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”!
June 13th, 2013 | Posted by: Chris Stedman
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.”
Earlier this year I visited Utah to speak at a conference cosponsored by Brigham Young University (98.5% Mormon) and Utah Valley University (86% Mormon, the highest single-religion percentage at any public university campus in the U.S.A.). In advance of my speech this weekend at Boston Pride, and in light of a strong Mormon presence at this year’s Utah Pride, my new piece for Religion Dispatches explores what I experienced as a queer atheist in the heart of Mormon country. Check out an excerpt below and click here to read it in full.
Last weekend a group of around 400 Mormons marched in the Utah Pride Parade. Calling themselves “Mormons Building Bridges,” they were met with enthusiastic applause. Carrying signs with messages like “Love 1 Another” and “LDS heart LGBT,” they were there to show their support for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and celebrate recent advancements in issues relating to LGBTQ people and Mormons, such as Bishops no longer excommunicating members who come out and the Boy Scouts of America voting to allow openly gay scouts to participate. (LGBTQ adults and atheists still cannot do so openly.)
As I read about Utah Pride in preparation for my remarks this upcoming weekend as the 2013 Boston Pride interfaith speaker, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I learned during a recent visit to Utah.
It was late in the evening when I arrived, and I knew I would be there for only 24 hours. I was met by Alasdair Ekpenyong, a college sophomore who stands at the crossroads of intersecting identities and convictions: black, LGBTQ-affirming, feminist, progressive, a lover of bowties—and deeply Mormon.
On Monday, June 10, from 6-7pm eastern, Becky Garrison will host a webinar about religious liberty with a focus on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issues, a conversation important to both people of faith and nontheists. I will be joining Becky on this webinar, along and Ed Buckner, former President of American Atheists and author of In Freedom We Trust, and other invited guests.
Relatedly, June 10th happens to be the 216th anniversary of the proclamation of the famous Treaty with Tripoli that clarifies what the Founding Fathers thought about the merger of church and state. And this year marks the 350th anniversary of the signing of the RI state charter, which has the distinction of being the first governmental charter to write religious liberty into law.
This event is free but reservations are required. To RSVP go to this link.