Shun thy child?

For the Bible Tells Me So

Here’s a question that’s never fully answered in Daniel Karslake’s documentary film For the Bible Tells Me So: Why would reasonable people use a collection of tribal rules and fables put together by a group of nomadic shepherds four millennia ago as the main source of their morality?

Once you ask that question, Karslake’s film is still interesting, but in a slowing-down-to-look-at-a-car-wreck way.

Yes, it’s heart-rending to watch parents struggle with reconciling their religious beliefs with their children’s sexual orientation. And when they finally come around, there’s a certain amount of resolution. Who could not be thrilled that Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s parents were there to drape him in his vestments at his installation? But there’s another woman, stuck with parents who refer to her lesbian identity as a “lifestyle” of which they cannot approve. (Hint: Lifestyles are “active,” “sedentary,” “outdoorsy,” “bookish,” “organic,” “sporty” or “high-tech”—things like that. Being gay? That’s life.)

The DVD includes special features like an additional interview with Robinson, as well as interviews that explain how the film came about. Perhaps most useful—if the audience for this film is in fact people who wish to reconcile their religious beliefs with the reality of the GLBTQ people in their lives—is a feature including information about available resources, from Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to Soulforce.

The film’s participants take some intriguing approaches to dealing with powerful religious bigots who cause so many problems for gay people—including inciting violence against them. As long as we continue to allow religious infringement on public life, the battle over what to believe will be a political issue. For the Bible Tells Me So frames the battle on the home front, where true believers continue to be confronted with kids that their churches tell them they can’t love.