A photo of Tom Boechat

Tom Boechat

Vitória, Brazil


I don’t pray. I don’t feel the need to pray. I do believe that faith is something that we created, we humans. I don’t think a dog prays. I don’t think a plant prays. I think it’s something that we developed, something that we found the need for. Instead of God creating us, I think we created God. And that’s OK, I don’t have a problem with that because I think it’s just a concept. And, for me, faith is not believing that having things is the most important thing. I don’t mean to make a vote for poverty. It’s not that. I want to have things. I just don’t want things to have me. And I’d rather create stuff. I’d rather create friendships. So for me faith is in the relationship...not going to church. I mean if you want to go to church, go ahead. You have the right to go. I’m not saying don’t go to church. I’m just saying don’t invite me. Go by yourself.

Daniel’s Reflection

Tom Boechat is the original producer of Portraits in Faith and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. It was Tom who studied with my photography instructor, David H. Wells, and whom David recommended I connect up with when I went to Brazil. Tom found some amazing people in São Paolo for me to interview and he became a friend and a voice of spiritual clarity. He sees beyond dogma and religion. Tom grew up the son of a Baptist minister and, as he once said to me, he had to “forget all the bullshit” he was taught and “remember what the true message of Jesus’s teachings were.”

Tom is an atheist and yet his interview is my favorite in the whole project. Why? Because Tom beautifully explains that faith is a choice to live a life that emphasizes sacredness and not being focused on the self. Most people are shocked to hear him say that we created God, but I think it is a beautiful realization because in the end, faith is how we choose to live and act.

Because the original Portraits in Faith project did not include interviews, I returned to Brazil specifically to interview all the people six years later, including Tom. Rarely do we get to see such a longitudinal view of someone’s faith journey. Returning to be with Tom and to be able to get his thoughts on video was a great blessing. I will always be grateful to Tom Boechat for helping me create Portraits in Faith, and for his lifelong friendship, his sense of humor, and his reverence for the force that makes life meaningful and sacred.

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