Excerpts via BuzzFeed
I got to know Chris Stedman as he was writing a book to explain how a gay hipster atheist could come to work on interfaith activism as the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University.
It's a tangled web, but in Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, Stedman tells his own story — from his childhood to an adolescence in evangelism to coming out to defining his atheism to engaging in interfaith work.
Along the way, he aims at a larger story. As Stedman tells it, "I offer it up as a case study of sorts — an inside look into why one atheist struggled to find a healthy way to engage with the religious and why transcending our divisions is so important."
How does being queer impact your atheism today?
Realizing that I was queer as a young, fundamentalist Christian encouraged me to become a critical thinker. It forced me to question what I was told instead of just accepting it as true because an authority said so, gave me a lot of empathy for those who struggle to understand differences, helped me to understand intersectionality, and equipped me to develop the ability to stand up for myself and my own beliefs. But being queer isn't just connected to my atheism and to my Humanist values; it also deeply informs why I do interfaith work.
Because I experienced the consequences of extreme tribalism and fundamentalism, I want to help encourage a more open and compassionate dialogue about religion and diversity. I want to live in a religiously pluralistic world, where people see that we have to find a way to not only live alongside people with whom we fundamentally disagree, but also be in relationship with people different from ourselves. For this reason and many others, my activism grows out of my queer identity, and it remains deeply connected to it.
And, damn! He's cute.