RELIGION

'Humanist' chaplains arriving on college campuses to bring spiritualism to nonbelievers

  • Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, sits in the office of Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, sits in the office of Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, center, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, and his wife, Marty, right, mingle with students as they wait for the start of a forum at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, center, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, and his wife, Marty, right, mingle with students as they wait for the start of a forum at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, pauses for photos at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, pauses for photos at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Humanist chaplains are ministering to students at schools like Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and Stanford as part of what the American Humanist Association calls a rapidly growing ethics-based spiritual movement that is taking place on America's college campuses. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)  (The Associated Press)

When Bart Campolo broke with the church almost five years ago, he immediately began to feel something missing.

It wasn't so much that the pastor's son no longer believed in God; he'd never been that much of a believer anyway.

What he missed, Campolo said, was what the church had represented to him: 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.

So the onetime United Methodist youth minister figured he'd try to keep doing that by presiding over what he cheerfully calls "a church for people who don't believe in God."

Campolo, 51, joined a growing movement of college "humanist chaplains," arriving at the University of Southern California last September.