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I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist's Eyes Paperback – April 17, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mehta, an atheist, once held an unusual auction on eBay: the highest bidder could send Mehta to a church of his or her choice. The winner, who paid $504, asked Mehta to attend numerous churches, and this book comprises Mehta's responses to 15 worshipping communities, including such prominent megachurches as Houston's Second Baptist, Ted Haggard's New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Willow Creek in suburban Chicago. (Mehta ranks Willow Creek as the church most likely to draw him back.) Mehta, who grew up Jain, offers some autobiographical context, then discusses nonreligious people's approach to topics such as death and suffering. But all that is just a preamble to Mehta's sketches of the churches he attended. He doesn't find much community in churches; families sit far apart from other families, and people race "out the front doors to their cars" as soon as the service ends. Churches earn high marks for Mehta when they offer great speakers and focus on community outreach, but they also do many things wrong, including singing repetitive songs and alienating non-Christians by ubiquitously proclaiming them to be "lost." Mehta's musings will interest Christians who seek to proselytize others and who want to identify their evangelistic mistakes. (Apr. 17)
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About the Author

Hemant Mehta is an honors graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he helped establish the organization Students WithOut Religious Dogma (SWORD). Mehta also is chair of the Secular Student Alliance’s board of directors. His story has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Seattle Times, the Village Voice, National Public Radio, and FOX News Channel, among other major news outlets. Currently, Mehta is working toward a masters degree in math education at DePaul University in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; First edition (April 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400073472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400073474
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. He is a former National Board Certified high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, where he taught for for seven years.

Hemant has appeared on CNN and FOX News Channel (really). He currently serves on the board of directors for Foundation Beyond Belief (a charity organization targeting non-theistic donors) after spending several years as the chair of the board of the Secular Student Alliance (which creates and supports college atheist groups nationwide).

He is the author of three books, including I Sold My Soul on eBay (WaterBrook Press, 2007) and The Young Atheist's Survival Guide (Patheos Press, 2012).

His blog can be read at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Clawson on April 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
You may have read about Hemant Mehta in the Wall Street Journal as the "eBay Atheist" who offered to attend church for the highest bidder on his eBay auction. Well, Hemant has now written a book about his experiences visiting churches as an atheist. Think of Hemant as kind of a Mystery Shopper for churches. Most churches these days claim to want to be "seeker-friendly" and try to be welcoming to outsiders, so Hemant is there to tell us whether our attempts are actually working

I have to say that as soon as I started reading the book I could not put it down. It is engagingly written and deeply insightful about the pros and cons of Christian churches. Even as a Christian pastor myself, there were so many times I found myself agreeing with Hemant's assessments of contemporary churches. At other times I was amused at his bewilderment at some of the stranger things that we Christians tend to do in church (like the lady in the more charismatic church who kept shouting out random phrases like "Thank you Jesus" right over his shoulder the whole time, or the unenthusiastic liturgical responses from the congregation at the Presbyterian church.)

The book is actually written in three parts. The first four chapters are an introduction to Hemant, his eBay Atheist story, why he is an atheist even though he grew up as a Jain, and a couple of chapters about what atheists are and are not really like (we religious people tend to have a lot of false stereotypes about atheists). The middle four chapters are his reviews of the 14 different churches he attended, and the last two chapters are his summary of what works, what doesn't, and what it would take to actually convert him.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Dug on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Let me first begin by saying that I have been a pastor for nearly 21 years.

I believe Hemant Mehta's book is a must read for every pastor and every Christian that cares for unchurched people. It is an easy read that most will knock out in just a few sittings. His writing style made it seem like I was sitting across the table from him at lunch. He is an honest and brilliant young man who raises some legitimate and thoughtful questions about the Americanized Church. I thoroughly enjoyed his reviews of the churches he attended. Since I was raised in the church it's difficult for me to view our liturgy and traditions through fresh eyes. Hemant helped me do just that. His blatant, and at times humorous, critiques lend valuable insight that most church goers will appreciate.

Most churches espouse in their mission statements that they desire to reach the unchurched, but few, including my own church, take consistent and proactive measures to do so. We fall into the trap of thinking that if we have a hot band and a funny speaker, people will line up for life change. Those days are over.

I hope that "I Sold My Soul on eBay" will open dialogue between Christians and Atheist for years to come. I think we all could learn from one another's perspectives. I know Hemant has already taught me some priceless lessons.

This book is a good reminder that people, even those who disagree with our beliefs, are not the enemy.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Warren on August 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
A book about Christianity by an atheist? Another hatched job, right? Actually no. Hement Mehta is not an angry atheist. Yes, he's a nonbeliever, but he's seeking answers. He auctioned off the opportunity for the winning bidder to send him to church,and got more than he planned. He ended up attending a lot of worship services covering a wide range of denominations, and both large and small churches. He plays fair, giving a serious critique of what he saw, what worked for him, and what didn't. Since we approach the subject from different perspectives we don't always agree. I'm coming at it from a basis of faith, while he admits he doesn't have faith in much except himself and what he can prove from logic. We did agree on several things though, and I came away with a stronger conviction of what I have believed for some time, that we Christians need to stop and evaluate what we are doing to show Jesus to nonbelievers. We've come a long way from the simple teachings of the Savior we claim to follow, sometimes going in the wrong direction. Menta asks a lot of questions, and I didn't always have the answer. He made me think about what I believe and why. Sometimes it's good to see what the other side thinks, and we need to remember that people who don't believe the way we do are not always our enemies. I recommend I Sold My Soul On eBay for both believers and nonbelievers.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Mark S on April 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
The unique aspect of Hemant going to various churches is that he has little knowledge of Christianity. You can see that by the questions he asks while attending church services. Anyone that is familiar with Christianity will enjoy answering the questions Hemant asks throughout the book. One theme throughout the book is Hemant wishing for sermons to be relative to everyday living and not just scripture reading with no elaboration. I also think Hemant has a good idea that dialogue needs to be more frequent concerning atheists and christians. On page 142 he really hits a personal aspect to why I'm am an atheist. He even gives a chapter to what it would take for him to believe in god. I think it's a well rounded book and very objective. I think the target audience for this book is Christians who want to see what it's like for someone to enter a church and unaware of what is going on.
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