On November 15th, over ninety people gathered at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minnesota, to watch the movie For the Bible Tells Me So, an award-winning documentary by Daniel Karslake. The screening was sponsored by Visions of Hope in Action (VOHIA), a local chapter of Lutherans Concerned/North America.
For the Bible Tells Me So tells the stories of five Christian families, including those of former U.S. House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. Through these stories we discover how people of faith handle, or sometimes tragically fail to handle, having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, the movie offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
Following the movie, the audience was polled as to how many knew an LGBT individual. More than 80% present responded “yes.” Even so, many commented that, as a result of seeing the movie, they had learned new things about LGBT people and had come to a new understanding of some of the scriptural issues. The audience also spent time in smaller groups, responding to discussion questions provided by VOHIA. (See the movie website for group study guides.) Within the groups, individuals had a chance to share their stories and comment about the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.
Many attendees voiced concerns about some of the negative responses to the churchwide assembly vote coming from certain segments of the church. It was noted that not only do the negative responses often hurt LGBT individuals and their families—it hurts to be seen as a symbol of heresy—but they also diminish the greater church.
By the end of the meeting, a number of attendees inquired about how to get a copy of the movie and how to go about leading discussions with their families and congregations. As a result of this event, two congregations have engaged further with VOHIA, asking for the chapter’s help in leading faithful conversations about welcoming and including people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.