Friday, March 08, 2013

Faitheist- an important read

Last night I finished "Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious", and I was amazed at what an honest, kind and IMPORTANT book this is.

I think this book can be life changing for you if:

You're an atheist feels there must be a less adversarial way to relate to the religious.

You're an atheist who can't understand why your fellow freethinkers would bother working alongside to deluded religious people.

You're a person of faith who values diversity of thought and interfaith work, and you want to see the non-religious brought into the conversation.

You're a religious person feels your narrow definition of salvation is the only viable one, and you don't see the value in engaging with atheists.

In his book, Stedman recounts his experience as a man who went from an enthusiastic convert to Christianity,only to struggle with his growing knowledge that he was gay and that it seemed incompatible with his faith.  (Though it's worth noting that when he came out as a teen, he received open and accepting counsel from a Lutheran pastor. Lutherans FTW!) Stedman quickly moved through "angry atheism" to a desire to find common ground with his religious friends, and to work side by side with them on the issues of social justice that mattered to him.

The most touching story to me in this book recounts how Stedman and some friends were victims of homophobic slurs outside of a gay bar, and rather than ignoring them or firing back insults, Stedman engaged with them and shared his story. While there's no way to know if these men ever came to be open and accepting, what's sure is that sharing the very human stories we share- religious or secular, man or woman, gay or straight, is vital in creating a world where we all treat each other with respect.

Chris Stedman is  Humanist Chaplain at Harvard  and blogs at


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