Review by James Lindorf
Earlier this month we celebrated the 243rd birthday of our nation, and since its inception, while not officially linked, religion (specifically Christianity) has been woven into its political fabric. In her latest documentary, Emmy Award-winning Director Jeanine Butler contrasts religion’s role in American politics and the politics described within the bible. Featuring reverends, bishops, members of the Oklahoma state congress, and doctors of theology, American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel seeks to challenge what we think we know about the Christian heartland.
American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel is the spiritual successor of the 2007 documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, which focused on religion’s rejection and acceptance of homosexuality. This movie focuses on a total inclusion movement being led by two progressive churches in the heart of Oklahoma. While meandering from topic to topic, the film serves as a captivating history lesson about our country and Christianity as a whole. Dr. Reverend Robin Meyers and Reverend Bishop Carlton Pearson are inspirational speakers; however, it is the theological breakdowns by Dr. Bernard Brandon Scott that showcases the origins of the hypocrisy.
American Heretics is frequently eye-opening but lacks the teeth to be genuinely jaw-dropping. Numerous experts passionately but calmly discuss how accidental and intentional misinterpretations have led to the othering of the majority of the world’s population by white Christian men without really naming names. Everyone on the other side of the argument that they reached out to declined or did not respond, so without them there to defend themselves, it may have put the creative team in an ethical quandary. Perhaps it was an active decision to try and be more welcoming to the people who need to watch the film, so they don’t continually feel attacked. For the viewers already on their side, once you look past the educational elements, it is not much more than confirmation bias. Abramorama and Butler Films invites everyone to experience the gospel for themselves when American Heretics hits theaters on July 12th.