Exodus and NARTH Review “For the Bible Tells Me So”

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2008

forthebible.jpgDaniel Karslake observed that much of the debate over homosexuality and Scripture was conducted by shouting at each other. He set out to create a documentary that would argue his position without vilifying those who disagree with him.

He succeeded admirably. The movie received positive reviews from over 90% of critics and was rumored to be on the Oscar short list.

A number of religious leaders were invited to participate in a panel discussion at Stetson University in Florida on March 10th. Among them were representatives from Exodus and NARTH as well as liberal and conservative local ministers. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the response.

Overall, the movie won praise from both the conservative and liberal panel members.

“I loved that the core of it was families’ stories,” said Mike Ensley, a counselor with Exodus Ministries, which helps youth wanting to overcome homosexuality.

Not all response was in the form of praise

Dissenting about some of the movie’s science was Julie Harren Hamilton, a Palm Beach psychologist and president-elect of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which helps clients change their sexual orientation.

She disputed the suggestion that homosexuality is simply genetic, arguing that the causes are more complicated.

Karslake, the filmmaker, defended his research but agreed with Hamilton that everyone should study the issues for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

The movie is now available on DVD. While this is hardly a perfect documentary or the final word on the subject, it is undoubtedly a powerful and effective message. As the New York Times critic put it

But there is no denying that the film, however inelegant, fills a need. The inevitable DVD should be packaged in a plain cardboard sleeve, so that viewers can carry it in their pockets and, if confronted by a homophobe, hand it over and say, “Watch this, then get back to me.”

Sadly, I doubt it was at all able to change the views of Ensley or Harren-Hamilton.


March 15th, 2008

Rev. Dr. Laurence Keene is one of the theologians interviewed in the film, and was quoted in the trailer as saying, “There’s nothing wrong with a fifth-grade understanding of God… as long as you’re in the fifth grade.” (My favorite quote from the entire documentary.)

When my church, Christ Chapel of the Valley, screened the film over two nights this past January, Dr. Keene was present in person to discuss the film afterwards and host a Q&A session.

One of the things he pointed out about the film was that the original intent was to present representatives of both sides of the issue. Dr. James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others were invited to participate, and tentatively agreed to do so… until they learned of the participation of other, more progressive, theologians like Rev. Jimmy Creech, Harvard professor Peter Gomes and Dr. Keene. According to Dr. Keene, within a week, all the conservative voices dropped out of the film, and when asked why, none would respond directly. Finally, a Dobson spokesperson wrote an email that stated the reason they chose not to participate was because “the issue of homosexuality is already settled.” So, the filmmakers were forced to pull clips of sermons and writings to present the conservative side of the argument.

The reason I point this out is because some of the criticism I’ve read about the film has said that it is one-sided. Clearly, the film has a point of view, but the lack of onscreen participation by theological conservatives (with the notable exception of Richard Mouw from Fuller Theological Seminary) is not the fault of the filmmakers. It is because Dobson et al refused to participate.


March 16th, 2008

I watched the movie at a local church. I’m from Minnesota so the Reitans were able to be present for a Q and A after the screening.
I loved the fifth grade quote as well. The movie is fairly one-sided, the families have learned to accept their children for the most part by the end. But I think overall it was very good.


March 16th, 2008

Wow, I feel like I should have heard of this before now.

I highly recommend “God Only Knows: Same Sex Marriage,” a Canadian flim which brings a gay pastor and Right Wing talk show host to become friends and enter into real dialogue together. I applaude if for being something I feel I could show my anti-gay family and friends and not feel I was manipulating them but honestly opening conversation.

I saw “Abomination” and was not at all impressed because of it’s slant; preaching to the choir and all that. But decent if you don’t mind that.


March 18th, 2008

I really HATE it when journalist write misleading and journalistically flawed statements like, “…which helps youth wanting to overcome homosexuality” rather than the more accurate and journalistically proper “…which [they claim] helps youth wanting to overcome homosexuality.”

Or “…which helps clients change their sexual orientation.” rather than “…which [they claim] helps clients change their sexual orientation.”

The “therapy” is not supported by any medical, psychiatric or medical association and has no support from peer reviewed studies. It’s completely inappropriate for the journalist to emphatically state that these organizations accomplish these rather than stating that they claim to accomplish these things.

Just from the little bit of the article reprinted here it’s clear that the article was written by someone with a lot of ignorance when it comes to gay people, homosexuality and the anti-gay industry.

It may not have been intentional but the article came off very biased, at least as it related to the ex-gay quotes.

I took about 50 people from my predominantly straight United Church of Christ to see it at the film festival in Tampa. They were blown away by it. We are going to play it again at our church on Pride/Open and Affirming Sunday in June.

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