Chris Stedman

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Chris Stedman
Chris Stedman, 2012.jpg
Chris Stedman in 2012
Born (1987-04-09) April 9, 1987 (age 29)
Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Residence New Haven, Connecticut
Known for Advocacy of Humanism, Interfaith/atheist cooperation, LGBTQ rights

Chris Stedman (born April 9, 1987) is an American writer and interfaith activist who serves as the Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community at Yale University.[1] He was formerly the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University,[2] where he was the coordinator for the interfaith service program, Values in Action. He writes for The Huffington Post, Religion News Service, and other media outlets, and is the author of a memoir, Faitheist.[3][4][5] Stedman's writing advocates outreach to seek "common moral ground between theists and atheists," and proposes achieving that aim by expanding interfaith dialogue to include atheists.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Biography[edit]

Stedman was born in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He was raised in a secular household, but converted to Evangelical Christianity at the age of eleven, as because, according to his memoir, he was attracted both by his religious community's social justice work and its provision of stability during his parents' divorce.[5][12][13]

While a teenage member of his church, Stedman struggled for years to reconcile his gay sexual orientation with his Christian faith, and by the time he began college declared himself an atheist.[14] Despite his atheism, Stedman continued studying Religion at Augsburg College, Meadville Lombard Theological School and the University of Chicago, obtaining baccalaureate and Master's degrees as a religious scholar, prior to joining Harvard as an Interfaith and Community Service Fellow (and later Assistant Humanist Chaplain) for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard.[15] As a secular humanist activist for "finding common ground," Stedman began outreach to the religious communities with whom he had affiliated earlier in his life.

Writing[edit]

In November 2012, Beacon Press published his memoir, Faitheist[5] (a pejorative used by antitheistic atheists to describe atheists who seek to associate with or accommodate theists), which describes both his transition from Evangelical Christian to openly gay atheist, and his later call to atheists for civil dialogue with the religious.[10][11][13][16][17]

Stedman is also the Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation, a forum for religious and ethical leaders to discuss issues relevant to religious pluralism.[18] In December 2009, he founded NonProphet Status, a blog "promoting atheist-interfaith cooperation," which features work by him and regular columnists, as well as guest contributors.[19][20]

He is a columnist for The Huffington Post's religion section, where he writes about "finding and affirming shared values among religious and nonreligious people."[3] He is also the youngest panelist for the Washington Post's On Faith column.[21][22] Since December 2013, he has written a regular column for Religion News Service, named Faitheist after his memoir of the same name.[23]

He is a member of the Secular Student Alliance's and Center for Inquiry's speakers bureaus, where he talks on such topics as Interfaith work, dialogue tools, diversity, and LGBTQ issues.[21][24]

Awards[edit]

Stedman is a past awardee of the 2011 Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement.[25] He also was the first awardee of the annual "Happy Heathen!" Award bestowed by the University of Oregon Alliance of Happy Atheists.[3]

Reception[edit]

Stedman's advocacy for inclusive interfaith dialogue and tolerance has found support from other atheists and interfaith advocates in the Millennial generation,[8] as well as the LGBTQ[6] and pluralistic rationalist communities.[26] Parallel initiatives for including atheists in interfaith dialogue include the welcoming of atheists to Eboo Patel's Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), pioneered by Stedman himself, and the convening of theists, atheists, liberals and conservatives in "transbelief dialogues"[27][28] sponsored by pluralistic rationalist groups.[29] Stedman's call for civil dialogue also parallels recent government- and media-driven campaigns such as the "Civility Tour," led by National Endowment for the Humanities chairman Jim Leach,[30] and Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://yalehumanists.com/about/meet-the-chaplain/
  2. ^ Humanist Community Project at Harvard: Meet the Staff. Retrieved November 02, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c The Huffington Post: Chris Stedman. Retrieved November 02, 2012.
  4. ^ Religion News Service: Chris Stedman. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. Retrieved November 02, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Chris Stedman: Proud to be a 'Faitheist'", Edge on the Net, November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 04, 2012.
  7. ^ "The Mediator: An Ex-Evangelical Atheist Trying to End Fights, Not Start Them", The Daily, July 8, 2012. Retrieved November 04, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Chris Stedman is a Faitheist: Atheists Involved in Interfaith Dialogue", The Huffington Post, November 24, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  9. ^ "None of the Above" (PBS Video Documentary, Transcript), PBS Television, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, October 26, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "A call for civil discourse", Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 27, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Twin Cities native seeks atheist/religious common ground", St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 28, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  12. ^ "Chris's Story". Interfaith Youth Core. Retrieved 2012-11-16. . Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Quraishi, Amanda (2011-08-21). "(F)a(i)theist: We're All In This Together". Tikkun Daily. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  14. ^ Wheeler, Wendi (April 1, 2011). "Talking About Faith and Values". Augsburg NOW. Augsburg College. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  15. ^ "Meet Our New Interfaith and Community Service Fellow". The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  16. ^ Stedman, Chris. "Faitheist". Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  17. ^ Stedman, Chris (2011-09-07). "Dear Religious Americans: How Many Atheists Do You Know?". Beacon Broadside. Beacon Press. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  18. ^ "State of Formation Staff". State of Formation. Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  19. ^ "Respecting religion, staying secular." Chris Stedman. NonProphet Status. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  20. ^ "About." NonProphet Status. Retrieved 2014-02-17
  21. ^ a b "Christopher Stedman". Secular Student Alliance. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  22. ^ Winston&, Kimberly. "On Faith: Chris Stedman". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  23. ^ "10 things to expect from my 'Faitheist' column." Religion News Service. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  24. ^ "Chris Stedman". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  25. ^ "Author Bio: Christopher Stedman". The New Humanism. The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  26. ^ Burton, Frank H. (2011-11-09). "Be Sane, Be VERY Sane", "NonProphet Status". Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  27. ^ Harvard Pluralism Project, Promising Practice: Finding Common Ground Through Difference. Retrieved November 02, 2012.
  28. ^ "Secular Bible Study casts wide net," Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 20, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  29. ^ The Circle of Reason. Retrieved November 02, 2012.
  30. ^ "E.J. Dionne Jr. Welcomes Jim Leach's Call for Civility," The Washington Post, November 30, 2009. Retrieved November 03, 2012.
  31. ^ Jon Stewart Keynote Speech (Transcript), Rally to Restore Sanity, October 30, 2010. Retrieved November 02, 2012.