Filmmaker Daniel Karslake on ‘For They Know Not What They Do’ & more

The recently premiered film at Tribeca, For They Know Not What They Do explores the sexual identity in relation to the judgment from Christians. This huge division in our society has become an addition to black vs. white segregation, which has been at the forefront of our country. Filmmaker Daniel Karslake takes a true look at our country in terms of sexuality vs. Christianity and the tragic lengths one would go to feel free.

ATM: Express what could come to an average person’s mind when putting together the two elements of religion and sexual orientation.

DK: Generally, in America, people think heterosexuality is agreeable to Christianity. Whereas, gender identity and homosexuality are not.

ATM: How could this limit someone’s freedom of their sexual identity outside of Christianity?

DK: Religious stigmatization. Also, people with non-mainstream sexual orientation or gender identity issues is real in the United States. This is whether you are someone who goes to church or not. My belief is that we are created by God and we are attracted to who we are. So, denying our sexual orientation whether it is heterosexual, or homosexual is sacrilegious. The people who preach against the LGBTQ+ culture is reaching into what God has made. Christians love to talk about how God makes no mistakes. I agree. This is why I made the film. People need to understand there are consequences to the ways they talk about people and how it is diminishing.

ATM: In the Bible, God states that he loves everyone. Then it becomes the confusing question, “I thought you said God loves everyone?” He does not diminish or exclude anyone from his love. This is a prime element in Christianity. However, you find people are ostracized and scrutinized because of their sexual orientation.

DK: Exactly. It is just hypocritical. The two things do not make sense, but they are commonly never used. It is similar to the Golden Rule of Treat Your Neighbor Like Yourself, but this is unless they are gay or transgender. Absolutely, God is Love and God loves everyone. This important statement gets lost when people become fearful or they are made to be fearful by clergy. My work is all about people to see other ways to look at their faith. There is another way to be more consistent in this idea that God is love.

ATM: The partition with Christianity and other religions with sexuality and gender identity have caused a huge divide. This divide is like other well-known factors in our society that has changed our society and how we look at it. This division is more of an addition to modern segregation. It is not the new black vs. white segregation, but it is an addition to segregation.

DK: It has a lot of qualities and similar dynamics to segregation. The history of racial segregation and racial prejudice in America goes much deeper and farther back. There is no mistake that religion was used to excuse slavery. The story of Ham in the Bible was why slave owners felt it was okay to own people of color. So, again there are a lot of similarities and Civil Right issues. The older version of segregation is still with us. Segregation is still alive and well in America. Homophobia and Transphobia is just another system of society that makes others feel scared of people who are different.  

ATM: The suicidal rate has gone up because of this issue of the Church not accepting or turning their back on people in this sexuality culture. People have not been comfortable expressing their identity and still are open to expressing their true sexual orientation. They would be exposed to hate crimes and a strip of their identity. This creates the feeling of self-entrapment which can lead to other life-altering and harmful effects on one’s life.

DK: Religious stigmatization of LGBTQ+ people causes the youth to want to come out. It leads to self-isolation, addiction, self-harm, and self-hatred. They feel they can kill their feelings.

They have the thought of them going to hell or experiencing evil because of what they have heard of themselves while going on the pulpit. These are all negative and positive outcomes for people being forced to change who they are at their core. It drives kids and adults to suicide and all the bad things we can do to ourselves and each other. A preacher in the film said, “When we say these things about gays and transgender, we are getting people a license to kill these people and us allowing them to kill.” People need to express who God made them as. When this is expressed, this is when love, tender, and happiness will happen. Otherwise, it is always dark and negative.

ATM: This would be seen as being freer than people who is not heterosexual because they are focused on religion. This person is not susceptible to the sexuality that is given to them. The limiting of the freedom of people who are heterosexual is not being limited, but the people who are not are also associated with expressing their freedom. They love who they want, but they just receive high consequences and judgment.

DK: It is common in our American society for people who are religious to suppress their natural sexual orientation to blend in. It could be a gay man who married a woman. This is control. I do not think people chose to be their sexual orientation, but you decide to suppress it. Everyone loses. The gay men lose and the people they married are losing. There are a lot of broken marriages because men felt compelled, they had to marry a woman, but they were gay and attracted to the same sex.

We talk about the core LGBTQ+ person at the core who was forced to not be true to themselves. What about the partners who married women who are really lesbians and they are trying to deny it? This always ends badly. This is a tragedy no matter how you place it. People cannot live the life they were meaning to be with the way they are created to be.

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