Battle of the Bus Slogans:

From the Washington Post:

The American Humanist Association [ran] ads [in November] on 200 Metrobuses, feature a Christmasy motif and the text “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

The ads offended some people who believe you can’t — or shouldn’t — spell “goodness” without “godness.” WMATA received about 250 letters and e-mails decrying the ads, twice as many as praised them. “May all your atheist buses break down!” read one irate message….

[A rival group will now be running another set of ads, which] will feature the familiar Sistine Chapel image of God’s finger reaching out to Adam along with the words “Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness’ sake. — God.” …

The organizer of the latter campaign reports that she started the campaign because she is “so tired of God and religion being attacked.”

I’m all for people expressing their views on these subjects, especially in a polite form, as they seem to be doing. To be sure, some people are inherently offended by any criticism of religion, but I don’t see why avoiding offense to them should be a goal of polite people who want to express themselves on this important topic. The most they can be expected to do, it seems to me, is express themselves without name-calling and personal insults.

This having been said, it’s hard to imagine much persuasion going on here. To be sure, the irreligious and the religious will feel some sense of validation from the ads that they support them, and will feel encouraged to express their own views. But even this strikes me as likely to be a pretty modest effect in D.C., where both the irreligious and the religious are doubtless aware that there are many people who share their views. (In places where a group is likely to feel more isolated, public statements that support the group’s views may well embolden its members to speak up, though public criticism of those statements might have the opposite effect.)

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.