Review: Chris Stedman’s “Faitheist”

My review of Chris Stedman’s book Faitheist, on interfaith activism between religious and nonreligious people, is on the Bitch Magazine blog today. An excerpt:

Stedman highlights the potential for honest conversation to uncover common ground with two different conversations between himself and young Muslim women. In the earlier encounter, Stedman begins to connect his fear of holding hands with his boyfriend in public with a young woman’s experiences of public harassment for wearing hijab. But when she says Allah gives her strength to face such hatred and asks where Stedman gets his strength to face homophobia, he shuts down and ends their conversation. The later encounter goes much differently: Stedman and another Muslim woman bond over “Tightrope,” a Brother Ali track that draws the same connection between homophobia and Islamophobia that Stedman shied away from before.

Reading Faitheist, I couldn’t help but think about how relevant it is to divisions between and within feminist movements, and to struggles to convince broader audiences of the continued need for gender justice. Many gender justice activists do work that is intimately bound up with religion and spirituality: bell hooks, Native scholar Andrea Smith, womanist theologian Renita Weems, and queer theologian Patrick Cheng, just to name a few. Unfortunately, hostile attitudes and basic ignorance about religion and the role it plays in the lives of many people often alienates communities that could be natural allies to “mainstream” feminisms (that is to say, the most visible feminisms).

Read the whole thing at Bitch: Can Atheists and Religious Folks Fight Inequality as Allies?

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