Each year I fund-raise for the fight against multiple sclerosis by forming a team of wacky adventurers called Team Conehead to participate in a 150-mile bicycling event over two days. This year, in my 23rd year of bicycling, I raised just over $7,000 (ranking me No. 38 out of 2,500), and Team Conehead raised $33,000.
During our primary training ride, the Elephant Rock ride in Castle Rock, Colo., something interrupted my enjoyment of the day. One of the photographer’s assistants couldn’t resist proselytizing. I’m riding by, and to help me remember which group of bicyclists my photo would appear in online, he shouted out, “Remember the letter G — like God is great!”
As an atheist, I am completely convinced that “God is not great,” and I really did not want to be reminded what believers care about. I was there for the bike ride and it was my day off.
The route included many churches, one of which sponsored a rest stop and photos. So I’m certainly reminded of his “God” daily, and I didn’t need to be reminded by the photography provider of their gods.
“Your God is not great!” I replied to him as a rider went by me and heard what I had said. She thanked me for saying something.
(His commentary on the letter “J” gets even more prophetic — Jesus, Joseph, Jehoshaphat — you get the picture). This is not the first time he has done this.
I asked the photography vendor management to consider the following: I would like this person counseled that there are many people on this ride who represent Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, other believers and nonbelievers, a whole range of diversity that does not necessarily embrace “his” God.
My suggestion was that he be asked to keep his religion to himself where it belongs: in his own church, his own home or his own head. It has no place in a bike ride that is not specifically sponsored by a religious institution. I did not pay to be preached at, and I’m also certain that all of the other audiences I mentioned did not pay for or expect this treatment.
The message apparently hit home. The photographer’s assistant ceased his proselytizing on our main ride of the year.
Craig Mason is an IT technical support professional who lives in Colorado.