‘Thought for the Commute’ bus poster campaign launches across Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham

13 November, 2014

Posters are going up in buses across Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham today for the second phase of ‘Thought for the Commute’, a month-long awareness-raising campaign by the British Humanist Association (BHA).

The posters will encourage commuters to think about meaning in life under the question ‘What’s it all for?’, presenting views from four famous humanists: physicist Jim Al-Khalili, Indian statesman Jawarharlal Nehru, philosopher Bertrand Russell and writer and comedian Natalie Haynes. Running alongside the posters will be a ‘rush hour’ social media campaign featuring a wider range of thoughts from humanist writers, as well as quizzes encouraging people to think about life. Commuters will also be encouraged to tweet their own answers to the question using the hashtag #humanist.

Each of the three cities have a proud humanist history, Manchester being associated with Robert Owen, the eighteenth century social reformer and founder of the co-operative movement; Alan Turing, mathematician and founder of computer science; Professor John Harris, philosopher and bioethicist; and Professor Brian Cox, physicist, TV presenter, and former pop star.

Both William Olaf Stapledon, early twentieth century philosopher and science fiction author, and Professor Sir David Weatherall, distinguished medical scientist, have strong ties to Liverpool.  Birmingham has historically been home to a wide range of humanist thinkers like John Baskerville, nineteenth century avowed atheist and renown printer; Harold Blackham, first director of the BHA; George Holyoake, nineteenth century writer who coined the term ‘secularism’; sex education pioneer Martin Cole; leading international humanist and philosopher-physicist Sir Harry Stopes-Roe; and writer and comedian Natalie Haynes.

‘Thought for the Commute’ is the latest expressly positive awareness-raising initiative from the BHA, and follows in the footsteps of a highly successful London Underground poster campaign and its popular ‘That’s Humanism!’ video series starring Stephen Fry earlier this year.

Launching the campaign, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We’re delighted to be able to spread this campaign to these three great northern cities with rich humanist traditions. Despite over half the population in the UK describing themselves as non religious, humanist perspectives on life’s big questions are still far less available to the public than religious ones. In our state schools, religions are taught about but non-religious worldviews like Humanism are seldom given the same treatment. In our state media, the BBC, sermons and prayers are broadcast but rarely contain any content engaging with questions of value and meaning from a humanist point of view. As a result, many people whose beliefs are essentially humanist are unaware of the fact.

‘Most non-religious people are happy and secure living ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. To them hopefully we are just providing something interesting to think about amid the daily grind. To some others, who may feel less secure in their beliefs, we’re hopefully providing a first glimpse of a way of thinking about life that fits with their own non-religious approach, and the knowledge that their deepest beliefs, though perhaps unsystematic and implicit, are coherent and respectable and shared by many, including by the inspirational figures on these posters.’


For further information or comment please contact BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on pavan@humanists.uk or 0773 843 5059.

For more information about the poster campaign visit www.TFTC.today

Humanists have long been excluded from Thought for the Day, the daily scripted slot on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that offers ‘reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news’, yet humanists and the non-religious have played an important role in shaping our laws, championing human rights and a fairer society for everyone. Thought for the Commute offers four easily accessible humanist perspectives on one of life’s biggest questions: ‘What’s it all for?

Click on the bus posters below to see the full range of ‘Thought for the Commute’ posters.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.