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Faitheist

How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious

Author: Chris Stedman   Foreword by: Eboo Patel

The story of a former Evangelical Christian turned openly gay atheist who now works to bridge the divide between atheists and 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 and 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 diversity respectfully.

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 toward 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.

In Faitheist, 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.
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“Christians like me have heard lots of ‘testimonies’—how I once was lost but now am found, was blind ... and so on. We’ve heard how atheists converted to Christianity, how backsliders came back to piety, and how heretics returned to orthodoxy. What we haven’t heard enough of is testimonies about how a Christian became an atheist or how an atheist became a faitheist or how a gay Evangelical came out of the closet and out of the church. I’ve never read, heard, or met anyone better suited to this task than Chris Stedman. His beautiful writing voice, his poignant story-telling skill, his clear-eyed insight, his humane and humble empathy uniquely equip him to bear witness to everyone—especially Christians like me. Rigid anti-theists and theists alike will be challenged as they read—challenged to greater humanity, empathy, and understanding. Wholeheartedly recommended.”—Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?

“Smart. Funny. Heartening. Inspiring. Faitheist is the perfect book for those seeking a middle path between the firm, opposing certainties of religious fundamentalism and intolerant atheism.”—Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

“If Chris Stedman had become a pastor, he’d have a big, big church. Instead, he’s a humanist hero, a compelling writer whose efforts to build bridges between non-believers and the faithful will leave a lasting mark. Faitheist should be required reading in Sunday schools and Richard Dawkins’s house alike.“—Kevin Roose, author of The Unlikely Disciple

Agree or disagree with Chris Stedman (and there will be many who do both), no one can deny that he has written a deeply human book—human in its description of his own pilgrimage and human in its call to theists and non-theists alike to seek out common ground. The world would be a better place with more Chris Stedman’s in it and fortunately he has provided us a roadmap to just such a world.”—The Rev. William F. Schulz, President, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

“Who can we be together? Chris Stedman asks in this powerful book. Faitheist reveals that it’s not what we believe that matters, but how our beliefs shape what we do with our lives—a timely reminder for both atheists and the religious that the goal should be neither conversion nor the destruction of religion, but rather to make a better world.”—Sarah Sentilles, author of Breaking Up with God: A Love Story

“Stedman the atheist pays God the ultimate compliment: He provides a vigorous, amusing dissent to the all-too-glib magical ‘thinking’ both most Americanized big time religion and most so-called New Atheists are selling. Unlike the New Atheist stars and America’s blathering religious fundamentalists Stedman lays the groundwork for constructive engagement between all of us—no matter what we believe...or don’t.”—Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy For God

“Chris Stedman’s remarkable work has spanned from advocating for LGBTQ rights among Evangelical Christians to, in his current role at Harvard, founding the first-ever atheist-led interfaith initiative — and he’s only twenty-five. Part memoir and part blueprint, Faitheist not only recounts his personal journey (which would be a riveting story on its own), but also shows — sensitively and humorously — how Humanists can live out our values with both empathy and honesty. This book represents the growing secular movement at its very best.”—Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe

Reviews

Review: Toledo Blade - December 29, 2012
"His book about being religious and being secular, together, offers his hope for a better world."
Review by: Julie Foster, Minneapolis Star Tribune - November 27, 2012
"An enlightening and engaging memoir."
Review by: Taina Lagodzinski, Booklist - November 15, 2012
“Enter Stedman, avowed atheist, former Fundamentalist Christian, and current interfaith activist whose heartfelt and thought-provoking account of his struggle with God and religion serves as a call to arms for those seeking to bridge the gap between the religious and the secular… To that end he paints an intimate and deeply affecting portrait of his own life, one characterized by the sort of staggering dissonances—gay Christian teen, religion-degree-seeking atheist—that could cripple a person. But Stedman is nothing if not determined, and his resulting journey toward personal reconciliation through service work and interfaith dialogue is inspiring. Stedman’s story is motivational, his thoughts on interreligious dialogue insightful, and in this short memoir, he proves himself an activist in the truest sense and one to watch.”
Review by: Scott Kearnan, Boston Spirit - November 1, 2012
"Faitheist, a new memori by local author Chris Stedman, promotes a warm, loving, and witty serving of intercultural dialogue."
Review: Kirkus Reviews - September 15, 2012
“The searching, intelligent account of a gay man's experiences growing away from God and into a thoughtful and humane atheist...Brave and refreshingly open-minded.”
From Chapter 1

There’s Nothing Worse Than a Faitheist

The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is its polarization: Us vs. Them--the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you’re sensible, you’ll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status. --Carl Sagan

I had never heard the word “faitheist” before, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.

I blushed and ran my hands through my short coffee-colored hair--a nervous habit--and cleared my throat, asking if it was intended to be an insult.

“Yes,” he said without inflection. “There’s nothing worse than a faitheist.’”

It was my first experience with the atheist movement, and for at least a moment I thought it might be my last. I’d been an atheist for a while, but I had hesitated to seek out a community of nonreligious people. I imagined that secular folks would be difficult to organize; that assembling atheists, agnostics, skeptics, freethinkers, and other nonreligious individuals would prove tricky because our common thread--that we are not something--underscores only what we do not believe. But as I progressed in my work as an interfaith activist, I noticed that one of the things that actually made people good at it was a groundedness in one’s own identity. That, paired with my longing for a community of common belief, led me to begin searching for an organized community of nontheists.

The brusque brush-off occurred at a reception following a public discussion organized by a nonreligious group; the topic had been how the nonreligious--more specifically, atheists, agnostics, and other nontheistic, nonreligious people--should approach religion. I had suspected that there would be mixed feelings about religion. After all, I knew of the popular atheist discourse on the subject, which cast the religious not only as incorrect about metaphysical realities but as standing in the way of social and intellectual progress. But I had also hoped that someone might offer a more balanced perspective on religion, locating within the beliefs, desires, and actions of religious people similar values held by many nonreligious people.

I had gone with optimism and excitement. At the time, I was both an atheist and an intern for Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that helps mobilize young people to change the public narrative on religion from one of conflict to one of cooperation by engaging in dialogue around shared values and collaborative action. Because of my work, I felt I was in a particularly good position to discuss religion in the lives of nonreligious folks. I pictured myself saying with a well-meaning grin, “Hey, I work with religious people every day and my atheism is stronger than ever!” I hoped I might even serve as a bridge between two communities that are so oft en pitted against one another, to offer my insights as a nonreligious person working in an interfaith environment.

That aspiration was quickly curtailed. Throughout the program, religion--and religious people--were roundly mocked, decried, and denied. I’d arrived hoping to find a community bound by ethical and humanitarian ideals. Instead, I felt isolated and sorely discouraged.

Though I was disheartened by the event, I went to the post-panel reception, held at one of the panelists’ apartments, because I hoped that if I spoke with more of the group members I’d find some people who shared my opinions or learn a bit more about why they believed differently than I did. Also, as a thrift y graduate student, free dinner and drinks were hard to pass up!

I walked in and instantly removed my shoes. The apartment was beautiful; the ceiling-to-floor windows allowed for a stunning view of Chicago’s orange-and-white-lit skyline. The living room was impeccably clean. (I made a mental note to at least shove my dirty laundry in the closet when I got home.) I stood there and scanned the crowd; I was easily the youngest person there and unfashionably underdressed (nothing new there). Looking down at my feet, I noticed there was a hole in each of my socks. Maybe I should’ve left my shoes on, I thought.

I sat down on the couch, carefully balancing a mint julep in one hand and a plate of hors d’oeuvres I couldn’t name in the other, intensely aware of how out of place I must have seemed. Next to me on the couch were a woman in her mid-forties with a shimmering peacock brooch and a man in his late thirties wearing a denim shirt and a tan corduroy vest. I introduced myself and asked what they’d thought of the panel. They raved: “Wasn’t it wonderful how intelligent the panelists were and how wickedly they’d exposed the frauds of religion? Weren’t they right that we must all focus our energy on bringing about the demise of religious myths”

I paused, debating whether I should say anything. My “Minnesota Nice” inclination warned me to let it be, but I had to say something. So I started small, asking them to consider that diversity of thought and background fosters an environment where discourse thrives, where ideas are exchanged, and where we learn from one another.

I was stonewalled: “We have the superior perspective; everyone else is lost,” said the woman with a flick of her hand that suggested she was swatting at an invisible mosquito.

As a former Evangelical Christian, these words were hauntingly familiar, and they represented a kind of sure-handed certainty and dismissal--a kind of fundamentalist thinking, really-- that I’d hoped to leave behind with my “born again” beliefs.

Our conversation continued, and I offered up petitions that the positive contributions of religious people be considered with equal weight alongside the negative.

“I understand what you’re saying,” I said, trying to weigh my words carefully, “but how can we discount the role religious beliefs played in motivating the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi”

“Oh, I get it,” the man jumped in with a sneer. “You’re one of those atheists.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but it didn’t sound like a good thing. I shifted my weight from one side to another--another nervous habit--and picked at an hors d’oeuvre that I thought might be some kind of cheese.

“What do you mean, one of those atheists’” “You’re not a real atheist. We’ve got a name for people like you. You’re a faitheist.’”

Not a real atheist. I’d heard words like that before--in my youth, when I was told I couldn’t be a real Christian because I was gay. Once again I didn’t fit the prescribed model, and I was not-so-gently shown the door.

Now, atheism is a bit different from Christianity in that atheism isn’t a belief system. It’s an identification marker that unifies a minority of Americans who do not believe in God. But the implication was clear: you’re at the wrong party, kid.

The next day, I attended my weekly religion class at Loyola University’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, a Jesuit Catholic-run program for priests, nuns, and lay leaders. As the only self-identified nonreligious person in the class, I was regularly met with many questions. Once, a Catholic classmate cornered me in the elevator after class, proclaiming, “I’ve been dying to ask you about your atheism!” Yet it never felt like an affront--she and the others were genuinely (and understandably) curious.

Sitting in class the day after my botched attempt at seeking secular community, I realized that I felt more at home with my religious colleagues than with the atheists from the day before. I looked around the room, focusing on each individual face; here were people who believed in a God I had theorized away years ago, yet they felt more like kin than most atheists I knew. While my classmates felt that their religious beliefs were right, they not only tolerated my beliefs but also enthusiastically embraced and challenged them.

Even though many parts of the United States remain incredibly segregated, we live in the most religiously diverse nation on the planet, so one doesn’t need to be an atheist enrolled in a Catholic institution to know that many American citizens are by default required to coexist with people who believe radically different things. The question I found myself asking that day, however, went a step beyond that.

It was not, “Can religiously diverse people coexist in peace”-- because, with some notable exceptions, Americans generally manage to tolerate one another’s differences. It was, instead, “Can we learn to seek out our commonalities instead of solely fixating on our differences” This idea that it is worthwhile to make an intentional effort to find common ground is, to me, the difference between mere diversity and engaged pluralism. It is a question that our nation--in which a solid majority of Americans associate the extremists of 9/11 with all Muslims--is not close to resolving.

The challenge of engaged religious diversity--of intersecting religious difference--is one that atheists know perhaps more intimately than most. In a nation full of believers of all stripes, we are, in a sense, outliers. This is perhaps why so many atheists today ask for equal airtime alongside our religious neighbors--we want to be taken seriously, to be seen as equally ethical individuals. The unfortunate side effect is that many atheists demand this at the expense of talking to our religious peers in a way that affords them dignity and respect.

Several years ago, Harvard Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein wrote a book called Good Without God, and his thesis was a simple but important one: our society must move beyond the question of if one can be good without God to how this may be accomplished.

I join Greg in wanting people to move beyond wondering whether I am a moral individual, but I also join him in a companion call to our own community: atheism must move beyond defining itself--both in thought and in practice--in opposition to religion. If secular Americans want to be respected in our religiously diverse culture, we need to recognize that there is nuance and complexity in the diversity that defines it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a forefather of modern Humanism, is often said to have written these lines: “That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.”
Foreword by Eboo Patel
Chapter 1: There's Nothing Worse Than a Faitheist
Chapter 2: Starting Secular, Seeking Substance
Chapter 3: Conversation and Confusion
Chapter 4: Losing and Finding My Religion
Chapter 5: Unholier Than Though: Saying Goodbye to God
Chapter 6: Putting My money Where Other People's Mouths Are
Chapter 7: In Search of the Secular Soul
Chapter 8: Fact or Friction, Engage or Enrage
Afterword
Acknowledgements
Notes
  • Click here to read an excerpt from Faitheist on Salon.com
  • Click here to read a review of Faitheist on Patheos.com
  • Click here to read a review in Christian Century
  • Click here to read a post on Secularstudents.org
  • Click here to listen to an interview with Stedman on PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly
  • Click here to listen to interview with Stedman on The Matthew Filipowicz Show
  • Click here to read a profile on Edge online
  • Click here to read an article about Faitheist in On Being Both.com
  • Click here to read a post on NonProphet Status
  • Click here to read a write-up in the United Church Observer
  • Click here to read a post on TokenSkeptic.org
  • Click here to read an article about Stedman in Patrolmag.com
  • Click here to read an article by Stedman on ReligiousDispatches.com
  • Clickhere to read an exclusive excerpt of Faitheist on Patheos.com
  • Click here to read an article about Stedman on Patheos.com
  • Click here to read an interview with ReligiousDispatches.com
  • Click here to read a Q&A with Stedman on The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog
  • Click here to read a write-up in The Pioneer Press
  • Click here to read a Q & A with Stedman on The Religious News Service
  • Click here to read a write-up on Faitheist on Skepticblog.org
  • Click here to read an essay by Stedman on The Rumpus
  • Click here to read a new post by Stedman on Patheos.com
  • Click here to read a write-up about Stedman on Xtra!: Canada's Gay and Lesbian News
  • Click here to read a piece by Stedman on MSNBC.com
  • Click here to read a review of Faitheist on Discardedimage.com
  • Click here to read a write-up on Patheos.com
  • Click here to read an interview with Amy Goetzman at Minnpost.com books
  • Click here to read a post by Stedman on thoughtcatalog.com
  • Click here to read a playlist by Stedman the corresponds to Faitheist on www.largeheartedboy.com
  • Click here to read a post by Stedman on Patheos.com
  • Click
  • Click here to listen to Stedman on Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit."
  • Click here to read a profile of the author in Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.'s LGBT News Magazine
  • Click here to watch Chris Stedman on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC

View the reader's guide

Contents

About the Book

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 and 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 diversity respectfully.

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 toward 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.

In Faitheist, 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.

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Praise

“Smart. Funny. Heartening. Inspiring. Faitheist is the perfect book for those seeking a middle path between the firm, opposing certainties of religious fundamentalism and intolerant atheism.“—Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

“The searching, intelligent account of a gay man’s experiences growing away from God and into a thoughtful and humane atheist...Brave and refreshingly open-minded.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Stedman the atheist pays God the ultimate compliment: He provides a vigorous, amusing dissent to the all-too-glib magical ’thinking’ both most Americanized big time religion and most so-called New Atheists are selling. Unlike the New Atheist stars and America’s blathering religious fundamentalists Stedman lays the groundwork for constructive engagement between all of us—no matter what we believe...or don’t.”—Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy For God

“Who can we be together? Chris Stedman asks in this powerful book. Faitheist reveals that it’s not what we believe that matters, but how our beliefs shape what we do with our lives—a timely reminder for both atheists and the religious that the goal should be neither conversion nor the destruction of religion, but rather to make a better world.”—Sarah Sentilles, author of Breaking Up with God: A Love Story

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About the Author

Chris Stedman is the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, the emeritus managing director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, and the founder of the first blog dedicated to exploring atheist-interfaith engagement, NonProphet Status. Stedman writes for the Huffington Post, the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, and Religion Dispatches. He lives in Boston.

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Questions for Discussion

Chapter One: There’s Nothing Worse Than a Faitheist

  • Stedman writes that our culture “increasingly asks us to check our religious and nonreligious identities at the door-to silence the values and stories we hold most dear” (13). Whether you’re religious or nonreligious, have you ever felt pressured to check components of your identity at the door? What propelled you to do so?

  • In this chapter, Stedman notes his rejection by both evangelical Christians and atheists alike. Have you ever experienced a confusing sense of isolation because you’ve associated comfortably with an unexpected group of people?

Chapter Two: Starting Secular, Seeking Substance

  • Stedman recounts with horror how he discovered the existence of slavery and genocide while reading Roots, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Hiroshima. He notes that these books have deeply contributed to his moral framework concerning economic disparity, racism, and the overall affliction of minorities. Which texts have done likewise for you?

Chapter Three: Conversion and Confusion

  • Stedman writes: “The radical nature of Christ as someone who tore apart the fabric of the social structures of His time rattled me in the best way possible” (39). Who are some religious and nonreligious figures that exemplify certain values that strongly resonate with you?

  • Stedman’s mother took him to a minister to receive counsel after she became aware of his moral dilemma over homosexuality. Though she had been previously disengaged with religion, she recognized that meeting with a religious authority might be meaningful to her son at that particular time. What do you think Chris learned from her openness toward her son’s convictions even though she didn’t share the same beliefs?

Chapter Four: Losing and Finding My Religion

  • About meeting Randy, Stedman writes, “It was one thing to hear that it was okay to be gay from a straight Christian minister, but meeting someone who could relate experientially to the struggles I had faced was something else altogether” (64). How has meeting someone who has been stigmatized changed your ability to talk to others about it? What admissions might help others if you would open up about them more often?

  • Even though he is an atheist, Stedman’s former ardent belief in God affords him a better understanding of religious people. Have there been times in which you’ve been able to better understand another’s experience because of beliefs you once held? Do you meet their convictions with a patronizing attitude or with openness?

Chapter Five: Unholier Than Thou: Saying Good-bye to God

  • Deciding that religious identities were irrelevant to the work he was doing, Stedman was unwilling to become familiar with the religious identities of his Muslim colleagues at BCCC. Along with veiling his own experience, he neglected an opportunity to learn about a community he was generally unfamiliar with. Have you stifled growth in your relationships because of an unwillingness to engage your own or another’s religious or nonreligious identity? In what other areas might you implement a "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy?

  • Because the majority of his social relationships before attending college were built around his original involvement with Christianity, Stedman was initially hesitant to open up to those around him about his loss of faith. How might the current atheist movement be able to learn from aspects of the LGBT movement in terms of encouraging visibility and coming out? How might students who self-identify as LGBT or nonreligious (or both) receive encouragement to speak up at religious universities?

Chapter Five: Unholier Than Thou: Saying Good-bye to God

  • When Stedman talks with the group of men in Chicago who had verbally assaulted him and his friends, one man admits he had never actually met a homosexual. This interaction shattered certain misconceptions and possibly prevented other LGBT individuals from being ridiculed in the future. Have you ever had a similar experience in which simply getting to know someone had a powerful humanizing effect?

  • Guilt is a recurring theme throughout Stedman’s journey. Once feeling guilt for doubting the existence of God, Stedman takes a trip to El Salvador in Chapter Five and wrestles with guilt for "having looked for a sign of God." In which instances throughout Chapter Six do you sense that he seems able to let go of both dimensions of guilt?

Chapter Six: Putting My Money Where Other People’s Mouths Are

  • When Stedman talks with the group of men in Chicago who had verbally assaulted him and his friends, one man admits he had never actually met a homosexual. This interaction shattered certain misconceptions and possibly prevented other LGBT individuals from being ridiculed in the future. Have you ever had a similar experience in which simply getting to know someone had a powerful humanizing effect?

  • Guilt is a recurring theme throughout Stedman’s journey. Once feeling guilt for doubting the existence of God, Stedman takes a trip to El Salvador in Chapter Five and wrestles with guilt for "having looked for a sign of God." In which instances throughout Chapter Six do you sense that he seems able to let go of both dimensions of guilt?

Chapter Seven: In Search of the Secular Soul

  • In this chapter, Stedman writes about the "competing and often contradictory goals among self-identified ’atheist activists’" (153). Though a firm atheist, he vehemently opposes the notion that he must work to bring about "the demise of religion." Rather, he has chosen to work towards religious pluralism-but not without receiving criticism for it. What are some specific difficulties faced by atheists who engage in interfaith work?

  • Stedman notes the recurring sentiment within the media that atheists are morally bankrupt. How might some individuals-even those who don’t forthrightly denounce atheists-contribute to this harmful stereotyping? If you are an atheist, have you ever felt stigmatized? (If so, how have you responded?)

  • While describing the backlash President Obama received for being "accommodating of atheists," Stedman writes of the pervasive idea that "any Christian who advocates for atheist inclusion isn’t a real Christian" (151). If you are a Christian, have you ever felt that your faith would be jeopardized by encouraging social and civic equality with atheists? If so, how has that affected your ability to engage in constructive dialogue with secular people (as well as with members of your own community)?

Chapter Eight: Fact of Friction, Engage or Enrage

  • Stedman notes that "a Muslim speaking out against religious extremism will probably be better received by Muslim communities than a Humanist" (167). What religious or nonreligious group would be most receptive to your interfaith message?

  • In an interview Stedman said, "A separate hope I have for this book is that it might encourage young people to step out into the public arena with their stories and their beliefs. I believe young people have the capacity to do such good work in the world, but many don’t feel they have the authority to speak, or to act, or to influence." If you’re a young person, how might you minimize your experience and beliefs regarding your faith, sexual orientation, or other aspects of your identity because of your age? What feature of being young makes you hesitant to share or to get involved? Observing Stedman’s flux and change, how might you hold your ever-changing perspective in tension with the fact that your story matters now?

From Story to Action: Tips for Bridging the Religious - Nonreligious Divide

Are you interested in building relationships across religious and nonreligious boundaries by working on local and global projects together? The Interfaith Youth Core has compiled a resource for any individual who wants to get involved. Access it here.


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September 2012 | Trade Paperback | Memoir | $16.00 | isbn 9780807003312
Beacon Press | beacon.org | katewhouley.com
Also available as: Audiobook from Audible.com and eBook


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Faitheist

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