The Boot Protest


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June 02, 2010

Brother Jed Smock is one of those campus preachers who goes around to different college campuses to "spread the love" by talking about how homosexuals are sinners. You know the type.

He probably does more for the cause of atheism than Christianity, though… It helps that he brings out our creativity.

Case in point, a few months ago, when he was at the University of Arizona with his partner-in-crime Sister Cindy, this was the response from the school's Secular Student Alliance affiliate:

During Jed's recent solo appearance at the University of Oregon, the members of the Alliance of Happy Atheists took a slightly different approach. On Day One of Jed's two-day preach-a-thon, members of the group stood right behind him holding atheist-friendly signs:

Those signs read:

"Knowledge is Power"
"Trust Yourself"
"Atheists ♥ You"
"Don't believe in god? You're not alone"
"AHA!: A Community of Atheists"

According to Jed, they "were not particularly vocal or argumentative," but they clearly had an effect on him, judging by his thrilled reaction in the image.

On the Second Day, the group members one-upped themselves.

First, some background. During one of their meetings earlier this school year, attendees were given a task by Alliance of Happy Atheists board members Shireen Noroozi and Shannon McCormick: They had to create their own religion, complete with a unique mythology, a deity to worship, prayers to say, etc. To help facilitate this, the leaders gave each group a random household object to base their new religion around.

Greg Gant's group received a boot.

Here's how it played out, in Greg's own words:

When it came time to explain to the larger group what our religion was about, Tony Dundon wanted to preach (in a passionate faux southern Baptist manner) about "The Boot." So when it came to our turn to present, we let Tony go for it.

Tony was quite hysterical as a southern Baptist minister, and exceptionally clever, responding to questions on the fly. Someone would shout a question like, "What about Uggs?" and Tony would rant about the deception of the false boots that were unable to protect one's feet from the wetness, and that the truth path was only found in the footwear that was capable of keeping your feet dry.

Needless to say, he had the audience cracking up.

So, when Brother Jed made his appearance, Tony set up shop right next to him and began preaching about The Boot.

Who would get more followers, Tony or Jed?

Tony, of course!

… Tony preached the way of the boot, and its great protection against the evil wetness. It was very clear that Tony was drawing an audience, as students passing by stopped to witness Tony preach, and Jed drew only glances. Those remembered Jed, offered praise to Tony, there were more than a handful of students who laughed and offered support.

… some non-members played along asking Tony questions about the ways of the Boot. One person shouted, "How do you start on the path of the boot?" and Tony retorted, "You start one foot at time!"

Ultimately, Jed realized he couldn't compete:



Greg mentioned that the only thing Brother Jed managed to say to Tony this whole time was a hearty, "You're all going to hell!"

The only thing to make this even better is hearing about the experience from Brother Jed's perspective, courtesy of his Facebook note:

At 1:50 a dozen or so atheists gathered close to where I was preaching. Their leader held up an old rubber boot and mockingly encouraged his fellow infidels to worship the boot. These God haters would respond by saying, "Amen." After about 10 minutes of this distraction I stopped preaching since I did not have an audience (emphasis mine). The boot preacher went on and on blaspheming salvation, church, prayer, etc.

God will get the last laugh…

Wow. Boots really do have magical powers!

What a wonderful way to counter Jed: combating his hatred with hilarity.


Hemant Mehta is the Chair of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) Board of Directors. He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and also is an SSA representative to the Secular Coalition for America. Hemant received national attention, including being featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, for his work as the "eBay Atheist." Hemant's blog can be read at, and his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay, (WaterBrook Press) is now available on He currently works as a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.