New Books Network

T. Campolo and B. Campolo

Why I Left, Why I Stayed

Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son

HarperOne 2017

New Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Secularism August 19, 2020 Carrie Lynn Evans

Over a Thanksgiving dinner, fifty-year-old Bart Campolo announced to his famous Evangelical pastor father, Tony Campolo, that after a lifetime immersed in the Christian...

Over a Thanksgiving dinner, fifty-year-old Bart Campolo announced to his famous Evangelical pastor father, Tony Campolo, that after a lifetime immersed in the Christian faith, he no longer believed in God. The revelation shook the Campolo family dynamic and forced father and son to each reconsider his own personal journey of faith—these dual spiritual investigations into theology, faith, and Humanism eventually led Bart and Tony back to one another.

It also led them to coauthor the book I’m looking at today, called Why I Left, Why I Stayed: Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son (HarperOne, 2017).

In it, the Campolos reflect on their individual spiritual odysseys and how they evolved when their paths diverged. Tony recounts his experience, from the initial heartbreak of discovering Bart’s change in faith, to the subsequent healing he found in his own self-examination, to his embracing of his son’s point of view. Bart writes about his faith journey from Progressive Christianity to Humanism, revealing how it affected his outlook and transformed his relationship with his father.

As Why I Left, Why I Stayed makes clear, a painful schism between father and son that could have divided them irreparably became instead an opening that offered each an invaluable look not only at what separated them, but more importantly, what they shared. These insights can, no doubt, be helpful for many of us who navigate differences of faith within our own families.

Bestselling Christian author and activist, Tony Campolo, is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University and a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also been a pastor, public speaker, and spiritual advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. He founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education and provided leadership for the progressive Christian movement, Red Letter Christians, and the Campolo Center for Ministry. He has been a guest on programs such as The Colbert Report, The Charlie Rose Show, Larry King Live, Nightline, Crossfire, and Politically Incorrect.

Bart Campolo now considers himself a secular community builder, working as a counselor, speaker, the Humanist chaplain at the University of Cincinnati, and as host of the award-winning podcast Humanize Me. Through his work he aims to inspire and assist people around the world who are banding together to actively pursue goodness in an openly secular way. He has been written about in the New York Times Magazine and is the subject of the documentary film, Leaving My Father’s Faith.


Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.