Who the hell are you?
I'm Hemant Mehta (pronounced HEH-mint MEH-tuh). For seven years, I was a National Board Certified high school math teacher and head coach of our school's forensics/Speech team. (I recently left that job to pursue a career in writing/creating content online.) I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in Mathematics and Biology and obtained my Masters in Math Education from DePaul University. I've worked with the Center For Inquiry and the Secular Coalition for America. I've also served as chair of the Secular Student Alliance and the Foundation Beyond Belief. I'm vegetarian. My initials are HAM. I also have a Wikipedia page. My ex-girlfriend once edited it to say I received no love as a zygote. I didn't notice for months. It has since been changed back.
Uh-huh. But do you BLOG?
I do! For nearly a decade, I've been writing about atheism at FriendlyAtheist.com, which is now on the Patheos network. The site publishes several items every day, hosts a team of excellent contributors, and receives millions of pageviews each month. It has been cited in multiple books and media reports and takes up 98% of my waking life. Sometimes, I write and eat simultaneously to save time. The people at the local Jimmy John's know my name. (I tell them it's "Bob." It's just easier that way.)
That's nice. Got anything tangible to show for your "activism"?
I've written a few books! I Sold My Soul on eBay (WaterBrook Press, 2007) documents my journey visiting Christian churches around the country. I once went on a TV show to promote it and the host accidentally said it was a bestseller. Since anything people say on television is true, that means I've written a bestselling book. Suck on that, Malcolm Gladwell. The Young Atheist's Survival Guide (Patheos Press, 2012) is all about the struggles young atheists face and how all of us (parents, teachers, friends, etc.) can support them. Someone gave it a 1-star review on Amazon because it assumes "God's nonexistence." I did not find that review helpful. The Friendly Atheist: Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media (Hyperink, 2013) is a compilation of several of my blog posts dealing with topics such as politics, LGBT issues, and religion in public schools. You may think you can just read these posts for free on my website. You may be correct.
Meh. I don't read. What else you got?
I create videos for a popular YouTube channel called The Atheist Voice. One of the videos has over 1,000,000 views and all of the videos have comments about the thickness of my eyebrows. I've also appeared on CNN, Fox News Channel (really), and several other media outlets to talk about religion. So far, no shouting matches. Success! And thanks to Patreon supporters, I was able to begin a podcast called the Friendly Atheist Podcast in the summer of 2014. It took a long time to come up with that name. Don't bother asking about the acronym.
You were a math teacher. You must be filthy rich. Why are you here?
It takes a substantial investment of time to write/edit posts for the website, get the videos prepared for YouTube, and tape podcasts. I also pay my contributors for their work on the site because they deserve it. Many people have wondered if there's any way to help support these endeavors, and I felt this was a perfect way to facilitate that. Also, it's so much better than throwing more ads on my site.
I gave all my money to the guy making potato salad. Now what?
Everything except the books will continue to be available for free. The donations just help keep them going and give me the opportunity to work on new ways to spread atheism, promote critical thinking, and save the world. But, you know, potato salad is nice, too.
Okay, I found my wallet. How much do you want?
Anything helps, but keep in mind that the money goes right back into these projects. (I'm not pocketing the cash, going to Vegas, and betting it all on one spin of the Roulette wheel. That's what my teaching salary was for.) All of the reward levels are below, though you're welcome to support what I'm doing without asking for anything in return. God will reward you in the afterlife for that.
Have you done anything productive since starting this Patreon page?
I have! Thanks to the contributions of many generous people, here's an ever-growing list of what we've done so far with the help of your donations:
- Made the Facebook page more interactive, more frequently-updated, and more far-reaching with the help of a social media coordinator.
- Started the Friendly Atheist Podcast in June, 2014. We've posted a new episode every week since then! Our next step is conducting more in-person interviews at conferences (with better equipment).
- Brought on more contributors to the website, increasing post output significantly.
- Solicited more guest posts. (You can see some of my favorites here, here, and here.)
- Created more Atheist Voice videos, including this one for an evangelical Christian conference in which I talked about LGBT rights.
- Bought equipment/lighting to create more frequent, timely content for the Atheist Voice YouTube channel.
- We are currently working on a project which we hope to unveil in the spring of 2017 (barring delays).
More to come soon!