Three posters planned for display at railway stations as part of the The Census Campaign have been refused by companies owning the advertising space, who viewed them as too likely to cause offence.
Click the images for larger versions. (You can view the photos in really high resolution for press purposes at www.humanism.org.uk/census-adverts.)
Two reasons were given by owners of the space: they were concerned that the use of the phrase ‘for God’s sake’ would cause widespread and serious offence and they also did not wish to take adverts relating to religion.
The BHA has reacted with astonishment that an everyday phrase should be deemed too contentious for public display.
‘It is a little tongue-in-cheek,’ BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘but in the same way that saying “bless you” has no religious implication for many, “for God’s sake” is used to express urgency and not to invoke a deity. This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous: the blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.’
The BHA also pointed out that the adverts were only tangenially related to religion, being mostly concerned with public policy and directed towards people who are not religious.
Mr Copson continued, ‘The Census Campaign is not intended to dissuade those who hold strong religious beliefs from holding them. We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious, to say so. Ticking “No religion” means that their voices will be heard and we will have a more truthful picture of what people really believe today.’