Tony Campolo’s Son Now a Humanist Chaplain at USC

Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, center, and his wife, Marty, right, mingle with students as they wait for the start of a forum at the University of Southern California. (Associated Press)
Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, center, and his wife, Marty, right, mingle with students as they wait for the start of a forum at the University of Southern California. (Associated Press)

College students at the University of Southern California who want community without church, good without God, and support without what their new leader calls “supernatural stuff” — now have a new place to go.

Former United Methodist youth minister Bart Campolo – son of Baptist Evangelist Tony Campolo has a new gig: He’s now a humanist chaplain at USC.

USC already had more than 50 religious leaders ministering to students of various faiths, said Varun Soni, dean of the school’s Office of Religious Life. So it seemed only right, he added, to bring some in last fall for non-believers seeking spiritual guidance.

“Many of our students who identify as religious find the answers to those questions through God,” Soni said in an Associated Press article. “But we realize that not everyone does, and we want to be a resource to our entire university community.”

More than 41,000 students attend USC.

Harvard in Massachusetts, Yale in Connecticut and Stanford in California were among the first institutions of higher education to hire humanist chaplains, but Campolo, ten years after humanist community-building began at Harvard, is making up for lost time.

“How do you live a good life? If this life is the only one you have, how do you make the most of it?” These are some of what his flock of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers ponder. Campolo calls them the “Big Questions.”

Campolo broke away from the Christian church about five years ago, he said. Belief in Christian tenets hadn’t been important to him, but being part of the community was.

“I wanted to be around people who pursued kindness, goodness, love and social justice, and [Christianity] seemed to be the only game in town,” Campolo said. “All the dogma of supernatural stuff and stories, that was not the attraction for me. That was the price of admission. For me, the attraction was being part of a community that was reaching out to people who were hurting.”

Church for him growing up in the home of a Baptist pastor and evangelist was a place where like-minded people could gather for fellowship, to pursue moral justice, to help one another, and to try to live good lives, Campolo said.

That’s the kind of ambiance he’s bringing to USC’s Student Secular Association.

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SOURCE: Christian Examiner
Karen L. Willoughby

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