It’s a sad truth that fear and anger are common emotions that often erupt when conservative religion and visible homosexuality are in the same room.
Just how much anger is made plain in a small and depressing library of excellent documentaries — including Trembling Before G-d, Jesus Camp, Blood in the Face, and Homophobia: That Painful Problem.
Daniel Karslake’s documentary, For the Bible Tells Me So, is a welcome addition to that library not only because it is well crafted and insightful, but because it tempers despair with a healthy dose of optimism.
Karslake approaches his complex subject from numerous angles, all thought provoking.
The director surveys Bible literalists and American evangelists (for whom, apparently, “demon lifestyle” and “abomination” are part of daily speech), and talks with biblical scholars who outright refute (or at least reinterpret) biblical passages commonly thought to explicitly condemn homosexuals to hellfire.
While this discussion is intellectually stimulating, the heartfelt core of the doc is Karslake’s interviews with a diverse handful of American families who are Christian hardliners “absolutely steeped in Scripture.”
Deeply committed to upholding the demon lifestyle/abomination orthodoxy, each family was faced with a crisis of faith when one of its children came out.
Karslake interviews the parents and their children separately, but reveals that even though each person faced a profoundly difficult situation, in the majority of cases unconditional love trumped biblical commandments.
The sole exception is shocking, and perfectly illustrates the chilling words of one Bible scholar: “Fear does terrible things to a society.”
Faced with the venom that comes from the mouths of some outspoken religious conservatives, it’s reasonable to turn, run and hide.
Karslake offers another option. His documentary points out that these so-called leaders grow fat (and rich) from feeding on people’s fear. If these same people see, know, and talk to actual homosexuals their hatred and fear can dissolve.
So long as they’re only aware of the demonic abominations envisioned by their homophobic leaders, however, their dislike will remain intact — and a serious danger.