Just in time for Christmas, a group is rolling out a new marketing campaign: bus ads that embrace atheism during the holidays.
The American Humanist Association revealed Tuesday that it will soon run ads on the sides of buses in the nation's capital that read, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."
"We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you," Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group, said.
"Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists, and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion," he said.
Click play for more CBN News coverage, including an interview with Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.
The controversial ads cost the group $40,000 and will start appearing on buses beginning next week through December.
Several Christian groups say the campaign does not really follow in the true spirit of the holidays.
"It's the ultimate grinch to say there is no God at a time when millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Christ," said Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law. "Certainly, they have the right to believe what they want but this is insulting."
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon called the humanist ads "stupid." His group started selling buttons in October that say "It's OK to say Merry Christmas."
"How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God?" he asked in response to the ads. "God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world."
According to the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. A Rasmussen Reports poll last year also showed that 7 out of 10 prefer the phrase "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays."
But the athiest group hopes the ads will bring together residents who follow a humanist way of thinking. On their web site, they define this as someone who uses "reason and the tools of science to better understand our world" instead of "moral dictates set down in 'sacred' texts written hundreds, if not thousands of years ago."
A similar bus ad campaign was launched in London last month. They were started by the British Humanist Association and read, "There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Source: The Associated Press, Alliance Defense Fund
*Original posting November 12, 2008.