Houston Baptist University’s Dr. Jerry Johnston and Dr. Cristie Jo Johnston spent two intriguing days in England with both a chief proponent and a main opponent of the Christian faith. They filmed with respected thinkers Dr. Richard Swinburne and Dr. Richard Dawkins.
Dr. Richard Dawkins rode his bike to meet Christian apologists Dr. Cristie Jo Johnston and Dr. Jerry Johnston at the Malmaison Hotel. Near Oxford’s city center, the thick walls of the former prison offer guests the chance to sleep in a converted jail cell complete with barred windows and iron doors.
It was Cristie Jo’s fourth trip to England in two years to interview perhaps the world’s most well-known atheist, a University of Oxford Emeritus Fellow and author of many books including the bestseller, The God Delusion. “Sleeping at the Malmaison reminded me of the theme of the most ambitious project we have ever attempted,” Cristie Jo said. “Many people are locked in cells of unbelief and confusion.”
The Johnstons are seasoned documentarians. Cristie Jo has served as executive producer throughout 17 documentaries for publishing companies and broadcasting networks during their 35-year ministry careers. The creative media productions have aired globally and been utilized by thousands of churches and schools.
Dr. Cristie Jo Johnston and Dr. Jerry Johnston Research the “Nones”
For nearly three years, the Johnstons have diligently worked on their latest documentary project. They’re exploring the undeniable sociological and spiritual causes for the “nones.” Religious disaffiliations of a documented 50 to 70 million adults, a staggering one-in-four Americans, in the last few decades represent the demographic known as “nones.” One-third of these are millennials.
From the inception of the media project, the Johnstons have investigated why the “nones” have proliferated from two percent in 1950, to in excess of 21 percent in 2014, according to Pew Research. Through an exhaustive journey, the Johnstons have interviewed more than 100 of the most influential atheists, agnostics, sociologists, secularists, philosophers, Christian apologists, “nones,” “dones,” and “de-conversionists” internationally, including the likes of self-described atheist Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer.
Cristie Jo Johnston notes, “Nearly 40 of our experts live in the United Kingdom, and we have given careful analysis to the demise of Christianity in Britain through interviews and research with statisticians, anthropologists, and the four primary scholars who are investigating the phenomenon through a $2.8 million Templeton Foundation grant that will conclude in 2019 after our project releases. We theorize that England is a precursor to America’s seismic religious change. It is a grim predictor for the future apart from spiritual renewal, and a cognitive response to the problem facing the church and illiterate believers.”
In the United States, the Johnstons’ journey led them to the American Atheist Convention in Memphis and the Reason Rally held at the Lincoln Mall in Washington, D.C., where they learned from thousands of skeptics and activists.
A Legacy Faith Project In the Making
The Johnstons consider the “nones” documentary to be a legacy project; it is far more comprehensive than any of their preceding endeavors. The marquee media project will be an intricate, fast-moving, transcontinental documentary. Every interview along the way has been carefully transcribed. They will share thought-provoking information and emotionally moving scenes as “nones” tell their thoughts and personal stories. Those stories include former church-goers who disaffiliated, and even survivors of Christian leaders who died by suicide.
The viewing audience will be introduced to the disguised “unbelieving believers” seeded in many churches, who have serious doubts about faith and spiritual absolutes. There are approximately 40 more key leaders and people who will be filmed as the Johnstons’ investigative journey continues.
Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston have planned a minimum of three upcoming books filled with the collection of original research. In addition, they plan to release 48 television shows that will air on Christian networks globally, and plan to feature a cadre of resources that will prescribe the problems and ultimately, the cure. Also, they are slated for an international tour entitled, “Briefings.”
The following is a clip of Dr. Cristie Jo Johnston’s interview with Dr. Richard Dawkins:
- CRISTIE JO JOHNSTON: The Bible says that anyone who says in his heart, “There is no God” –that person is a fool. What do you think about that?
- RICHARD DAWKINS: That’s ridiculous obviously. I mean you’ve taken a verse from the Bible. The fool is upset in his heart there is no God. What am I supposed to say? This is a random text written by some random scribe at some point, a few centuries ago. So what?
To view video clips of the documentary filming, please visit JerryJohnston.com.