The religion and society think-tank Ekklesia says that the new atheist bus campaign backed by Richard Dawkins, if it gets out of the garage onto the road, will pose interesting questions about how beliefs are promoted in public.
"I suspect most people are as sceptical about being sold non-religion as they are about being sold religion," commented Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow.
"The atheist slogan chosen - "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" - is a bit anodyne. It's rather like believers saying 'There probably is a God. Have a nice day', but it at least attempts to be non-offensive and positive, unlike a lot of religious advertising that cajoles or condemns. Christians and others should learn from this."
Ekklesia argues that the real message that really needs to get out to the world is about encouraging one another in active compassion, even though we may have different beliefs.
Writing in an article which appears today on Guardian Comment-is-Free (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/21/religion-advertising ...), Simon Barrow says: "Compassion – an identification with the suffering of others so that you feel the need to alleviate pain and challenge injustice – is at the heart of the best kind of humanist thinking and living, and also the best kind of religious thinking and living."
"Indeed," he adds, "the Epistle of James in the New Testament suggests that those who go around proclaiming that they love God while actually hating their sisters and brothers (in modern times by bombing them or condemning them out of hand) are actually liars – their religion is false, and they haven't got a clue what they are talking about when they use words like 'God' and 'love'."