Supporters, protesters appear for movie's arrival in York

BROCK PARKER The York Dispatch

Article Last Updated: 01/14/2008 12:04:40 PM EST

Members of Silent Witnesses of Central PA hold rainbow umbrellas to shield people arriving at the Capitol Theatre from protesters along North George Street Sunday. The Rev. Jim Grove led the sign-waving protesters as the theater filled for the second showing of "For the Bible Tells Me So," an exploration of the intersection of religion and homosexuality in the United States. (John Pavoncello photo)


Dick Karslake said his son, Daniel, wanted to bring Christian views about homosexuality to the forefront with his feature documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So."

To a large extent, the younger Karslake, a native of Camp Hill, has succeeded. His movie garnered significant attention with its premiere last year at the Sundance Film Festival and is now one of only 15 feature documentaries being considered for an Oscar next month.

"He started a lot of conversation with this movie, and that is the idea," Dick Karslake said.

But after seeing several screenings of his son's movie, Dick Karslake said Sunday night at the Strand-Capitol in York City was the first time he had ever seen anyone protesting the film.

A group of about eight to 10 protesters gathered outside the theater Sunday evening condemning homosexuality and Daniel Karslake's documentary, which showed at the theater for a second time at 7:30 p.m.

"God says that this lifestyle is an abomination," shouted the Rev. Jim Grove, of Heritage Baptist Church, to moviegoers as they entered the theater.

Members of the Silent Witnesses of Central PA held large rainbow-colored umbrellas to shield the moviegoers from the protesters -- who held signs stating "Lesbians hate men" and "York: No Place For ... Sin. Homosexuality is Sin."

'Know what it's about': Grove, who frequently protests homosexuality and abortion, said he hasn't seen "For the Bible Tells Me So," but he knows what it's about.

"We know what it's about; it's about tolerance and acceptance," Grove said. "The Bible says (homosexuality) is an abomination. This film perverts God's word."

But in his film, Daniel Karslake presents a bevy of theologians who argue it is Christians who have taken the word of God out of context with interpretations that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

Karslake, 42, who now lives in New York City, followed the experiences of five American Christian families in his film to reveal how families of various denominations respond when their child is gay.

The film showed twice at the Strand-Capitol Sunday, where it was sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, and drew hundreds of moviegoers.

Daniel Karslake had planned to attend the two showings, but came down with the flu and had to cancel, his father said. Dick Karslake and his wife, Marianne Karslake, attended the showings instead, and spoke to the crowds after the 97-minute film concluded. Donna Nicklow, marketing associate for the Strand-Capitol, said the film is the second of the theater's winter series, and was chosen by the theater's film committee.

"It seemed like something you couldn't see anywhere else in the area," Nicklow said.

After the film screening Sunday night, Duane Romberger, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation minister from Harrisburg, said he thought Karslake's documentary made it clear that churches refusing to accept homosexuality can frequently drive teens to suicide.

"This was more clear about telling us about what is happening while we sit around talking about it," Romberger said.

But growing up in central Pennsylvania, Romberger said he wasn't surprised to see protesters outside the theater Sunday.

"We're grateful for the people with the rainbow umbrellas," he said.

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