Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious
The stunning popularity of the "New Atheist" movement—
whose most famous spokesmen include Richard Dawkins,
Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens—speaks to
both the growing ranks of atheists as well as the
widespread, vehement disdain for religion among many of
them. In Faitheist, Chris Stedman tells his own story to
challenge the orthodoxies of this movement and make a
passionate argument that atheists should engage religious
Becoming aware of injustice, and craving community, Stedman became a "born-again" Christian in late childhood. The idea of a community bound by God's love—a love that was undeserved, unending, and guaranteed—captivated him. It was, he writes, a place to belong, and a framework for making sense of suffering.
But Stedman's religious community did not embody this idea of God's love: they were staunchly homophobic at a time when he was slowly coming to realize that he was gay. The great suffering this caused him might have turned Stedman into a life-long New Atheist. But over time he came to know more open- minded Christians, and his interest in service work brought him into contact with people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. His own religious beliefs might have fallen away, but his desire to change the world for the better remained. Disdain and hostility towards religion was holding him back from engaging in meaningful work with people of faith. And it was keeping him from full relationships with them—the kinds of relationships that break down intolerance and improve the world.
Stedman draws on his work organizing interfaith and secular communities, his academic study of religion, and his own experiences to argue for the necessity of bridging the growing chasm between atheists and the religious. As someone who has stood on both sides of the divide, Stedman is uniquely positioned to present a way for atheists and the religious to find common ground and work together to make this world—the one world we can all agree on—a better place.Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and the Values in Action Coordinator for the Humanist Community at Harvard (where he was previously the inaugural Interfaith and Community Service Fellow). He is also the Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation at theJournal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and founder of the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement, NonProphet Status.
Chris Stedman is the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University and the Values in Action Coordinator for the Humanist Community at Harvard (where he was previously the inaugural Interfaith and Community Service Fellow). He is also the Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation at theJournal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and founder of the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement, NonProphet Status.
Chris received an MA in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. A graduate of Augsburg College with a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion, Chris writes for Huffington Post Gay Voices, Huffington Post Religion, The Washington Post On Faith, Religion Dispatches, Relevant, and more. Previously a Content Developer and Adjunct Trainer for Interfaith Youth Core, Chris is an atheist working to foster positive and productive dialogue and collaborative action between faith communities and the nonreligious. He speaks on this topic across the United States and around the world.
In 2011, the Huffington Post listed
Chris's work as one of the Top 11
Religion Stories of the year and named
him one of the top interfaith activists on
Twitter, Religion Dispatches listed him
at #5 in a list of the Top 10 Peacemakers
in the Science-Religion wars, and
the University of Oregon Alliance of
Happy Atheists recognized his work with
their first annual Happy Heathen! Award.
Chris served on the initial Leadership Team of the Common Ground Campaign, a coalition of young people who stood up in response to the wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in the U.S. surrounding the Park51 controversy, and continues to advise it in its current form, Groundswell. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the interfaith global development organization World Faith and is an advisor to the Foundation Beyond Belief's "Challenge the Gap" charitable initiative. Portland, Oregon's Just Out called his work "brilliant" and labeled him an "emerging... vibrant and youthful queer voice for the secular humanist movement.