“Interfaith” Still Excludes Atheists


So there I was, coming out of a cafe on the tail end of a quite enjoyable psychadelic experience, when I saw that my friend (seated at an outside table) had been cornered by a mildly grizzled older gentledude I’d later come to know as Punya.

Punya had an idea. It was a simple idea that had the potential to really take off and change the world. We were young geniuses, masters of technology; he just knew we could help.

I knew that this idea would either be awesome or hilarious, so I leaned forward as he explained his vision.

“So I know about several drum circles,” he began. It was going to be option B.

“Get fifty drum circles and link them up. Then, have drum circles going in fifty states. Soon, we can have drum circles in all 195 countries, feeding five billion people nutritious, vegetarian food. It’ll be just like Burning Man!”

Sure, dude, I thought to myself. Your drum circle buffet scheme sounds completely scalable.

As I sat there sniggering to myself, he started talking about how these drum circles will lead to world peace. “You can have different drum circles for all the religions, each one drumming side-by-side with no violence!”

To prove his point that we can, in fact all just get along, he asserted triumphantly, “I meditate every morning surrounded by all the names of god: Yahweh, Jah, Allah, you name it.”

My skeptic senses started tingling, and I had to put him on the spot. How far would his tolerance extend?

“That’s awesome,” I said. “I’m personally an atheist, but if that works for you, that’s really cool.”

The word atheist often catches people like dear Punya off guard. I’ve seen people visibly startle at the word, like I’m gonna bite them or something. The interfaith bullshit went right out the window, and he amped up the creepy condescension.

“Put on your sweater. You’re making me cold,” he said, alluding to my chesticles with a suddenly Scottish accent. “When you grow out of this phase, little sister…”
“Phase, eh? It’s certainly a long one!” I snorted.

“You’ll grow out of this phase of being an atheist when you realize that everything around you was made by a person. This chair. That cup!”

“So…a person made this planet?”

“A personal creator!”

Punya the Intermittent Scotsman’s embarassed man-friend then emerged from inside the cafe and tried to shoo him away from us, but I managed to troll him back a few more times before they departed.

“We’ll continue this conversation at the temple!” he threatened, before departing with the friend so embarassed for him that he wouldn’t even share his name with us.

I wish I could say his reaction surprised me, but if there’s one thing religions can all agree on, it’s that atheists are wrong and untrustworthy. We’re right up there with rapists on a scale of one to get the fuck away from my kids.

But the good news is that there is an alternative to interfaithery that embraces atheists. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called secularism!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest


  1. I once talked to a spider that claimed to be omniscient. She told me that there was no such thing as God and God pretty much by definition does not exist.

    She did not share with me how the universe was actually created. She did let me know that she always tells the truth. (She has two sisters. One of them always lies and one of them lies randomly) So yeah. Now you all have some Bible quality evidence that God does not exist.

  2. I’ve actually been pretty lucky when it comes to not having to deal with these people. I only go to burner events, and so far I’ve only had one interaction in several years with new-agey/hippie types. He’d cornered my friend and was telling her something very disturbing about her aura. And he was touching her arm.

    I wasn’t in any state to confront him. (I definitely wasn’t at the tail end of a pleasant psychedelic experience) Neither was she, which actually made the situation potentially dangerous. She managed to get the message through to him and got him to leave. She carefully avoided saying that auras were bunk, though.

    For a dude with a supernatural ability to read people he certainly wasn’t very good at reading people. I’m actually surprised and quite pleased at the lack of overt religion in the community.

  3. I’ve definitely met many, many new-age type believers, who are at least off-put by atheism, though thankfully I haven’t seen too much outright hostility. I feel very uncomfortable at any kind of faith-based venue, even interfaith so I avoid them pretty carefully, but, I think the one time I went with my friend to a poetry slam hosted by her interfaith group; after quietly mentioning it to her, she pushed me to get up, and I read Feynman’s poem from his Value of Science lecture. At the end of the meet, they actually thanked me for bringing in that voice, so that was a positive experience =]

Leave a Comment

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar