Hemant Mehta

On this date in 1983, atheist blogger and activist Hemant Mehta was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a family that practiced Jainism, a religion from India. Mehta abandoned his faith while growing up because his religion was unable to answer questions he had about life. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he formed the school's first nonreligious group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma, or SWORD. He graduated in 2001 with degrees in math and biology. Mehta became curious about religion and wanted theists to learn more about how religious institutions are viewed by the nonreligious. This led him to "sell his soul on eBay" by posting on the popular auction website that he would attend the highest bidder's choice of religious institution. For every $10 the highest bidder gave him, he would attend one service. The auction winner decided Mehta would go to a variety of churches and write about his experiences. This resulted in Mehta's first book, "I Sold My Soul on eBay" (2007). He also started his popular blog, "friendly Atheist," which highlights events, issues and people that are important to the nonreligious community. Mehta's most recent book is "The Young Atheist's Survival Guide" (2012).

Mehta is active in the freethought community. He is the chair of the Foundation Beyond Belief, a nonprofit charity that raises money for people in need around the world and offers secular volunteer opportunities. He is also the spokesperson for the Chicago Coalition of Reason and the former chair of the Secular Student Alliance. Mehta is currently a high school math teacher and lives in Chicago, Illinois.


"At age fourteen I was asking questions. When the answers failed to satisfy me, I searched elsewhere for different answers and found wisdom in atheism. And I am far from alone in that experience."

—⎯Hemant Mehta, “I Sold My Soul on eBay,” 2007.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano; Photo by Andrew Seidel

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement