Losing our religion

Are you there, God? It's us, New Yorkers. Hi. So, um, we're thinking of stubbing you out like a bad habit-but just for the day! Please don't kill us.

Photo: Deniz Ozuygar

Friedrich Nietzsche, Gore Vidal, Eddie Izzard: When it comes to nonbelievers, atheism suffers no lack of poster boys. So then, why no holidays?

Thank heaven—or whatever—Thu 15 marks the first Great American God-Out, an experiment in Godless living that culminates with a huge party. (Think Great American Smokeout but holier and without the Nicorette breath.) It encourages religious folk and fence-sitters to spend a day thinking and behaving as if there were no God. Sorry, heathens, that’s not an invitation for sodomy.

“We want people to dine with us, dance with us, get to know us,” says Atheist Alliance International president Margaret Downey. “We’re not horrible people. You can be good without God.”

Adds God-Out director Lydia Hartunian: “Say there is no God. Would you stop wanting a cure for cancer, or loving your significant other? Religion and morality can exist independently. ”

To get in the atheistic spirit, we asked New Yorkers what they’d do on their God-free day. Lord have mercy!

Paul Rudnik


Playwright and screenwriter
“Number one: I’d help the Pope to learn a skill, because he wouldn’t have anything to do. Number two: I would take credit for everything. And number three: I would still kill people, but this time I’d giggle.”

A.J. Jacobs


Esquire editor and author of The Year of Living Biblically
“I’d go crazy and break all sorts of rules. I might wear some clothes of mixed fibers (as forbidden by Leviticus 19:19). Eat some ravens and ostriches (Leviticus 11:15). Take my wife’s sister as a second wife (Leviticus 18:18). Or even sit on a seat where a menstruating woman has sat (Leviticus 15:20). But in reality, I wouldn’t do anything differently. The best of the Judeo-Christian ethical rules work, whether or not God exists.”

Helen Hong


Comedian and TV producer
“I would end every joke with ‘And then I fucked a priest.’ For example: ‘What were the best three years of George W. Bush’s life? Fifth grade! Ay-yo! And then I fucked a priest.’ I would also start a Shoplifting Is Cool movement so that I could steal $700 designer boots. With my luck, I’d get caught and then wish there was a God to save me.”

Rev. Billy Talen


The Church of Stop Shopping
“The old idea of God should not come out to play anymore—He has killed too many children. My new God is the star-dazzled bird that collapses between buildings and the grandchild of Puerto Rican nationalists that says ‘Welcome to New York!’ My new God would be all of that: the stars, the bird, New York, the little girl and the old revolutionaries too.”

Andrew W.K.


Musician, optimist and motivational speaker
“God is just another word for the infinite incomprehensible vastness of the universe. So I would pretend I knew everything, believe firmly that there are no mysteries and that there’s no such thing as the infinite. Should be a challenge!”

Jonathan Caouette


Director of Tarnation
“I would wish everyone amnesia and see how they interact with each other.”Rev. Andrew St. JohnRector at the Church of the Transfiguration“I officially work for God, so if he were out for the day, I’d be out of a job. I’d just reassure people that they are loved, and do a lot of hugging. I’d also tell some of the people who abuse God with their rigid religious views where they can blow off.”

Charlie Rubin


Writer/producer of Law and Order: Criminal Intent
“I might try to look up my bully from summer camp—let’s call him Jimmy Schnotzstein—and throw him to the wolves. And I know wolves are supposed to be gentle and not attack humans, but I would throw some elk blood on him first.”

Mo Rocca


Actor and comedian
“Without God, I’d just want to play Ms. Pac-Man all day with impunity.”

Anita Thompson


Author of The Gonzo Way
and widow of Hunter S. Thompson“A day without God? I would take full advantage by inviting Zeus, Aphrodite, Hades, Athena, Persephone and the others to Owl Farm for Monday Night Football. How great it would be to see the bets between Hera and Zeus! Of course Dionysus will be the guest of honor.”

Bill Donohue


President of the Catholic League
“I’d give my debating nemesis Christopher Hitchens a call and we’d go drinking. And then the very next day, I would demand equal treatment and ask that he go to mass with me.”

What would TONY do?

“Chocolate Saints...Sweet Jesus”
Debate Jesus all you want at Cosimo Cavallaro’s controversial exhibit—the chocolate is real. The Proposition, 559 W 22nd St (212-242-0203)

Drunken! Careening! Writers!
Stop by KGB Bar Thu 15 for a reading of Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s Biting the Apple, a novel about the estranged daughter of a preacher. 85 E 4th St (212-505-3360)

Altar Boyz
Nothing like an Off Broadway show to end a day of religious undoing, and this one’s about a Christian boy band! Starring a Jew! Scandalous! New World Stages, 340 W 50th St (212-239-6200)