|One of the rejected Census Campaign ads|
As one of our readers pointed out to me on Twitter, the idea that such companies don't "do God" seems a little unlikely – remember the saga of the Alpha Course ad that was defaced in London Bridge? And on the subject of offence, have we really reached a point where "for God's sake" is seen as capable of hurting the delicate sensibilities of Britain's commuters? Where does this leave, for example, the "OMG where did you get that..." clothes campaign that I'm sure many of you have seen on your travels (there's an example of that here)? Or Vodafone's "Everyone loves an OMG moment" campaign (mentioned here)?
The BHA, for their part, are unimpressed, as their chief executive, Andrew Copson, explains:
"It is a little tongue-in-cheek, 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."
|How the revised slogan will look on London buses|
Of course, as Andrew Copson points out, the campaign is not about dissuading "those who hold strong religious beliefs from holding them", but rather ensuring that the census presents a more accurate picture of religiosity in Britain. As Winston Fletcher highlights in his piece in the new issue of New Humanist, the last census, with its leading "What is your religion?" question, saw 71.8% of respondents say they were Christian, a figure that is contradicted by numerous other surveys on the country's religious make-up. Yet the 71.8% figure is consistently invoked by policy makers to back up the increasing role for religious organisations in the provision of public services.
What do you make of the rejection of the BHA's ads? Does it represent the return of blasphemy restrictions by the back door? Or is "for God's sake" really too much to encounter on a great British rail journey? Do share your thoughts in the comments.