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Humanists in Guatemala have been forced to remove a billboard after their advertising agency was threatened by a Catholic seminary which owns the land on which the billboard operates.

The campaign, which launched on 31 July, features a message of “solidarity” and “hope”, according to Humanists Guatemala. The slogan read: “No necesitas un dios o una religión para ser buena persona. Si lo sabes, no estás solo.” Or:

“You do not need a god or a religion to be a good person.

If you agree, you are not alone.”

The message is unobjectionable, and yet shortly after the billboards appeared, a Catholic seminary demanded the removal of the posters from one sign which is erected on a plot of land they own and lease to the advertisers.

On Facebook, Humanists Guatemala commented, “Sí, es cierto. Un grupo de religiosos quiso censurar la valla de la Roosevelt.” Or, “Yeah, that’s right. A group of religious people wanted to censor the billboard on Roosevelt.

The statements

Andrew Copson, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), said:

“For years the Catholic Church in Latin America, as elsewhere, has used its inherited wealth and deeply embedded power to spread its message.

“Now we see they are even willing to use their widespread land ownership and influence to actively suppress the humanist position.

“As we understand it, the seminary does not own the billboard itself, and does not normally object to the removal of specific content. The advertisement by Humanists Guatemala was lawfully acquired, and not offensive in any meaningful sense. We all have rights to freedom of thought and expression – religious and non-religious alike.

“Catholic institutions, which spend much time and energy on proselytizing themselves, cannot be allowed to arbitrarily deprive others of the right to simply express their views and seek fellowship.”

David Pineda, President of Humanistas Guatemala, said:

“We are worried that the directives of the catholic seminar interpret the message as an attack, since it is not directed at them nor at any other religious group, but rather at every person who identifies himself with humanist thoughts and values.

“Also, it is worth mentioning that the publicity company has cooperated with us at all times and they have been very clear that they respect the mutual contract and our right to free speech. It was only the catholic’s pressure that obligated us to relocate the billboard.”

In a statement released via their website and Facebook Page, Humanists Guatemala said:

“Guatemala, in principle, is a secular State where freedom of religion is to be respected. In practice, though, it’s far from it. There are a few major, predominant religions that constantly try to impose their ethical and moral view of the world on everyone else, dictating what they must do and what they must think.

“A few months ago, a huge opportunity presented itself: to plan and execute a large scale ad campaign to bring attention to this sad reality, and most of all, to reach all those people who do not align themselves with an organized religion — be they believers or atheists — and let them know that they are not alone; that lots of us think differently and do not derive our personal values from religious dogma. The message is very simple: morality comes from personal experiences and convictions, not from doctrines dictated by supernatural institutions.

“In Humanistas Guatemala we are very satisfied with the overwhelmingly positive reception our message has had with our target audience: non-believers, humanists, and believers who share humanist values. We are most thankful for the multiple shows of affection and the solidarity we have received.

“However, not everything has been positive. Apparently, our message of hope was too unpleasant for the members of a local Catholic seminary. On Monday, July 31st, arguing that the structure was on a lot that they own, they demanded the immediate removal of our billboard under threat of economic reprisals.

“In order to avoid negative consequences for our ad-agency, which has shown an exceptional level of professionalism and solidarity with our right to free speech all the way through, we agreed to remove the ad and move it to a new location, where it will surely be exposed and seen by many more people.

“Therefore, there’s not much else to do than to express our profound gratitude to the community of this local Catholic seminary for helping us multiply the reach of our message and prove our point about the lack of a true religious liberty in our country.”



Valla de Humanistas Guatemala censurada por la Iglesia Católica

Humanistas Guatemala se han visto obligados a retirar una valla publicitaria debido a las presiones que la agencia de publicidad recibió por parte del seminario católico que es dueño del terreno donde se encuentra dicha valla.

La campaña, lanzada el 31 de julio, presenta un mensaje de “solidaridad” y “esperanza”, según Humanistas Guatemala. El lema decía: “No necesitas un dios o una religión para ser buena persona. Si lo sabes, no estás solo.”

The message is unobjectionable, and yet shortly after the billboards appeared, a Catholic seminary demanded the removal of the posters from one sign which is erected on a plot of land they own and lease to the advertisers.

A pesar de lo positivo del mensaje, al poco tiempo de iniciada la campaña, el seminario católico exigió la retirada de la valla que se encuentra en alquiler en un terreno de su propiedad, so pena de cancelar el contrato de alquiler con la empresa de publicidad. Vale la pena mencionar que la empresa se ha portado a la altura de las circunstancias y ha respetado el derecho a la libre expresión hasta donde se ha podido.

En Facebook, Humanistas Guatemala comentaron: “Sí, es cierto. Un grupo de religiosos quiso censurar la valla de la Roosevelt.”

Las declaraciones

Andrew Copson, Presidente de la Unión Internacional Ética y Humanista (IHEU), dijo:

“Durante años, la Iglesia Católica en América Latina, como en otras partes, ha utilizado su riqueza heredada y su poder profundamente arraigado para difundir su mensaje.

“Ahora vemos que están dispuestos incluso a usar su extensa propiedad de la tierra y influencia para suprimir activamente la posición humanista.

“Tal como lo entendemos, el seminario no posee el cartel en sí, y normalmente no se opone a la eliminación de contenido específico. La publicidad de Humanistas Guatemala fue legalmente adquirida, y no ofensiva en ningún sentido significativo. Todos tenemos derechos a la libertad de pensamiento y de expresión – tanto religiosas como no religiosas.

“Las instituciones católicas, que dedican mucho tiempo y energía al proselitismo, no pueden privar arbitrariamente a otros del derecho de expresar sus opiniones.”

David Pineda, Presidente de Humanistas Guatemala, dijo:

“Nos preocupa que los directivos del seminario católico interpreten el mensaje como un ataque, ya que no esta dirigido a ellos ni a otros creyentes, sino a todas aquellas personas que se identifican con los valores y el pensamiento humanista.

“Así mismo, vale la pena destacar que la empresa de publicidad ha colaborado con nosotros en todo momento y han sido muy claros en que respetan el contrato efectuado y el derecho a la libertad de expresión. Fue únicamente la presión de los católicos lo que obligo a reubicar la valla.”

En un comunicado emitido en su sitio web y en su página de Facebook, Humanistas Guatemala dijo:

 

 

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One Response to Humanists Guatemala adverts censored by Catholic Church

  1. Thomas says:

    People involved in religion business are afraid of getting their business in danger.

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