Friday, 16 September 2011

BHA: Being On The Offensive/ March for a Secular Europe

Last week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that a Phones4U advert featuring a winking Jesus and the headline ‘miraculous deals’ was ‘mocking and belittling’ Christianity. It is not the first time an advert with references or images related to Christianity have been banned for potentially causing ‘serious or widespread offence’. In the past adverts featuring pregnant nuns eating ice cream and curling tongs symbolising a ‘new religion for hair’ have all come under fire.
The blasphemy law was abandoned in the UK in March 2008. However, the UK is far from being truly secular. The BHA’s support of the Secular Europe Campaign is just one of the ways we are trying to make sure that everyone can enjoy freedom of religion, and freedom from religion.

But while the New Statesman reports that ‘the ASA has been taking an increasingly strict, some would say humourless, line on suggestions of religious offensiveness’ the BHA is well-aware of the ASA’s low tolerance threshold when it comes to deciding what may offend, and has had to censor some of its advertising to avoid outright bans, and that is no laughing matter.

From ‘faith’ schools to Bishops in the House of Lords and children being turned away from Scouts and Guides because it specifically excludes atheists from admission into their organisation, the BHA is working towards fairer society based on shared human values.

The march for a secular Europe is this week, and it is supported by people from all over the world and from all beliefs and religions, as well as those with none. We are going to be there to stand up for human rights, and we hope that you will be too.