The encounter, which took place on a public sidewalk in Washington, D.C., in 2016, was filmed when Jillette approached Comfort and asked him about the existence of God. The filmmaker had just finished interviewing the well-known atheist and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss for his latest movie when he was approached by Jillette.
Comfort said, "Penn asked me who made God and a stack of other questions. During that time I gave him irrefutable evidence for God's existence, something he had stated on CNN that no one could have."
Comfort had planned to include the clip in "The Fool: The True Banana Man Story," his upcoming movie. "Then came the threat of a lawsuit from Penn's manager if we released the encounter,” he said.
The film tells how the world's most famous atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins, made Comfort an instant "idiot-celebrity" among atheists worldwide by christening him "Banana Man" and mocking him on international television and in multiple universities.
Comfort's lawyers encouraged him to include the full clip in "The Fool," because he has good legal standing to do so, but Comfort decided not to use the footage and instead honor Penn's wishes.
"We are still telling the whole amazing story of how Penn unexpectedly showed up at my interview with Lawrence Krauss, and how he was almost killed moments after we spoke on the sidewalk."
Comfort added that he thought it strange that Jillette wants to prevent anyone from seeing the clip of public personalities having a public conversation. After a much-publicized incident years ago when New York artists put a crucifix in a jar of urine, Jillette defended their rights, saying, "I was a freedom of speech nut, and I thought that they absolutely should have the right to do whatever art they wanted." And so he supported them by buying their art.
Without getting a release from Comfort, Penn tweeted a photo of the two of them to his 2 million followers, and he freely spoke of their encounter on his radio program. He mentioned it again in Smashing Interviews Magazine, saying, "I only hung out with Ray for 45 minutes or an hour, and he was passionate, honest, straightforward and polite."
In light of this, Comfort said he was surprised by the threatened lawsuit, and noted that other famous atheists are more than happy to be in the movie, which also features an interesting lunch with 40 atheists and Dawkins. When high-profile atheist Jaclyn Glenn found she had made the cut, she said tongue-in-cheek, "You know that you've made it when you're in a Ray Comfort film."
Comfort concluded, "I think Penn protesteth too much. The fact that the existence of God can be proven isn't something that should be hidden or censored."
The new film does include the story of the viral video Penn made years ago about a businessman who gave him a Bible, as well as revealing for the first time who it was who gave him that Bible and the fascinating whole story of what else happened.