REFUSING MY RELIGION Co-Director Michael Dorian Watches Noah Film, Featured In Esquire

Featured

esq-crowe-xlg-69265697

JEW, A CHRISTIAN, AND AN ATHEIST WALK INTONOAH

We conducted our own religious test screening of Darren Aronofsky’s new biblical epic — and discovered that even the least devout have a bone to pick

By Alex Suskind

THE ATHEIST

If anyone were to enjoy a Darren Aronofsky-directed biblical epic, it would be someone who, like the director, rejects the notion of religion, right? Not in the case of Michael Dorian.

“If I had been watching the film alone, I would have got up and left the theater as soon as the stone-like Transformer creatures appeared on screen,”

TO READ MORE…

“Best Bar Mitzvah Speech”

Featured

Here is a 13-year-old kid at the graduation of his elementary religious education. Becoming a man in the eyes of his religion and in that same moment eloquently, intelligently reflecting on it in a way that renders all of it completely meaningless and ridiculous to him is quite remarkable. Taking this special moment as an opportunity in front of his whole family, his friends and their rabbi, to powerfully articulate his rejection of all of it in real-time is something we don’t get to witness every day. This was, we think, unthinkable only ten years ago. The maturity and lucidity of the Bar Mitzvah boy’s remarks are striking. It says not only that the earth has shifted under our feet, whether we know it or not, but that it is actually evolving while we post this here. The video itself was uploaded in 2007, making this family way ahead of it’s time. We are excited to be capturing America’s journey through uncharted territory in its religious identity, or lack thereof, as it happens.

R.M.R. Co-Director Michael Dorian quoted in The Guardian

Featured

The US Capitol Christmas tree Photograph: Jason Reed/REUTERS

REFUSING MY RELIGION Co-Director Michael Dorian was quoted in The Guardian by reporter Becky Garrison. In her article titled: Conservatives’ quagmire: the war on Christmas
Right wingers preach the Gospel according to Fox News. Their cries of holiday persecution just make them look more foolish… Read more here.

R.M.R. Co-Director Michael Dorian covered in N.Y. Times Article

Featured

“May You Live In Interesting Times” ~ Chinese Proverb used as a curse upon an enemy

Refusing My Religion Co-Director Michael Dorian is quoted in this New York Times article. It’s about how atheists handle the holidays via the perspectives of numerous members of the diverse and colorful New York City secular community.

It’s no wonder that NYC is a fair microcosm of the differences that sometimes divide the overall movement on the actual playing field. How “assertive” should we be? How conciliatory ? Are we picking the right battles? Is our public image what it can be? How do we increase our numbers? What can we do to achieve the most important of our agreed-upon goals? And what, exactly, are those goals?

As America’s religious landscape tilts below us, the atheist movement could be positioned to have an even greater impact than it already has. Refusing My Religion has chronicled the past two full years of atheism (including a year on our other film, A Cross To Bear, about the American Atheists’ lawsuit over the inclusion of the 9/11 “Miracle” cross in the September 11th Museum). To be sure, it’s quite an eye-opening time to have documented, for those of any religious affiliation, or a complete lack thereof.

N.Y. Times article by Liz Robbins: ‘During Religious Season, Nonbelievers Assert Right to Celebrate’
In the darkness of an Upper West Side concert hall last weekend, 150 audience members holding twinkling plastic candles sang and swayed to celebrate reason and the season. Snow fell with abandon outside.

“We are not alone,” a humanist rock band crooned in a call and response… Read more here.

Alex Federici at the “Brighter Than Today: A Secular Solstice” show last weekend.VICTOR J. BLUE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

REFUSING MY RELIGION Directors Marc Levine & Michael Dorian Interviewed by TIME Magazine

Featured

1273839_10201255775569286_1604989418_o

We spent a long time this afternoon with TIME Magazine reporter Josh Sanburn at their offices in Manhattan. We talked with Josh all about our film and our observations on the unprecedented, exponential change in America’s religious landscape. We actually had a great time with Josh. Simply put, it was fun to be able to have an intense conversation with someone who is observing and writing about the same things we are. As well as a great affirmation that what we are covering in the film is noteworthy of at least mention at the highest level’s in media and news. We wonder what life will be like when we actually get a publicist!?

‘REFUSING MY RELIGION’ in Becky Garrison’s article for the Washington Post today.

Featured

Mark Poprocki / iStock

Leaving religion but finding community

By Becky Garrison

Since the Clergy Project established an online presence in 2011, this confidential resource for active and former clergy who no longer hold supernatural beliefs has grown from 52 to 470 members. Presently 80 percent or their members are based in the United States with the majority of these ex-clergy coming from evangelical and pentecostal traditions. While filming Refusing My Religion, a documentary about these religious leaders who’ve lost their faith and become atheist activists, co-directors Michael Dorian and Marc Levine documented a grassroots-level development of “godless congregations” (based on a Christian model) to provide people who’ve left religion with the “sense of community” they miss once they leave their churches. Click for the rest of the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/07/10/leaving-religion-but-finding-community/

http://www.refusingmyreligion.com

REFUSING MY RELIGION to speak and cover first ever ‘Sunday Assembly’ in the U.S.

Featured

NYC’s First Sunday Assembly – June 30 at 12:30 – In A Bikini Bar

The idea of a “Sunday Assembly” is not entirely novel.  Atheist or godless congregations have been springing up around America and Canada for a few years now.  Mike Aus, a member of The Clergy Project, spearheaded Houston Oasis – a Sunday morning “service for nonbelievers” after leaving a 20-year career in ministry.  Gretta Vosper told her congregation in Ontario she didn’t believe in God or the fundamental tenets of Christianity, and her church’s board supported her and much of the flock happily went along.  So, this is already happening.  What’s novel is the modified concept of British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who started London’s Sunday Assembly in early 2013.  They’re now trying to get them started in America.  Executive Director of The Clergy Project Catherine Dunphy contacted us in April to put us in touch with Sanderson, who needed help launching a Sunday Assembly in New York City.

What we learned in traveling much of the country conducting interviews for the film was that many people who’ve left religion say that the thing they miss most is the “sense of community” that church formerly provided them.  Now, whether this will prove applicable or appealing to NYC’s notoriously sophisticated, somewhat hip, and truly diverse residents is yet to be seen.  It does seem though that there is benefit from growing a secular community.  So, toward that end, we will be participating in NYC’s first ever Sunday Assembly.  We will be showing a brief clip of REFUSING MY RELIGION and speaking to the “congregation” about our experiences making the film.  There will also be a live band doing fun sing-alongs to rock tunes you know and probably love, as well as engaging speakers plus the opportunity to meet some other nice godless NYC folks.

Oh, and did we say that the first Sunday Assembly is taking place in a bikini bar?  Yup, it is.  Finding a venue and arranging speakers and musicians and doing outreach has been no simple feat in the past few weeks, so one of the organizers came across Tobacco Road and it just happened to have everything needed to accommodate NYC’s first Sunday Assembly, including scantily clad bartenders.  Not insensitive the “family-friendly” nature of its originators’ concept to include children, the bar has offered to have its employees “cover up a bit” for the event.  SA is still considering whether that might be necessary.  What’s really most appealing about the space is that there is a back room where bands perform, complete with stage, drum kit and amplifiers for a potentially rocking good time.  Whether SA continues to do it depends on several factors, not the least of which is the venue’s future availability on Sundays.

In any case, the first Sunday Assembly is taking place at 12:30 p.m. on June 30th in Tobacco Road, 355 W. 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan.  The NY Daily News and The Gothamist have already covered the story.  And the Daily News is sending another reporter back to cover the event.  Should be fun.  A NYC godless congregation hosted by an English comedian in a bikini bar?  What’s not exciting about that?

To learn more about the Sunday Assembly visit them here: http://sundayassembly.com

NYC Press about this event:

NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/british-atheist-group-host-sermon-city-dive-bar-article-1.1373821

The Gothamist: http://gothamist.com/2013/06/16/british_atheist_group_to_preach_at.php

To donate to Refusing My Reigion please click the donate button. Thank you!
Donate Button with Credit Cards

REFUSING MY RELIGION in the N.Y. Daily News

Featured

Kendall Rodriguez for New York Daily News

 

N.Y. Daily News EXCLUSIVE: British atheist group looking to expand will host sermon at city dive bar

The Sunday Assembly, co-founded by comedian Sanderson Jones, will make a stop in New York during its U.S. tour. The location for the sermon will be at Tobacco Road, a ‘bikini bar’ where the staff has vowed to cover up during the service.

Bronx native Michael Dorian, who is making a documentary film titled “Refusing My Religion” about members of the clergy who have become atheists, believes that many New Yorkers will embrace the Sunday Assembly.
“One thing I hear a lot is that people miss the sense of community that religion gave them,” Dorian said. Dorian was inspired to become a secular activist after the 9/11 attacks: “I couldn’t stand that people were doing these evil things in the name of religion,” he said.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/british-atheist-group-host-sermon-city-dive-bar-article-1.1373821#ixzz2WOkehSsB

For more on Sunday Assembly click here: http://sundayassembly.com/


To donate to Refusing My Reigion please click the donate button. Thank you!

Donate Button with Credit Cards

REFUSING MY RELIGION – Trailer

Video

To donate to REFUSING MY RELIGION please visit our PayPal link below:
Donate Button with Credit Cards

REFUSING MY RELIGION

Sometimes Finding Salvation Means Losing Your Faith

This story could only take place in America. What happens when preachers lose their faith and become atheist activists?

WHAT IS THIS DOCUMENTARY ABOUT?

Our feature-length documentary, REFUSING MY RELIGION, examines through intimate first-person accounts the experiences of clergy members who have left their careers in ministry, renounced religion, and gone on to become prominent figures in the secular movement.

When ministers lose their faith and “come out” not only as non-believers but as atheist activists, this is a clear indication that our society is transforming right before our eyes. We are making the definitive film about the unprecedented and rapid changes to the religious and cultural landscape of America.

As the internet and access to information continue to shape our world, religion now finds itself in a place it has never been before.

The Clergy Project is an online safe haven for former or active ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, etc. who have “moved beyond faith”. The website went public in March of 2011 with 52 original members; since then it has increased to 425.

The Clergy Project grew indirectly out of the 2010 Tufts University study “Preachers Who Are Not Believers” conducted by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola. In 2011 The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science provided funding to help launch TCP. Some of TCP’s founders include Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, clinical research consultant Linda LaScola, Clergy Project Executive Director Catherine Dunphy, and Executive Director of the RDFRS Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell.

A Hero, Nate Phelps

Featured

This is our footage of Nate Phelps’s speech at the Reason Rally. Although we managed to get an outstanding interview with him for the documentary and filmed his recent stirring ReasonFest 2013 presentation, this speech still stands for us as a truly remarkable piece of oratory, and its message should be heard again and again, by many. We always wanted to post it all at a blog, so here it is from the movement’s biggest stage to date.

REFUSING MY RELIGION attended ReasonFest 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas. Orchestrated by Amanda and Adam Brown, the entire event was wonderfully thought-provoking, informative, and socially engaging. The impressive roster of speakers and panels was not to be missed as part of our film’s reportage on America’s current religious climate. The cameras were rolling nearly non-stop and we had the truly awe-inspiring experience of interviewing Nate Phelps. We’d met Nate at the 2012 American Atheists Conference and Reason Rally in D.C. and we were thrilled to catch up with him in Kansas. Notably, it took place not too far from where he spent much time growing up the son of Pastor Fred Phelps, founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. Nate is undeniably one of the greatest spokespersons the secular movement has. The quiet, dignified delivery from such an imposing figure conveys both composure and a powerful expression of truth one cannot help but absorb. He doesn’t have to do much to make one feel deeply moved by what he has endured. The crowd hung on his every word and many were tearful. As an acting student I had the great fortune of learning directly from David Mamet and Bill Macy through the Atlantic Theater Company. They taught us many lessons about art, human nature and life, including regular reminders that most powerful people don’t need to pound their chests or shout to get others to listen. Nate has this kind of unforgettable and placid presence about him. We would highly recommend seeing him speak if you have the chance. His calm demeanor juxtaposes a horrific childhood against where his life is now, and his journey getting here is nothing less than riveting. He will have you completely enthralled, causing you to reflect upon humanity and the world in which we live in a way that is rarely elucidated so profoundly. We are deeply honored to have him in our film as someone who understands better than most anyone that sometimes finding salvation means losing your faith. He is, to be sure, a great, humble man and we all need our heroes. Nate Phelps is simply there for everyone in just this way.

Nate Phelps is Executive Director of the Calgary Center for Inquiry; and a member of the board of directors for Recovering from Religion. To learn more about Nate, please visit his website: www.natephelps.com

“I Couldn’t Keep It To Myself”

Video

“I Couldn’t Keep It To Myself”

Candace Gorham, Ex-Shevangelist: The Rarest of Atheists

Truth be told, Candace Gorham is a microscopically tiny sliver of the overall shifting demographic trend toward non-belief in America. Like a little-known-of, truly rare specimen in the wondrous biosphere of human life, Candace might well be one of just a truly small few, if not the only black female former evangelical minister turned atheist. Who came out! And who now is writing a book: The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking out on Religion—and Others Should Too
here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Ebony-Exodus-Project-Religion/dp/1939578027

But getting to Candace was no easy feat. With an almost anthropological determination, we picked up pieces of stories, discovered names, and were led in the right direction. In the midst of everything, Catherine Dunphy’s vital support as Executive Director of The Clergy Project facilitated an exchange between Todd Stiefel and us. Many know of Todd for his Stiefel Freethought Foundation’s philanthropy within the atheist movement. But what many don’t know is that he’s also a dedicated hands-on activist. As soon we were in touch, he began offering to help. He then facilitated interviews for Refusing My Religion with Dr. Bruce Little of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and with Christian radio-show host of Called2Action Steve Noble. And then at a Triangle Freethought Society meeting in Raleigh, of which Todd is also a part, that night’s speaker was Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. She was giving a presentation to a huge room packed with atheists in the belly of the Bible belt about the “rise of the Nones” and how this directly affects the movement’s lobbying efforts in D.C. It was an extraordinary atmosphere, given the geography. So, through due diligence and the efforts of numerous people willing to help along the way, we eventually met Candace. And this is how it’s been time and again while making this film. An intricate odyssey of truly impressive people and unforgettable experiences all interwoven “like it was meant to be.” Our ramblings eventually caught us up with the one and only Candace Gorham.

Then, we were interviewed on the radio last week by another journalist also with that same anthropological hunger, Jamila Bey. Jamila is one of the few others so dialed into this evolving socio-cultural landscape that she also knew of Candace, and of what Candace does for Recovering From Religion, Darrel Ray’s organization which has been at the vanguard of supporting refusers of religion. (You can hear us on Jamila Bey’s radio show here discussing Candace and the making of Refusing My Religion) http://voicerussia.com/radio_broadcast/72286564/110545611.html )

Candace, rare as she may be, can speak for untold numbers of black women in America who feel suffocated by a faith they no longer have. Or anyplace where women are oppressed by religion for that matter. How many will she inspire to live truthfully regardless of the inevitable consequences? And, how important is her book, The Ebony Exodus Project, to the Secular movement… ?

So now, a glimpse of REFUSING MY RELIGION’s interview with the courageous and pioneering Candace Gorham…

CANDACE’S BOOK LINK:

ALL OTHER LINKS:

http://clergyproject.org/

http://recoveringfromreligion.org/

http://www.stiefelfreethoughtfoundation.org/

http://www.trianglefreethoughtsociety.org/

http://biologos.org/blog/author/little-bruce-a

http://c2athisweek.org/CMS/

http://secular.org/

http://voicerussia.com/radio_broadcast/72286564/110545611.html

“Muhammad Doe”

Video

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

What is wrong with the part is wrong with the whole. When one person suffers, humanity suffers.

Throughout the making of our documentary REFUSING MY RELIGION, there have been many moments that have struck Michael and me in the pit of our guts. Many of them have been unanticipated, generated by our pursuit of telling the story of those who live truthfully in spite of its consequences. We find ourselves different since we started on this journey. Our mission is for this post to touch to you in the very same way things hopefully will through our film. This can transform the way we look at the world around us when telling the story of those who continue to suffer and those who have experienced personal victory by coming out as atheists against all adversity. Our travels presented us with several such individuals. One of them has come out and one is still living in secrecy. Hearing their stories was an unforgettable experience. It made us yet again grasp the gravity of this project. One is from Iraq, has come out and has thrived as a humanist activist. His name is Faisal Saeed Al Mutar. Faisal has managed to survive attempts by Islamic fundamentalists in his home country to murder him for his humanist activities. He moved here to the States only weeks ago, having been granted political asylum. Relatively safe now, he can and is continuing to thrive doing what he loves, being a humanist activist, and an impressive one he is. He has founded and runs the phenomenally successful Global Secular Humanist Movement. We are deeply moved by his story and are honored to share it with you in our film. The other we can refer to only as “Muhammad Doe”. Originally from a Middle Eastern nation where there is Sharia law, he is still in hiding somewhere in the states. He is unable to publicly come out as an atheist because he feels that even in this country, there will be those (including his family) who would kill him for doing so. These two stories of men from Muslim countries who are secular clearly represent the personal dichotomies of pastors in the Clergy Project, both those who have unshackled themselves and those who still lay in wait, hiding, desperately looking for a way to “come out”. We also found out that Faisal and “Muhammad Doe” knew of the Clergy Project. They were familiar the names Jerry DeWitt, Teresa MacBain, Mike Aus, and “Adam Mann”. The former ministers in our film who have come out in the Clergy Project have actually inspired these men from the Middle East to do the same. This beautiful cycle is the very mechanism of inspiration. It underscores all of our humble efforts as filmmakers in sharing these stories. We know that in a Madrasa somewhere there will be a kid who hears the words and sees others who have gone first. This might help that kid to summon the strength to live truthfully. Even though we find ourselves many years removed from the end of slavery, the right to sit in a bus where you want to, the right to vote, the Holocaust, and suffrage, the final work of the Civil Rights movement is not done. Not here nor abroad. Amazingly, this world still has profound, infuriating and frightening intolerance of all forms. There is much needed work to be done. We hope this film serves as inspiration to those who fear for their lives because they want the freedom to live reasonably, truthfully. This world deserves tolerance for all who live in it, and we are determined to serve its creation and growth. We strive to increase compassion, awareness and knowledge. Besides, what else is there to do?

REFUSING MY RELIGION On Air w/ Jamila Bey this Thursday, April 11th from 6-7pm, est.

Image

We are so fired up to be on the air with the great Jamila Bey this Thursday, April 11th from 6-7 PM est. We will be on for the entire hour discussing our experiences making our documentary REFUSING MY RELIGION. Please listen in and feel free to share the info. Listen to us here live: http://ruvr.condensa.ru/ruvr05_eng_us.html Thank you!

Jamila’s show is also carried by:
Washington, DC: AM 1390 AND WTOP 103.5 FM HD-2
NYC: AM 1430
Chicago: WILV 100.3 FM HD-2
Miami: 99.9 HD-2.

Jamila’s website: http://sparwithjamila.com

Jamila Bey is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., where she hosts the weekly radio show: SPAR with Jamila Bey, which airs on AM 1390 in Washington and AM 1430 in New York City.

Jamila is also a contributor to the Washington Post blog, “She the People,” and a frequent guest on the MSNBC show, “Up With Chris Hayes.”

Can't wait to be on Jamila Bey's SPAR radio program!

Can’t wait to be on Jamila Bey’s SPAR radio program!

Link

Thank you Hemant! Honored to be covered by and have Hemant in our documentary.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/04/05/a-documentary-film-about-pastors-who-lose-their-faith/

Tonight @5pm e.s.t. – REFUSING MY RELIGION will be on air woth The Pink Athesist.

Featured

RMR’s – ‘BEHIND THE CURTAIN’ – Investigated By Cops With Brother Jerry In Rosepine, La.

Video

“BEHIND THE CURTAIN” is a backstage glimpse of of our experiences shooting the documentary ‘Refusing My Religion’. We look forward to sharing content as the project evolves.

To donate to our project please go to http://www.refusingmyreligion.com

Investigated By Cops With Brother Jerry DeWitt In Rosepine, La.

Life is hard for an atheist in DeRidder, Louisiana. Especially if you’re a former pastor who “came out” and is now the ONLY open atheist there, a town of ten thousand with nearly as many churches. Marc and I grasped the gravity of living here for a nonbeliever when we were filming our documentary REFUSING MY RELIGION with Clergy Project member (and its first “graduate”) Jerry DeWitt. Driving peacefully through the unassuming town in January 2013, Jerry guided us to his high school where we pulled over for a figurative stroll down adolescent lane, camera rolling as we sat in our rented car. While Jerry reminisced about the sexual follies to which we all fell prey in high school, we noticed an elderly man repeatedly riding past us on a four-wheeler about 20 yards away. City slicker that I am, I just thought this gentleman was mowing his lawn or going for a late-afternoon joy ride. But by the fourth time he cruised past us, the intrusive noise caught our attention. So after about 15 minutes parked there, we took off and went to visit Jerry’s elementary school a mile away to talk about how children are indoctrinated as a matter of course here and throughout the Bible belt. A few minutes later as we stood outside it, about to film Jerry again, a police SUV suddenly barreled off the roadway and up onto the school’s grassy sidewalk a few feet from where we were standing. A pancake-stack of a man lumbers out of the SUV and approaches us, uniformed and armed. “I got a call from an off-duty sheriff’s deputy about some folks filming something and he thought I oughta go investigate it, so that’s what I’m doing, investigating what y’all are up to.” In his soothing, quintessentially southern manner, Jerry ably takes the reigns and asks how “So-and-so” is doing today. Officer Flapjacks drawls, “Oh, he’s doin’ just fine.” Turns out, So-and-so is the chief-of-police in DeRidder, and Jerry obviously knows him. But that doesn’t seem to impress this implacable agent of law enforcement. So Jerry sallies forth, “We’re just shooting a film, they’re kinda following me around, ya know, and I was tellin’ ‘em a story. I live here, lived here my whole life. I’m Jerry DeWitt.” The stoic pillar of crime prevention, there to humbly serve and protect the citizens of DeRidder from all forms of menace and danger, without looking any of us in the eye, simply snarls at Jerry: “Oh, I know who you are…” After we finished our shoot at the second school, we got back in the car and Marc said, “I’ve never seen a cop before who wouldn’t look you in the eye. Usually they look dead at you to see if you’re high, or messed up in the head, whatever. But that guy, he wouldn’t even look at me.” Maybe Officer Flapjacks understood that he and DeRidder were not being very Christian in their treatment of Jerry.