The Christian Bus Driver

Many of you will by now have heard of the atheist bus. Now though we have a driver unprepared to drive one:

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming “There’s probably no God”.

Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with “shock” and “horror” at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.

First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Mr Heather does not have to drive the buses.

Buses across Britain started displaying atheist messages in an advertising campaign launched earlier this month.

Mr Heather told BBC Radio Solent: “I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror.

“I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven’t got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did.

“I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God.”

I must confess amusement at ‘shock horror’. Whilst it’s no doubt right that First Bus did their best to accommodate the poor dear’s seemingly fragile religious beliefs, I wonder where this new front in the war by theists will go next – drivers boycotting buses advertising Heinz  products? McDonalds’? Tube drivers refusing to drive trains with ads for artificial insemination?

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29 responses to “The Christian Bus Driver

  1. One can hope that theists will do so. One has to make stand in the war against godless immorality or be complicit in the destruction of society.

  2. I do hope that was a joke…

  3. No. Why would you think it might be?

    It’s long past time for theists to stop being placid and stand up for their faiths in the face of the growing immorality and godlessness of Western societies. I’m gladdened to see at least man doing so and wish more would do the same.

    That doesn’t mean I want such ads removed. It just means I happy when a theist refuses to be party to disseminating them.

  4. @jonolan hmm yes seems like the muslims have already beat you to the whole, “standing up”. However I’m sure if you started blowing up people you’d get the same respect. Maybe you could bring crucifixion, or the inquisition back to “save peoples souls”. Or maybe you could burn some witches to save them from an eternity of hellfire. possibly you could just crush them with stones until they see the ‘light’. than kill them once their soul is ‘saved’.

    Or gosh possibly you could accept that people can see the world differently from your view and are equally allowed to express their viewpoints without violence.

  5. @jonolan – Growing immorality? What does that mean? Where is this lack of morality, in what sphere? Godlessness? That doesn’t mean much more, other than an absence of Christian fundamentalism, which has allowed our society to progress at an unparalleled rate in human history.

  6. Ah! Jonolan, you’ve found somewhere else to troll I see. I’ll warn everyone here before this goes too far. Jonolan is one of those witches that would be burned; he’s a pagan, and a very right wing one at that.

    Jonolan truly believes we atheists have a grand conspiracy to kill off the religious population of the world or something like that.

    Jonolan (who worships a pagan god of death), we’ve discussed this before, atheists are not immoral just because they have no divine slave master. Look at prison records and you’ll quickly see that.

  7. Tim,

    Where in my comment did I advocate violence in any form? When was violence even referenced in cosmodaddy’s post?

  8. I’m saying the track record for theists standing up for their beliefs against the “godlessness” of the world has a pretty clear track record. and as one of the official whipping boys of organized religion I don’t really care to see you bemoan your belief that your religion doesn’t have enough control over laws that may affect my life.

  9. Frances Heather

    The whole point is that thankfully in our society everyone is free to stand up for what they believe in. This would not be true in some of the former communist countries which we have had the priviledge to not only visit, but work in. We have seen the legacy that atheism at is worst had left in some of the countries. Today, sadly, we know there are many thousands of people who are not allowed to say what they believe. There is free speech and this is why the advert was allowed, though one cannot quite understand how this got over the political correctness hurdle. The advert is potentially offensive to people of all faiths & others – even some atheists don’t agree with it. Public transport may not be the most appropriate place for putting this kind of message, whether its for religion or against. If someone were advertising a course i.e.the Alpha course, or a course on humanism it may be o.k. , but maybe direct statements about faith or lack of it should not be on public transport. I don’t know. This has made me think deeply about religious advertising in general and what may and may not be appropriate. I am not convinced that this kind of advertising helps the cause, rather it does the opposite. I, for one, have had some interesting debates and conversations with people about faith, morality and conscience, so if the aim was to spark debate – then well done atheist bus campaigners – it has worked! I am enormously proud of my Husband and we are glad the publicity has enabled us to maybe help highlight some important issues surrounding this whole debate.

    • @Frances – I don’t get it. An advert for the evangelising Alpha Course (which masquerades as religion-neutral when it’s anything but) is ok, yet a slogan cynically championing agnosticism isn’t? Is that not an appalling double standard? You also raise an interesting issue of ‘helping the cause’ – you are aware that atheism is the absence of belief and therefore not trying to recruit? The campaign arose to counter the increase in proselytising advertising on public transport. A stunt perhaps, and obviously not terribly effective at getting arch theists to appreciate their extremely privileged position. But it has provided an unexpected focal point for those of us fed up with the modern rise of religiosity!

      Sadly though, if you are who you say you are, your husband has through his apparent hysteria and publicity seeking, only made Christians look insecure and intolerant of other viewpoints. I’m sure those are not qualities he normally displays, but that’s how he comes across here. As a driver he’s not there to vet his employer’s advertising policies, any more than to judge their passengers. End of. What other issues do you think he’s caused to be highlighted?

  10. The world is going completely mad.

    Do you ever get that feeling sometimes?

  11. They should have told him to drive the bus or applied disciplinary procedures.

    He’s there to drive a vehicle, not personally veto their advertising policies. Ridiculous.

    Your religious beliefs do not entitle you to demand other people or companies accomodate your sensibilities or you’ll throw your toys out of the pram.

    Whatever next.

  12. That’s the thing isn’t it, they want all the comforts of a secular world, all the protections, but they don’t want to lift a finger to offer the same general courtesies to others. Do I want christians showing up on my door step telling me I’m going to hell? Do I want politicians telling me that gays are worse than terrorists, when i pay my taxes, keep my neighborhood clean, work a steady job and do my civic duty? Do I want muslims blowing up buildings trying to remind us godless heathens how serious they take their religious vows? No and so I have little patience any more for Christians who outnumber every other group both in the US and in Britain, to be telling me about the hardships they have to face as the de facto majority in the most powerful country in the world. If your way were so pleasant and pure, or even made sense would there be 16000 different denominations going aaround telling folks that their way and ONLY their way was the path to heaven.

  13. Tim,

    “I don’t really care to see you bemoan your belief that your religion doesn’t have enough control over laws that may affect my life.”

    Again I must ask where I said anything relating to your comment – laws in this instance?

    Did I say that the ads should be removed from circulation? No. I merely stated my joy at seeing someone stand up for the moral beliefs.

    Scoobs,

    Fair point that. I believe his employers would have had every right to discipline him for refusing to drive the bus.

  14. @Jonolan sorry your right I am painting you with a brush to large for your comments but I’ve heard these same complaints before and feel like as the largest majority and the people in charge of the laws for the last 100 years christians have done their fair share of damage and shouldn’t feel to much worry about secularist because they can’t mess things up worse than self professed christian’s have.

  15. The driver obviously believes that God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnibus-ient ! : )

    Whatever next? Bus drivers refusing to transport atheists? Surely if the driver wants to ensure that he doesn’t disseminate “anti-God propaganda” he will also need to make sure that his passengers aren’t militant atheists!

  16. John Smith III, esq.

    I’m not a christian myself, but I do respect the man’s refusal to do something that goes against his principles.

  17. @John Smith III, esq. – Are we related?

  18. Frances Heather

    I have just read and printed out Ariane’s comment regarding my Husband’s actions and I can truly see where she was coming from and what she was trying to achieve. I would not want the stuff she read on a website to be plastered on the side of a bus. However, it’s important to realise that visiting a website is a choice, like I can visit a website and read a lot of stuff that might offend me about Ron. Is it a bit different having something actually written out in public? I don’t know. It’s made me think about advertising a lot – and religious advertising in particular & I haven’t quite worked out for myself what I think yet – however I think its something to do with what is appropriate where and how, when and where we communicate what we believe. If the campaign was to spark debate, then well and good, it has done that. Neither of us have any regrets about the action & I am sure a lot of good will come out of this for everyone concerned – whatever side they come from.

  19. I think it’s disgusting and medieval that in the twenty-first century some people seemingly want to give others the go ahead to say – I don’t approve of that, therefore I’m not going near it.

    And how can anybody on the planet applaud a decision to allow this guy to refuse to do his job without simultaneously accepting that it means we must also allow people of every and any religion to refuse to do what they are paid to do on the grounds of what they claim is their faith?

    Are we really saying we’re comfortable that religious belief should be a get-out-clause for doing our job properly, and wouldn’t that open the floodgates for every other Tom, Dick or Harry who refuses to do things at work – from Muslims to Jews to Seventh Day Adventists – surely they carry just as much weight?

    I just can’t believe anybody is going to seriously applaud this bus driver and allow other people like him to opt out of doing things and comfortably claim it’s their religion – not least for the fact that you can just lie about your religion anyway.

    I’d sack him. Seriously. Just get rid of him. His intolerance and attention seeking aren’t conducive to a happy world.

  20. “I think it’s disgusting and medieval that in the twenty-first century some people seemingly want to give others the go ahead to say – I don’t approve of that, therefore I’m not going near it.”

    Do yourself a favor and re-read your comment. Did you really mean what you wrote above?

  21. I suspect he did, because it led into this comment which I endorse:

    I’d sack him. Seriously. Just get rid of him. His intolerance and attention seeking aren’t conducive to a happy world.

    I think it’s pretty succinctly and accurately put.

  22. I think I am siding with Jonolan on this one, there is an aspect of thought crime being pushed here that is unhealthy. I mean first try to reason with the driver and make him realize that his job is not to critique advertisements but to drive a bus. The fact that he went to the papers about this is troublesome and would probably be referred to HR, but sacking someone for simply expressing their views seems a bit harsh.
    I think he should still be made to drive the bus if only to teach him about the value of the word “probably”. Or perhaps a pastor could teach him about the value of personal testament. Such as driving the bus but using the experience to strengthen his own belief.

  23. Jonolan said…Do yourself a favor and re-read your comment. Did you really mean what you wrote above?

    As part of the full comment, yes.

  24. Tim, I’d sack him for refusing to do his job (spectacularly) – not for having different opinions.

    We need to start and make a stand because as I say, if we allow him to negotiate his work tasks based upon what he says he believes – we’d obviously have to give them same rights to everyone, and I mean everyone with any kind of belief.

    Fear not, I’m certainly not advocating thought police on this one – although there are times when I consider some of these religious nut jobs so dangerous………

  25. I agree James, equivocating on not letting him perform his job is lunacy, however the weakness of the left has always been the easy slide into totalitarianism, and I want to nip that right in the bud. People thinking differently is not the issue, the issue is allowing people to dictate secular duties based on religious precepts. something even christ refrained from when he said to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. So it’s not like they have a leg to stand on even under their own rules.

  26. Yes I agree. And this doesn’t just involve people with religious beliefs. Any beliefs will be acceptable as a get out clause if we’re not careful because I notice that in a completely separate test case, the European Court of Human Rights clarified that having a faith need not involve a god; it can simply mean a deep belief in something. Bearing that in mind, do we say anyone with any belief can refuse to do their job, or no-one? The latter my not appeal to my politics but the former would never ever work.

  27. Frances Heather

    To all of you out there who want to wear out this issue of my husband not doing his duty and have all this discussion. Please may I reiterate he took a stand on principle on ONE day and resumed his duties the very next day he was supposed to work, i.e. the Monday and has been working ever since up until planned leave on Friday, (which was nothing to do with this). He never went on strike – that was a lie peddled by the media. He has also driven one bus with the advert on one day prior to leave. Just to clarify also, the media attention happened. The bus issue has already been controversial and lots of newspaper coverage prior to this. The media attention came via. an article about the buses which happened to be in the paper the same day he took the action and as you know with the media and the internet – the news soon spread. No one has made any money out of this, (except the News agencys presumably). My husband expects to resume his usual duties at work next week. If you want any further clarification, please see my comments on the main website, where I will try and make some concluding remarks. We want to draw a line under this very soon and will probably not want to continue more discussion.

  28. Frances, while I can understand your pride and think that is fine, imagine a muslim doctor deciding to not operate on women, just one day, to illustrate his religious beliefs and duties. Sorry the media, (who I can only suppose called the bus station to see if any of the drivers had an issue with the sign) stretched the truth of the issue. But as an often persecuted niche many of us gays are particularly afraid of to many people following their religious beliefs instead of just doing their job. The greater society works because people are tolerant of each other and for the most part ignore one another. I hope the media attention has not been to stressful and maybe you can understand how sensitive some of us can be to the current struggles between religions (Christianity and Islam) and as those two struggle the bit players in the middle are the most likely to suffer.

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