An alternate (noun) is the ceremonial table at the front of sanctuaries in the places of worship of a religion known as Nateism. Nateists believe in and, of a fashion, worship a god named God Nate. They believe that God Nate is the Creator and Ruler of all of Brooklyn, New York and all of the creatures in it. Nateists are silent on which, if any, god(s) created the rest of the universe. They say that doesn’t matter.
Nateists believe that God Nate generally means well, except, of course, when he is upset with people or their actions, which is most of the time. However, they do not believe that He, She or It is infallible. (They aren’t quite sure of God Nate’s gender or lack thereof.) Quite the contrary, they believe God Nate is extraordinarily fallible, as will become apparent in the following paragraphs.
Nateism was founded in 1983 by Nathan (Nate) Piddlemeister, who grew up in and has spent all his life in Brooklyn. He still lives there.
Born in 1962, by the age of 21 Nate had come to realize that he was unique. He was certain that he was the only person in the history of humanity to get everything he did and believed in, not just somewhat wrong, but perfectly wrong. (Note: not just most things, but literally everything.) And he’ll probably be the last.
Nate decided that such perfection could come only from a god. He didn’t know the name of that god, or if the god even called Herself, Himself or Itself anything whatsoever, so he named It, Him or Her God Nate. He figured that if the god in question had chosen Nate as His, Her or Its perfect representation of wrongness on Earth, then Nate’s name was the best choice to honour that god, hence the name God Nate.
At present, there are only two Nateist temples. One serves double duty as Nate’s (Piddlemeister, not God) apartment. The second is a squatter’s room that Nate occupies for such purposes in a derelict building a few streets over from his apartment.
It is not known how many people are Nateists. Services usually consist of only Nate and a few homeless people who, if truth be told, attend services solely because, after the brief services, Nate serves bland wafers and fortified plonk that he, without a hint of sarcasm, calls wine.
The ceremonial table at the front of Nateist sanctuaries is called an alternate because one of the things that Nate gets wrong (as he must because he gets everything wrong) is spelling. He meant to call it an altarnate, but he blew it.
After services, Nate ceremonially and piously parades the alternate back to its usual hallowed place as an end-table beside his old, ratty, corduroy-covered brown couch.