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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Answer Alpha’s question at your peril

You may have seen the posters advertising the Alpha Course that are around everywhere at the moment. It’s a simple black and white number with the question “Does God Exist?” in large print. Underneath are tick boxes that offer “Yes”, “No” and “Probably” as possible answers.

Alpha Course

Some of our members have been tempted, with the aid of felt-tip pens, to tick the “No” box. Unfortunately one of them was accosted by the police for doing so. Here is his account of the event:

“On Friday 18th September 2009 at 3.45pm I was confronted with a questionnaire which I understand was lawfully pinned to the wall on London Bridge railway station, platforms 1 and 2, inviting members of the public to participate by ticking the appropriate box.

The question, “Does God Exist?”, was very straightforward, and “No” was obviously the correct answer. I was particularly concerned that vulnerable people exposed to the alternative answers of “Yes” and “Probably” were at risk of exploitation by individuals who might attach a set of rules and obligations to those who hope that some super-being will take responsibility for their lives, or intervene in some other way.

I felt the offered answer “Probably”, to be particularly sinister. It was for this reason I chose to engage with the questionnaire and ensure that the correct answer was ticked.

As a result of responding to this questionnaire I was arrested by a plain clothes police officer. Two other plain clothes police officers were in attendance. I was informed that I had been seen ticking the correct answer on CCTV.

As I sat caged in the back of the police van I counted 6 police officers who were attending this incident, which was presented to me as being criminal damage. My tick was entirely within the specified “No” box, and the questionnaire was not damaged in any way.

Interestingly the arresting police officer spent much of his time ticking similar multiple choice boxes on a questionnaire of his own. I understand that I am required to pay an £80 penalty notice fine, or attend court. I am left with little choice but to ask that this matter be dealt with by the court. I await police advice about when and where I should attend.”

See also:

The blogger Jack of Kent makes an interesting comment

Does God Exist?

A pretty clear response

Published Fri, 09 Oct 2009