'I Sold My Soul on eBay': Interview with Atheist Hemant Mehta

A self-described 'friendly atheist' talks about why he auctioned himself off to a minister and visited several church services.

Hemant Mehta Hemant Mehta was raised in the Jain faith (a religious tradition rooted in India), but became an atheist as a teen. Now in his twenties and a high school math teacher near Chicago, he is active in many groups that promote secularism.

In early 2006, Mehta auctioned himself off on eBay to a Protestant minister, agreeing to attend a variety of church services and remain open to their messages. Mehta spoke with Beliefnet recently about his book, which describes his impressions of those churches, and why he's still an atheist.

Your book, I Sold My Soul on eBay, tells the story of how you agreed to visit numerous churches even though you’re an atheist. What were you "bought" to do?

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No one actually bought my soul. I offered to go to a church or temple or mosque saying that I've really never been to any of those places outside my own Jain faith, and I really am curious about what it's like.

The auction I put up on eBay said, ”I am an atheist. You can bid on where I go to church or a temple or a mosque, etc.”

It came down to Christians bidding that I go to a particular church and atheists bidding that I don't go to church.

I work with a college atheist group called the Secular Student Alliance. I didn't want to be put in the position where a Christian with, say, $1 million has the opportunity to win this auction. So [I said] that the money will be donated to the secular group I work with.

That way, if a Christian was bidding that much money, at least I know it's going to a cause I really support.

How much money was paid?

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