and ethical lives.”

Christian apologists have asserted, however, that true morality comes from God. William Lane Craig, a Biola professor and one of the world’s leading philosophers of religion, argued in a debate earlier this year with renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens that without objective morality being rooted in God, man is left with subjective relativism. He further contended that life is objectively meaningless for the atheist because he is heading toward emptiness and death.

Hitchens, meanwhile, said there is no proof that people closer to a supernatural being act better than people who are not. He also claimed that being free from false belief and helping others to do the same brings meaning to his life.

The New York atheist ads are part of a nationwide effort by the United Coalition of Reason, which aims to improve the way nontheists are perceived by average Americans. The MTA New York City transit told NBC New York that as long as advertising doesn’t contain nudity or four-letter words, it’s protected by free speech.

Since the coalition went public in March, the group claims that local Coalitions of Reason are being organized across the country. Billboards and other ads have gone up in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Phoenix, Ariz.; and other cities. Ads are slated to appear in California later this year.

The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard announced that it will award the United Coalition of Reason with the 2009 “Harvard Humanists of the Year” next month.

Read more: christianpost.com/article/20091020/-good-without-god-ads-to-hit-the-big-apple/index.html

Can someone please give me more information on this:

  1. Are there actually 1 million atheists in New York/New York City, or are these supposed 1 million under the guise of ‘Nones’ or Non Religious? Because the majority of people in that category believe in a Personal God, they are not atheists. The minority of that group is actually atheist.



  1. Are these supposed 1 million ‘atheists’ in New York City, or the State of New York?

Okay, so we’re not allowed to advertise our beliefs, but they are? They constantly fight us when we put up crosses and whatnot, so I don’t know why they would do the exact same thing to us as they claim we’re doing. I know Atheism is technically not seen as a religion, but it’s a set of beliefs held by a large group of people, many of them who gather to talk about their beliefs. Therefore, I would categorize that under a belief system, which is categorized under religion.

Furthermore, the site they quote is Adherents.com, and what I found was at the very bottom of this page: adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_238.html

The page clearly states that the last survey done was in 1990, the percentage of Nonreligious (which includes agnostics and nonreligious) is 7.4%, and the number equivalent of that is 540,200 people. That’s HALF of what they’re claiming. Therefore, it can also be seen as false advertising.

Copied from adherents.com, with the titles of the cells filled in:

Group Nonreligious

Where New York: New York City

Number of Adherents 540,200

% of total pop. 7.40%

Number of congreg./churches/units -

Number of countries -

Year 1990

Source Kosmin, B. & S. Lachman. One Nation Under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society; Harmony Books: New York (1993), pg. 110.

Quote/Notes Table 3-5: "Religious Profiles of Selected Cities by Percentage ". Based on self-identification, phone interviews, conducted by Graduate School of the City University of New York, 1990. Total NY pop: 7.3 million. [In table, this group is called "Agnostic & Nonreligious "]

That’s also the most RECENT information that I can find on the web specifically about New York City itself that doesn’t come from one of those atheist sites. Other surveys come out to the number they suggested if you take the number of non-religious/atheist/agnostic in the country or state, and divide by the number or percentage of population New York City amounts to. IMHO, that really doesn’t count.

Furthermore, from christianpost.com/article/20071009/atheists-evangelizing-in-america-how-christians-can-respond/index.html

Leading British atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the bestselling The God Delusion, is currently spearheading a campaign around the world, including the United States, to challenge the dominance of religion in everyday life and in politics and to get more atheists to speak out.

Dawkins believes atheists in the United States account for about 10 percent of the population, but that many are closeted.

That’s a BRITISH atheist, who believes that most are closeted. However, that’s not a justified true belief, which means that there’s no proof to support his statement. Also, if you add the number of non-believers to the number of people who refused to answer, then you still only get about 0.1% more.


These sort of advertising campaigns, and counter campaigns, have been going on for at least a year, if not more. They have occurred in London, Madrid and multiple cities in the US, including Des Moines, Iowa. We’ve had more than a couple threads about them, here at CAF.

I’m not sure such campaigns amount to much, other than revenue for public transit (which surely can use it.)

So you are telling me that this atheist group is claiming that there are 1 million atheists in New York City/ New York state, when their are in fact, not?

Well I disagree with the claiming that all the nonreligous are athiests but the current estimation of New York City is 18.9 -18.8 million, not 7.3 million. Now if you take 18.9 million multiple that by 7.4% it equals about 1.4 million. So I would not say they are lying, anymore than I would say the Catholic church is lying when it gives an estimate of its population based on baptisms, eventhough many of those people have indeed abandoned the church.

But this atheist group is FALSY ADVERTISING! They are saying that there are 1 million in atheists in New York when there are not! Now this 1 million people may well be listed under the NONES or ‘‘NON RELIGIOUS’’ Category, but that by no means mean that they are atheists.

As stated in this article, as of September 22nd 2009, ‘‘Nones may best be described as skeptics. Twenty-seven percent of Nones believe in a personal God. Hard and soft agnostics make up 35 percent of the None population and atheists account for only 7 percent of Nones. Contrary to what many believe, Nones are not particularly superstitious or partial to New Age beliefs. They are, however, more accepting of human evolution than the general U.S. population.’’


That means that the majority of the people in the NONES, ‘‘Non Religious’’ category believe in a Personal God. The minority of that group is athiest!

So this atheist organization is falsely advertising! They are overstating the number of atheists in New York!

Your own statistics say that only 27% of “Nones” believe in a personal god, but you also say that the majority of “Nones” believe in a personal god. 27% is not a majority.

Most New Yorkers will probably ignore these ads just like we ignore all the other subway ads.

Please note the word humanist means atheist.

The word reason has been appropriated by atheists. The group that protested outside of the Creation Museum was not called Rally for Science, they were called Rally for Reason. If you go to their web site you will see the majority of their supporters are atheists.

And remember this formula, since you will be seeing it used here and elsewhere:

Science = evolution = reason = reality.


Except not. Humanism is “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

I am nontheistic. I cannot be a Humanist, however, because I have a faith in the supernatural world and believe in supernatural qualities. For this, I am nontheistic but not humanistic. Also, the propagation of Reason has been around since the times of Ancient Greece. It has been used without discrimination by Catholics, Protestants, Ancient Religion Followers, the such.

For the sake of knowledge, at least understand that not all atheists or nontheists are humanists and vice versa. (There’s also a branch of Religious Humanism, which accepts the supernatural)

27% of 1 million is 270,000 people! That is 270,000 that believe in a personal God in New York, who are listed under the NONES, or ‘‘Non Religious’’ category. But this atheist organization is listing these people as atheists!

You also have to take out all the Deists, Pantheists etc. from that Non-Religious 1 million. They are not atheists either.

It’s false advertising/false statistics on the part of this atheist group!

And if it is…so what? They’re under no obligation to support their claims, just as the church is under no obligation to support its claims. You’re going on about false advertising as if you expect somebody to do something about it. Who are you expecting to step in?

Would you mind explaining how you have a faith in the supernatural world and what that supernatural world consists of?


Definitions from the Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: su·per·nat·u·ral
Pronunciation: \ˌsü-pər-ˈna-chə-rəl, -ˈnach-rəl
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin supernaturalis, from Latin super- + natura nature
Date: 15th century

1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

Meaning: anyone who has faith in a deity has faith in what is defined as “supernatural”, including our Roman Catholic belief in the Holy Trinity.

If they are placing an advertisement, then that means that what is placed in the advertisement must not misleading, including their claim, “1 million New Yorkers are good without God.” If they don’t get their facts straight, it’s false advertising, and it’s illegal.

Furthermore, if Christians aren’t allowed to have our crosses on public property because Atheists claim that it is advertising our faith, which they contend is unfair to them to have to see or hear, then why are Atheists allowed to advertise their faith? And it IS a faith, because it is defined as what they believe.

I fully expect the city to step in and not allow this because it is a very hypocritical situation. You can’t accept one option and refuse the voice of the other.

Wrong. Advertising is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, to prevent unfair and deceptive practices in commerce. This is not commerce. For the same reasons politicians can legally lie all they want to in political ads, those statistics aren’t touchable by law.

You said it yourself: public property. This is paid advertising space. Can you find me a case where a Christian group was prohibited through legal action from buying space to advertise their beliefs? I’m not saying there isn’t one, I’m just curious. I’d be completely against that happening, by the way. But paid advertising and the use of public space are two different things.

Go buy an ad in a subway station. I don’t think they’ll stop you.

I’ll do you one better: a case in which Christians WEREN’T advertising their faith, but atheists claimed they were, & won.

Paulson v. City of San Diego, 262 F.3d 885 (9th Cir. 2001)

A war memorial cross, was erected in 1913 on Mount. Soledad in San Diego, CA. On May 31, 1989 (76 years after the cross’s construction), Philip K. Paulson, a Vietnam veteran, sued the city of San Diego on the grounds that the memorial was on display in a PUBLIC park, which was maintained by PUBLIC funds, & was a violation of “separation of church and state”, the Establishment Clause, and the California State Constitution, Article 1, Section 4, which states


SEC. 4. Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
A person is not incompetent to be a witness or juror because of his or her opinions on religious beliefs.

Since it had been standing for more than 50 years, the city appealed that the cross was a historical memorial site. However, in 1992 (79 years after the building of the cross!!!), the court ruled that the, “City’s cross crusade is at odds with the law: The council and the mayor are misleading the public. No matter how many voters approve, the city cannot divest itself of dedicated parkland. The Mount Soledad cross has violated the California Constitution since the day it was erected. It must come down.”

Even when San Diego tried to sell the land to a private owner so that the historical cross could stand, Judge Thompson maintained that this would not solve the situation. He concluded that, “The City’s attempt to comply with this Court’s order by selling only a small portion of the land underneath the Mount Soledad cross still shows a preference or aid to the Christian religion.” In this decision, the court threw out the possibility of selling the land for the sake of the cross.

The city tried to sell the land again, only a larger portion this time, & Judge Thompson upheld the sale. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the sale was not permissible under Article XVI, section 5, of the California Constitution, which states

Neither the Legislature, nor any county, city and county, township, school district, or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation, or pay from any public fund whatever, or grant anything to or in aid of any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose, or help to support or sustain any school, college, university, hospital, or other institution controlled by any religious creed, church, or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of personal property or real estate ever be made by the State, or any city, city and county, town, or other municipal corporation for any religious creed, church, or sectarian purpose whatever; provided, that nothing in this section shall prevent the Legislature granting aid pursuant to Section 3 of Article XVI.

Article 16, Section 3 states the cases in which sales made by the state are permissible, including situations for orphans & those in prisons. You can find the article here, as it’s too long to post: leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?waisdocid=5315276185+0+0+0&waisaction=retrieve

Judge Thompson stated on May 3, 2006, “It is now time, and perhaps long overdue, for this Court to enforce its initial permanent injunction forbidding the presence of the Mount Soledad Cross on City property.” He ordered that if the city didn’t remove the cross in 90 days, the city would be subject to a fine of $5,000 per day. Mayor Jerry Sanders stated that the city would fight this, as 75% of voters had shown support in favor of the cross remaining on the hill.

Then the city asked for the federal government to step in with eminent domain & make it a federal park. Many appeals were made by people throughout San Diego county, with support of the San Diego City Council. The Supreme Court enacted a stay on the previous legislation to allow for the appeals to be made.

On July 19, 2006, Congressional representatives of San Diego introduced House Report Bill 5683 to preserve the cross by transferring the title to the federal government. H.R. 5683 was passed, signed into law by President George Bush, & the cross & surrounding land were transferred into federal jurisdiction.

Then Steve Trunk, an atheist & veteran in San Diego, was added as a plaintiff in the case. The ACLU also filed a lawsuit against the federal government for this action. These plaintiffs all stated that it would still violate separation of church and state.

On July 13, 2008, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns stated, “The court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily nonreligious messages of military service, death and sacrifice. As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is constitutional.”

The decision is being appealed, the case still tied up in court.

That is just ONE case, and just ONE reason why I DON’T support THIS advertisement by atheists of their religion. They fight us on something like Mt. Soledad, then it’s hypocritical of them to advertise their beliefs in a government funded place such as a subway station. They can’t go around saying one thing and doing another. If a historical landmark is not allowed to stand on public grounds because it’s defined as a “religious symbol”, and therefore shows preferential treatment of a religion by a city, state, or the federal government, with the court only ruling that it’s not historical 80 years after the fact, then the city and state governments also shouldn’t be allowed to sell advertisement space to any other party with religious intentions in such places. It’s hypocritical.

By the way, I just happen to know this case because it has taken place where I live. However, if you go through the cases of the St. Thomas More Law Center, the ACLU, and other legal agencies which fight for or against religious rights, you’ll find MANY more cases just like the Mount Soledad Cross case. Advertisement of any belief of religious nature has been ruled many times over to only be allowable on private property, not anything publicly funded, which MTA is, in their own words:

A public-benefit corporation chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965, the MTA is governed by a 17-member Board. Members are nominated by the Governor, with four recommended by New York City’s mayor and one each by the county executives of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Putnam counties. (Members representing the latter four cast one collective vote.) The board also has six rotating non-voting seats, three held by representatives of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee (PCAC), which serves as a voice for users of MTA transit and commuter facilities, and three held by representatives of organized labor. All Board members are confirmed by the New York State Senate.


Therefore, the New York subways are not only PUBLIC, but GOVERNMENTAL sites, and therefore it is against the law to display such an advertisement in such a place.

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