Challenging the Christian rights crusade

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DVD REVIEW

The Christian right claims that in speaking out against gay rights it only adheres to Biblical orthodoxy. After all, the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong, doesn’t it? Daniel Karslake’s persuasive documentary “For The Bible Tells Me So” begs to differ, arguing that the religious right’s hatred of homosexuality is based on a flawed interpretation of the Bible.

According to theologians, fundamentalist Christians commit the mistake of literally believing what the Bible says. Written several thousand years ago, the Bible reflects the issues and priorities of those times and not today, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a 76-year-old veteran of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, and others explain. For instance, the prohibition against homosexuality found in Leviticus was based on the ancient Hebrew civilization’s need to increase its population. Gay couples cannot procreate.

Apart from a small number of isolated passages, the Bible does not deal with homosexuality in a comprehensive manner.

However, the Christian right chooses what scriptures it wants to follow and those it wants to ignore. Scriptures allowing slavery and forbidding the eating of shrimp and the mixing of different fabrics in clothing are not adhered to. The Bible calls on believers to give their wealth to the poor. Yet Christian right leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart and others have accumulated tens of millions of dollars in wealth through their religious corporate empires. They have endorsed the Republican Party whose governments have made the rich richer at the expense of the poor.

Karslake’s documentary also provides an interesting and much needed discussion about the nature of homophobia. Hatred of women is the root cause of homophobia, he says. Bigots deride gay men for having feminine characteristics — a stereotype that bears no relation to reality in most cases — or for engaging in sex acts seen as feminine.

Touching interviews with fundamentalist Christian parents who changed or modified their religious views to accept their gay and lesbian children are interwoven through the film.

“The Bible Tells Me So” provides a balanced and much needed rational discussion about homosexuality and Christianity. It provides convincing evidence that the Christian right’s destructive crusade against gays and lesbians is based on a flawed and selective interpretation of the Bible. Believers and nonbelievers should see this film.

tpelzer @shaw.ca

“For The Bible Tells Me So”

Directed by Daniel Karslake

Vision Quest/Atticus Group, 2007

98 min.