The mystery behind Kelowna’s missing atheist bus ads may never be solved, but the club that paid to put them up doesn’t have sour grapes.
Instead, they’re extending a thank-you to the thief.
“Whoever removed the signs, if they intended us harm, they achieved the opposite,” said Guy King, head of the Kelowna branch of the Centre for Inquiry, noting it should cost club members $210 to replace the bus ads.
“They gave us a gift, in terms of publicity. The new signs will be up soon, and hopefully someone will rip them off again.”
The adverts that were literally ripped-off from the broad side of two buses weeks ago read: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Those very same signs should be up soon as soon as the club works out a few kinks with Lamar advertising, the company that runs the ad side of the bus business, and King hopes their return will spark further conversation.
“The aim is to get some discussion going and this caused such controversy, particularly in Kamloops, that they’re really doing what we wanted,” he said.
“That, and we wanted to bring out of the closet the rest of the non believers who didn’t realize there was an organization like ours.”
The Centre for Inquiry, he explained, isn’t a temple to non-belief so much as it as an organization for skeptics who want to question things.
And, while this ad served that purpose, King said the organization’s next stab at stirring the pot via public transit will get even more chins wagging.
Some time after summer, the new campaign will see a couple of buses sporting a sign that says: “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.”
Below those words, the ad will list things like, ghosts, God, Allah, UFOs, Satan and gnomes.
Plans for that campaign were in the works long before the more recent ads were removed.
“They’ll start out east, and come out here,” King said, noting that the ads actually started being pasted onto buses in England the first time, three to four years ago.
And, while there’s been the odd kerfuffle over the course of their proliferation, Kelowna’s reaction has been unique.
“Nobody has had this happen to them before,” he said about the case of the mysteriously missing signs.
“We’ve either got one fanatical religious person or it’s a mistake.”
That said, King pointed out that it would be an 11-foot long, 2.5-foot high mistake, so that’s the less likely option.
Earlier this week the city announced an investigation by the service operator found no evidence of unauthorized entry into the Kelowna Regional Transit yard, nor detected removal of the signs by anyone before they were discovered missing on April 29.
With no witnesses or video surveillance to go on, how and when the advertisements were removed remains unknown.