Religious bus ads irk some riders
April 01, 2010
Complaints about a new religious ad campaign on TTC vehicles have prompted a review.
Launched on March 18, the campaign by Bus Stop Bible Studies is meant to get people to “consider their relationship with God,” says founder David Harrison. The posters, featured on the exterior of buses and streetcars, pose 24 questions, including “What is hell?” and “God, is 2012 the end?” Each question is followed by the address of a website where the topic at hand is discussed.
The one that’s drawing ire is “Does God care if I’m gay?” The photo of a tattooed young man directs transit riders to the page http://www.answerme.ca/doesgodcare. The long answer to the question reads, in part, “We know from passages throughout Scripture that God hates homosexual acts BUT no more than any other sinful act.”
By Wednesday night, the answer on that site had been removed.
“It has become apparent that, while one is free to ask the question, `Does God care if I’m gay?’ one is not so free to answer the question from a Biblical perspective,” the edited site.
“It seems that the whole message of God’s justice and grace was being misinterpreted. If anyone was offended by the original narrative we offer our sincerest apologies, this was never the intent.”
Before it was removed, the answer to the question read, in part: “We know ….
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said he didn’t know how many complaints had come in, but he did say that after five objections, the commission’s ad committee undertakes a review. The Ontario Human Rights Code obliges the TTC to accept ads from religious organizations, he added.
Harrison, who said he attends a Brethren church in the city, said reaction to the ad has been “blown out of proportion.” “I don’t think the Bible even teaches that homosexuality is a sin,” he said. “The Bible does teach that any sexual act outside of marriage, straight or homosexual, is a sin.”
When asked about gays and lesbians who have had legal same-sex marriages in Canada, Harrison said “Who made same-sex marriage legal? God or man?”
“The fact that it’s legal doesn’t mean in God’s sight it’s right.”
Bus Stop Bible Studies has been running ads on the TTC since 2006, as well as on public transit in Burlington, North Bay, Sudbury and Calgary. A registered charity, it funds its campaigns through donations.
Last year, the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign ran an ad on the TTC that read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” After a similar complaints and review process, the TTC decided to let the ad keep running. Ross said he doesn’t know when the decision whether or not to pull the ad by Bus Stop Bible Studies will be made.