within hours of that announcement, my inbox was blinking with emails from concerned folks who had read this article from a popular online christian magazine, which expressed some reservations about the film’s portrayal of evangelical christians.
some were worried that in showing the film, The Marin Foundation would unintentionally ‘polarize non-christians against believers,’ urging us to do ‘further investigation before [we] endorse this film.’
here is what i wrote in response ::
my name is michael kimpan, and i serve as the Associate Director of The Marin Foundation. in short, i’m responsible for running the day-to-day operations and am the ‘face’ of the organization in north america for the purpose of freeing andrew up to pursue his PhD at st. andrews in scotland for the next three years.
your email was forwarded to me.
we appreciate so much you sharing your concerns about the showing of the film God Loves Uganda. as an organization we seek to build bridges between opposing worldviews – specifically between the LGBT community and the church – and need consistent reminders to continually and proactively think about how we present the tensions found within the intersection of faith and sexuality.
i’ve actually seen the film in its entirety, earlier this week at a private screening – so its contents and message are fresh in my mind.
while the author of the article you cited rightly states that we must speak up in public and ‘denounce and distance‘ ourselves from extremists on both sides of the conversation, the film does indeed provide an accurate portrayal of the connection between the ‘kill the gays’ bill introduced in uganda, and the heavy influence that some prominent US evangelicals have had in the creation (and support) of that document.
this is not the first time The Marin Foundation has spoken out against the atrocities promoted by the pending legislation in uganda. i have blogged about it here and have a forthcoming post concerning uganda and russia on my personal blog this week, andrew signed this letter along with other a cacophony of other evangelical leaders, and he additionally wrote about developments with the bill in these blog posts.
on this, the position of The Marin Foundation is clear :: the criminalization of LGBT people and groups and the mis-treatement, oppression, violence and even death which results as the logical conclusion thereof (as evidenced in uganda, russia and elsewhere across the globe) is both unacceptable and unchristian.
as the article you shared from christianity today states, ‘A documentary is supposed to do two things: to show us something and, usually, to prompt a response.’
this is precisely why we’re wanting to show the film and provide a space for discussion afterwards – to ask, in what ways can evangelicals who do not support the criminalization of homosexuality abroad – regardless of their theological perspectives on issues surrounding faith and sexuality – encourage their leaders and faith communities to not create and foster environments ripe for the exportation of this type of ideology?
therefore, our purpose in showing the film is twofold :: first, to educate individuals unaware of the broad picture of the situation in uganda (and by extension, russia, zambia and elsewhere); and second, to prompt a thoughtful and christlike response which does indeed distance conservative evangelicals from the extreme position taken by those presented in the film.
obviously, not everything in the film is something The Marin Foundation would ‘endorse.’ i’ve yet to find a single pastor/preacher/teacher/author/filmmaker with whom i wholeheartedly agree – with no exceptions. yet our purpose in providing a screening of the film is not to state that we unequivocally support and endorse the filmmaker or their worldview; rather to provide an opportunity to engage in thoughtful, peaceful and productive dialogue as a result of the information presented therein.
our Living In The Tension gatherings provide opportunities for individuals on both sides of the discussion to present their stories and experiences, and offer safe and sacred spaces in which we can engage with those stories. these spaces are created intentionally so that participants realize the purpose and goal of these gatherings is not for people to convince others that they are right and ‘the Other’ is wrong, but rather to build a community where individuals can feel safe not only to share their experiences and beliefs with ‘the Other’ but also to learn to excel in constructive tension with those with whom they disagree. the point is not a debate that ends up turning into a competition; rather, it’s an active engagement in learning what relationship with ‘the Other’ actually and tangibly looks like.
i hope that helps release your worries about the screening of the film at our LITT event. if you have further questions or concerns, i would be happy to engage them.
thank you so much!
what do you think?