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eBay Atheist to Share his Story in Milwaukee

Hemant MehtaMILWAUKEE - Hemant Mehta, a 23-year-old atheist from Chicago, will be speaking at the Chase Bank in Cudahy, WI on Saturday, October 7 at 1:30 p.m., for the Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers (SWiFT) organization. The event will be open to the public.

Mehta made international headlines earlier this year when he offered to go to church for the highest bidder on eBay. The winning bid of $504 was made by Jim Henderson, who represented a Christian group called Off-The-Map, whose slogan is "Helping Christians be normal."

For several weeks, Henderson's team sent Mehta to a variety of churches in the Chicagoland area, including a Catholic church, a Christian mega-church, and a predominantly-African-America church. Mehta wrote about his experiences at www.off-the-map.org. A concurrent philosophical discussion on religious issues is also found on Mehta's personal blog at www.friendlyatheist.com.

"The response has been unbelievable. Atheists and religious people alike are having civil, positive discussions about their beliefs. And both sides are able to help the other understand where they are coming from--it's a win-win situation," said Mehta.

Immediately after the auction, Mehta was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, and Seattle Times newspapers and was a guest on numerous TV and radio shows.

He is currently writing a book for an imprint of Random House books, entitled "I Sold My Soul on eBay." The book is slated for release in April of 2007.

Mehta became an Atheist at 14, and currently serves as the chair of the Board of Directors for the Secular Student Alliance, an Ohio-based nonprofit organization that supports high school and college Atheist/Agnostic student groups across the nation. Mehta attended college at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he and a friend formed a secular student group of their own, Students WithOut Religious Dogma (SWORD).

August E. Brunsman IV, executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, says religious and secular people are often standoffish when they confront each other. "I hope Mehta's auction will encourage more atheists and religious believers to try walking a mile in each other's shoes," Brunsman said. "That's a good way to start an informed dialogue."

To contact Hemant Mehta, email him at friendlyatheist@friendlyatheist.com. For information, visit http://swift.humanists.net/calendar.htm
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