How to Properly Handle Religious Dissent

Full marks to the management of First Bus who acted in a brilliantly generous manner below.

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming "There’s probably no God".

Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.

First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Mr Heather does not have to drive the buses.

When he returned to work on Monday he was called into a meeting with managers and agreed to go back to work with the promise he would only have to drive the buses if there were no others available.

First Bus said in a statement: "As a company we understand Mr Heather’s views regarding the atheist bus advert and we are doing what we can to accommodate his request not to drive the buses concerned."

It added: "As an organisation we don’t endorse any of the products or sentiments advertised on our buses.

"The content of this advert has been approved by the Advertising Standards Agency and therefore it is capable of being posted on static sites or anywhere else."

Now if only other organisations could act in the same way.

4 Comments on “How to Properly Handle Religious Dissent

  1. Going to disagree with you on this one Peter.
    The slogan itself doesn’t make an absolute statement. Is Carlsberg the best beer in the world?
    There was plenty of discussion about free speech legislation (no small amount on your very own blog) not long ago. In the same way that I want to have freedom to say that God does exist, Dawkins and anyone else has the right to say the opposite. I’m all for that freedom and would argue for an atheist to be able to exercise it the same as I am able.
    I don’t see how driving a bus with this slogan on it in any way compromises the driver who happens to be a Christian. In fact, I’d argue that the driver should be far more concerned about recent advertising that CBS Outdoor (the company that run all the bus hoardings for most major bus companies) for films such as ‘Zack and Miri make a Porno’ and ‘Sex Drive’. [You’ll find in a couple of years time how ‘helpful’ such ads are when your kids are being encouraged to read and understand everything they see!]
    I’ve found that the media interest in this advert has been a fantastic starting point for lots of good conversations with people.
    My feeling is that there are far more important things for Christians to make a stand over.

  2. Tim,

    I don’t think I’m suggesting that the bus driver should automatically be allowed not to drive the bus, I’m simply pointing out that the management had a much more constructive approach to his concerns than the previous story I highlighted.

    I for one agree with you that the ad is great for getting into conversations with people on the subject of whether God probably does or doesn’t exist.

  3. Peter
    I get you. But my problem is with tetchy Christians. I think that we need to be careful and exercise some discernment about what things we shout about and what things we don’t.
    The management of the bus company have diffused a problem for themselves and you’re right, they’ve done a good job in that. However, I don’t think that they needed to.
    Christians can very quickly look rather stiff and prickly and this piece in the news, in my opinion at least, has exactly that effect.

  4. Well, at least the fact that the driver was able to agree some compromise with his employers makes him look less prickly than if the matter had to go to court.  As for tetchy Christians: I think sooner or later you have to draw the line somewhere, even though I agree I personally wouldn’t have drawn it there. St Paul does take the line that on the whole Christians should do all they can to commend themselves to wider society – but the early church did not take the line that that included worshipping the emperor etc.

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