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Episode 2: The Christians Strike Back

JoEllen Murphy, a Washington, D.C, local, has received a steady stream of media exposure for her Biblical message to counter the controversial “Why believe in a god?” ads seen on metro-area busses.


On Monday, December 15, D.C.-area Metro busses will sport a pro-God advertisement that is a direct response to a $40,000 atheistic ad campaign sponsored by the American Humanist Association. Those ads read, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake.”


Murphy has raised close to $9,000 online at her website, www.ibelievetoo.org, to purchase space to counter the American Humanists. It is worth noting that both sides of the “ad war” have been given fair amounts of coverage by local journalists and media outlets, with Murphy appearing in the Washington Post, DC Examiner, and on the local Washington D.C. Fox and ABC network affiliates.


Local and national media outlets gave significant coverage to the humanist ads when they appeared back in November, igniting Murphy's grassroots campaign to raise funds through e-mails, her website and a Facebook group.


Beginning Monday, some Metro busses will display Murphy's rebuttal: “Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness' sake. – God.”  The ad features the famous image of God's finger reaching out to Adam, found in the Sistine Chapel.


The American Humanist Association began running its “Why Believe?” ads on metro busses on November 11.Fred Edwords, spokesman for the atheist group said that the reason for the campaign during the holidays is to comfort the “agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."


These ads have generated more than 200 complaints to the Washington Area Metro Transit Authority. According to the Associated Press WAMTA spokeswoman Candace Smith said, "Although we understand that feelings and perceptions will vary among individuals within the community, we cannot reject advertising because an individual, or group, finds it inappropriate or offensive."


As of December 9th, Murphy is over half way to raising her $14,000 goal. The Facebook group, also titled “I Believe Too,” has over 1,000 members.


Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.