Oct 30, 2013
Greetings, friends! I hope that this finds you well. Though I have continued to do speaking engagements and interviews with media, this section of the site has fallen a bit behind recently. My apologies for the lack of updates but I have been quite busy this year with my roles at Harvard and now Yale Universities, and other projects. I hope to post some new updates soon -- but in the meantime I wanted to share the details for my upcoming UK tour, including an event in London with the BHA and 3FF, in Belfast with the BBC's William Crawley, and a conference with the Scottish Parliament. I hope to see you at one of these events! (And for more regular updates, please check out my Facebook and Twitter.)
London: Tuesday, 5 November 2013
In partnership with the British Humanist Association, Theos, AHS, and the Radical Middle Way, Three Faiths Forum invites you a dialogue with Chris Stedman, humanist interfaith activist and author of Faitheist, who will speak on the topic of including the non-religious in interfaith. Chris Stedman advocates outreach to seek "common moral ground between theists and atheists", and proposes achieving that aim by expanding interfaith dialogue to include atheists. His presentation will be followed by responses from the AHS, Radical Middle Way, and Theos. Registration for the event is free, but we invite guests to make a £3 voluntary donation on the night to help us cover costs. Click here to register for this event!
Belfast: Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Chris Stedman in conversation with William Crawley of the BBC. Don't miss this great opportunity to hear Chris discuss his book and journey so far in conversation with William Crawley. An evening of insight and challenging conversation is guaranteed. Copies of Chris' book 'Faitheist' will be available courtesy of our friends from No Alibis. Free entry 18+. Click here for details and to RSVP!
Scotland: 8 November 2013 - 10 November 2013
The Xaverian Missionaries of the USA and United Kingdom have organized a collaborative conference of dialogue between religious believers of different faiths and atheists, in order to look for common ground for service in the community. Keynote speakers include Chris Stedman, John Sivaloan, Mona Siddiqui, and others. On the second day of the conference, Mr. Stedman and others will be speaking before the Scottish Parliament. Click here for more information on this conference!
Oct 22, 2013
Over the weekend CNN invited me to discuss Oprah Winfrey, Diana Nyad, atheism, and interfaith dialogue for their "Faces of Faith" segment. Check out the video of my interview below:
Many thanks to CNN for inviting me on!
Oct 3, 2013
Hello, all! My sincere apologies for the absence of new updates -- these last few months have been a whirlwind, with a lot of travel (including events in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and more) plus my work at Harvard and at the Humanist Community at Yale, where I now work as their first Coordinator of Humanist Life. I hope to catch up on posting press updates for Faitheist here soon, but in the meantime...
I wanted to let you know that Faitheist is now out in paperback! Click here to get it from Amazon, or visit IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore to pick it up.
Oh, and one other thing you may want to check out while you're at the bookstore: the current issue of Details magazine, which named me as "[one of] five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion's status quo." They went on to add: "An ex-evangelical Christian turned openly gay atheist, this tat-sleeved lightning rod is leading the charge—through his frequent panel appearances, his 2012 memoir, Faitheist, and his activism against religious intolerance—to include his fellow faithless in interfaith dialogues." Thanks so much, Details!
Jul 14, 2013
Two weeks ago today I spoke at the first U.S. service of the Sunday Assembly, a so-called "atheist church" from the U.K. that has been making waves around the world. In this piece I speak with Harry Cheadle of VICE, who also reflects on that event, on the potential benefits of community for the nonreligious, and on the possibility of dialogue between atheists and the religious. (In other words: be sure to read beyond the headline.) Click here to read it in full.
Jul 10, 2013
New blurbs for Faitheist continue to come in (click here to read a previous update about new blurbs, and visit the "Praise" section for a listing of others). Below, recently added blurbs from authors Katherine Ozment, John Corvino, and Joanna Brooks, entertainer James Galea, and a clipping from Rory Fenton's review for the UK's New Humanist magazine:
"In Faitheist, Chris Stedman tells his gripping personal saga of leaving his evangelical faith for work as an atheist interfaith community organizer, and ties his tale to the larger American story. The result is a deeply moving account of one young man's struggle for meaning, as well as a prescription for the many ways the religious and nonreligious can come together. I was reminded of Franz Kafka's quote: 'A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.' For me, this book was that axe, and the voice, the story, and the humanity evident on each page will stay with me always." —Katherine Ozment, prolific journalist and editor, and author of the forthcoming Losing Our Religion: The Quest For Grace Without God
"Faithiest resonated with me in many ways—not only because, like Chris, I am a gay former-Christian atheist who still thinks of my religious neighbors as fellow truth-seekers—but also because I deeply appreciated the book's nuanced approach to contentious issues. This is an important contribution to current debates, one which should be read not only for its valuable content but also for its exemplary tone: warm, engaging, optimistic, and humble." —John Corvino, "The Gay Moralist," author of What's Wrong with Homosexuality? and Wayne State University Philosophy Department Chair
"Faitheist is the winsome story of a working-class white kid growing up amidst fragments of other people's religions, who as a teenager latches onto the energy of evangelical Christianity, then comes to terms with his sexuality, leaves Christianity for atheism, and goes to theology school where he joins the movement for interfaith justice... as an atheist. It is the story of Christopher Stedman, who at 25 years old is now assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a surprising and influential new voice in the interfaith justice movement and American atheism. Stedman models an atheism that while uncompromising in its principles is also warm towards and respectful of religious believers—a striking shift from the hard-hitting argumentation of the New Atheist movement—and ends up humanizing atheism while he's at it." —Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith
"It seems every year I read a book which challenges my views, my preconceptions, and changes my paradigm; this year, Faithiest was that book. Stedman's memoir is beautifully told with rich and vivid storytelling, and I'd bet most would benefit from hearing his story. Throughout his journey, we painfully realize just how much words can hurt—but also how they can heal. The world could do with more people like Chris Stedman, and Faitheist is a great place to begin the conversation. I couldn't recommend it more highly." —James Galea, star of Discovery Channel series 'Breaking Magic'
"As atheists and the religious debate how to engage one another, [Stedman's] is a very important story to tell... It moved me to tears. Incredibly, the message of the book and [Stedman's] professional life is one of tolerance; a call for dialogue, not division, between believer and non-believer. Confident now in his atheism, Chris wishes to use his story to highlight intolerance of all kinds—and this includes intolerance within the atheist community for the religious... The world is simply too complex to divide along the tribal lines of religious and atheist, us and them. In making active efforts to reach across this faith divide we stand not only to make useful allies in fighting the homophobia, sexism and anti-science behind religious extremism, but to build real relationships and gain real friendships. This is Stedman's challenge to his readers and I'm with him on it. Atheists and religious people have too much to gain from sincere dialogue to wallow in lazy stereotyping. ★★★★★ out of ★★★★★" —New Humanist magazine (Rory Fenton)
Jul 8, 2013
Chris Stedman was unlike any of the other Week Two speakers, which all focused on the theme of religion and spirituality in the next generation. For one thing, he is part of the next generation, at 26 years young. And his lecture was not really about religion or spirituality; Stedman is an atheist — and an interfaith activist, to boot.
A new article in The Chautauquan Daily provides an in-depth recap of my recent speech on the religiously unaffiliated, atheist community, interfaith work, and Faitheist for the Chautauqua Institution's interfaith lecture series. Click here to read it in full.
Additionally, The Chautauquan Daily ran a preview article the day of the speech, including an interview. Click here to read it.
Jun 27, 2013
Mary Johnson (author of An Unquenchable Thirst) reflects on Faitheist in an essay published in the new issue of The Humanist magazine:
Stedman chooses to focus on what unites people, without compromising who he is. He works for a world that will recognize the right of each individual to determine his or her own identity, and he demands of himself that he respect others even when they don't respect him. I admire that—especially since I'm not always as brave. Reading Faitheist caused me discomfort in part because it brought to the surface some of my own pain and unrealized hopes. The book often insists on the importance of telling stories as a first step toward building bridges... These are the sort of stories that fill Stedman's Faitheist, stories of a world where our common humanity trumps our differences, where we don't have to ridicule the other side to feel good about ourselves, and where each of us will have to do the hard work of dealing with our personal histories in all their complexity if we're going to learn to speak more from our hopes and less from our pain.
Jun 22, 2013
I'm very excited to announce that on Sunday, June 30th, I'll be the guest speaker for New York City's first ever Sunday Assembly.
At this point you very well may be asking yourself: What exactly is a Sunday Assembly? Per a recent article in the NY Daily News:
After six months of packed houses at monthly services in London, an atheist congregation called The Sunday Assembly is bringing its movement to the U.S.
The co-founders [comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans] will soon embark on a cross-country tour to decide which cities might support their own permanent Sunday Assembly franchise, and the first test run will be held in a Manhattan dive bar.
That's no typo—they're essentially an "atheist church," and they've become quite the phenomenon in the U.K. and other parts of the world. (For more on what they do, check out this profile of their efforts from The Guardian). Now, they're coming to the U.S. to host a service at Tobacco Road in NYC on Sunday, June 30th at 12:30 PM.
Given that this event is happening the weekend of NYC's LGBT Pride, and that some in attendance may be "coming out" as an atheist, agnostic, or nonreligious person for the first time, the service's theme will be on coming out. As the guest speaker I'll be sharing some of my story as a former Evangelical Christian who has come out as both a queer person and an atheist. And as I write about in Faitheist, I'll also discuss what might happen if we all "came out" to one another—religious and nonreligious alike—and built the kinds of relationships that would enable us to work together to improve the world, challenging anti-atheist bias and other forms of intolerance in the process.
If you'd like to attend the first ever Sunday Assembly in the U.S., check out (and RSVP at) their Facebook event. If you want to get involved in organizing future NYC Sunday Assembly events, click here. If you can't get to NYC, you may still be in luck: co-founder Sanderson Jones is also visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago in the next week to meet with people interested in starting up Sunday Assembly groups. Click here to learn more about his trip. Finally, if you want to contact Sunday Assembly for any reason, click here!
Oh, and click here to check out the rest of my summer speaking schedule (with more events still to be announced).
Hope to see you soon in NYC for "atheist church"!
Jun 12, 2013
Religion Newswriters Association—a non-partisan service for journalists who write about religion provided by journalists who write about religion—lifts up Faitheist in the introduction to their new resource entitled "Freethinkers: The next generation of nontheists emerges."
"Others argue for greater engagement with believers – for finding 'common moral ground between theists and atheists,' as Chris Stedman, a humanist chaplain at Harvard University, puts it. Stedman is the author of the 2012 memoir Faitheist, which is often a term of derision used by atheists for other nonbelievers who they say try too hard to accommodate belief."
Click here for a list of what the RNA sees as the top emerging stories and studies about young nontheists, as well as some of the leading nontheist organizations, scholars, and resources. What do you think about the issues that they've highlighted? Is there anything not listed that you would have included?
Actor and LGBT activist Darryl Stephens (star of TV's "Noah's Arc") has publicly come out as agnostic after reading Faitheist. Click here to read his vulnerable, honest reflection on his journey and his desire to find common ground with the religious.
"[Faitheist] has inspired me to be less judgmental of people of faith... The kindness one exhibits, the empathy one feels, the integrity with which one lives their life - these are the qualities that we should be concerned about, not where he or she spends their Sunday mornings... No one has all the answers. And just because we're reading different books doesn’t mean our stories won't overlap at times and that we can’t find strength and solace in our similarities."