REFUSING MY RELIGION – Trailer

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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.

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“I Couldn’t Keep It To Myself”

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“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:

http://www.amazon.com/Ebony-Exodus-Project-Walking-Religion/dp/1939578027/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366073574&sr=1-1&keywords=ebony+exodus+project

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”

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“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?