Profile of Project Reason Video Contest’s Winner

The winner of the Project Reason video contest (and $10,000) was Chris Redford, who made this video:

Redford is a member of the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA) at the University of Kansas, an affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance.

There was a nice article about him and his deconversion today in the campus newspaper:

The biggest shift in Redford’s religious transformation came in March of 2004, when he read a New Mexico professor’s controversial review of the Bible on Amazon.

“I found it kind of offensive, but I thought I would try to reach out to him,” Redford said. “It turned out that he had more to teach me than I had to teach him.”

Redford communicated with the professor over e-mail for a week and the logic of the professor’s arguments began a dramatic change in his religious ideals. Redford began to see holes in the religion he had been committed to for his entire life.

“It was the most important thing in my life,” he said. “Basically any kind of higher criticism of the Bible, until then, I was completely unaware of as a Christian.”

Congratulations to Chris for the win and for showing that even a hard-core Christian can change his mind.

It’s easy to forget how often that actually happens.

  • cathy gunderson

    Thank you for this wonderful and intelligent video. I hope to share it with everyone. Maybe someday, these are the kinds of commercials we may see on television.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com Kaleena

    I think they picked a winner! That was beautiful!

  • Claudia

    Its a good vid, but I liked the runners up better. Here are the top three:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-fCOsTafEs

  • Dan

    THAT won?! It’s just still images throw together with a Ken Burns effect in iMovie. iMovie did all the work! The animation of the photos, the transitions, and the end titles are all built into iMovie.

    This would have been a good article, but for a video being submitted to a video contest – I’m embarrassed that this is what won.

    I wish I had known about this contest earlier.

  • Ron in Houston

    I don’t know if it’s your RSS feed or my life bookmarks in Firefox but something clearly isn’t working right.

  • John Perkins

    I’m curious to read the Amazon review that prompted this young man’s change. I did a quick search through Amazon, but there are like 500 bibles listed, and each one has multiple reviews.

  • GentleGiant

    I was thinking the same thing as John Perkins, I’d love to read that review!

  • ethin

    Dan,
    “This would have been a good article, but for a video being submitted to a video contest – I’m embarrassed that this is what won.”

    I totally agree. It communicates its message, but is totally free of style (google image search + slow pan into image + repeat several times). And maybe I lack perspective, but there are much worse threats to secular values than “under god” and “in god we trust”. Those would be nice things to get rid of, but aren’t there bigger fish to fry?

  • Rick

    I don’t know much about video techniques and maybe the two runner ups were more technically sound/advanced than the winning video. However, the message of the winner was crystal clear, moving and powerful. That is really what this contest was about, wasn’t it?

  • Blasphemous in KS

    Yes!! Kansas comes through! Doesn’t happen nearly enough.

  • Maury

    Loved the winning entry… (also 3rd place…) I think the winner really nailed the point.

    I just wish he would have been more controversial… Imagine if instead of in God We Trust, he had put… “in Whites” we trust, or “in Non-Jews” we trust. It is the exact same message of discrimination, but those others would cause an uproar.

  • bigjohn756

    This is the only one of the top three that is simple and direct enough to serve as a TV ad, for example, that would be comprehensible to the average American. The other two require a deeper thought process than most American minds can support. Even then, it may be a bit too long unless the content enrages the watcher enough to keep his attention. Its usefulness is the reason I think that this one is the best.

  • BathTub

    Chris has a fantastic series of videos detailing his deconversion. I highly recommend them.

  • Sarah

    I cannot believe that one won. The second and third place winners were far superior. The idea in the third place winner is really great. I have seen people read aloud the bible on public transport before. It is rude. The winner’s video was so simple. Yes it had a good message but it was like Ken Burns Effect 101.

  • Raven

    Very nicely done. I only have one point of objection or perhaps it is more of a discussion point. I’m generally opposed to comparing homosexuality with religion for one reason. Homosexuality is not a choice, you are born this way. Plain and simple. Religion, or lack there of, IS a choice. I understand the comparison as it is stated in the video, and I agree with the sentiment. No one should be left out based on their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, or nationality (or any other superficial reason for that matter). I just don’t agree with comparing any religion or lack there of with homosexuality since the two are completely different.

  • AxeGrrl

    Raven wrote:

    No one should be left out based on their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, or nationality (or any other superficial reason for that matter). I just don’t agree with comparing any religion or lack there of with homosexuality since the two are completely different.

    Out of curiousity, is there any particular reason you picked out homosexuality from all the other characteristics mentioned? I ask only because gender and nationality aren’t ‘choices’ either, not to mention race, which the video also alluded to.

    Gender, nationality and race aren’t really any different than homosexuality when it comes to the objection you expressed.

  • n00blet

    @Raven I question whether being religious/atheist is a choice for some people. Personally, I can’t imagine myself being able to choose religion now, even under threat of death. Maybe I could pretend .. but actual belief? My brain’s just not capable of it.

  • Claudia

    @AxeGrrl, I can’t speak for Raven, but I can hazard a guess that homosexuality was the first choice because in the rationalist community we so often compare the two, I think mostly to the “coming out” part of the experience and because homosexuality unfortunately is still “controversial” in the same quarters where atheism is unacceptable.

    @n00blet, certainly many don’t experience it as a choice, but it is not immutable nor inborn. Conversion and deconversion are possible, wheras changing your race or sexual orientation is not. That doesn’t neccesarily mean that religious or non-religious identification is felt any less deeply, but it does mean that there is the possibility of choosing a different path in a way that is totally unavailable for your race or sexuality.

  • Josh

    @ John Perkins, here’s the link to the review he’s talking about on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3POJH53W054KC/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

  • Dan

    @Rick

    “the message of the winner was crystal clear, moving and powerful. That is really what this contest was about, wasn’t it?”

    Message is a big thing yes. But how was the subway video not clear? It ran a bit long perhaps – but the message was crystal clear to me, even before the BLATANTLY clear words at the end, “It’s Just a Book.”

    By the way, do you see the people commenting on that page who are religious? I’m up in those discussions talking to them a bit.

  • muggle

    Yay! I was hoping this one would win!

    I liked the other two also and am glad they’re the runners up but I liked this one best. Call me simple. Actually, what I’d say is direct and plainly stated.

    While I loved the book one, it’s not really appropriate for the purposes. Next time this happens to me, I’m gonna take that exact course of action and stand up and start reading whatever I’m reading out loud too. (Well, maybe not the stand up part since I’m somewhat crippled.) I have done this with assholes singing gospel or playing loud Xian music, countered with my irreverant favorites.

    However, it is definitely too might is right. The asshole is rudely interrupting everyone else’s quiet enjoyment of their books and then they stand up and drown him out — deservedly — but he only gives up because he is outnumbered. Not right and not an effective tactic in real life when you’re only a small percentage of the population.

  • Rick

    @Dan

    I agree that the book reading video had a crystal clear message and drove it home well. I actually really liked it. However, the winning video also caught my interest when it gave the history of how and when god appeared in the US pledge and money. Something that I was not aware of previously.

    I didn’t check the comments on the page out but will do so now … thanks.

  • inmyhead9

    I loved the book reading video, especially when the started reading Twilight. It just cracked me up. They were all very good. I really enjoyed the winning because of the historical facts.