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TBC Staff

The Wall Street Journal, 3/9/06: On eBay, an Atheist Puts His Own Soul on the Auction Block [Excerpts]: A few weeks ago, Hemant Mehta posted an unusual item for sale on eBay: a chance to save his soul. The DePaul University graduate student promised the winner that for each $10 of the final bid, he would attend an hour of church services. The 23-year-old Mr. Mehta is an atheist, but he says he suspected he had been missing out on something.

Evangelists bid, eager to save a sinner. Atheists bid, hoping to keep Mr. Mehta in their fold. When the auction stopped on Feb. 3 after 41 bids, the buyer was Jim Henderson, a former [Vineyard pastor] from Seattle, whose $504 bid prevailed. .

Mr. Henderson is part of a small but growing branch of the evangelical world that disagrees with the majority's conservative political agenda. [He] asked that Mr. Mehta attend 10 to 15 services of Mr. Henderson's choosing and then write about it. "I'm not trying to convert you," Mr. Henderson said [as they met]. "You're going there almost like a critic....If you happen to get converted, that's off the clock."

For Mr. Mehta's first service, the two attended noon Mass at Old St. Patrick's, a Catholic church.

Mr. Mehta was born in Chicago and raised in Jainism, an ancient Indian faith whose followers vow to harm no living thing, not even microbes in the air. He praises famous atheists, but has also read parts of the Bible, loves watching televangelists like Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen, and admires their appeal....Mr. Mehta says he's no closer to believing in God, although he does admire churches for the communities they create.

[TBC: An earlier ebay spiritual endeavor was a Virgin Mary-image-bearing grilled cheese sandwich that sold for $28,000.]