WHEN he lost his religion, Rod Bower's Sundays suddenly opened up.
It was a shock for the former Mount Waverley resident, who had been a devout Protestant and regular churchgoer for most of his life.
His decision to become an atheist was painful and one that may have lost him a few friends.
"I guess I found myself in a difficult time in my life that gave me cause to sit down and have a long hard think about what it was that I believed in," he said.
"In the end, the only answer that made sense was that there wasn't a God at all. And that's where I've been ever since."
But after almost 30 years as an atheist, MrBower recently found himself in the middle of the Monash Interfaith Gathering.
He saw an advertisement for the group and had been thinking about going along.
"When you get involved in discussions whether it's online or wherever, it's pretty easy to see that there's a lot of misunderstanding between religious people and non-religious people. There's a lot of them-and-us stuff going on.
"A lot of us are concerned about that and want to see that sorted. I guess I'm one of those.
"I thought it would be an opportunity to make a difference."
He was apprehensive walking into the meeting.
"I was quite prepared for them to say, 'Look, you don't belong in an interfaith group' and that would have been fine.
"But the reception was actually quite good. A bit surprised probably at first but we all got over that.
"It's been very inclusive. There are times when the discussion doesn't mean a lot to me, but not very often. I guess there's times where I would like to be able to contribute in a different way."
"What I like is the level of acceptance among different groups and the different people there and the fact that they're all quite happy to listen and learn from one another about their background, what their beliefs are and why they think the way they do."