“We’re lucky to live in Berlin, a city where roughly two thirds of the population are atheists,” write the makers of Bauhaus-style Atheist shoes on their website. “But we’re conscious there are still places where it’s difficult to be godless.”
One such place, Dublin-born company founder David Bonney told The Local, was the United States – where the belief in what the shoemaker jokingly refers to on his website as the “magical sky-daddy” is much more widespread.
But now it seems as if the believers are hitting back at the Atheist shoes. It all began when Bonney noticed a large number of shipments of his handmade shoes – which proclaim “I’m an atheist” or “Darwin Loves” on the sole – were failing to reach customers in the US.
“About half our shipments to the US have seen lengthy delays,” 34-year-old Bonney told The Local, adding that he was pretty certain it was the word “Atheist” on the outside of the boxes that was putting the wind up God-fearing American posties.
“We accept that the odd delay and even the occasional disappearance are bound to happen,” he said. “But the problem did get significantly worse for us last autumn, which happened to be when we started using ATHEIST-branded tape.”
At around the same time, said Bonney, he started getting requests from American customers not to put the word on the boxes.
“Some of our customers saw pictures of our atheist-branded packages on our Facebook page and wrote to us, asking that we not use the tape on their shipments because they feared their local postman would judge them or that their package might disappear en route,” he said.
And a recent test seemed to confirm that theory. Atheist sent 89 customers in the US two separate packets, one with and one without the tape. Although they were shipped on the same day with the same priority, the branded Atheist box took an average of three days longer to arrive.
“We lost ten shipments during our experiment and, overall, since we began sending packages to the US, it could be as many as 25 packages that have completely disappeared,” said Bonney.
So what happens to them?
“God knows,” Bonney told The Local. “Maybe it truly is divine intervention and they all get magically sucked up to heaven or some similar made-up place.”
Seriously though, Bonney suspects “a handful of the packages have been deliberately selected for lengthy special processing, or even found their way into litter bins. But we can only speculate.”