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New Film Seeks To Put Human Face On Atheism

Posted by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 6:59 AM
  • 102 Replies
3 moms liked this

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/13/hug-atheist-film-tries-put-human-face-unbelief/

Every challenge to the First Amendment seems to bring to the airwaves some version of an angry atheist versus a sputtering religious pundit. Cooler, calmer heads seldom make an appearance.

Now, a new feature-length documentary from a first-time filmmaker hopes to put a more human, middle-of-the-road face on American atheism. Called “Hug an Atheist,” the film will make its debut Saturday (Sept. 14) at the fifth annual San Francisco Atheist Film Festivalbefore seeking wider distribution at other film festivals and on television.

The 90-minute film is the project of Sylvia Broeckx, a 35-year-old Belgian who lives in England and has been an atheist and humanist since her teens. She became interested in America’s perception of nonbelievers when some American friends and fellow atheists shared their own stories of feeling marginalized.

Annie & Paul Levano on their wedding day. Photo courtesy Backlot Films

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Annie & Paul Levano on their wedding day. Photo courtesy Backlot Films


 This image available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“I always assumed America was founded on freedom of religion and was very much like Europe where if you are an atheist it is no big deal,” she said. “When I discovered that in America being an atheist could be a big problem, that was really a shock to me.”

She was especially upset by the stories ofJessica Ahlquist and Damon Fowler, two teenage atheists who challenged prayer in their public schools. Ahlquist, a Rhode Island high schooler, received death threats and was belittled by local government officials, and Fowler’s family kicked him out of their Louisiana home before his high school graduation.

Broeckx, who normally tackles film and video projects for businesses and corporations, decided to make a documentary — her first fully independent one — about “real” American atheists. She took her idea to a crowd-funding website and raised the necessary $27,000 in 53 days.

Most donations were small, but one filmmaker gave her the last $10,000.

She then traveled to a dozen states, including Texas, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania to interview atheists. She was looking, she said, not for the talking heads of atheist organizations who are regulars on cable TV but rather, average people.

“I wanted people that could just be the people next door,” she said. “I wanted to put a face on atheism and the face is your neighbor, your friends and your co-workers who you might not expect to be an atheist, but you get along with them and you see them every day.”

That aspect of the film is what drew Dave Fitzgerald, organizer of the San Francisco Atheist Film Festival, to feature it in the prime evening spot of the daylong event.

“Sylvia has done a wonderful thing,” Fitzgerald said. “Her subjects aren’t caricatures. They’re real, ordinary people with something extraordinary to say.”

And they are dealing with real issues that every person, regardless of religious beliefs, must confront: morality, parenting, suffering and death. The only difference is that atheists approach such problems without a religious framework.

What is not included is any sort of diatribe or argument against religious belief or believers that’s become the common currency of the most visible atheist activists.

“I really wanted to make sure it was as upbeat as possible and that it really wasn’t a case of ‘us’ against ‘them,’” Broeckx said.

by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 6:59 AM
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lga1965
by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:07 AM
1 mom liked this

 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.

Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.

romalove
by Roma on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:10 AM
3 moms liked this


Quoting lga1965:

 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.

Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.

What you said here is precisely why it's being spoken about as it is, a humanization if you were.  People only see the most outspoken, and often the harshest, of atheists.  This is an attempt to show something I say on here often, which is that most atheists are loners, sitting by their lonesome in their homes and communities, not believing but not joining organizations.  They just don't believe.  

lga1965
by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:17 AM
3 moms liked this

 

Quoting romalove:


Quoting lga1965:

 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.

Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.

What you said here is precisely why it's being spoken about as it is, a humanization if you were.  People only see the most outspoken, and often the harshest, of atheists.  This is an attempt to show something I say on here often, which is that most atheists are loners, sitting by their lonesome in their homes and communities, not believing but not joining organizations.  They just don't believe.  

 True. I am just about ready to slide over to the atheist group , the older I get and the more  I think and learn.I sincerely wonder what could be wrong with people who ,without thinking and questioning, believe the Adam and Eve story, the Virgin Mary tale and all the rest of the Myths in that fiction called the Bible. And that the earth is only 6000 years old? Oh my.....And, too many people who attend church at least once a week and judge everyone can be the cruelest people.We see it here everyday.

Sometimes I feel sure this is all just a random happening.

 

romalove
by Roma on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:21 AM


Quoting lga1965:

 

Quoting romalove:


Quoting lga1965:

 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.

Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.

What you said here is precisely why it's being spoken about as it is, a humanization if you were.  People only see the most outspoken, and often the harshest, of atheists.  This is an attempt to show something I say on here often, which is that most atheists are loners, sitting by their lonesome in their homes and communities, not believing but not joining organizations.  They just don't believe.  

 True. I am just about ready to slide over to the atheist group , the older I get and the more  I think and learn.I sincerely wonder what could be wrong with people who ,without thinking and questioning, believe the Adam and Eve story, the Virgin Mary tale and all the rest of the Myths in that fiction called the Bible. And that the earth is only 6000 years old? Oh my.....And, too many people who attend church at least once a week and judge everyone can be the cruelest people.We see it here everyday.

Sometimes I feel sure this is all just a random happening.

 

It is possible (and the reality for many people) to believe in God or higher power without believing in the Bible.

I always think that questioning and thinking things through are valuable exercises.

My mother in law is Catholic, and has been her whole life.  She married in the Church, brought all her children up in the Church, and now that she's in her late 70's, she is questioning too, which frankly shocked me.  She still goes to church, but has said out loud that she's unsure what she believes anymore.

Maybe that's part of the aging process.  We finally have time to think things through lol.

kidlover2
by Bronze Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:29 AM
I assumed this was common knowledge. I find it sad that people feel that they need to make movies to try to dispel judgment and unkind thoughts about fellow humans. I'm a Christian. One if my best friends in the world is a self proclaimed atheist. We've been best friends for over 3 years. I don't see either one of us changing our minds about our beliefs anytime soon...but that's ok, because that is not the point or our friendship. I find it extremely disturbing that it is taught to evangelical Christians not to associate with non- evangelical Christians unless it is for the express purpose of proselytizing.
romalove
by Roma on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:31 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting kidlover2:

I assumed this was common knowledge. I find it sad that people feel that they need to make movies to try to dispel judgment and unkind thoughts about fellow humans. I'm a Christian. One if my best friends in the world is a self proclaimed atheist. We've been best friends for over 3 years. I don't see either one of us changing our minds about our beliefs anytime soon...but that's ok, because that is not the point or our friendship. I find it extremely disturbing that it is taught to evangelical Christians not to associate with non- evangelical Christians unless it is for the express purpose of proselytizing.

My best friend is Catholic.  We almost never talk about anything remotely religious.  She knows I don't believe and she does.  We are both fine with that.

billsfan1104
by Jules on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:42 AM
I agree with the part where Atheists are portrayed as angry an so forth. But the same goes for Christians. They use the extremes of all sides. It makes for better TV
romalove
by Roma on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:44 AM


Quoting billsfan1104:

I agree with the part where Atheists are portrayed as angry an so forth. But the same goes for Christians. They use the extremes of all sides. It makes for better TV

It is also those who are yelling the loudest who attract attention, for better or worse.

The difference between the atheists and the Christians, though, is that there are soooo many more Christians than atheists in America.  I would venture to say unless you live in a specific enclave, almost everyone in America knows Christians.

Most Americans have no contact with atheists, so the only people they know of are the ones they see in the media.

billsfan1104
by Jules on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:46 AM
3 moms liked this
And this is why people think that atheists are hateful and rude.
You lumped people who go to church as being cruel and nasty and not capable of thinking for themselves.


Quoting lga1965:

 


Quoting romalove:




Quoting lga1965:


 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.


Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.


What you said here is precisely why it's being spoken about as it is, a humanization if you were.  People only see the most outspoken, and often the harshest, of atheists.  This is an attempt to show something I say on here often, which is that most atheists are loners, sitting by their lonesome in their homes and communities, not believing but not joining organizations.  They just don't believe.  


 True. I am just about ready to slide over to the atheist group , the older I get and the more  I think and learn.I sincerely wonder what could be wrong with people who ,without thinking and questioning, believe the Adam and Eve story, the Virgin Mary tale and all the rest of the Myths in that fiction called the Bible. And that the earth is only 6000 years old? Oh my.....And, too many people who attend church at least once a week and judge everyone can be the cruelest people.We see it here everyday.


Sometimes I feel sure this is all just a random happening.


 

romalove
by Roma on Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:48 AM


Quoting billsfan1104:

And this is why people think that atheists are hateful and rude.
You lumped people who go to church as being cruel and nasty and not capable of thinking for themselves.


Quoting lga1965:

 


Quoting romalove:




Quoting lga1965:


 A human face? I thought atheists were humans.LOL.


Anyway,aside from the odd way of putting it,I hope they do a good job showing that atheists aren't "of the devil" or evil,etc.So many people try to condemn atheists and fail miserably.


What you said here is precisely why it's being spoken about as it is, a humanization if you were.  People only see the most outspoken, and often the harshest, of atheists.  This is an attempt to show something I say on here often, which is that most atheists are loners, sitting by their lonesome in their homes and communities, not believing but not joining organizations.  They just don't believe.  


 True. I am just about ready to slide over to the atheist group , the older I get and the more  I think and learn.I sincerely wonder what could be wrong with people who ,without thinking and questioning, believe the Adam and Eve story, the Virgin Mary tale and all the rest of the Myths in that fiction called the Bible. And that the earth is only 6000 years old? Oh my.....And, too many people who attend church at least once a week and judge everyone can be the cruelest people.We see it here everyday.


Sometimes I feel sure this is all just a random happening.


 

To be fair....she's not an atheist, but a churchgoer who's questioning herself.

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