Ariane Does it Again

Yesterday, Ariane Sherine revealed the final phase of the atheist bus campaign with the new billboard. The campaign, scheduled to coincide with the Universal Children’s Day (Nov 20th), draws attention to Richard Dawkin’s point that some adults readily label children in terms of their religious background. The point of the campaign is to not label children at all, but rather allow them to come up with their own beliefs – and that includes atheism as well. Ariane says, “I hope this poster campaign will encourage the government, media and public to see children as individuals, free to make their own choices, and accord them the liberty and respect they deserve.”

I met Ariane in London last month at the Amazing Meeting where she really made me feel embarrassed. I went up and introduced myself to which she immediately replied, “Oh yes, I remember you, Bruce. You did the pervy thought for the day blog!” Well, she didn’t say ‘pervy’ but I felt so as I remembered making a double entendre comment on her picture I used in the post which has her posed in a rather seductive manner. Anyway, she is delightful – though she never signed my copy of her edited book, “The Atheists Guide to Christmas.” Oh well, I got an invite to the book launch in London so maybe I can make ammends then.


Filed under atheism, In the News

24 responses to “Ariane Does it Again

  1. You know, I love this ad. This is acting on Richard Dawkins’ insight that there are no Christian children or Sikh children, but children in families that follow Christianity or Sikhism. That nuance seems to be lost on believers.

    But I’ve come across Christians who think that because there is a photo of a child in it that it is targeted at children (oh, like Christians would never abuse children by indoctinating them into their cultish belief systems themselves…) . Such specious reasoning. It’s obviously a plea to parents to cease narrow-minded indoctrination even if they themselves weren’t given such a chance. I think it’s a wonderful message tastefully presented.

  2. Wow – yes, very reminiscent of what Dawkins says about kids not being labeled ‘Marxist’, et al. I wonder how many protests it will get… (and well done, you pervy fellow… :p )

  3. Andrew Atkinson

    You know, regardless of what people may think my attitudes toward religion are (and they aren’t conciliatory) I do think this bus campaign stuff is a little off, crass, and unnecessary. Richard Dawkins may have said –

    “The majority are ignorant, which is not the same thing as stupid. Natural selection will not remove ignorance from future generations. Education may, and that is the hope to which we must cling.”

    – and that is all good and true, but, should he so desire that this happen, it is unwise to go about it by supporting these means, because, it only invites opposition on many levels that might be familiar to any ‘sat on the fence’ teenager, similar adult, or wondering child i.e. it does not help to provide a free environment for decision on the matter.

    What needs to be said about religion cannot be written on the side of one bus nor even a hundred of them. What about allowing for the scientific study of religion in our secondary schools?

    Ariane’s heart is in the right place I think, but I am cautious about casting the fruits of scientific and philosophical inquiry on the subject into a public politic whereupon it might perish in misappropriation, and which is where once I might have jumped straight in with zeal.

  4. Bruce,
    Personally, I like the latest campaign. I think that society labels children too freely, making assumptions that cannot possibly be true as the child has unyet formed opinions.

    One thing that really bothers me here in the States is how religious fundamentalists trot out their children to protests, stick signs in their hands, and see nothing wrong with exploiting their own children. Just bugs the crap out of me.


  5. This is merely more atheist propaganda as Richard Dawkins wonders whether there is occasion for “society stepping in” and hopes that such efforts “might lead children to choose no religion at all.” Dawkins also supports the atheist summer camp “Camp Quest.”

    Phillip Pullman states the following about his “fictional” books for children, “I don’t think I’m writing fantasy. I think I’m writing realism. My books are psychologically real.” But what does he really write about? As he has admitted, “My books are about killing God” and “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

    More evidence here:

    • brucehood

      Is your point that this is not a passive campaign but rather propaganda. That’s hard to reconcile with the image that clearly includes “atheist child, humanist child, libertarian child” alongside all the religious ones.
      Are you saying that any attempt to draw attention to inequalities is atheist propaganda? I can’t speak for Pullman but you shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush….isn’t that the whole point?

  6. You hit the nail on the head, repeatedly.
    This is propaganda since while they clearly include “atheist child, humanist child, libertarian child” they are out to convert children to atheism in the guise of intellectual freedom, science, evolution, and even fiction.

    Referring “any attempt to draw attention to inequalities” is a category mistake as I referenced these ads.

    You do not have to speak for Pullman as he has spoken for himself and admitted his propagandist activism. Thus, since I reference Pullaman I am not tarring “everyone with the same brush” I made assertions and back them up with evidence, please consider it.

    But just to reiterate: Dawkins want to convert children to atheism via standing between parents and children, Pullaman writes children’s books about atheism is disguise and overall, atheists are collecting donati0ns during a time of worldwide recession not in order to help anyone in real material need but in order to attempt to demonstrate just how clever they consider themselves to be—while actually loudly, proudly and expensively demonstrating their ignorance and arrogance–and I am the bad guy?

  7. Bluemoon

    Hmmm that is always the risk….promotion of any ideology be it a religious ideal, atheism, humanism etc runs the risk of refusing to consider the alternative view and ending up as rigid in your belief as the “opposition”. The semantics of the argument and how it is promoted and advertised is important. I vote for the man sitting on the fence!

  8. jacarandamimosifolia

    One man’s truth is another man’s propaganda – it’s the old terrorist/freedom fighter debate by a different name – it all depends on your point of view.

    But there is a difference between promoting the idea that children should choose faith (or not) for themselves and promoting the idea that children have no choice.

    One is a reasonable way to behave, the other isn’t. At least, that’s how it seems from my point of view…

  9. This is not about points of view, this is about the evidence that I provided that those who support this propaganda such as Dawkins and Pullman do not want freedom for children but want children to convert to atheism.
    It is an outward emotive appeal, supported by those who do not know the true purpose and those who, when they are made aware of it, do not have the integrity to call the propagandists out for the hypocrites that they are.

  10. jacarandamimosifolia

    As one who clearly lacks integrity (if I follow your argument correctly), I’d nevertheless like to understand how atheists are “…loudly, proudly and expensively demonstrating their ignorance and arrogance.” Arrogance, possibly, but ignorance of what exactly? Religious dogma?”

  11. Because they do not understand the difference between, for example, a “Jewish child” who is a “Jewish child” since they were born Jewish–a peoplehood, a heritage, a culture, a “race”–and a Jewish adolescent or adult who has decided to take upon themselves the mandates of Judaism–the religion, the faith.

    As for Christianity, regardless whether one wets a baby, no one becomes a Christian unless they make an informed decision to become one.

    They do not consider the cultural reference versus the religious reference.

  12. Andrew Atkinson

    Mariano et al…. Where I have said that I disagree with slogans on buses, it comes from a view that sees as in plain poor taste – somewhat ‘beneath’ the sober perspective that can be had from a good scientific and philosophical ground.

    I wholly agree that labelling children, muslim, protestant, or whatever is very, very, wrong indeed – and it does happen.

    In Northern Ireland, where I am from, children really do grow up on one side of the divide that religious factions create ‘regardless’ of any intrinsic knowledge of the concomitant religion. People engage in grouping very quickly, and emulate their parents etc

    There are though, other more worrying states of play where children are indeed sat down, at the age of five (such as myself) and told emotionally loaded stories about why it is good become christian (for example), often followed with a little prayer of commitment to a blackness that lies behind the eyelids.

    Dawkins point is surely, contrary to what Mariano says, that children can indeed make a commitment to something which, yes, they do not have any real understanding of and which can provide a seat for the further parasitisation of religious ideals.

    Surely, we need to combat this kind of thing the right way – education.

    At any rate, I often giggle at the possible effect that the slogan “There probably is no God…” might have had on the person who hadn’t really given it much thought and then become a little concerned by the “probably” and gone on to adopt Pascal’s wager!

  13. Good and fine dear sir, you believe that labeling children as such “is very, very, wrong indeed.” Done. Now leave us alone.

    I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic and was treated like pure trash when I rebelled against secularism. There is plenty of this to go around. What personages who concoct and support such ads are attempting to do, as I proved, is to stand between parents and children and attempt to convert children to atheism thereby, causing a one side against the other grouping.

    There are also other more worrying states of play where children are indeed sat down, at the age of five and indeed thought their entire public school education where referencing God is illegal and told emotionally loaded stories about the entire universe and everything in it occurring uncaused and by accident, that we are nothing but glorified animals and that when we die we are simply annihilated—a blackness so all consuming that it is feared even by the blackness which lies behind the eyelids. They are taught that they are DNA reproducing machines, that there is no ultimate ethos and not ultimate justice. And on it goes.

    As Dawkins has admitted and his adherents support, this time seeking to piggy back on the United Nations, that he is out to convert them.

    Children can indeed make a commitment to something which, yes, they do not have any real understanding of and which can provide a seat for the further parasitisation of atheistic ideals.

    I wonder if your point is that reasonable atheism, which is really agnosticism, is too soft for you and what you are proposing is a “faith” based believe in God’s non-existence.

  14. Andrew Atkinson

    I’m not sure it’s right that you equate the logical problem of commitment to atheism or agnosticism, to an analogy with conflict between religious indoctrination and education in general.

    Either way – I apologise if my comments made you feel to the need to write, ‘now leave us alone’. Who is ‘us’ btw?

  15. Paul

    My acid test for the pervyness of a comment would be if the target of a sexual innuendo is young enough to be one’s child, otherwise it was fair comment but probably sad and wishful thinking. Why not re-watch Anthony Sher in History Man to get some tips for the new academic year Professor?

    I have not seen Sherine’s new child adverts in London at all, but recently Alpha ads were everywhere, so I say fair game.

    It’s new money into the advertising sector and makes for good sport seeing isms baiting each other publicly in the streets.

    Previously the major billboard campaign in London was a giant yellow and red “Want longer lasting sex?” which brings me back to where I started Professor.

  16. Let us see if we can follow the bouncing ball and comment the dots of atheist propaganda:

    1) Atheist activists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, etc. condemn the overwhelming majority of parents who have ever lives as “child abusers,” “brainwashers,” etc. for teaching their children their religion. They do this while admitting that they want society to step in and that this will lead to children choosing no religion at all—their goal is to interrupt families in order to encourage atheism in children: evidence here

    2) Next, they admit that they teach “science” and “evolution” as being synonymous with atheism, that they smuggle atheism in through the back door of “science” classes in public schools, that they write children’s “fiction” which is really an atheism catechism in disguise, etc.: evidence here and here

    3) Next, they seek the support of fellow atheists and the UN in condemning religious parents and pretend to be concerned for free thought and free choice: evidence here

    4) Next, we find that some atheist parents and some atheist organizations are not the least bit shy to admit that they do the very same things that other atheists condemn in religious parents, that they want to raise their children to be atheists—sometimes under the very thin disguise of teaching them critical thinking; yet, the evidence is clear, they want to raise atheists: evidence here

    5) Lastly, at least thus far, atheists worldwide waste precious money not to help the needy during a time of recession but in order to purchase belligerent bus ads and billboards as they refuse to follow the evidence where it leads and condemn the celebrity atheists for their hypocrisy: evidence here

    7) So, how about this for an add: please don’t call us “child abusers,” “brainwashers,” etc. leave us alone and let us choose how to raise our children: evidence here

    Moreover, for much more evidence of atheist who seek to dictate child rearing to us all see here

  17. Paul

    Hopefully Mariano will rest assured to know that I am letting my children decide for themselves if they wish to adopt a particular theism or deity. As a child I was very taken by Thor, mostly thanks to Marvel comics, but grew out of him and Mjöllnir.

    I have never seen it as my parental role to force my own views onto them beyond learning the discipline of rationale and critical thinking which they can use in any walk of life or career.

    Having studied science through to university Muriano will be delighted to know that I don’t recall a single lesson or lecture drifting into theology or philosophy beyond perhaps discussions about the implications of Schrodinger’s and Heisenberg’s equations.

    Finally, my part of London seems to be awash with very large Alpha billboards, so a bus campaign now and again contributes to the rich fabric of London life.

    This Christmas, rather than donating money to charity or adverts, I am volunteering several days of my time to Crisis to comfort the homeless. I hope Mariano will welcome this and understand I don’t march to anyone’s drum; be it Dawkins or the Bishop of Kerry.

  18. Thank you elucidating,
    I too am choosing how I want to raise my children and would deeply appreciate if atheist would stop calling me a “child abuser,” “brainwasher,” etc.
    As a child, having been raised by an atheist and an agnostic, I was very taken by materialistic tall tales about the uncaused first cause-eternal matter, nothing causing an explosion and making everything, etc., etc., etc., but grew out of that.
    I am surprised to learn that the rich fabric of London life includes atheist wasting money condemning the overwhelming majority of all parents who have ever lived—fascinating!

  19. Andrew Atkinson

    Squirrels will indeed store nuts…

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