“We don't want confrontations”

Religious advertising has long existed on public transport. Inscriptions such as "Jesus lives" or advertisements for Christian bookstores are stuck on many buses and trains. An atheistic advertising campaign, which should actually start in March among other things in Cologne, meets however with refusal. Those responsible in the cathedral city fear that it is too provocative and hurtful.

"There is (in all probability) no God. Fulfilled life needs no faith": This and two similar slogans should be written in large letters on buses in Cologne's public transport system these days, based on similar campaigns in London or Barcelona. But the Cologne transport authority (KVB) does not want to deal further with the request of the initiative "buskampagne" at the moment.de" deal. "We do not want this advertising at this time," says KVB spokesman Joachim Berger.The campaign is currently not mediable in Cologne, the city is still in mourning because of the collapse of the city archive, he said. Although there have already been discreet religious advertisements, the decisive factor is content and emphasis. "We would run condom ads, for example, unless we had the pope in town right now," Berger says. "We do not want to cause confrontations in society about certain views and do not want to provoke in such a way."Other cities also against atheist advertising Cologne is not the only city that does not want to switch godless messages. Munich and Berlin have also rejected the advertising campaign. "We regret that, but also do not rely on confrontation," says Philipp Moller, spokesman for buskampagne.DE. "But it also shows that there is a secular imbalance in Germany," says the 28-year-old. The campaign does not understand itself anti-religion, but enlightenment. As long as it is preached in Germany that there is no morality without God, such an advertising statement is relevant.The idea for the campaign originated in London, but was also fueled in Berlin by anger over the "Pro Reli" petition for a referendum and over the Berlin public transport company (BVG), says Moller. A citizens' initiative is fighting there, with the support of the churches, for religious instruction to be chosen in the future as an alternative to ethics instruction as part of a compulsory elective course. On 26. April the citizens of Berlin vote on it in a referendum. At the beginning of the year, BVG allowed the "Pro Reli" initiative to collect signatures for the referendum at Berlin subway stations."There are buses in Berlin advertising the city's biggest high-class brothel, religious stickers can be found everywhere, but an atheist campaign should not be possible?" Moller asks. His campaign is supported by several associations and the Giordano Bruno Foundation. Together with six fellow campaigners, Moller has so far collected over 27.000 euros in donations for the campaign. The goal is to finance three months of ads on buses in Berlin, Munich and Cologne.After the refusals of several cities Moller hopes now for more success in Hamburg, Leipzig, Fulda or Dortmund. "We have to be allowed in Dortmund at the latest," he says. In the city, the transport authorities had accepted a bus belonging to the Catholic Forum with the inscription "Don't worry: There is God. So have a nice day" accepted. However, the Dortmund public transport company waved it off, saying the atheist campaign was not an ie."We had a campaign by the Catholic Forum, but actually we don't advertise with religious statements at all," says Jutta Sprungmann, who works for "bus-und-bahn.de" Dortmund is responsible for transport advertising. The Catholic Forum's bus with the inscription would have made drivers in traffic jams smile, Sprungmann explains. In the case of an atheism campaign, however, one could not be so sure whether people would feel offended and, in case of doubt, even damage buses.Moller and his comrades-in-arms will probably not be able to land in other Ruhr cities like Bochum or Gelsenkirchen either. "There is neither religious nor racist nor sexist advertising with us," clarifies Sandra Bruhns, spokeswoman at the Bochum and Gelsenkirchen streetcar company. "You won't find politicians handing out flyers with us either." Philipp Moller nevertheless does not want to give up. "We'll keep trying until it works in a German city," he says defiantly, and at the same time refers to Plan B: If necessary, the initiative will resort to posters.

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