A Hero, Nate Phelps

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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

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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