Roxanne Salonen's April 16 column perfectly displayed the hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes that underlies her façade of compassion and gratitude.

Salonen is right to be grateful for the efforts of her hosts to make her feel comfortable. But she errs in asserting that "the godless" are incapable of the true gratitude that she experiences as a Christian. She writes, "I concluded that those without God would by default be capable only of being an ungrateful guest, or at best, one half-hearted in appreciation." What hubris? How insulting to the vast majority of atheists and agnostics who live their lives according to a moral code based on respect for others and an appreciation for the world in which they live?

Salonen believes that her brand of gratitude is somehow superior because she directs it toward her god. I, on the other hand, am also grateful for the steps my friends and hosts take to make me feel more welcome. The difference, however, is that I direct my thankfulness to the actual people who made these efforts. It is them-my friends, family, and neighbors-who make this world a special place to be. It is an insult to those people to dismiss their conscious action by crediting it all to an invisible god who may or may not even exist.

Salonen claims that "(h)umility and gratitude are the first steps toward seeing God." I suggest she start with the former.

Thiel is a Moorhead native living in Portland, Ore.