The Friendly Atheist Pays A Friendly Visit and a Give Away!

May 9th, 2011

I got to hear Hemant Mehta speak at Kansas State University a few weeks ago.

He addressed a room full of people.  The first thing he asked after introducing himself was how many people in the audience would call themselves ‘skeptical’ regarding religious beliefs.  About 75% of the audience raised their hands.  Subsequently, I’d guess about 20% of the audience were willing to self identify as ‘believers’.  I was unprepared for such a large number of religious types to show up to hear The Friendly Atheist speak.  Hemant said that the posters for his event had been torn down all across campus, but it didn’t matter as the room we were in was filled to standing room only.

Hemant is a great speaker, an energetic story teller and very, very funny.  He was extremely open in his approach and respectful towards the religious members of the audience.  He comes across as very likable… or possibly ‘friendly’ is the right word.  The whole time I was listening to Hemant, I just kept thinking, ‘my sister would love this guy.’  I can’t really explain why – except that he is just my sister’s type of person.  I wish she could have met him.  It would have been impossible for her not to like him and then she would like an atheist and then she would have to berate him for the rest of his life about it but it would be in a jokey manner and he would joke back and I don’t know why I am writing this – except that Hemant just reminded me of the type of person my sister tends to befriend. ANYWAY!

If you ever get a chance to hear Hemant talk – you oughtta go!

His story is very interesting – all the way from being raised as a Janeite, which is an extremely non-violent, vegetarian, East Indian religion.  Janeites don’t even believe in stepping on bugs.  It made me wonder how in the heck they garden.  Because if you can’t kill bugs and you can’t eat meat – what kind of worm riddled produce are you gagging down?  I know – I know – organic and all that – but still… even organic gardeners want to control certain insect populations.


I keep getting off track.

What I wanted to say is that Hemant is a very interesting guy with a great story that starts out entrenched in Janeism and moves on to rejecting the religion of his youth to ‘selling his soul on Ebay’ which Hemant was determined to make us understand that HE DID NOT SELL HIS SOUL ON EBAY!

Instead he sold his TIME on Ebay.  But the story got marketed as selling his soul.  And the reason he did it was to be able to go to church and have meaningful conversations about his experience afterwards which is not exactly standard fare of any church I have ever been to.


People stand around the coffee maker in the fellowship hall after church and talk weather and ball games and anything BUT what the sermon was over.

And ultimately!

Hemant’s plan worked!

He got plenty of church experience and plenty of meaningful conversation.

The winner of his ‘soul’ sent him all over Chicago going to various churches.

And then a publishing company sent Hemant all over the country to attend church and write about his impressions.

He went everywhere from Joel Osteen’s church in Houston to Ted Haggard’s church in Colorado Springs

Eventually his experience became a book…

This book.

Of which I have one autographed copy to give away.

Leave a comment telling me how pretty I am if you want a chance to win it.

Comments on my thin bird like arms, by svelte figure, my muscle bound hide, my shiny hair (but please not my shiny face) are also acceptable.

You can leave a comment about other things if you wish – but I can’t promise that the ‘random’ winner won’t be heavily weighted towards the best compliment.



P.S.- I had a reader ask me a question via e-mail the other day that I could not answer.  She wanted to know if there were any web sites or forums devoted to questioning religion from a believer’s perspective.  She didn’t want to be converted and she didn’t want a totally atheist perspective either.  Does anyone know of a site that might fit the bill?


  • Jennine:

    Rechelle… I love your shirt! It’s so un-flowy!

    I think if I win this book it will be a sign from God that I should come out of the Atheist closet with my family.

  • Now see, here I truly was going to say “You two look great!” And you’ve gone and ruined it by making try to come up with something witty and zany and complimentary (and free!). So I’ll just go with – love his blog, would love to read the book, so glad you got to meet him. And please tell me where you found that shirt because I want one. Oh, and You look great! : )

  • Valerie Prilop:

    Ah, Rechelle, you are so dynamic you are followed around by a giant purple neon halo! (yeah, I know that’s totally stupid. I want the book, and I’m taking a break from a gigantic research paper that is due in exactly 7 hours. That’s the best I got.) :-)

  • You guys kinda make a cute couple :)

    Thanks for the chance to win! An atheist speaking in little Manhattan, who’d a thunk it!


  • Kait:

    I love your shiny face! There, does that work?

  • Finally… A chance to tell you how sexy I think you are, without sounding like a crazy stalker from the internet because of it! :D

    As far as websites that question religion from a believer’s perspective, Rachel Held Evans’ blog is a pretty good one. She wrote Evolving in Monkey Town, which I haven’t read, but to quote from her site “…It’s about moving from certainty, through doubt, to faith. It’s not about the answers I found but about the questions I asked, questions I suspect you might be asking too. It’s not a pretty story, or even a finished story. It’s a survival story.”

    • Rechelle:

      Feel free to tell me how sexy I am every day. I promise to never feel stalked.

      • Haha, it’s probably a good thing I’m not drinking tonight. :)

  • Desdemona:

    Rechelle, you are so pretty. From your think bird like arms to your svelte figure to your muscle bound hide and your shiny hair (and not your shiny face….never your shiny face…because, like god, it doesn’t exist!).

  • Jennine:

    Btw…I’d LOVE to know what was said about Kirk Cameron!

    • Rechelle:

      The Kirk Cameron story was very funny. As interest in Hemant’s Ebay story began to capture attention from the media, he was interviewed n several local news shows and articles appeared in several papers. Eventually Kirk Cameron – who is a bible literalist, hell and fire preaching type Christian, converting people on the street ding dong also hosts a radio show. He had Hemant on as a guest. They chatted him up about what he was doing – why he was selling his TIME on the internet to go to church and how he could be an atheist when it was SO OBVIOUS that the bible was right about everything. During the interview with Hemant Kirk and his co-host were very civil, but as soon as Hemant got off the line they began to berate him for his ‘foolishness’ and basically they gave him a one way ticket to hell. Hemant tells this story much better than me. It’s actually funny and there are bananas involved.

  • Your face lights up when you smile. AND can I have that necklace?

    • Kate:

      I agree with Pam, your necklace caught my eye as well. Having lived in SE Asia for nearly 20 years, my eye was drawn to it.

      You and Hermant are quite photogenic. I would sell my soul for a copy of his book.

  • LucyJoy:

    When I saw the picture of you & Hemant, I too was thinking how pretty you look. Your face looks so youthfu, happyl & relaxed.

    I love the Friendly Athiest. He has some great posts!

  • Danielle:

    Your pretty face, great legs and sharp wit are like a ray of sunshine. :) And I’d love that book!

  • Vee:

    Rechelle, you are so pretty, your thin bird like arms, by svelte figure, muscle bound hide, and shiny hair, are to be envied by all. And we really like your blouse.

  • NCme:

    You look so hip and fabulash!

  • Michelle:

    You have very pretty, model-like feet. I remember from the pictures of your Toms shoes. And your legs were pretty, too, and looked like they had the perfect amount of tan. Not orange, but not ghost-like, either.

    And I’d like a better look at the purse you are holding, but I might covet it.

    • Rechelle:

      Yes Michelle – I always thought my feet were somewhat modelish. And my legs! I long suspected they have the perfect amount of tan. Har!

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Look at you all smiley and stuff! Did you tell him about apologizing for formerly being a Christian shithead? One of your best posts, ever (and this from a woman who had tears running down her face from the Pioneer Woman/lice story).

    • Rechelle:

      Actually Kay – he linked to it shortly after I wrote it. Here’s the link –
      I introduced myself as the lady who wrote the ‘Christian shit head post’. It’s the second time I’ve done that. I also introduced myself to Nate Phelps the sme way. It strikes me as very funny. “Hey remember me? The former Christian shithead?” Hemant said he remembered me, but he could have just been being friendly. I don’t know.

  • Hooty:

    I love that hair length on you. Have you lost weight? Must be all that vegan food. You look too skinny, more peanut butter! Jeezus, you’re glowing! I would love that book.

  • Irma:

    The other day a friend of mine “walked me through” her face.

    She said, “These are my Smile Lines….” (and she smiled to illustrate), “…and these are my Frown Lines” (again frowning for illustration), “but I did not expect my WTF lines.”


    “Oh you know, when you hear something so ridiculous that you think WTF?? and the top half of your face scrunches in. It’s like crow’s eyes but totally different. Watch.”

    And I watched. And she was beautiful.

    Wishing ALL of us lots of WTF Lines.

  • Missy:

    You are looking so thin these days! And your hair! So shiny & full of bounce. Your beauty radiates! It must be the holy spirit beaming out from within you. I would never throw out random compliments just to win a book, so you must believe that I know what I’m talking about!

  • Natalie:

    Can I just leave a comment here about how K-State sucks and that KU is so much better and prettier?

    (Also you’re totes pretty)

  • Brooke:

    You sure are pretty, way pretty than Ree! (and I really want that book!)

    • Brooke:

      That was supposed to say prettier! I’m really excited about the book ;-)

  • You’re the prettiest atheist I know who lives in Kansas.

  • Shay in NZ:

    Rechelle, have I told you lately that you make the gods weep with envy? Your style, your panache, that really cool makeup job in your shot. I despair of ever equaling in my life’s work, the creativity you ooze in one afternoon.

    ; ) Shay (PS not my own work – I googled “over the top compliments” )

  • Hmm… I think you caught my attention with this one. Got me thinking. Yep.

  • Kathy from NJ:

    Working in the garden center must be rubbing off on you because you look like a delicate flower.

  • ks grandma:

    When I saw the photo, before I saw the invitation to compliment, I thought, “ohmy (yes, I thought is as one word), her master’s program colleagues are never gonna’ believe that’s a Mom of 4, she looks great!”. Because you do. I may have to wander through the garden center later this week to admire you in person.

  • Tracy:

    Your eyes drew me in, and your very excited smile. And maybe the necklace too (just a little bit). Great post.

  • Mo:

    So many lovely compliments already, each one of them well deserved!

  • You have a fabulous “sun-kissed” glow that most people try to bottle. Definitely much more natural than that “haggard ranch hand’s wife” look that others have going for them. Was that ugly?

    XOXO from KY!

  • km:

    Hemant and Angelina. What a nice photo. Oh, it’s you? You are her twin:)

  • susan:

    i do sooooooo love your hair longer Rechelle – very becoming. btw – my son in law throws live roaches away – the gigantic ones that thrive in houston texas humidity – so plan to check the Jeanites link. i think its just the anal retentive uptight scientist professor that he is though…

  • GA in GA:

    How could I ever ‘top’ Shay in NZ’s compliments. Although, I think the photo illustrates how complementary you and Hemant are standing under the glowing purple halo.

  • Rhonda H.:

    I was going to be clever and write a haiku about the loveliness that is you. Good haiku’s are tough to come up with when you’re sneaking on during the work day!

    Country Doctor’s Wife
    No flowy blouse, just head lice

    Oh well, guess I’ll be buying a copy of the book instead……

  • Rechelle – I love the way your thumb looks so natural. There is not one thing pink or alien about it. You could be a thumbbody;)

  • Jay:

    If I were a believer, I would say you look like an angel!!! (The pretty Hollywood kind, not the ‘wheels within wheels’ covered in eyes, or 4 faced cherubim ones from Ezekiel.)

  • Mackenzie:

    You look AMAZING and I honestly feel your sister would like him as ell!! :)

  • Lgirl:

    HEY! You look so great! I can tell from the photo that you smell great too!!!

  • Leslie Grimplin:

    Hi, Rechelle! I’ve been reading here for about a year, and I really enjoy your writing. I would also love to have a copy of that book!

  • There once was an atheist from Kansas
    Who did all sorts of hand stansdsas
    To believe in the contradictions of God.
    Then her brain caught a clue –
    Logic was the thing to do!
    Now she’s happier than a pig in previously digested sod.
    (and she’s really hot too)

  • Oops, that should be “hand standsas”. (Because not only does it rhyme with Kansas, it’s properly spelled to boot.)

  • I love Hemant, and as I recall his blog was one of the first places which mentioned your “coming out.” We’re happy to have you as one of the unbelievers, and I have to say that I truly admire your guts for being uncloseted amongst so many who would judge you negatively. It’s inspirational.

  • Freth:

    I found some Islam forums about questioning faith … or for Christian believers to read and become informed … or for atheists to poke fun at. Except Islamists are not really fond of people poking fun about Islam … they are prone to riot and kill people (or at least threaten to do so) based on a rumor that someone tore a page out of the outhouse copy of the Quran.

    Wait a minute, I got side-tracked, I actually came on here to talk about your beauty and virtues … along with your fantastic gardening and decorating skills. :)

  • Julie:

    I was just thinking how lovely your hair is, all silky and shiny! And how lovely you’re looking. That vegetarian diet is really working for you!

  • Skattebol:

    I ditto the other comments, but also wanted to state that you do write and play beautiful music!! Forrest and you should coordinate a show sometime this summer…..

  • I’d second the recommendation of Rachel Held Evan’s Blog, and add another: Alise…Write! Alise is a Christian, but a while back her husband started having doubts and eventually deconverted; a lot of her blog is devoted to how they worked through that. As a result, it’s a tolerant and accepting place to ask questions from a believer’s perspective.

    And Rechelle, you’re the most gorgeous unplugged atheist blogger I’ve ever seen. I’m just lucky that Facebook makes stalking people so easy.

    …Did I say that out loud?

    • Thanks for the nod MM. Also, I would recommend checking out Jason Boyett’s blog:

      He had a whole series of guest posts on doubt and is now doing conversion stories. And the general theme of his blog (and the book of the same title) is about doubt. Lots of good stuff there.

  • tony:

    you’re beauty outshines your atheism or vice versa.

  • The editor:

    Okay, before I read the rules of the contest I was thinking, “Oh my, Rechelle’s hair is looking really good. Is it longer? Did she color it? Why does she look thinner and younger? Is it the vegetarian thing?”. But so as not to look like a sycophantic fool (thereby mimicking PW commenters), I will keep these remarks to myself. You’re welcome.

  • Marie:

    You are just so darling in every way! Remembering your nice legs from you earlier blog. (And mine, with ugly veins, sigh) Honestly, would love to read the book! Guess if I don’t win I’ll have to buy or get from the library.

  • Leslie:

    I actually do think that your hair looks nice longer like you are wearing it these days….

    And…I would really like the book!

  • Andrea:

    Regarding your reader query about if there is a christian who questions. I found Michelle at Questioning Christianity….
    has a great perspective– doesn’t turn off her brain to embrace her faith.

  • Boz:

    “She wanted to know if there were any web sites or forums devoted to questioning religion from a believer’s perspective.”