For the Bible Tells Me So



First Run Features

NEW YORK -- Using true-life stories to complement its obligatory assemblage of talking heads, Daniel Karslake's documentary handles the theme of religious attitudes toward homosexuality in moving and educational fashion. While the film is unlikely to sway anyone whose mind already isn't made up, it provides plenty food for thought in its examination of biblical doctrine on same-sex love and how it resonates to this day.

The film concentrates on five individuals whose family lives were dramatically affected by their eventual coming out. They include such relatively well-known figures as Chrissy Gephardt, daughter of former U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, and Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. The former was publicly supported by her politician father, who offered to cut short his Democratic presidential candidacy if it would make her life difficult. The latter was embraced by most of the members of his congregation after he declared his gayness.

Other happy stories include that of Tonia Poteat, whose parents have continued to support her despite their strong religious convictions, and Jake Reitan, whose parents became activists demonstrating against such Christian organizations as Focus on the Family.

A sadder note is struck in the case of Anna Wallner, whose suicide subsequent to coming out inspired her mother Mary Wall to become an advocate against homophobia.

Along with these inspirational stories is commentary from religious leaders (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and scholars countering the literal interpretations of the Bible employed to bolster anti-gay arguments.

More amusingly, a brief animated film makes the case for the scientific arguments bolstering the genetics theory behind homosexuality.

Although displaying little more in the way of technique or style than would be employed in a typical television newsmagazine, "For the Bible Tells Me So" makes its passionate case with conviction and intelligence.