Son of Tony Campolo Comes Out as Agnostic, Hired as Humanist Chaplain at California University

CampoloLOS ANGELES — Bart Campolo, the son of ‘progressive’ social justice activist Tony Campolo, recently took the position of humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California just under a year after coming out to his father as an agnostic.

“When people ask me when I started to ‘lose faith,’ I usually say, ‘Within about 15 minutes of becoming a Christian,’” Campolo, who once served as the youth leader at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and founder of the missional organizations Mission Year and Walnut Hills Fellowship, told reporters this month.

Campolo says that he first professed to be a Christian in his teenage years, as he was attracted to the idea of having community and making the world a better place. Although he called himself a Christian, Christ, he said, was not at the center of his life.

“All the dogma and the death and resurrection of Jesus stuff was not the attraction,” Campolo stated.

Campolo’s father serves as one of the leaders at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, which is part of the National Baptist Convention USA and American Baptist Churches USA. In the 1990’s, he also served as a spiritual adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, including during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Tony Campolo’s wife, Peggy, is a homosexual activist and believes that the Church should be accepting of same-sex “marriage.”

“I enthusiastically affirm such relationships are Christian; Tony does not,” she told reporters in 2003. “He calls Christian homosexual people to live lives of celibacy because he believes that that is what the Bible commands. It is in the first chapter of Romans that Tony and I have our deepest disagreement. He believes Paul makes it quite clear that the homosexual relationships of a physical relationship are wrong and any same-gender sexual activity is contrary to what the Bible allows.”

Bart Campolo said that while working in inner-city ministry near Philadelphia years ago, he met a girl who said that she had been gang raped when she was nine. She told Campolo that she turned away from Christianity after her Sunday school teacher told her that although God could have stopped her from being raped, He must have allowed it for a reason. Campolo then began to ponder her words and struggled with why evil is allowed in the world.

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But Campolo said that he also began to lean more toward his mother’s beliefs about homosexuality after having homosexual roommates in college, and soon also became a universalist after he had difficulty coming to terms with a God that would send anyone to Hell.

“I was only interested in a God who would save everybody,” he recently told Religion News Service. “It didn’t matter that the Bible had some verses that said something different.”

Campolo continued to turn away from foundational biblical truths and quickly faced opposition when he vocalized his thoughts.

“I started rejecting the supernatural stuff, the orthodoxy. I no longer believed God does miracles or that Jesus was raised from the dead or that other religions were false,” he said. “My Christianity had died the death of a thousand nicks and cuts.”

In 2011, following a serious bike accident, Campolo concluded “that he wasn’t a soul in a body, but rather a finite, manipulable mass of cells and neurons that would one day be entirely gone,” according to Forbes.

Last Thanksgiving, Campolo broke the news to his parents that he now identifies as an agnostic and prefers secular humanism over Christianity.

“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,” his father, 79, responded. “I’m sad because Christianity is my tribe, and I liked having you in my tribe.”

Tony Campolo continues to refuse to remark on his son’s eternal destiny, although he says that he believes that Jesus is the only way to be saved.

“I leave judgments in the hands of God,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on in Bart’s heart or mind or soul. I have faith in God and I have faith in prayer, and I have confidence that this thing is not over until it’s over.”

Just over a month ago, Bart Campolo took the position of humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California—the first at the university—where, according to his biography, he counsels those “exploring or actively pursuing secular goodness as a way of life.”

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  • John Lawless

    There is one quote that is very revealing, “It didn’t matter that the Bible had some verses that said something different.” When one no longer accepts the precepts of God’s Word, can a falling away be far behind?

  • NNNNNNNNNNoooClintonplz

    “I was only interested in a God who would save everybody,” he recently told Religion News Service. “It didn’t matter that the Bible had some verses that said something different.” Well if you were God it would matter what you are interested in. BUT God is interested in people who takes the whole word as truth and stops trying to tell God what to do and how to think. I am with his dad on the issue of homosexuality also. BIBLE is not obtuse about it.

  • Gary

    No one in the Campolo family is a Christian. But they are not really different from most people who claim to be Christians. Fake Christians is one of the reasons the USA is sinking fast.

  • jmichael39

    “that he wasn’t a soul in a body, but rather a finite, manipulable mass of cells and neurons that would one day be entirely gone,” – yeah, so? The bible is pretty clear that these masses of cells and neurons WILL be gone someday. Its your soul, silly man, that needs help. But if he needs a refresher on the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, I’m sure we can help.

  • Haqodeshim

    How did NASA going to Mars with the Mariner 10 satellite in the 1973 lead to the formation of the Shroud of Turin Research Project later in 1978? This project in 1978 would attract 38 skeptical American scientists on the team of 40 (with only two Christians), who thought they’d prove it a hoax within a week’s time, but leading to all the scientists, even a Jewish man on the team, all coming to faith in Jesus after 5 days studying the Shroud of Turin.

    Atheism is a movement in decline, has been since the 1970’s. Only reason you hear about it in the news is because enough old rich white baby boomers from the counter culture have money to put into it and into the court rooms. In another 40 years, it will be less relevant than it is now.

    Sin means “without” without God specifically, so when Jesus told a sinner to go and sin no more he was really saying, “Go and be without God no more” (avoid Adam and Eve’s mistake of thinking they could cast conversation with the creator to the wayside).

    Bart Campolo proves what I have said for some time now. Children of Christians can’t be made Christians, they have to come to faith on their own. The only remedy for Tony Compolo is prayer and fasting, because this spirit that oppresses his son, only comes out by prayer and fasting –

  • James Grimes

    It seems that the Campolo family has serious issues in their relationship with the God of the Universe.

  • Baby James

    “Campolo then began to ponder her words and struggled with why evil is allowed in the world”
    When people raise the argument of “evil” in the world the implications are clear, they are suggesting that there is a way things ought to be, how can anyone know what ought to be in a world guided by natural processes? In order to talk of “evil” you have to have a standard of good, where does that standard come from? If the universe is the product of natural causes then morality is ultimately just a matter of opinion, in fact it’s just a chemical reaction in the brain. We’re not obligated to chemistry! Take slavery for example, it’s pretty much universally condemned and rightfully so! However, we believe it should be condemned a million years from now suggesting there is an absolute that transcends cultures. Where does this absolute nature of morality come from?

    • Steph

      so slavery, pedophilia, and mass killings were moral at the times the holy books were written? and these books were written by men of that time. and were merely just a product of their time. then and now. so..”when you know better, you do better?” so why doesn’t a large portion of the population realize this?

      • Michael Anthony Enders

        God’s communication does not begin with the writing of the “Holy books” but stretches back to the creation of man. You are laboring under a common faulty premise of Atheists. Adam. Abraham and Isaac didn’t have the Bible but still knew God’s will.

        • tplay official

          You think the guy can get cheap phone or a gmail account? Having you do the talking seem inefficient, at best.

    • tplay official

      Yes, the world proceeds as if there is no supernatural dimension to morality at all.

  • colleend219

    The writings of the Bible are man-made. If you believe otherwise, it is because you were taught to believe otherwise. There is no indication from any of the deeds in that book that there was ever any magical being involved, just human imagination. The book is filled with human feelings and failings imposed on a supposed omnipotent being. Why would a supernatural being be jealous or angry or vengeful when the thing it created is doing exactly what it created it to do? Silly human emotions pushed onto the idea of a god. Like the Greek gods who were jealous and vengeful just something we borrowed from them maybe. Why would any god need to be prayed to or need to be adored or even believed in? Why would any omnipotent being make that a requirement over being a good person? Because the leaders of the time needed sheep. IF you have proof that this completely natural world where everything they once thought was magical and from god has been proven to be completely natural, then show your proof. There never has been and never will be because the universe and all the galaxies and all the other planets that will be found that resemble earth are vast and many and 100% natural.

    • Marv44

      So Colleend219, since everything is 100% natural in your worldview, answer the question, is rape morally wrong? Is inhumane slavery morally wrong? Is cheating on your spouse morally wrong? Do you get angry when people abuse you, take advantage of you, do harm to you? Morality and 100% naturalism cannot exist in a rational universe.

    • John Lawton Jeffcoat III

      I do not understand why atheists like “colleend219” continue to TROLL discussion boards for CHRISTIAN websites, and mock Christianity. That’s not appropriate. Such TROLLING behavior should be deleted by the moderator of this website. It does not add to the discussion. TROLLING is bad form and bad behavior online.

      • calduncan

        Well, go for the obvious, they are seriously UNHAPPY human beings, none more so than ex-Christians with a grudge. I have yet to meet a happy atheist.

    • calduncan

      Your post is also man-made, so if we can disregard the man-made Bible, we can sure disregard your post. One more atheist troll more or less, no big deal.

  • John Lawton Jeffcoat III

    The entire Campolo Family has always been just liberals promoting bad theology. Tony Campolo is a communist (in the pure sense of the term, not the political sense), advocating the idea that Christians who have any significant wealth are hypocrites for not giving their wealth away (judgmental jerk), and his wife is a pro-homosexual activist, and his son, Bart, is now revealed to be an antiChrist as well. Obviously, Tony is not much of a father to raise such a child of Hell. Then again, look at the antiChrist he married. Nothing good comes out of that family. Why do Christians listen to the Campolo Family? They have been a cancer on Christendom for decades. It’s time to give these liberal antiChrists the boot.

    • Krauss Allie

      And what exactly makes giving all your wealth away something that is anti-Christ? Did he not instruct you to do just that? The way I see it, they are far more Christ-like than you, with your anti-gay views? How would Christ have treated the gays? With scorn and disdain? With an attempt to keep them from attaining equal status among others?

  • Alien & Stranger

    “A house divided cannot stand”. Tony Campolo and his wife Peggy are not in unity. Bart’s account shows that he may have been “religious” (going through the motions) but he never knew Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord: “Although he called himself a Christian, Christ, he said, was not at the center of his life..” I have watched the same thing happen in a member of my family, so I continue to pray for that person.
    We should also pray for the Campolo family. Also pray for all church leaders, that the Lord will keep them (or bring them) in line with his Word and his will.

    • Dawn Gaye

      “Campolo then began to ponder her words and struggled with why evil is allowed in the world”

      I have never appreciated Tony Sr’s Theology, and now it seems he did not teach his own son well at all. All three need our prayer.

  • alnga

    Scripture is clear and unfortunately the masses will not believe. We can only pray and model the life of Christ the best that we can. You can not argue the Doctrine only teach it..

  • calduncan

    Campolo in his younger days wrote some great books that touched the hearts of many young evangelicals. So did Francis Schaeffer. Now look at these anti-Christian cuckoos, their sons – cranky Franky Schaeffer, with his grudge against evangelicals because we never made him a star like we did his father, and now young Campolo doing the same. Christianity is obviously not genetic.

  • railhead

    Obviously he was never saved to begin with, for those who doubt that, the statement “All the dogma and the death and resurrection of Jesus stuff was not the attraction,” should tell the whole story.

    Christianity IS the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Saying that’s not the central theme just betrays the fact that you have no idea what Christianity is even about. The scary part is he went to a big church, grew up with a “pastor” and probably still has no idea what it’s all about.

    The death, burial, and resurrection is the ONLY attraction to Christianity…..the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ means my sins are all forgiven, and I’m going to heaven. If that’s not the main attraction, what is? Jesus promised us persecution in this world, and to be hated by the world. That doesn’t sound fun!

  • Thanks Dan, from the Shroud of Turin Blog, I was able to update my comment below from your comments there.

    You can’t see how the evidence of Jesus life, death, and resurreciton has NOTHING to do with Tony Compolo’s declaring himself Agnostic? An Agnostic is not sure God care or is involved in creation IF God exists at all.

    I brought the evidence from the science world itself that matches history in the Gospels. Don’t know if BART COMPOLO will ever read this, but if he does, perhaps it will help him reach the faith he never did in his parent’s home.