The Beatitudes Society hosted a showing of the film "For the Bible Tells Me So," followed by a half hour discussion on its subject last Thursday in the UC.
The 2007 documentary addresses the topic of homosexuality and the Bible by following five Christian families' reactions as they discover one of their members is gay and the consequences that follow.
The five people are reluctant to address their homosexuality because of their religious background, and two of them marry someone of the opposite gender before realizing that they can't suppress their feelings any longer. When each of these people finally comes out to his or her family, some are greeted with acceptance and others not.
"The documentary here gives us a peek into the lives of people who have multiple identities," Misty Anderson, the associate head of the English department who led the discussion on the film, said.
The film analogized the way left-handed people used to be ostracized to the way gay people are treated. Anderson mentioned that the Latin word for "left" is "sinister."
"How many people here are left handed?" she asked of those who attended the event. "We don't think of people as being sinister because they're left handed. Being not in a majority still carries, for us, some valence."
The film stated that much of the animosity toward homosexuality comes from a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the Bible. It cited Leviticus 20:13 which, in the King James Version of the Bible, states, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
"When the term 'abomination' is used in the Hebrew Bible it is always used to address a ritual wrong," Disciples of Christ Reverend Laurence C. Keene said in the film. "It never is used to refer to something innately immoral. Eating pork was not innately immoral for a Jew, but it was an abomination because it was a violation of a ritual requirement."
Anderson agreed that interpretation of the Bible needs to be done carefully.
"We're talking about a very complex and ancient text that comes to most of us in translation," Anderson said. "The Bible is written in multiple languages. Most Americans don't read Hebrew or Greek ... we do need to be aware, and we can't make claims about originality if we're talking about a translation. That introduces different meanings for words that are flexible."
Anderson suggested that the openness of some churches could be evolving.
"The way that we read the Bible is usually changing because the way we read changes," she said. "I do think that churches are changing in their ability to welcome more and more people."
The Beatitudes Society is a new campus organization that was started this semester.
"The Beatitudes Society maintains a focus on social justice," its Facebook page says. "Thus we will provide a safe and affirming atmosphere for education, activism and community service in accordance with our view of the gospel. Jesus's central message is about radical inclusion, thus we welcome anyone to participate in our organization without judgment or forcing them to conform to our likeness or affirm our creeds in order to be accepted."
Blaire Hamilton, senior in American studies and religious studies and the president of the Beatitudes Society, said the organization was founded on the desire to create an open religious environment for students.
"We're both (referring to the Beatitudes Society's co-founder Stephen Lester) really involved in our campus ministry," Hamilton said. "We both realized there were things we wanted to say that we couldn't say within our churches under a denominational blanket."