RDF: So you’re the man behind God, what got you started with this? I hear that you’ve got a lot of fans who don’t just enjoy what you write, but that may actually need help
GOD ON FACEBOOK: That’s correct. Well, I started out by wanting to make people laugh, I wanted to be a comedy writer; that’s always been my dream. And over time I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail of angry Christians or what have you, and I responded in a funny way or in a polite way or sometimes I pulled out Bible verses and put those in their face and then I’d post those conversations and people love that ‘cause they’re hilarious.
That was about the first year of the page. And then I started to get at a certain point where someone would write to me saying “I think I’m going end It tonight, I don’t want to live anymore”…
RDF: Oh my god, and what happened?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I wrote back to him and I said “Please, don’t do that…” and over time I came to realize that what you’re legally supposed to do is to provide them with resources that they can access that might help them. At a certain point of time I would just say “please, don’t do that, there’s so much to live for” and try to talk them and then I realized… you know what? I’m just a comedy writer and this is just messaging through Facebook and yes, this is helping them, to know that someone they’re a fan of is (responding) to them – like if I wanted to kill myself, and George Carlin was talking to me and telling me not to, that’s powerful.
But, what’s more powerful is for them to talk to a professional therapist whom it’s their job and profession and that’s all they do all day. So I started distributing the National Suicide Hotline number and also there’s a link that I found that’s really good and I’d say “Read this first if you’re contemplating suicide” and it just does a fantastic job (the website) saying why you shouldn’t do that … so that’s my default approach at this point and I get hundreds and hundreds of messages a day and 90% of them might be “I love what you do here, keep it going” and some of them might be “My kitty died and I’m sad” and that’s the lower end of the spectrum of people that need help but what I basically do is skim through the messages and just for someone that’s saying “I want to end it all” because they’re the people that need to be helped, they’re the people that need someone to respond to them.
And sometimes if I have the time I’ll respond to other people; there was a guy the other day that said that he was struggling with Lyme disease and that he probably was a burden to his family and I just responded with the Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and then I posted the conversation, of course I covered up his name and picture, and said “Hey everybody, let’s give Jeff some encouragement” and the people of the page are just amazing, we got one thousand comments of people giving him support and not only that but people that had suffered the same predicament were posting informational links and names of doctors and so on and so forth.
I got back to him after that and said “Hey, Jeff, check out this post and make sure you read every comment, you should try checking out these doctors” and he was so thankful because that was actual logistical and informational help that could help him.
RDF: So you’re doing a fundraiser that goes to your Dad… but it’s essentially a fundraiser to help support the work that you’re doing for free. Why have you chosen to give your Dad a vacation VS raising money for cancer or whatever?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: A month ago my mom suddenly died of a cardiac arrest, a week before Thanksgiving, and I went out there, we did the funeral, we did all that and then I had to leave. The day before Thanksgiving I got a call from my dad saying that there wasn’t a life insurance. He thought he was the full claimant (for my mom’s insurance), and we thought okay so this horrible thing has happened but he’s going to be okay… He found out that she’d cancelled her life insurance four months prior… and he just sounds like he’s dying, he’s crying his eyes out, so I in a haze, in a bore, put out this campaign to see if I could raise some money to cheer him up. My wife tried to stop me but I did it anyway. The first night it raised $5,000 dollars and within 24 hours it had gotten over $20,000.
RDF: That’s amazing, congratulations. I see that it’s passed $36,000 now and hopefully some of us will try to help you.
GOD ON FACEBOOK: And I definitely have tried to stop promoting it because that’s way beyond the initial $5,000 goal but you can’t stop an Indiegogo campaign once you’ve started… And well I am giving that money to charity, I’m giving it to my dad who is a charity case and the people that contributed all know that and the reason that they contributed is because of them said that I’d helped them in the past.
I feel like this is a wonderful life moment, I didn’t know that there was going to be that type of response but it shows that picture because I’ve gotten out of my way every single day to help people that need help and it’s just amazing how it came back. It was beyond my wildest imagination that people would write to me “You talked to me 2 months ago when I was going through my divorce and it really helped me” and there’s thousands of those sorts of comments. It has hurt me quite a bit that there’s some people that have accused me of being a scam artist or doing this or that and I wish that I could talk to that reporter and personally verify with that person all the facts of the case, show them the obituary, send them everything and then show the world that this is true.
RDF: Why don’t you send it to me, I’ll keep it confidential, and I’ll help you to confirm it?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I would love to. My agent would want you to sign a confidentiality agreement because part of her responsibility is to keep my identity anonymous but I would love to do that, there is nothing more than I want to do than that because it’s so strangely hurtful (when I get those comments). I’d say that 99% of the people understand that this is true. I’ve been doing this for 2 years and all of the sudden it happens. They’re smart enough to know me, the person behind it, and they know my writing style, they just know it…
RDF: I get it. It bugs you because that 1%, they’re irritating…
GOD ON FACEBOOK: And I understand being skeptical so I just want to remove their skepticism
RDF: Let me ask you about the attitude that you have about god. I notice that god has got a bit of a butthole/dirty mind. What is your sense of humor target people?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I feel very conflicted because on the one hand I have absolutely no evidence of god or anything of that nature and I’m a person that believes in evidence and I absolutely do not believe in any religion; every religion has been very obviously created and written by men, is as probably the concept of god. However, I do believe in the premise behind the movie “The life of Pi”, have you seen that?
RDF: Sure, the idea is that if a delusion is beautiful is better than the truth – Personally, I don’t agree with that, but…
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I won’t say believe it, but I understand it…
RDF: Saying, “I understand it” in a similar way that we understand the people who are trying to quit smoking it’s difficult to do but you don’t need to smoke to understand it?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I feel pity, more than anything…
RDF: You feel empathy, I hope, more than pity, for people that get sucked into it.
GOD ON FACEBOOK: Yeah, maybe that’s a better word.
RDF: You know, people always make fun of Tom Cruise for being a Scientologist, but that’s a cult that draws you in. It’s not really the fault of the members of the cult.
GOD ON FACEBOOK: It’s the same thing, totally, but experiencing the loss of a parent, or anyone, in the last month has been especially hard for me as an agnostic-atheist to deal with because I don’t believe there’s a Heaven and I understand that (believing) that makes it easier for people to deal with it.
My dad was a minister at one point, he’s a retired minister now, and a very good one. Not the ideological, firebrand style, but more of the Theologian school of thought. So that’s what made me choose the subject because you have to write what you know and that has been there my whole life, torturing my mind.
“Dad, please explain this or such question” and here comes the bullshit answer… I could tell he always knew... I kind of see the dichotomy or both sides of the subject and I’ve got to keep that in mind and have empathy for people, these poor souls, that are surrounded by it and maybe they don’t have the IQ that you or I have and they don’t have the variables needed to make them understand and choose atheism. Maybe their culture or maybe everyone around them us very religious and it’s hard for them to express how they truly feel. Maybe they’re poor and prayer is their only way of release. There’s just a million reasons to why someone would become an atheist or why they won’t.
Countries that are more educated have a much high percentage of atheists and it’s definitely interesting…
RDF: Is there anything else you’d want to talk about?
GOD ON FACEBOOK: I want to steer people towards critical thinking, whether they know it or not. A lot of religious people love my page and whether they realize it or not I’m suddenly influencing them toward a more logical approach.
RDF: It’s a really good Christmas message for us atheists that we have to show kindness and tolerance to those who believe because it’s not really their fault, they’re being a little bit dopey but you know what? We’re all a little bit dopey. I weigh almost 200 pounds and I still think someone might date me so I’m being dopey in my own way.
GOD ON FACEBOOK: Exactly.
RDF: We’re all dopey in some way.
GOD ON FACEBOOK: We are and I see that there’s good and bad on both sides, I see and understand why atheists are thought to be condescending, I understand why religious people are stereotyped as being… what word do I choose? Where do I even begin?
And that’s the beautiful thing about my page. It doesn’t matter if you’re atheist, it doesn’t matter if you’re religious, it doesn’t matter what you are: if you’re a good person, you’re good. That’s it. Do good and feel good.
You can find God at: facebook.com/TheGoodLordAbove