Group tries to eliminate atheist stereotypes


Members of the Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers (AAFT) and others gathered in the Grant Formal B room Wednesday night to listen to the man who “sold his soul on eBay.”

Hemant Mehta, also known as “The Friendly Atheist,” spoke of his book “I Sold my Soul on eBay,” to the audience.

Mehta didn’t actually sell his soul on eBay. He said he doesn’t believe he has one, but his auction captured the interest of Christians and major media outlets nationwide.

What Mehta challenged his auction-viewers to do was bid $10 and he would go to a church of their choosing. Christian churches were a big part of this.

“My envision of a church was like the church in “The Simpsons,” so I wanted to find out for myself,” Mehta said.

His auction made front-page news in the Daily Southtown, and eventually it was getting major publicity. His auction benefitted and the bids kept rising.

“Christians were bidding for me to go to church and Atheists were outbidding them for me to not go to church,” Mehta said.

In the end, Jim Henderson, a Christian pastor in Seattle, won the auction for $504.

Mehta’s main focuses during his speech were to promote “the happy Atheist” and to try to help erase stereotypes of “the angry Atheist.”

“One thing Atheists need to do more is work with charity,” Mehta said. “Doing charity work without necessarily getting credit for it; Christians do that all the time and without always pushing the Bible.”

Mehta’s visit had Kathryn Panger, president of the AAFT, hinting at bigger plans in store for the AAFT. The speech left Panger wanting to build stronger relations with other religious groups on campus.

“I’ve tried before to make relations with other religious groups on campus but, I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve tried hard enough,” Panger said. “[After hearing Mehta’s speech] I’m going to try and contact them and build better relations.”

Jonathan Guca, junior psychology major, believes Mehta’s approach will help Atheists.

“I think his approach will help us become more known and liked,” Guca said. “I was very impressed.”