A New Zealand clergyman has come out in support of an atheist advertising campaign questioning the existence of God, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, said the NZ Bus company’s refusal to accept paid advertisements reading, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” was regrettable.

“Free speech should be the norm, censorship the exception,” he told the New Zealand Herald. “I don’t see it as a negative thing at all. I think it brings God into public debate.

“Many in the Christian community welcome a debate about issues of the existence of God and, also, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of in that debate.”

The New Zealand Atheist Bus Campaign raised money from public donations for the ads, which the company initially accepted but then backed off, spokeswoman Siobhan O’Donovan was quoted as saying, as there had been a “significant reaction” from passengers and staff, with a number finding it “distasteful or distressing.” Similar campaigns have been run in Australia, the United States, Britain and several other European countries.

Simon Fisher, spokesman for the Atheist Bus Campaign said it was considering an appeal to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

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