What, We Can’t Be Handsome Atheists? January 28, 2010

What, We Can’t Be Handsome Atheists?

Joel got a note from his grandmother. (A damn near illegible note.) She cannot believe he’s an atheist:

Dear Joel, I have heard that you say you’re an athesis [sic]. I don’t believe that because you have so many Christian qualities. You are honest, loyal, kind and giving — not to mention handsome and extremely talented. (Now — Those are gifts from God!) Please use this check to have a great New Years day Breakfast.


What do you mean we can’t be handsome, talented, honest, loyal, kind, giving athesises?!

Grandma’s wrong.

Those qualities can belong to people of any faith or no faith. So can the less-than-appealing qualities.

Forget breakfast, Joel, if you haven’t already used the money. Send the $20 to Foundation Beyond Belief. Or any of the wonderful secular charities that are using donations to do all sorts of positive things (for Haiti and beyond).

(Thanks to Becky for the link!)

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  • I got that from some people after I came out as gay. “But you’re not bad looking”. Sometimes followed by: “You could get a girlfriend, have you even tried?”


  • @Eshto: My brother said something like that, except just insisting that what I was feeling was “brotherly love,” when I wasn’t even in love with a guy, just sexually attracted to some. I swear, people will say the stupidest shit.

  • I’d like to counter Grandma’s arguement, but I’m only honest, loyal, kind, giving and talented. Rats.

  • Casimir

    Handsome, talented, honest, loyal, kind, and giving? He sounds like the apotheosis of athesises.

  • epe

    It’s like prejudice mad libs: but you’re too ____ to be a _____

  • Oh, Grandma! Jeeeezeee petes!

    @Eshto: Aren’t the similarities of “coming out” as LBGT and atheist amazing? But, but, but… you don’t fit my narrow definition of________.

    Thanks for sharing Hemant and Joel!

  • heironymous

    Now wait a second. I’m ugly as sin. And I’m an atheist.

  • This was my cousin’s argument:

    “Are you against murder?”

    I replied, “Yes.”

    His knock-out punch: “Then you’re Catholic, because Catholics say, ‘thou shalt not kill.'”

    Explain that one to me!

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Use that $20 to buy grandma a copy of “I Sold My Soul on Ebay.” Then she could learn all about a talented, honest, loyal, kind and giving atheist.

  • Vas

    Dear Joel, I have heard that you say you’re an athesis [sic]. I don’t believe that because you have so many Christian qualities. You are intellectually dishonest, willing to disown your family if they believe differently than you, mean spirited, actively trying to deny others their civil rights and giving, so long as strings are attached and the receiver is willing to set through your indoctrinations — not to mention handsome in a strange plastic sort of way and utterly devoid of original thoughts. (Now — Those are gifts from God!) Please use this check to shelter child molesters from the law.

  • Joel! Stop being such a atheisissy and go back to being Christian where all the good looking strong and talented men are!

    Um, I think I might want to be a Christian again too if that’s what the deal is.

    Oh, and Joel? Can I borrow $20? I need to buy you a gym membership.

  • I have to admit, I saw a bunch of women at this church the other day…so hot. Like, really super hot.

  • Andrew Morgan

    Assuming that whether or not you’re handsome is primarily a function of genetics (and possibly the environment in utero — someone enlighten me), and given granny’s contention that handsomeness is a gift from God, and given that fetuses don’t have religious beliefs, it would imply that NOT ONLY does God make atheists ugly (how spiteful), but He would know YEARS BEFORE THEY EVEN BECAME ATHEISTS that they would become so and afflict them before they were even conceived.

    However, since of course God knows everything, even the future, and given that this guy is not ugly, we can safely assume that Joel is lying and he is, in fact, Christian.

    Or wait…

  • Revyloution

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but im damned handsome.

    Must be the hat.

  • JulietEcho

    Well gosh, I must be an awfully good Christian – I’m a total hottie!

    Seriously though, it sounds like either the grandma was trying to work in some unrelated compliments to soften her message OR she thinks that reminding him that those two features are “gifts” from God will help convince him to believe again. I don’t think she really meant that good-looking, talented people can’t be atheists.

  • Kris


    atheses *

  • muggle

    But my Atheist grandson is adorable. Oh, yeah, that’s right. I forgot it’s against the rules to label children these days and he is determined to get his own real working magic wand like Harry’s. Um, maybe you have to be Christian or a wizard?

    Tyler, go corrupt them. Remember Satan has a plan for you. Have fun.

    Revy, you are styling. That’s for sure.

  • revyloution

    /blush to my toes

    Its all the hat.

  • jemand

    I kind of thought this letter was kind of sweet, or at least had sweet oozing through the crazy. I would be thrilled if I thought my one set of grandparents would react to me coming out to them as atheist in this manner.

    I dunno…. to get a letter like this and then post it online to mock, in the letter writer’s own handwriting, seems a little overly cruel to me 🙁

  • llewelly

    (A damn near illegible note.)

    As cursive goes, it’s well above average. I was required to write in it for 5 years. So I can read it easily. Not that I disagree with “damn near illegible” ; space between letters is very important to the brain – making cursive intrinsically harder to read than print.

  • WK

    I’m neither handsome, talented, honest, loyal, or kind and I don’t believe in thesises: it’s one of the reasons why I went for science and not English or poly sci, though I got tricked at the end where I had to write 50 page papers on things like heat transfer instead of being able to bullsh-t the same amount of trees away on inane ramblings about Thoreau.

    Maybe she has a point.

  • Gib

    Send her a response and a cheque:

    Dear Grandmother, I have heard that you say you’re a Christian. I don’t believe that because you have so many Atheistic qualities. You are honest, loyal, kind and giving — not to mention beautiful and extremely talented. (Now — Those are gifts from our hereditary line!) Please use this check to have a great New Years day Breakfast.

  • Amy G

    I get similar comments all the time. I usually don’t advertise that I’m an atheist until someone knows me pretty well and it comes up in conversation… so when someone finds out I do get people who just say what they’re thinking- “But you’re so nice!”

    Atheists are always criminals, right? 😛

  • jemand Says:

    I kind of thought this letter was kind of sweet…

    I don’t want to be mean to Grandma if she is mentally incapacitated, but if not, this note is far from being sweet. It is at best insulting and at worst downright offensive. It reminds me of a comment my great-aunt recently made regarding her granddaughter pursuing a Masters in Engineering: “But she’s such a pretty girl”. Having “come out” as an engineer to that same aunt some 25 years earlier, it made me wonder what she had been thinking about me for the past quarter century.

  • jemand

    @Theo Bromine,

    ok, it’s a little self-delusion mixed with some compliments and an attempt to remain in a grandson’s life regardless of the fact that he’s just become something that she apparently has had a negative stereotype all her life of. I guess all I can say is, her reaction is actually pretty good considering.

    Sure, if this were something a *debate* partner said, I’d tear right into it, but this is family, and… I dunno. It just kind of seemed a little off to be posting a scan of the note itself. This also appears to be their first communication after him “coming out” and those generally get better with time, and with such a mild beginning… maybe it just seems like without more context he’s kind of throwing in the towel a bit early.

  • Edmond

    @revyloution, I didn’t even SEE a hat.

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