Nat Jackson read passages from the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Saturday to crowds walking past the Allen Street Gates.
Before reading verses about how the Spaghetti Monster created the universe, he put on a black eye patch, the required attire for the Spaghetti Monster's believers.
That text was one of more than a dozen religious books -- including the Bible and the Quran -- put on display by the Penn State Atheist and Agnostic Association, of which Jackson (senior-anthropology) is president. Passersby could donate money in return for hearing club members read aloud from the book of their choice.
The "Bible-A-Thon" raised about $503, which will go to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that brings medical care to people worldwide.
Club members manned their table of religious texts from 9 a.m. to about 7:15 p.m. Some of them held up signs that read, "Make atheists read the Bible."
"It's like a social experiment to test how tolerant people are," said David Yanofsky, who had been at the booth since 1 p.m. Though Yanofky graduated in May, he still lives in State College and participates in the group's activities. There was a steady stream of interested people throughout the day, he said.
A wide variety of religions were represented, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. There were also less traditional texts that represented atheism, Scientology and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a deity created by Kansas author Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.
Reactions to the event were mostly positive, Jackson said.
"We've only been flipped off like twice," he said.
Some people, however, said they support Doctors Without Borders, but don't want to donate to them through atheists, Jackson said. Club members want to change that. Under Jackson's leadership, the club has been steadily increasing its presence on campus over the last year.
Doing charitable events was one of Jackson's original goals for the club, and he is glad to see that coming to fruition.
He said if people see his group working with a charity, it may change the negative view many people have of atheists.
In between readings, club members debated religious ideas with each other and with people walking by.
"You guys are very cool, but I just believe in God," said Kate Hillenbrand (senior-history), who stopped by the booth.
Though she is neither atheist nor agnostic, Hillenbrand appreciated what the group was doing.
"I'm really glad they're doing this," she said, adding, "In America, who stands up for themselves anymore?"
Hillenbrand said she is interested in all kinds of philosophies and beliefs and thinks Penn State students should spend more time pondering those ideas.
"At this school, people care about drinking and football. What ... is that going to accomplish?" she said.
After listening to a passage from the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Andrew Selzer (junior-computer science) said he had heard of the book before, but it was interesting to actually hear parts of it read aloud.
"It's a matter of opinion, but the definition of religion is believing in a god," Selzer said.
Associate professor of theatre Charles Dumas donated to the group because Doctors Without Borders is one of his favorite organizations, he said. He asked to hear a reading from the Quran and thought the event was a smart, interesting idea.
"It's a provocative idea to have atheists reading from holy books to raise money," he said.