For those who live in or near Toronto, the following petition, regarding recent advertisements that have appeared on TTC vehicles and bus shelters that encourage victims of child abuse to pray in lieu of reporting their abuse, may be of interest. Note that the petition urges the removal of these ads because they condone silence in situations of child abuse -- not because of their religious nature. Theists, agnostics, and atheists alike can support this.
Here's the text of the petition:
As described in a recent Toronto Star article, the Toronto Transit Commission has permitted a religious group called "Bus Stop Bible Studies" to run advertisements on TTC vehicles and bus stops. One of these advertisements shows a crying young girl, with the following text: "Dear Jesus, my mom and dad do drugs at home and it scares me. Would you help them stop? Thank you for hearing my prayer." The advertisement continues with this advice for the child: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand."
This advertisement essentially tells children in dangerous or abusive situations to remain silent and to substitute prayer for any attempt to alert an adult or to seek help. This message goes beyond mere poor taste. It is a message with serious harmful effects on children that it reaches, who may well internalize the notion that they must remain silent when suffering abuse.
It is not the responsibility of the TTC to provide an unrestricted platform for free expression to absolutely everyone -- particularly not for the purpose of advocating demonstrably damaging opinions. We, the undersigned, do not object to these advertisements because of their religious content or denominational affiliation; nor are we objecting to the attempt to indoctrinate children into the religious practices of one faith. Rather, we object to these advertisements because we find them objectively harmful, no matter what one's personal religious beliefs are, for they condone silence in situations of child abuse. We call on the TTC to be more stringent in choosing what materials it permits in advertisements, and to remove all advertisements from TTC vehicles that advocate unsafe action or inaction by children.
If you'd like to sign this petition, you can do so here.