In the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, various men and women of the cloth say that the anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps is wrong. A Baptist, an Episcopalian bishop, an adorable Lutheran pastor from Minnesota, an Orthodox rabbi, a professor of divinity from Harvard and even Archbishop Desmond Tutu systematically dismantle the idea that the Bible condemns homosexuality. "Biblical literalists" insist, they say, upon a reading of the Scriptures divorced from their historical and even intratextual context, only to use them as a weapon in the culture wars.
In between these interviews, Daniel G. Karslake's film tells the stories of five Christian families coming to terms with their grown gay and lesbian children. The film opens with a crisp introductory montage and keeps its interwoven narratives afloat with buoyant pacing, though it gets a little messy in the third act, perhaps necessarily, as the issues multiply: "reparative therapy" and the ex-gay movement, the call to activism, and the consequences of being rejected by one's family and faith. Karslake includes a mock educational cartoon about the "choice" of homosexuality midway through. It's cute and flippant and totally at odds with the rest of the movie, which is earnest and sensitive and strives for a mainstream appeal rather than liberal self-congratulation.
For the Bible Tells Me So deserves credit for opening such an explosive topic for thoughtful and constructive exploration. If imperfect, the film is also necessary.