Bart Campolo grew up the son of a famous Christian pastor but, like Rachael Slick and many others, he turned out to be an atheist. In fact, he’s now the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Southern California, one of only a handful of people across the country who have that title and a position that took some people by surprise.
When Bart told his father Tony he didn’t believe in God anymore, the reaction wasn’t nearly as bad as you may think:
Following the family dinner, Bart sat his parents down and explained that he was now an agnostic humanist. His father’s response was surprising.
“You know me. I am not afraid you’re going to hell because the God I believe in doesn’t send people to hell for eternity for having the wrong theology,” Tony responded, according to Bart. “I’m sad because Christianity is my tribe, and I liked having you in my tribe.”
The power of tribes is one that’s stuck with Bart for a while. In fact, at the Secular Student Alliance 2014 conference in Columbus, Ohio this summer, Campolo shared his story and explained the power of building community:
My favorite line (at 12:00):
Do you really think that all those kids on your campus are joining [Campus] Crusade [for Christ] because the dogma makes sense to them? They join those groups not because of the dogma but… in spite of the dogma. They join for the community.
Which is why these Secular Student Alliance chapters on campuses… You guys will never be able to compete with them — until you deliver community.
It’s a fascinating talk. If any other moments stand out to you, please leave the timestamp/summary in the comments.