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Friday, April 10, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Atheist coalition buys bus signage

Former minister says nonbelievers aren’t alone

A Spokane Transit Authority bus with a sign placed by the Spokane Coalition of Reason leaves the STA Plaza on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle)
A Spokane Transit Authority bus with a sign placed by the Spokane Coalition of Reason leaves the STA Plaza on Tuesday. (Dan Pelle)

An advertisement appearing on Spokane public buses was bought by a national atheist coalition and coincides with the appearance of an atheist booth at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

The message, “Are you good without God? Millions are,” is running this month on 11 Spokane Transit Authority buses.

The ad campaign, which ends Sept. 25, was purchased for $4,516 by the United Coalition of Reason on behalf of the newly formed Spokane Coalition of Reason, an alliance of three local nontheistic organizations.

“It’s to let the people know that we are here, and we are at the fair for them to come talk to us,” said Ray Ideus, a former Lutheran minister who is coordinator of the Spokane Coalition of Reason.

Ideus said the point is not to try to convert anyone but to let fellow nonbelievers know they are not alone. The Spokane ad campaign is part of a larger effort.

Since 2009, similar ads have run on billboards and buses in 25 states and the District of Columbia, according to Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason.

“Nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn,” Edwords said in a news release. “We hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”

Ideus also said he hoped the campaign would show people reluctant to reveal themselves that “there are more atheists than people realize.”

“I have brought more people out of the closet than I ever converted to Christ when I was a minister for 30 years,” Ideus said.

He said the message chosen for the Spokane campaign was softer than campaigns appearing in other parts of the country because “we didn’t want to be that negative.”

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