ROME (Reuters) - Italian atheists have lost a bid to run "no God" advertisements on city buses after strong opposition from conservative political parties, a member of the group said on Saturday.
The ads reading "The bad news is that God doesn't exist. The good news is that you don't need him" were to have been put on buses in the northern city of Genoa, home to the Catholic cardinal who is head of the Italian Bishops Conference.
The mock-up was ready and the contract was sent to the group for signing but the publicity agency changed its mind and said the ad could not run it because it violated an ethics in advertising code, according to Giorgio Villella of The Italian Union of Atheists and Rationalist Agnostics (UAAR).
"Right-wing politicians criticized us ferociously," Villella said by telephone from the group's base, adding that at least one bus driver in Genoa said he would refuse to drive a "no God" bus.
"It's strange that in a country where ads depicting near-naked women wearing skimpy lingerie is permitted on buses that we can't run ads about atheism," Villella said.
Villella said the group's lawyers would likely file an appeal to a court to overturn the decision and that the group would try to run the ads in other Italian cities.
Atheists in Barcelona, London and Washington have already run "no God" ads on city buses.