About the Film

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Is the divide that separates homosexuals from so many Christian churches too wide to cross?

This question speaks to the heart of the award-winning documentary For the Bible Tells Me So.

Through the experiences of five American families, film-goers can discover how Christians reconcile their faith with having a gay child. The 2007 film also features such respected authorities as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Peter Gomes of Harvard, and Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg, who act as guides through the complexities of the issue.

For the Bible Tells Me So is the brainchild of filmmaker Daniel Karslake, who wrote, produced, and directed the documentary.

Karslake’s journey to conceiving the film began during his stint as an award-winning producer for In the Life, PBS’s acclaimed newsmagazine documenting the gay experience. In 1998, he produced the program’s first story on Christianity and homosexuality, featuring Rev. Irene Monroe, a lesbian theologian at Harvard University.

The day after the story aired, Karslake received an email from a youth in Iowa:

“Last week I bought the gun. Yesterday I wrote the note. But last night I happened to turn on your show and just knowing that someday I might be able to go back into my church, I threw the gun in the river. My mom never has to know.”

The response immediately galvanized Karslake into finding a way to bring a hopeful and healing message to mainstream audiences struggling to reconcile their faith with traditional Christian views on homosexuality.

This was a time, Karslake recalls, when “almost everyone was meeting a gay person for the first time – either at work, in school, in their families, even on TV. But these same people had been given no tools to fight against the intrinsic intolerance and misconceptions perpetuated by literalist interpretations of scripture.”

As he worked to recruit allies and financial backers, Karslake also concentrated his efforts on telling the stories of families.

“To change hearts and minds,” he says, “people need to see themselves on screen. I wanted to focus on straight, Christian parents of gay kids – not so much the kids themselves, but on the families, so that people could see the film and say, ‘Oh, I totally relate to that.’”

In 2003, the filmmaker enlisted his first subject, Gene Robinson, who was awaiting his consecration to become the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. Robinson also secured the participation of his former wife and his parents, a devoutly Christian couple who live in rural Kentucky.

Others who agreed to participate include:

Phil and Randi Reitan, who were at first horrified when their son Jake revealed he is gay. The Minnesota couple eventually came to terms with his sexual orientation and have since worked actively to make the church more inclusive.

Mary Lou Wallner, an Arkansas nurse who suffered tragic consequences after rejecting her lesbian daughter, Anna.

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and his wife, Jane. Their daughter, Chrissy, struggled with telling her Baptist father and Catholic mother about her sexual orientation, but eventually participated in her father’s 2000 presidential campaign as an open lesbian.

David and Brenda Poteat, both conservative Christian preachers who were still wrestling with how to accept their lesbian daughter, Tonia.

Since the film’s debut in 2007, it has been honored with both awards and critical praise from across the country:

Winner: Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human rights, Full Frame Documentary Festival, 2007
Winner: HBO Audience Award, Provincetown Film Festival, 2007
Nominee: Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Winner: People’s Award for Best Spiritual Documentary, Beliefnet.com, 2007
Winner: Audience Award, Best Documentary, Seattle International Film Festival, 2007
Winner: Audience Award, Outfest, 2007

“Uplifting ...a call to arms and a plea for peace, unconditional love and cultural understanding... a powerful, positive film.” – Glenn Whipp, San Jose Mercury News

"Daniel G. Karslake's remarkable documentary boldly takes on a loaded topic – Christianity and homosexuality – and examines it both intellectually and emotionally; the result may well leave you blinking away a few tears.” – Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

“A brave and noble … effort to heal a gaping wound in our society.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“(A) soulful and edifying documentary... hard-hitting, ethically deep, and thought-provoking ... will open many minds and hearts about homosexuals, the Bible, and healing that has to take place in families with gay or lesbian children.” – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice

“Enlightening, heart-wrenching and uplifting. Grade: A- !” – Sean Means, Salt Lake Tribune

“Heartfelt and provocative … moving and rewardingly intimate. For Christian audiences, the film will prove most valuable in encouraging them to consider their beliefs in a spirit of serious examination rather than mindless acceptance, and to recognize how matters of faith can be easily co-opted by politics.” – Justin Chang, Variety

“Confronts, with whimsy and hellfire, the clash between religion and homosexuality.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine

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