The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation. Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.
Pretty obvious, really, since to say the ads are in some way inaccurate or factually wrong could be tantamount to saying there is a God, and the ASA has sensibly not got into this argument, but clearly had to make its view known, since there had been 326 complaints from nutters. It now regards the subject closed. We'll have to read what we will into the code of advertising: that it has to be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”. Is the bus ad all four, then?
But will this ruling mean that Ron Heather, the bus driver who refused to drive a vehicle with the ad on it, will now be told he has to? I doubt it, somehow. Religion may lose the odd legal or quasi-legal argument, as here, but people will continue to appease it and kowtow to it for some time.