Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why is a queer atheist spending all his time on interfaith activism?

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."

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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.

2 comments:

Tamayn Irraniah said...

I think there are two main reasons why such work is important:

First and foremost, it shows other faiths that may not be as open to LGBTQ identified people that we are just as capable, and in some cases more capable, of being moral members of the community. In some cases, it's based of Christian tradition, but in his case, he's also showing that morality can exist without Christianity. I think there are certain things that are just true, and there's no changing that.

Secondly, if people know someone who is LGBTQ, it's more likely that they will come to understand that we are not the boogyman we've been made out to be. The same of course goes for Athiests as well.

It also helps that yes, he's quite easy on the eyes. In my opinion, it's a rather suggestive pose too...

Writer said...

I agree with you, Tamayn...on all 3 points. I think if Christianity wants to survive, it needs to get back to its roots of accepting ALL people. Just as Paul accepted the Gentiles.

I honestly think that typically Atheists are MORE moral than Christians...a morality based on some outside source telling you to do or not to do something isn't really a morality.