“Send an Atheist to Church” gives students an opportunity to fight hunger and godlessness at the same time.
The fundraiser, co-sponsored by the atheist and Episcopalian campus organizations, accepts donations for different religious denominations and proportionally sends atheists to those designated places of worship once the cash has been tallied. “Send an Atheist to Church” takes place today in the Union. Since last year’s event, an unlikely alliance has formed between the leaders of the two groups.
Mario Melendez, vice president of the Episcopal Student Organization, sported a shirt that said ”I’m so glad the Roman’s didn’t kill you on the way to our secret meeting.” He explained that he gives a talk entitled “One of Those Christians” at non-theist meetings; it’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to his atypical approach to religion.
“We’ve done a couple things here and there. It’s been a good relationship, even when they give me a hard time,” he said.
Nick Spegal, president of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue, also defies the stereotype of atheists.
“I try to stay out of the business of telling people that they’re wrong. It’s unpleasant,” he said. He stressed that the event is meant to be lighthearted.
“It’s supposed to be a little bit of a laugh but also at the same time raising money. Some people have turned it into a bit of a competition. The place of worship with the most money donated in its name will have the largest number of our members attending,” Spegal said.
“Last year we actually won, the Episcopalians won. So we were number one, and the second were the Baptists.” Melendez added. “This time around [the non-theist society] asked us to co-host it with them.”
Donations given by those of any denomination will go to Food Finders food bank. They directly address hunger in the Lafayette area, promising to provide three meals for every dollar raised.
“This is the place where food pantries actually get their food from.” Melendez said.
Both groups hope that their cooperation will break last year’s record for the number of atheists sent to church.
“Of course, we will go peacefully.” Spegal said.