Letting Go of God

Photography by Brent Nicastro


“There is no one who better epitomizes the spirit of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s ‘Emperor Has No Clothes Award’ than Julia Sweeney,” said Dan Barker in presenting the statuette to her at the 29th annual convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, meeting in San Francisco in October 2006.

“This award, designed for us by the company that makes the Oscars, recognizes public figures who publicly dissent from religion. And nobody’s been doing that better than Julia Sweeney with her one-woman show, ‘Letting Go of God.’ “

“Letting Go of God” Excerpts:

“Okay, I knew the Bible had nutty stories, but I thought they’d be wedged in amongst an ocean of inspiration and history. But instead, the stories just got darker and even more convoluted.”

“Should we be willing to give up our ethics for God?”

“Maybe being a big pillar of salt is preferable to being married to Lot!”

“I left the church thinking, ‘Is this one big practical joke?’ “

“What kind of sadistic test of loyalty is that, to ask someone to kill his or her own child? And isn’t the proper answer, ‘No! I will not kill my child, or any child, even if it means eternal punishment in hell!’?”

“Eventually I was able to say good-bye to God.”

“. . . the Church has it all backwards when it comes to mystery. In fact, it trivializes the very thing it claims to represent: the awe-inspiring grandeur of true, deep mystery. We live on a planet, spinning about in a wondrous universe without an apparent purpose.”

“I felt like I was in a horror film and the clue to the insanity was not a secret document, it was a book that everyone was holding, that was on every coffee table, the biggest best seller of all time, in every hotel room in the land, the key to the understandings of the faith!”

” ‘I mean God, look at it this way: it’s really because I take you so seriously that I can’t bring myself to believe in you.’ “

More About Julia Sweeney


Performing “Letting Go of God in San Francisco

Julia Sweeney is the oldest in a family of five children raised in Spokane, Wash. After graduating in economic studies at the University of Washington, she headed south to Los Angeles to work as an accountant for Columbia Pictures. On a whim, she signed up for classes with the improvisational comedy troupe, The Groundlings. She studied under Saturday Night Live cast member Phil Hartman and was discovered by SNL producer Lorne Michaels. She stayed on the show for four hit seasons.

Her unforgettable androgynous character, “Pat,” spun a feature film, ” It’s Pat.” Julia moved back back to Los Angeles. Within a matter of months, her brother was diagnosed with cancer, and so was she. Her experiences led her to write and star in “God Said, ‘Ha!’ ” The play was released theatrically by Miramax, and earned the Golden Space Needle Award and the New York Film Festival audience award. Sweeney’s recording earned her a Grammy nomination for best comedy album.

Julia has appeared on the big screen in her friend Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster “Pulp Fiction” and in “Clockstoppers,” “Whatever It Takes,” “Stuart Little,” “Thick as Thieves,” and “Beethoven’s 3rd.” She also served as a consultant on the hit HBO series, “Sex and the City,” and portrayed a nun with breast cancer on that show!

Her second very funny one-woman show, “In the Family Way” which did an off-Broadway run, is about the adoption of her daughter, Mulan, from China.

“Letting Go of God” first opened in late 2004. Julia has taken this show to many freethinking venues as well as off-Broadway, LA, and touring. Read excerpts above.

Freedom From Religion Foundation