On Oct. 29, PBS will air the groundbreaking story of Bishop Gene Robinson, Love Free or Die. Robinson is the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom. Auburn Theological Seminary got behind the film as part of the ongoing effort to reframe the narrative around religion and LGBTQ people.

Untold in the story of the evolution of American opinions on gay marriage, LGBTQ equality, and religion are institutions like Auburn, who push a positive, unifying conversation forward and work not to deny rights but to remind Christians that we are all children of God, made in God’s image, and to communicate the full humanity of LGBTQ people. Dr. Katharine Henderson, Auburn’s president, is one of those leading the charge for change.

The film is just the latest example of how Auburn Theological Seminary, which is based in New York, has been a leading religious voice on the issue of LGBTQ dignity and the acceptance of and support for LGBTQ people through a faith lens. The organization has  launched a number of innovative initiatives designed to advance LGBTQ dignity, including a tool kit that outlines practical advice for how to talk to Christians conflicted about LGTBQ people and the church.

Auburn is also preparing to launch a first-of-its kind innovative website that will allow same-sex marriage advocates to create individualized conversation plans to help conflicted friends and family members understand the importance of legalizing same-sex marriage. By identifying the relationship, age, sex, geographic location and faith of the conversation partner, advocates can find specialized information that is likely to speak to that particular person. The website is scheduled to launch by the film’s airing.

Often, coverage of gay marriage debates demonizes either LGBTQ people or religious followers who struggle with acceptance. Auburn takes a much more nuanced, bridge-building approach, focusing instead on helping the faithful understand how Christian teachings compel acceptance of LGBTQ people, not deny it. But as Christians become more and more accepting of gay rights, this approach is the future of the movement.

As the film, which won the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at this year’s Sundance, traces Robinson’s history from small town churches in New Hampshire to Washington’s Lincoln Memorial, it also traces America’s history from accepted anti-gay bias to a rapidly growing groundswell of support for gay marriage. It also gives a unique look into evolving Christian attitudes about gay marriage and LGBTQ people and the church.

Macky Alston, Auburn’s Vice President of Communications, directed Love Free or Die.

Source: press release