For Immediate Release: August 24, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
firstname.lastname@example.org - (207) 358-9785
Challenging the negative stereotypes of atheists as heartless, hopeless, or just plain evil in popular entertainment, talented freethinkers were asked to create a sitcom featuring a lovable atheist lead character for the No God But Funny Contest, sponsored by the Center for Inquiry and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Judges with expertise in comedy and television have pored over the many excellent teleplay and webisode submissions, and the winning entries have been chosen!
Contestants were asked to “contribute to the downfall of civilization” by submitting either a 22-minute pilot script, for the prize of $15,000, or a fully produced 3 to 15-minute “webisode” for the bigger prize of $25,000. In either case, the challenge was to create a show with a likable, funny atheist character that reversed stereotypes of the nonreligious, frequently portrayed as callous, amoral, or as “lost souls.”
The winners in the $15,000 teleplay category are Rachel Lewis and Daniel Beecher of Salt Lake City for their pilot script THANK GOD I’M AN ATHEIST, where two young atheists in love, Holly and Matt, are about to be married, but have to contend with Holly’s devoutly Mormon parents, who have very different plans for them. When Holly worries about coming out to her folks, Matt tells her, “It’s not going to kill them…I’m thinking three days in a hospital, tops.”
The winner for the $25,000 webisode category is John Dardis of Los Angeles for EARTH ANGEL, the self-discovery story of a witty young woman named Angel who, on her 18th birthday, must find a way to come out as an atheist to her quirky and very religious family…on Christmas Day no less!
“Even in 2015, atheists are still too often pigeonholed as the ‘other’ – people that Americans don’t want to vote for and don’t want their kids to marry, due in large part to the way we’re portrayed in TV and movies,” said Pamela Koslyn, creator of the No God But Funny contest. “But we’re convinced that finding creative ways to present atheists as charming, funny, and warm will help to break old stereotypes and usher in greater social acceptance and legal rights for the nonreligious. That’s what we want to begin to make happen with this contest, and the results have been fantastic.”
The entries were judged by a panel of experts that included comedians Paul Provenza and Steve Hill, writer and producer Barbara Romen, magician Max Maven, and actor and writer Rich Fulcher.
Check out the complete pilot script for THANK GOD I’M AN ATHEIST here, and watch EARTH ANGEL here. Additionally, EARTH ANGEL will be screened before an audience at the Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles at 7:30pm on Wednesday, August 26, where Dardis will be presented with his prize. Details for this event are available here.
Contest sponsors: The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is an international organization that advocates for science, reason, and humanist values. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organization dedicated to promoting the constitutional separation of church and state.
For comment: Please contact CFI communications director Paul Fidalgo (email@example.com / 207-358-9785) for interview requests with judges, winners, and CFI staff.
Stills from EARTH ANGEL: