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About the Film

Watch on PBS, Independent Lens, November 6, 2023

Muslim chaplains aim to make change in one of America’s most powerful institutions—the military. For them, the fight for equality and religious freedom begins on the inside.

As military chaplains, Rafael, Khallid, and Saleha swear an oath to the Constitution, vowing to protect the right of every service member to practice their faith freely. Despite decades of military service, some still view them as the enemy and unfit to serve because of their beliefs. Rather than blend in, they accept the challenges and inherent dangers of being the public face of Islam for the U.S. military.

Three Chaplains goes inside the armed forces to reveal how these chaplains practice, teach, and share their faith with troops around the country. Rafael, Khallid, and Saleha each face resistance—from accusations of disloyalty to disapproval from their own families and community—while ascending to the highest ranks of the military. Like generations of minority service members before them, they call on the Department of Defense to support equality for all.

Director & Producer

David Washburn has partnered with Muslim storytellers for over a decade. His documentary, An American Mosque, aired on public television nationwide and was acquired by Al Jazeera. He developed Three Chaplains from his short film series featuring Muslim veterans that ran online in the Washington Post, San Diego Union Tribune, and NBC News.

Producer

Razi Jafri makes films about America’s changing cultural landscape. His previous film, Hamtramck, USA (SXSW 2020) chronicles democracy in America’s first Muslim-majority city. He is an alumnus of the Sundance Producers Fellowship. His projects have been funded by the Ford Foundation, Doris Duke Foundation, Knight Foundation, and CAAM.

Host A Free Screening

Interested in hosting a screening of Three Chaplains for your community? Reach out to support@threechaplains.com, and a member of our team will connect you with everything you need to host.

The film is ideal for convening conversations about chaplaincy, Muslims in America, and pluralism on military bases, in houses of worship, community centers, and beyond. 

Are you a student at a college, university, or theological school? Apply below for a paid fellowship to host a film screening at your institution.

Learn & Connect

Join the social learning community at ReligionAndPublicLife.org to explore the film’s companion course. 

  • Movie House: Stream the documentary at home, in classrooms, or in community or work settings.
  • Social Learning: Engage the film’s viewers and learners about best practices for promoting interfaith understanding.
  • Mobile App: Use your smartphone or tablet to connect with viewers, learners, and educators nationwide.

Study and assign the screening guide created by the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab to

  • Explore the significance of Muslim contributions to the U.S. military and chaplaincy corps;
  • Analyze the social and political context faced by Muslims in the U.S. military;
  • Evaluate the application of constitutional protections for religious liberty for people of all religions and none.

Paid Fellowships

The Spring 2024 cohort of Interfaith Engagement Fellows is hard at work organizing their screenings on over 50 campuses nationwide. Please stay tuned about future opportunities in the 2024-2025 academic year.

Press

Download the film’s press notes and social media toolkit. For press inquiries and interview requests, contact contact Alice Quinlan at Red Owls Partners, alice@redowlpartners.com.

Contact Us

Do you want to host a screening or connect with the fellowship coordinator? Email support@threechaplains.com or select the blue button at the bottom right corner to start a Live Chat. We look forward to connecting with you.

Credits

TERRACE FILMS and ITVS present “THREE CHAPLAINS,” a documentary film by DAVID WASHBURN

Editors DAVID WASHBURN & ERIC DANIEL METZGAR

Original Music BRIAN DEMING

Executive Producer SALLY JO FIFER

Director DAVID WASHBURN

Producers RAZI JAFRI & DAVID WASHBURN

THREE CHAPLAINS is a co-production of Terrace Films LLC, and ITVS with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Independent Television Service, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Chicago Media Project, the Hartley Film Foundation, the Islamic Scholarship Fund, the Sundance Institute, and Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film’s Impact Campaign and Fellowship Program was made possible by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis with in-kind support from The Foundation for Religious Literacy.

This program was produced by Terrace Films LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.