by riese & alex
So, A;ex and I [Riese] have spent two weeks watching documentaries about religion (most of them also include issues addressing sexuality) and have officially determined that if indeed the apocalypse is nigh, it is SO not our fault.
Here’s why: They’ve got priests, protected by the Roman Catholic Church, sexually abusing infants. They’ve got the church all up in our laws, preventing the living spouses of 9-11 victims and police officers shot in the line of duty from collecting their partner’s pension. They’ve got evangelicals collecting luxury cars because Jesus apparently wasn’t serious about that humility thing. They’ve got amusement parks recreating the crucifixion hourly. They’ve got a massively influential religion built on a story about a talking snake, an evil apple and a woman impregnated by a holy ghost. They’ve got a young Jewish boy told to cure himself of homosexual urges by snapping a rubber-band against his wrist every time he has an impure thought. In short, they’ve got some really fucked up shit happening in God’s name.
We’re now fully prepared to not just suspect religion’s sinister influence on civilization but to yell at everyone about it, WITH EVIDENCE.
When A;ex wasn’t yelling at me for still believing in G-d [I swear the concept of G-d doesn’t have to be as weird as these religious fanatics say it is!!], we learned a lot of stuff.
So here’s how this is gonna go. We’re gonna tell you what each movie said about why religion has problems as well as their issues with various facts & stories from religion’s Holy Books. Also, we’ll share the most fucked up OMFG moments and … oh yeah! George W. Bush makes A LOT OF CAMEOS. Be prepared.
For The Bible Tells Me So (2007)
Directed by Daniel G. Karslake
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of 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, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
The problem with Christianity is: Misreading the Bible fucks families up real bad. The consequences range from children being ostracized from their families to children feeling so alienated & miserable about their situation that they kill themselves.
Footnoting & Fact Checking The Bible: Using the bible to justify hatred and bigotry isn’t a new technique; the Bible’s been employed for the subjugation and subordination of various minorities (black people, women, etc) since forever!
“Literalists” (who are always capitalists) aren’t paying attention to what the bible says, just how it reads.
“Abominations” (a term which doesn’t refer to innately immoral acts but rather to ritual requirements) don’t just include “a man lying with another man as with a woman,” but also:
-Eating shrimp or rabbits
– Planting two different seeds in the same hole (haha!)
-Wearing linen & wool together (howevs navy blue & black is a-ok)
-Ejaculating onto the ground rather than inside of a woman (spitting or swallowing is not covered as far as we know).
The Bible was written at a time when procreation was the goal and therefore partnerships that don’t make babies violated cultural norms. Now we have too many people so probs gays should take over before we run out of oil & wheat & water & stuff.
OMFG MOMENT: Mary Lou Wallner, who rejected her lesbian daughter who eventually killed herself because of this rejection, tells activists, “My daughter is dead because of the untruth I was taught by the church.”
George Fucking W Cameo: “Marriage cannot be severed from it’s cultural, religious and natural roots.”
Hope! It’s encouraging that all but one family eventually turns around, even politician Richard Gephardt!
A;ex says: These parents admit that they just didn’t know that much about homosexuality, and couldn’t separate that concept from the act of sex itself. As I watch and hear the parents’ reaction to their kids coming out, the solution seems like such a simple answer to me: education. The older generation, the parents in this case, are so uneducated on homosexuality. The 100% basic problem at the bottom of all of this is ignorance and misunderstanding. There are so so SO many misconceptions and not enough emphasis on the history of homosexuality and the SCIENCE behind it. A lack of education & knowledge produces this fear & hate.
On a scale of 1 to 10: Show this one to your parents (A;ex: “I did! And they liked it!“) It has a pretty uplifting ending we promise!
Preview for “For the Bible Tells Me So”:
“The Bible is the word of God through the word of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time, and the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don’t take it as literally so that it was dictated by God.”
Deliver Us From Evil (2006)
Written and directed by Amy Berg
Deliver Us From Evil is the story of Father Oliver O’Grady, the most notorious pedophile in the history of the modern Catholic Church. Completely lacking in moral fiber and devoid of any sense of shame or guilt, O’Grady used his charm and authority to violate dozens of faithful Catholic families across Northern California for more than two decades. Despite early warning signs and complaints from several parishes, the Church, in an elaborate shell game designed to avoid liability and deflect criticism, lied to parishioners and local law enforcement, while continuing to move O’Grady from parish to parish.
The Problem with the Roman Catholic Church is: So imagine you’re a dude who likes little kids, and you know that’s evil ’cause it IS evil. Then you find out about this cool job where not only can you become INSTANTLY HOLY and well-respected by large groups of sheep people, but ALSO you’re required to take a vow of eternal celibacy. That’s right, not only do you get out of marrying an adult woman (and thus having to bang her/spread the seed), but this way perhaps Jesus will help you to suppress your unnatural urges!
Yeah well … he won’t. But should you begin molesting children, your fellow clergymen will do their very best to suppress that information! The jury’s out on if God is real or not, but … desire and testosterone? That shit is real. And if you keep it inside, it can emerge in really insidious ways.
See, the church has this uncanny knack for hiring & subsequently fostering the development of child molesters. In turn, these anointed molesters will ruin children’s lives, destroy families, and — ironically — inspire atheism, moreso than faithfulness, amongst their parishioners.
Footnoting & Fact-Checking the Bible: Mandatory celibacy wasn’t Jesus’s idea. It was added to the books in the 4th century to ensure Churches got to keep their clergy’s money rather than seeing it passed on to sons & daughters.
Mandatory celibacy wasn’t Jesus’s idea. It was added to the books in the 4th century to ensure Churches got to keep their clergy’s money rather than seeing it passed on to sons & daughters.
OMFG MOMENT: Father O’Grady raped boys and girls including a NINE-MONTH OLD INFANT. Both O’Grady’s testimony and taped interviews with the Bishop show that the church was aware of O’Grady’s crimes and despite this he was just made pastor of another parish. Rather than persecute him, they just moved him to another church where he’d commit the same crime over and over and over. He’s still on the fucking loose, y’all.
George Fucking W Cameo: Pope Benedict XVI was accused of conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse in the United States. At the Vatican’s request, President George W. Bush granted the pope immunity from prosecution.
FYI: Over 100,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse have come forward in the United States alone. Experts say more than 80 percent of sexual abuse victims never report their abuse. 10% of graduates of St. John’s Seminary, who provide most of the priests on the West Coast, are pedophiles. Since 1950, sexual abuse has cost the US Catholic Church over one billion dollars in legal settlements and expenses (not including the Los Angeles settlement).
On a scale of 1 to 10: Monumentally disturbing. Father O’Grady speaks unapologetically to the camera while his victims cry about lives lost. A well-deserved Oscar winner.
Tying The Knot (2004)
Directed by Jim de Seve
When Mickie’s wife of thirteen years, police officer Lois Marrero, is killed, Mickie is honored as her surviving spouse but denied all pension benefits.When Sam, an Oklahoma rancher, loses his beloved husband of 22 years, long-estranged cousins of his late spouse try to lay claim to everything Sam has. As Mickie and Sam’s lives are put on trial, they are forced to confront the tragic reality that in the eyes of the law their marriages mean nothing. From an historical trip to the Middle Ages, to gay hippies storming the Manhattan marriage bureau in 1971, Tying the Knot digs deeply into the past and present to uncover the meaning of civil marriage in America today.
The problem with Christianity is: In clear violation of the separation of church and state, our country’s marriage laws are based on Christian values. These regulations have serious, life-destroying effects on gay people, particularly when a partner dies and — in what seems to us like a SUPER CLEAR VIOLATION OF JESUS’S FEELINGS ABOUT GREED — simply because they can, family members wrestle inheritance away from their deceased relative’s life partner. Yeah that’s right, we said “life partner.”
Footnoting & Fact-Checking the Bible: Marriage has changed many times to reflect society’s new values and has constantly been a political battleground, constantly shifting to fit each era, economy, culture and class. It had no religious significance even in the Catholic Church until the Middle Ages and wasn’t declared a sacrament until 1215.
James Dobson: “I don’t believe that homosexuals really want to marry. I think they want to destroy marriage and re-create it according to their own interpretation to get all the benefits but without the commitment that means so much to children.”
Larry King: “If they wanna destroy it, why do they wanna be married?”
George Fucking W Cameo: “Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.”
A;ex says: We used to have a law banning contraceptives… just FYI.
You can watch the full movie of Tying the Knot on Logo Online.
NEXT: Religulous and Trembling Before G-d …
Directed by Larry Charles
The documentary RELIGULOUS follows political humorist and author Bill Maher as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion including Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, interviewing believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including a former member of the Jews for Jesus, Christians, Muslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews. He travels to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London, and satirically preaches Scientology beliefs.
The problem with religion is: The whole thing is based on some super-crazy books. Religion encourages followers to reject logic in favor of the mysterious and resolutely illogical “faith.” Some people ascribe to religion like they’re playing the lotto — “you can’t win if you don’t play.” You might as well, just in case God IS real.
Footnoting & Fact-Checking the Bible: Original sin & immaculate conception were not in the original Bible. The virgin birth is only in two of the Gospels. The Bible features talking snakes and a man living inside a whale. The Mormons think that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, God lives on a planet near a Star Kolab, dark skin is a curse, American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel, and magic underwear protects you from fire, knives and Satan.
Scientologists believe they were brought here 75 million years ago and are older than the Universe. Furthermore Scientologists believe that you have to rid yourself of implants from evil souls called Thetans which are regulated by a device referred to as an “e-meter.”
Also? The same stories but with different characters appear in the books of every religion & ancient civilization — cultures that had no contact with one another. Only a similar dedication to storytelling and classic archetypal plots.
The story of Sodom & Gomorrah has been radically misinterpreted to demonize gays when it was just a story about people being bad hosts who threatened their visitors with rape… a common act of war/cruelty.
George Fucking W Cameo: “I believe that God wants everyone to be free … And that’s what I believe. And that is uhhh — part of my foreign policy.”
OMFG MOMENT: Highlights include a creationism museum (where triceratops – DINOSAURS — wear saddles ’cause humans apparently rode dinasours to the hunt), a biblical amusement park, and a bling-adorned Televangalist insisting Jesus wasn’t really poor and in fact that Jesus wants him to have lots of houses and cars.
The ultimate OMFG moment happens with “ex-gay” Pastor of “Exodus Ministries” John Wescott:
Bill Maher: “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. If it’s so important why didn’t he ever bring it up?”
Pastor John Wescott: “We could pick lots of little things that he didn’t specifically talk about.”
Bill Maher: “It’s a big thing!”
John Wescott: “Lemme stop this whole thing, I’m not sure what your documentary is about but if it’s to refute the word of God, then I’m not interested in doing this interview.”
Bill Maher: “Well — I”
John Wescott: “Obviously you don’t have the same relationship to Jesus Christ that I do.”
Bill Maher: “What is your explanation for the millions of people around the world who are leading homosexual lives and have no interest in anyone of the opposite sex? Are they all faking to piss off Jesus?”
John Wescott: “They didn’t choose this, they didn’t desire it.”
Bill Maher: “Right, they were born gay!”
John Wescott: “No, they were not born gay. It’s because of the insecurity within themselves.”
Bill Maher: “Well it takes a lot of security to walk out of the door in ass-less chaps.”
John Wescott: “They’re not happy.”
Bill Maher: “They’re called GAY! That’s the word! Some of them look positively thrilled!”
John Wescott: “No, they’re people who are not complete in who they are as men or women.”
Bill Maher: “That’s a big judgment for a Christian.”
A;ex says: A random woman Maher interviews drops this gem of an idea: “I don’t know a lot about politics but I will vote for President Bush because of his faith.” Go America!
On a Scale of 1 to 10: Like Michael Moore-meets-Borat but way smarter. Bill Maher’s sometimes off-putting arrogance works for him when he holds his own against religious fanatics. Entertaining & educational.
“The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that’s what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.”
Watch Religulous here:
Trembling Before G-d (2001)
Directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski
Trembling Before G-d is an unprecedented feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma – how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.+
The problem with Ultra-Orthodox Judaism & Hasidism is: Although I personally would’ve done almost anything to get out of Hebrew School, the Jews in this documentary are super into G-d, are pretty sure G-d loves them too, and just want space for their truths within their religion. It’s a clash of new-school and old-school as many are ostracized from their families and those that do get married give their partner serious inadequacy issues.
Fact-Checking the Torah:
The Rabbi says – “The demonstration that human beings can influence even G-d is all over the Torah. Moses influences G-d, Abraham influences G-d. G-d, Ba’ruch Ha’shem, wishes to learn from his conversations with human beings. All over the torah. The whole engagement is not about G-d’s control but about G-d’s love, because G-d engages human beings, says what he thinks, human beings say what they think … It’s not Judaism if it’s not responsive to the human condition.”
“I have to believe that if someone is gay, then that is an assignment from Hashem, and that Hashem is somehow also sharing with that person, not just the strength to carry out the assignment as best as they can, but ultimately it’s part of the life purpose of that person to have struggled and to work with that particular issue among others. To do the best they can. These are the secrets of His soul.”
OMFG MOMENT: A gay man visiting a Hasidic neighborhood gets in a conversation about why his parents won’t talk to him anymore, and then passionately delivers the following monologue to an interested passerby and the cameras: “I know I live in my faith. I don’t know what that faith is, I don’t know what G-d is, I certainly know it’s not the G-d that tells me I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that, I’m not the G-d that stimulated that Yeshiva student when I was 15 years old to get me to confess that I masturbated, that I had sex with my brother and made me swear to him that I would never do it again and drove me 12 weeks later to suicide and drove me to a mental hospital and drove me to have electric shock therapy that burned out my brain. That’s not the G-d that redeemed Israel out of Egypt!”
Riese Says: Even after many years of religious & Hebrew education, a Bat Mitzvah, and a good amount of independent study, I didn’t realize that Jews had such a serious issue with homosexuality ’cause we’re not into the whole heaven/hell thing.
See; most Fundamentalist Orthodox & Hasidic Jews live in fairly insular societies; attending their own schools and living in their own neighborhoods. And unlike Christians with similarly redonkulous interpretations of their holy books who evangelicise across our country, these American Jews don’t put as much energy into recruiting or condemning outsiders. They kinda just stick to themselves and consequently, stick to their own insular homophobia. So therefore, I had no idea that homos were so unwelcome in the temple. Or — rather — I did know … but I felt we were moving forward more rapidly than it turns out that we are.
Right. So it turns out that everyone who dares to judge anyone beyond himself, empowered by this mighty book that begins with a magical snake (HELLO! “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”), becomes a self-righteous asshole.
Hope! This was the only film it seemed that wanted religion to be better than this, who wanted religion to work. Are there other films like this? Should there be? Or are the remaining believers just idiots to believe?
However … there is hope! In fact, Trembling Before G-d jumpstarted a movement that began with a huge Sabbath at Sundance and streamrollied into over 800 screenings & conversations all around the world. Director DuBowski went on to start an Orthodox Outreach and Education Project with unprecedented reach.
Last winter, after years of intense discussion and debate, the Conservative Movement made a bold and historic policy change: legalizing the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and the ability to perform same-sex unions.
You can watch Trembling Before G-d in its entirety at One More Lesbian, and also right here:
Next time we’ll talk about Jesus Camp, a Jihad for Love, Equality U, Camp Out, Coming Out in the Developing World … any other tips?