New Release

Why I Left \ Why I Stayed

Conversations on Christianity Between an Evangelical Father and His Humanist Son


Now Available Wherever Books and E-Books Are Sold!


Bestselling Christian author, activist, and scholar Tony Campolo and his son Bart, an avowed Humanist, debate their spiritual differences and explore similarities involving faith, belief, and hope that they share. (Watch a preview of this story as documented by independent filmmaker John Wright.)

Over a Thanksgiving dinner, fifty-year-old Bart Campolo announced to his 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—dual spiritual investigations into theology, faith, and Humanism that eventually led Bart and Tony back to one another.

In Why I Left, Why I Stayed, the Campolos reflect on their individual spiritual odysseys and how they evolved when their paths diverged. Tony, a renowned Christian teacher and pastor, 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, an author and Humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California, considers 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.



“As America becomes increasingly secular, more families will have to face the religious divide that exists across their dinner tables. The Campolos have done us all a huge favor by discussing their differences right here in the open. I wholeheartedly recommend this remarkable book.”
—Hemant Mehta, editor of

“This book takes what must have been a great number of very difficult private conversations and strained relational ties and offers these to the rest of us as a gift—as an intellectual feast, as an example, and as a window into robust expressions of both evangelicalism and humanism. This is an important book for our times. Please read it.”
—Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished Univ Prof. of Christian Ethics; Director, Center for Theology & Public Life, Mercer University

“A love story for our time—a love story about a father and a son, but also about the relationship between our culture’s devoted and disillusioned, who generally start out trying to hold onto each other. If, as Christians assert, Christ is present in human suffering, then parenting is always a holy pilgrimage—and the Campolos’ journey is no different. With disarming humility and grace, Tony and Bart share their hopes and disappointments as they struggle to truly honor each other’s freedom to leave or stay in the church. Reading this book won’t change your mind, but it might break your heart.”
—Kenda Creasy Dean, dean, Princeton Theological Seminary and author of Almost Christian

“Bold. Gripping. Brutally honest. A father-son team who love and respect each other deeply bluntly discuss their fundamental disagreement on the most basic question: Is there a loving God at the center of reality or are we alone in a blind meaningless universe? This book will touch the heart of any parent or child with profound un-reconcilable disagreement with the ones they love the most.”
—Ronald J. Sider, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University

“Rarely are questions of faith and belief genuinely debated with the kind of sincerity, insight and compassion presented in Tony and Bart Campolo’s thoughtful new book. Most people are born into their faith traditions, and too many of us don’t ask the hard questions that are thoughtfully presented in this intriguing read. Christians and Humanists both have much to learn by reading these pages, which is why we can all be grateful this isn’t just a family discussion.”
—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

“The book is a pleasure to read, but it’s so much more. As a respectful and loving conversation between a father and son, it offers a model that could bring healing to many torn relationships. It opens a thoughtful dialogue into which people from across the spiritual spectrum can enter.”
—Lynne Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church

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