“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?