Last week, the BBC World Service aired “Leaving the Fold“, which tells the stories of an ex-Hindu (unidentified, but I’d love to meet him), and ex-Muslim (the excellent Aliyah Saleem) and an ex-Christian (me). This one-line Twitter review from Alom Shaha is one of the kindest things anyone has ever said about me:
— Alom Shaha (@alomshaha) September 10, 2016
Documentary maker Ed Prosser was behind the whole thing, and he was fun to work with. I really like the way he’s cut it together so that you can see parallels between our experiences—especially the way the fear of hell played a role in all our experiences. You’ll also learn how listening to Def Leppard helped me become an atheist, although strangely this experience was not mirrored by the other speakers.
In a half hour documentary, you don’t get to hear anything like the whole story. Part of my story, which I never say explicitly, was the realisation that there were real Muslims and Hindus who were just as devout as me. I think this documentary would have been a very helpful thing to hear when I was 16 or 17. I grew up believing the ‘problem’ with the world was that not enough people had heard the Gospel. When I realised that hearing the Gospel would not make any difference to them, for the same reasons that hearing about the Qu’ran made no difference to me, it was a pivotal moment. This documentary makes that point nicely without anyone ever saying it.
You can listen or download it from the BBC website.
Speaking of Leaving the Fold, if you enjoy this documentary, I recommend Edward T. Babinski’s book of the same name. It’s only about Christianity, but it’s an excellent collection of testimonies by people who left fundamentalism.