Believers will be delighted to learn that a pro-God message will be spread around Calgary starting Monday - albeit on the sides of buses and trains - in response to the controversial atheist ads already making the rounds on the city's public transit.
"God cares for everyone ... even for those who say He doesn't exist!" reads the banner advertisements to be placed on eight buses and two light-rail trains over the next four weeks.
Transit ads will also direct people to the website http://www.godexists.ca, where they can add their voice to the debate.
"Thank goodness for people with a God Sense," Sharon Sivell posted on the site.
The holy-rolling rebuttal is the brainchild of Calgary Muslim leader Syed Soharwardy, who was so disturbed by the Freethought Association of Canada's campaign - "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" - that he pledged to launch a counterattack.
"We want to tell our side of the story, that believers don't worry and they have a good life too," said Mr. Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. "The atheist campaign sends a very negative message about believers."
The pro-God campaign will cost $12,000, half of which has been donated by about a dozen people of faith, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, he said. The rest is coming out of Mr. Soharwardy's pocket, but he is hoping more support pours in.
The Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign, modelled after a similar campaign in Britain, has its message circulating on 10 buses in Calgary and on public transit in Toronto. Supporters had hoped to bring the campaign to other Canadian cities, but they have run into roadblocks in Halifax, Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and London, Ont., which have rejected the ads.
But the green light has now been given in Ottawa, where city council last week overruled an earlier decision by OC Transpo, which had refused the ads as potentially offensive, by a vote of 13-7.
Justin Trottier, president of Canada's Freethought group, said his organization aims to place its ads in the nation's capital by the end of this month and hopes its next stop will be the Maritimes.
Mr. Trottier wasn't dismayed by the pro-God ads about to hit the road in Calgary and suggested Mr. Soharwardy may be missing the point around freedom of speech.
"Ours wasn't an anti-God message," he said, adding: "We're glad to engage in dialogue. But he's more interested in polarizing the issue."
Ron Collins, a spokesman for Calgary Transit, said he's had both negative and positive feedback about the atheist bus campaign, which has been running for nearly two weeks.
"I think these latest ads will provide some balance to the debate," he said.