Freethinkers in India will be getting touchy feely on Friday as the country celebrates ‘hug an atheist’ day.
The event is a first for India and follows in the footsteps of the American tradition, which has been held on the first Friday of June for the last four years.
A Facebook invitation lists cuddle spots across the country, and reminds attendees to join in, “as you don’t need to be an atheist to hug one.”
It adds: “Atheists are people, who, same as you, like cats, ice cream, football and card games.
“For far too long, they’ve either been forced to stay closeted about their identity or been treated like snobs… time to break those barriers… time to hug it out.”
"So we thought it would be a good idea to tell the world that we are humans like them and the only difference would be that we believe in science and not a supernatural being.”
Ganesh Veluswami, a member of the Chennai Freethinkers Club, told the New Indian Express: "We want to spread the word that we exist and we are humans like everyone else, also to create a progressive society, where hugs need not necessarily be creepy and the act of hugging doesn't have to be taboo for rationalists."
William Bermudez founded the day in 2009 as a parody of other Facebook groups that were springing up at the time, including ‘Hug a Jew day’, he told The Examiner.
Bermudez’s Facebook “rules” are as follows:
1. Find an atheist, agnostic, ignostic, nontheist, antitheist, antireligionist, apatheist, secular humanist, skeptic, misotheist, dystheist, structuralist, freethinker, naturalistic pantheist, absurdist, deist, therevada buddhist, mahayana, zen buddhist, nihiilst, marxist, pastafarian, spagnostic, gropaga, existentialist, or anyone else who doubts the existence of a god.
2. Run up to that nonbeliever, and give him/her a gigantic hug!
Last year, we had 5,419 people attending, and since we have a year to prepare, I'm shooting for at least 7,500 this year!
You don't have to be an atheist, you just have to hug one!