Patheos vs. OnlySky

Consider something Hemant Mehta wrote on his blog:

Patheos took a chance on me in 2011, and while its management has changed in the years since, everyone has always been wonderful about letting me post what I’ve wanted to without any unreasonable restrictions.

Yes, for 10 years, a site run by religious people allowed anti-Christians like Mehta to blog there multiple times a day. Do you think OnlySky would allow a dozen or so anti-atheists to post on their site?

In fact, can anyone out there point to one example of a site, owned and run by Atheists, that allowed a dozen or so anti-atheists to post for a decade or so? How about allowing them to post for a week or so?

Religious people let atheists post anti-religious material on their site for quite some time. So I’m simply looking for a reciprocal example.

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10 Responses to Patheos vs. OnlySky

  1. Dhay says:

    > Consider something Hemant Mehta wrote on his blog: “Patheos took a chance on me in 2001,…”
    Yes, for 20 years,…

    A slip of the eye: it’s “in 2011”, hence for 10 years.

    Your point remains.

  2. Michael says:

    thanks, Dhay. I fixed it.

  3. Dhay says:

    Religion News Service seems to be the go-to source of information, including:

    … the departing bloggers and their channel manager, Dale McGowan, said that about a year ago, Patheos decided to change its editorial direction. Bloggers were advised they could stay at Patheos so long as they stopped writing negative or critical posts on religion or politics and instead focused on how to live a good life within their own worldview. …

    Patheos is owned by BN Media, which last year created a new umbrella organization called Radiant. It includes Patheos, the lifestyle site Beliefnet and three other wellness and spirituality platforms with a mission of helping people “live their most fulfilled lives.”

    Hemant Mehta, of course, spins it differently; Patheos’ mission of hosting bloggers who focus on living a good life within their own worldview and helping people with that worldview live their most fulfilled lives, is polemically perverted by Mehta:

    “The writing on the wall was that unless you’re prepared to say nice things about religion you need to find a new outlet,” said Mehta, who has written for Patheos since 2011, often posting multiple times a day, with a special focus on stories about religious hypocrisy.

    Patheos is evidently not demanding that the atheist bloggers must be nice or positive towards religion, Patheos is demanding that they stop being nasty and negative towards religion

    Or in other words, Patheos now insists (with many months of prior warning) that in order to stay they must fit in with the ethos that pervades every other part of the site and that has done so since inception, where being positive about the blogger’s worldview and nice towards others’ worldviews (or simply ignoring them) is the rule.

    They chose to be nasty towards others’ worldviews.


    I find that ‘Dave’ of the Skeptical Science blog comments on the RNS article from a polemically perverted atheist perspective. Echoing Mehta, he says:

    In other words, the non-religious bloggers faced a gag demand. Say only nice things about belief and Trump, and don’t you dare criticize any of the batshit crazy claims, or you are out.

    My comment on that is the same as on Mehta’s original version, adding only the observation that people at one end of the religious spectrum tend to be at one end of the political spectrum, with atheists at the opposite Progressive Left end. The offending atheist bloggers take offence at Trump/Republican Party supporters as a proxy for taking offence at White Evangelicals, and equally they take offence at White Evangelicals as a proxy for taking offence at Trump/Republican Party supporters. But if anti-religious hate rants don’t belong on a religious site like Patheos, that applies doubly to hate rants against political groups; those really don’t belong. Dave rants oblivious.

    I’ll correct his next bit of rant for him:

    Hypocrisy, intolerance, and bigotry, all now get a free uncritical ride inside the Patheos [OnlySky] sandbox. You can now not criticize religion [atheism] there, and that includes even the batshit absurd claims. Nor can you criticize any of the obnoxious politics. For example, pulling apart GOP [Progressive Left] lies and deceptions would apparently be banned.

    Dave speculates that Patheos’ ceasing to host the atheist bloggers (unless they behave) was a commercial business decision, despite describing it as obviously bad business decision that will lose Patheos much in traffic and earnings:

    I speculate that this was most probably a business decision by Patheos. It was perhaps hard for Patheos to attract advertisers who wanted to promote to a religious audience, yet there nestled amongst the content sat very popular channels that were deeply critical of the religious… … many of the writers who are leaving have been writing for over a decade and have built up a very robust following, it is a choice that will see Patheos lose a lot of traffic.

    Looks to me like it was Patheos’ original decision to host the atheist bloggers that was the lucrative commercially motivated decision, its decision to cease hosting “very popular [atheist blogs]” the costly principled decision.

    I note that Dave opines, “If belief or even just spirtuality is your thing, then Patheos is still the place to go.” Which implies he reckons OnlySky bloggers will be or are unspiritual.

  4. Kevin says:

    There are a number of possible explanations for their take on Patheos’ stance, or possible combinations thereof.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies are complete idiots and simply can’t comprehend why Patheos doesn’t support their continued vitriol.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies lack education and possess no reading comprehension to comprehend Patheos’ position.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies are dishonest liars and have to spin the event as a smear on Patheos, rather than themselves, because their livelihood depends on generating the hatred necessary for continued clicks

    Whichever reason(s) is the explanation, it truly speaks volumes that, whenever Patheos requests a blogger to express positive viewpoints from within his own belief system, he simply can’t do it.

    Why can’t he do it? Well again, there are possible reasons or combinations thereof.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies need the hatred to generate traffic to his site, and living up to his name of the Friendly Atheist would kill his career.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies aren’t intelligent or educated enough about the issues to be able to express a position and defend it, so they can only attack things they don’t like.

    Perhaps Mehta and his allies don’t actually have anything positive to offer, since both their anti-Christian and political beliefs are based upon hatred of others rather than positive messaging that stands on its own.

    Regardless, this just shows how pathetic they are. Rather than rise to the challenge and meet minimum standards of not being a jackass, they tuck tail and scamper off so they can go be hateful elsewhere.


  5. SavedByGrace says:

    Even so, I pray for the repentance of Hemant and his associates. As much as the concept of “prayer” or even reference or display of it enrages them, I pray for their forgiveness and repentance all the more.

  6. Dhay says:

    Every now and then I look on the OnlySky site, and discover again that Hemant Mehta doesn’t seem to have much of a presence there. On Friendly Atheist Mehta was often posting eight times a day, and all of it in one easily found, easily browsed page. On OnlySky his posts seem — or are — much fewer, and are scattered across a range of OnlySky sections.

    Donations now go to OnlySky, which presumably has some algorithm — based on view count, perhaps — for apportioning who gets how much of it. Mehta has no button for making donations specifically to him.

    It’s for Mehta to make the judgment, not me, but I expect Mehta is finding OnlySky financially unsatisfactory, and I predict that state of affairs will continue.

    And I expect the site owners will find it financially unsatisfactory. Famously, a start-up business can expect to make a loss in the first year, maybe break even in the second; it’ll be interesting to see whether or not OnlySky is still a viable business after three years, and what happens then — probably sale or perhaps closure.

    I observe that OnlySky is everything that a wide variety of authors input, which means it’s very different in character from authors’ original blogs (and very different from Friendly Atheist.) It’s everything, hence it’s a mish-mash of nothing in particular. Good luck with selling that to the target ‘None’ public.

  7. Dhay says:

    I see that although Hemant Mehta’s blog posts remain accessible on their Patheos original site, Mehta’s Home page at…

    …now redirects to a page which starts:

    Not Religious? Seeking Answers?

    We aren’t exactly sure how you stumbled upon this page today, but we sure are glad you’re here. Whether you’ve been turned off by religion in the past, have a question about one of the world’s religions or are simply looking for content we no longer have, we hope you’ll stay and see what Patheos has to offer.

    At Patheos, we believe faith is a force for good in the world, but we also know it’s hard to find accurate information about religion online. We exist to help provide information, stories and conversation that leads to understanding, empathy and acceptance of all faiths.

    You don’t have to be a believer. But our hope is Patheos can serve as a platform to encounter others with different views while encouraging a civil discussion about matters of faith. Such encounters, we believe, can breed tolerance, compassion and growth.

    Here’s some views we recommend exploring: ..(etc)

    Which very politely outlines the standard expected of Patheos bloggers; the contrast between the expected standard and Mehta’s actual standard explains why he’s no longer blogging with Patheos; ditto those other sub-standard bloggers who have emigrated from Patheos to OnlySky..

  8. Dhay says:

    It’s 17 February 2023 as I type this, and Hemant Mehta, once a sometimes astonishingly prolific poster to the Patheos-hosted “Friendly Atheist” has not posted anything on the new OnlySky since 30 January 2023.

    He’s prolifically tweeting and re-tweeting on Twitter, and he’s obviously got a SubStack account he’s made at least one recent post to, so he’s evidently not ill or otherwise incapacitated.

    At the end of January it became a year since OnlySky came online, which leads me suspect that Mehta decided to give OnlySky a one-year trial, then if that didn’t work out, to drop OnlySky and find some more lucrative medium.

    Two things: the first is that Mehta might yet come back to OnlySky, at some posting frequency — but I’m not holding my breath; the second is that if he has indeed left for good, or will in future post rarely, OnlySky is now without its star attraction, the biggest name in atheist blogging (when at Patheos, that is), and without the income Mehta’s fans and viewing figures used to bring in.

    Interesting. We will see.

  9. Dhay says:

    OnlySky has long — possibly always, it’s become an automatic response to click the “X” — greeted its viewers with a pop-up dialogue box prompting them to register their contact details and subscribe to the newsletter — probably that’s marketing spam promoting the latest posts, possibly requests for donations? (I don’t know, I never sign up for anything.) Having dismissed that box, the reader used to be at the top of the OnlySky contents (“Media”) page and reading the newest and most heavily promoted posts.

    There’s been a change recently: when that irritating pop-up disappears, what appears in its place is still the OnlySky contents (“Media”) page, but now it’s the Support Our Work” section at the bottom, and with $15/month (or $180 annually) highlighted as the suggested donation.

    That’s a not exactly subtle indication that OnlySky is in financial difficulties, I expect it to disappear soon.


    Hemant Mehta, who as my previous response here points out, had not posted since 30 January, continues not posting. Looks like, metaphorically, he’s a rat deserting a sinking ship.


    A year ago the OnlySky banner was shades of cheery blue-sky light blue: it’s shades of miserable night-time dark grey now. Symbolic, or what.

  10. Dhay says:

    As expected, the owner of the OnlySky site has given up hopes of it ever being a money-making business proposition and has now off-loaded it to become an explicitly non-profit arm of American Atheists (which both “merged” with it and formed a “partnership” with it.) See the 20 April 2023 “OnlySky announces partnership with American Atheists” for further information:

    Much will not change, so far as I can see, so probably it will be the support/subsidy of AA that will keep it going — unless or until AA, too, gives up on it.


    Will the OnlySky sky revert to light blue? We will see.

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