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The Bishop and
the Bible

The Bishop and
the Bible


The Advocate sits down with Bishop V. Gene Robinson to discuss his latest accomplishment -- starring on the silver screen in the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So.

As the first openly gay person elected to the order of bishop in the Episcopal Church, V. Gene Robinson isn't your typical film star. But he and his parents, along with four other families, provide the framework for a spiritual journey toward acceptance and love in For the Bible Tells Me So, a documentary currently screening across the country (

Though the role is a little out of the ordinary, Robinson says he is "devoted to the film" for the healing he thinks it can provide to LGBT people and their loved ones in smaller cities and rural areas of America.

"This is a story about five families and their children who come out and have had the audacity to proclaim, 'Jesus loves me, this I know,' " Robinson says, referring to the famed children's song. "And while most people would maintain, and have maintained for 2,000 years, that the Bible tells us just the opposite, we proclaim that the Bible does love me just the way I am -- loves my relationships, loves my being gay, and calls on me to use God's love to help the world."

The Advocatesat down with Bishop Robinson to ask him about his involvement with the film, what he likes most about it, and why he thinks it could shake up the heartland.

What do you like most about this film? It describes change the way it always happens, which is, we think we have the world summed up into neat and tidy categories, and then along comes this experience that doesn't fit. And so one's world view has to change in order to accommodate that new experience.

You have five deeply religious families who know exactly where they stand on the issue of homosexuality, and then one of their beloved children comes out, and this movie is the story of the journey that each of these families goes on in order to accommodate that new reality. They are thrown into chaos, because they love their children and they can't believe all the things they've been told about LBGT people and still love their children the way they do. That's the way change of any kind always happens, and it's just a miracle to see it happen in these families.

What unexpected discovery struck you most about the film?The thing that struck me was how similar the journeys have been for all of the families. Harvey Milk once said that coming out was the most political thing you can do, and I believe that our coming out is changing the world. Because you can believe all the stereotypes and you can believe all that you're told, until someone appears that just doesn't fit that mold, and then everything has to change.

In an odd sort of way, I feel like the Episcopal Church -- and maybe other churches as well -- is going through what these five families went through. When you come out in a family, the family reacts with anger, disbelief, grief -- very difficult emotions. Then they go through this time of chaos when they're trying to bring their beliefs into some congruity with this person that they know. In some very odd sense, the Episcopal Church now knows it has a gay son -- it has lots and lots of gay sons and lesbian daughters.

Is there anything you wish the movie had included but didn't?No. I'm really pleased with the way the movie is put together. I think there are a lot of people now who are generally sympathetic to us as LGBT people, but as soon as someone quotes Scripture, they just crumble. They assume that whoever has quoted the Scripture knows far more about it than they do, so they just have no answer for it. I believe this film gives people the tools and gives them a firm piece of ground to stand on to say, "Well, no, actually the Bible doesn't say what it first appears to be saying." I love that about the film.

Do you think the film will make people question their convictions?I think there are extremists who will never be persuaded, but there is this gray, movable middle, and that's who this movie is made for. Fifteen, 20 years ago, most Americans would have told you they didn't know anyone gay. There might be weird Uncle Larry or the two weird spinster sisters who live together down the street. But there's nothing more than a suspicion there. Now, 20 years later, is there anyone left who doesn't know a family member, a coworker, a next-door neighbor to be gay?

This movie gives them a framework within which to love and accept people that they're already feeling kindly toward. That's the group that this movie is going to affect, and that's really who this movie was made for. Every single gay and lesbian person who has seen this movie who I've talked with, the first question is, "When can I get this on DVD to send to my parents?" I am just desperate to get this movie out to them, because I think it will be so comforting and supportive for people who still feel themselves in this isolated place.

How did the producer-director, Dan Karslake, convince you to get involved with this project? Dan got into my office somehow at the time when my security was the highest, and it's a tribute to him and his belief in this movie that he sweet-talked his way past all the people who were there to keep him away from me. I have to say that there was an inner voice that told me to trust him. I had never met him, never heard of him, and yet somehow I instantly trusted him.

I have to tell you, I would not have subjected my parents to many people. They are sweet and kind and reasonably unsophisticated. I would not have trusted just anyone to them. Dan endeared himself to them. He spent three or four days with them. As a matter of fact, for weeks after, when they would call me, they would first ask how Dan was doing before they ever got around to asking me how I was doing. He just treated them with such respect and loving care. You can see from what people said to him and how they said it that they all just trusted him, and that has led to the quality of this film.

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