26 November 2008
A ban on an advertising atheism was today described as a gross infringement of free speech. According to ABC Radio's Religion Report the Atheist Foundation of Australia has been refused the right to display its ads on public transport in South Australia.
The President of the Rationalist Society of Australia, Ian Robinson, today said: “This is a further sign of the tendency of religious believers to try to suppress acceptable alternative views. Moreover, it is intolerable that a private company should be in the position of being able to censor legitimate public comment.
"The free interchange of ideas is essential in a democratic country.
"Australians need to be aware that, in the international arena, religious extremists are currently attempting to undermine the right to free speech enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and have had some success in watering it down.
“We cannot allow similar attempts to restrict free speech to succeed here in Australia.
“About a quarter of the Australia population is openly non-religious and only about a tenth regularly attend church, so rationalism and atheism are hardly minority views anymore.
“A similar campaign of bus advertisements was recently conducted in England and, rather than destroying the fabric of society, it actually stimulated meaningful debate.”
The RSA calls on the government of South Australia to immediately intervene and insist that public transport in Adelaide carry the AFA ads. Moreover, the company responsible, APN Outdoors, needs to be investigated to determine if they are a suitable entity to be in control of the dissemination of ideas in a democratic multicultural country.
Contact: Ian Robinson 0407 24 00 24