Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FAITHEIST by Chris Stedman


How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious

by Chris Stedman

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8070-1439-4
Publisher: Beacon

The searching, intelligent account of a gay man's experiences growing away from God and into a thoughtful and humane atheist.

Religion blogger Stedman first heard the term "faitheist" used by a fellow atheist to disparage Stedman’s tolerance for the religious beliefs of others. In this book, he reclaims this misunderstood concept for himself and other like-minded individuals. Stedman embraces the faitheist label because it clearly shows his interest in “putting 'faith' in my fellow human beings and our shared potential to overcome the false dichotomies that keep us apart.” He began his religious explorations as a young teenager, not long before his parents divorced and he became aware of his homosexuality. However, he soon found out that the born-again Christianity to which he had dedicated himself shunned homosexuality. Stedman desperately tried to hide his orientation and “pray the gay away.” His mother took him to see a minister who validated Stedman and gave him hope that he could still have a positive relationship with God. By the time he entered college, however, his religious fervor was gone, and he had declared himself an atheist. Nevertheless, he still sought to understand religion, both intellectually and through community interfaith work. The more he delved into the deeper questions of religion and morality, the more he saw the commonalities he shared with men and women of faith. He also realized that too many atheists were demonizing "those with different metaphysical beliefs" in the same way others had demonized him for his homosexuality. Stedman concludes that greater understanding and tolerance for religious diversity is possible, but only by rehumanizing the "other" through "intentional encounter[s] with difference.”

Brave and refreshingly open-minded.