Chris Highland

A Freethinker’s Gospel: Essays for a Sacred Secular World is a collection of 53 essays from Chris Highland’s weekly column in The Asheville Citizen-Times. The columns appear each Saturday on the Religion page and offer a humanist, nontheistic approach to questions of spirituality and belief.

Chris was a Protestant minister and interfaith chaplain for many years before becoming a humanist celebrant. With a degree in Religion and Philosophy from evangelical Seattle Pacific University and an M.Div. from a diverse consortium of seminaries (Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley), he has been active in “presence ministry” and nonprofit work in a private school, a county jail, homeless shelters, and affordable housing. His previous books include his “Meditations” series on John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, and John Burroughs. His is also the author of My Address Is a River, Life after Faith, the novella Jesus and John Muir, and an essay collection, Nature Is Enough. He has taught courses on Nature Literature and Freethought in California and North Carolina.

Chris blogs at Secular Chaplain. As a member of The Clergy Project, he contributes to Rational Doubt on Patheos. Seeking wider connections, he also holds membership in the American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Religious Naturalist Association, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Chris and his wife Carol, a Presbyterian minister, live in Asheville, North Carolina. His website is

Soothing and stimulating at the same time, these very digestible “meditations” show how a secular writer can convey very timely and worthy messages without being quarrelsome. Kudos to Chris Highland for taking us down this pleasant path of wisdom and realism. — Linda LaScola, co-founder of The Clergy Project

This seminal work by former minister/chaplain Chris Highland is captivating, intriguing, and challenging. Each chapter is a gem in itself, and together they make for a powerful book. — John S. Compere, PhD; VP, The Clergy Project; author, Outgrowing Religion

I was particularly struck with [the] straight to the heart and straight to the point presentation…. [A] very nice mix of well crafted, substantive columns. — Laurence Cotton, historian & producer, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

What I love about this book is that it truly — and intentionally — honors questions, not answers. Sara Vurek, Buddhist, board-certified Clinical Chaplain