Ruth Gledhill of The Times (London) reports that the children featured in the British Humanist Association's latest atheist bus ad campaign belong to a well-known Pentecostal Christian family.
The youngsters appear next to the slogan "Please don't label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself." The message is not strictly atheist, but the campaign grew out of the controversial "There's probably no God" ads placed on London buses by the society earlier this year. The society is most definitely atheist, and the thought behind the ad is certainly that "religion is bad for kids."
So what was going on when the children of Bradley Mason, the drummer for Noel Richards, one of Britain's most popular Christian pop artists, ended up on this more-or-less atheist banner? The most likely explanation is that the photos were bought from an agency, and Mason had no say in how they were used.
But if the children participated with the consent of the family, I would suggest it is not quite so incongruous as it first appears.
Of all Christians, fundamentalists (which I would say includes most Pentecostals and conservative evangelicals) are actually the most likely to agree that it is wrong to identify a child as a member of a religion. Most positively scorn the notion that a person can be born a Christian. The evangelical argument begins with the hackneyed statement that "being born in a garage doesn't make you a car." One must be born again. For Pentecostals, who are traditionally Arminian, being born again is essentially all about personal decision.
Roman Catholics and middle-of-the-road Anglicans are those I'd most expect to object to the text of BHA's ad. The bare bones of the message - that children should not be called Christians until they decide for themselves - is something most Pentecostals readily accept. It's not likely that Mason knowingly put his children on the ads - but nor is it inconceivable.