At the age of 11, Chris Stedman accepted Christ into his heart at an evangelical church in Minnesota. Raised into a poor and often unstable family, through his church he found both a strong and a caring community. Over time, however, Chris realized a fact about himself that he knew he could not share with his religious community. How could he? According to what he had been taught, people like him not only got the AIDS virus, they were also punished by God in hell.
Viewing his homosexuality as a spiritual test, he fasted and prayed, hoping to change his nature. He became reclusive as his internal struggle became increasingly difficult. Then, one night, he turned on the fan in his father’s bathroom, locked the door, sat down in the bathtub, and, with a knife in his hand, nearly ended his life. Shortly thereafter, his mother found out about what Chris had been dealing with and arranged for him to meet an LGBT-friendly Lutheran minister. This interaction would change his life.
Later, after studying religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Chris lost his faith in God. Despite his atheism, his experiences continued to reinforce the importance of interfaith dialogue. After college, he worked for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and has written his own memoir, Faitheist.