Here’s a little known fact about me—I don’t go to see scary movies. Life is scary enough why should I pay for it.
So that means I mostly watch silly romantic comedies, movie musicals, Star Wars and Indiana Jones type films, historical dramas and documentaries. Of late, I’ve been glued to HBO’s John Adams. It’s been great watching Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney play John and Abigail as a couple who though separated a great deal share a passion for life and for each other.
Out of town as much as I have been the last few months, I haven’t made it to many movie theatres—thank god for Movies on Demand. I will, however, make it my business to get over to Proctor’s in Schenectady next Wednesday, April 16th for a screening of For the Bible Tells Me So. (For those of you not familiar with New York’s Capital District, Schenectady is about 15 minutes west of Albany—our state’s capitol—and Proctor’s is a wonderful, newly restored former vaudeville theatre that brings Broadway road tours, films and other sorts of culture to our community here in upstate NY.)
A documentary that’s won numerous awards, For the Bible Tells Me So opens the doors to five very American, very Christian families—including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson—to discover how people of faith deal with having a gay or lesbian child.
For those of you who may not know, Dick Gephardt’s daughter Chrissy is a lesbian born to a Baptist dad and a Catholic mom. Gene Robinson is the openly gay, non-celibate Episcopal Bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese.
His consecration has been a lightening rod for homophobia within the Episcopal Church giving those on the right-wing side of that denomination freedom to spew their hatred. To his credit, Robinson, who I had the pleasure of spending some time with in Montreal during Outgames in 2006, has stood his ground. His church community elected him. His family supports him. His blended spirituality and politics inform him to tell the LGBT community to take back their houses of worship and to not let them be defined by Biblical literalists who use hate instead of love to preach their version of the gospel.
The film also features a Minnesota family named the Reitans—Randy, Phil and their son Jake. Jake has been part of Soulforce’s Equality Rides since 2006. Fashioned on the 1960’s Freedom Rides of the civil rights movement, Equality Rides bring LGBT youth activists to colleges and universities across the country that silence or exclude LGBT students in the hopes of educating and breaking down barriers.
When the Rides started, Jake’s mom Randy contacted me. I eventually interviewed her and Phil. It was fascinating. Here were two loving parents, firm in their Christian faith, sending their son off to educate others about what it really means to be Christian and love your neighbor. But more than that, they stood side by side with their son and got arrested with him, when Soulforce tried to deliver their message of understanding to James Dobson and Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs.
For the Bible Tells Me So promises to be an uplifting film giving hope to those who have been caught in the Radical Christian Right’s contradiction of ‘you can’t be gay and be a Christian.” The Right is constantly beating on us saying that the Bible tells them that being gay is an abomination and a sin.
As the clergy who are interviewed for the documentary point out, the Bible says a lot of things are an abomination—wearing wool and linen together, commingling crops, eating pork or shrimp. The Reverend Dr. Laurence Keene, of the Disciples of Christ points out that those abominations are always used to address a ritual wrong but are never used to refer to something innately immoral. As he explains, eating pork for Jews violates a ritual but it is not immoral. If it were, a lot of my faith would be in trouble—so many of us just can’t seem to stay away from pork fried rice when we eat Chinese after our ritual movie-going on Christmas.
When you look at it analytically, the Bible doesn’t tell us anything. It’s how we read the Bible, how we interpret it and how we use that interpretation that tells us something. It tells us we can use the Bible for hate or we can use it for love.
We’ve all seen what happens when the Bible is used for hate. It’s time to get down with the love and begin valuing everyone as human beings—regardless of who we wake up with in the morning.