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Heretics and healers

New documentary explores ‘the politics of the Gospel’



Bishop Carlton Pearson is one of the people interviewed in American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel

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With the feature length documentary American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel, director Jeanine Butler takes on faith, politics and race in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

Jeanine Butler, along with her producer (and sibling) Catherine Butler, sought not only explore how faith has been used as a weapon, but also how a new generation of church leaders are taking the core tenants of Christ’s teaching and extending an olive branch to communities often discarded or villainized by the evangelical right. 

One of these leaders is Oklahoma City’s Rev. Robin Meyers, whose Mayflower Congregational Church is spreading the Gospel by becoming a sanctuary church for undocumented immigrants. The film also features Tulsa’s own Rev. Marlin Lavanhaar and the All-Souls Unitarian Church who have welcomed the LGBTQ+ community with open arms. 

Jeanine Butler hopes the film will “promote a civil dialogue and thoughtful conversation around the issues explored” without coming across as condescending. She also hopes it will shed light on evangelical communities like Rev. Lavanhaar’s and Bishop Pearson’s, which are trying to heal historical wounds while providing an inclusive, nurturing haven for those who simply want to hear the good word without being bludgeoned by political acrimony and venom.

Catherine Butler hopes people of all creeds and backgrounds will feel that commonality as the credits roll. Her hope is that American Heretics will “promote that ah-ha moment that we’re not all that dissimilar.”


Read more about the Circle Cinema Film Festival.

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