Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Fulton v. Philadelphia case, dealing with a Catholic foster care agency and their ability to discriminate against non-Catholics -- and in this specific case, LGBTQ+ parents, while still receiving taxpayer support.
Around the same time, comments in support of civil unions and LGBTQ+ families attributed to the Pope garnered press attention and public disagreements on the actual meaning of his words.
We all know the Catholic Church continues to struggle within its hierarchy and with the people in the pews. From dogma that continues to hurt LGBTQ+ people to ongoing issues of abuse by priests, disheartened but resilient devout Catholics continue to speak up. Their stories are documented in our soon to be released documentary, Wonderfully Made - LGBTQ+R(eligion).
The film explores the challenges and aspirations of LGBTQ+ people of faith, with a focus on Catholics, as they try to reconcile and in many cases powerfully embrace their beliefs despite institutionalized religion's and the Catholic hierarchy's ongoing rejection of them.
The film also does something unprecedented. It documents the creation of unique Catholic and LGBTQ+ inclusive iconography through sophisticated photo art that reimagines Jesus as a member or ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
The reactions of the film's interviewees to the photo art -- filmed in real-time with all the interviewees -- shows the incredible power and impact that an inclusive, accepting Church would have.
We are living in unprecedented and challenging times. We just elected a Catholic president who is a staunch ally to the LGBTQ+ community, but we also see the reaction to that.
Joseph Strickland, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tyler, Tx., urged the president-elect to "repent" and "find truth" over his support for marriage equality, saying, "As a bishop I beg Mr. Biden to repent of his dissent from Catholic teaching on abortion and marriage for his own salvation and for the good of our nation. [Pray] for all Catholic-elected officials, too many dissent from basic teachings of the Catholic faith they claim to hold. In this world they may hold high office but for God they are his children and in peril. Pray for their true conversion."
Strickland also has a history of staunchly opposing equality. Last month, he criticized Pope Francis for expressing support for civil unions, calling them "confusing and very dangerous," and labeling the Catholic Church "weak."
So who exactly is out of step? The hierarchy seems at odds and polling shows that a majority of Catholics are holding to the faith's basic tenets of equality, love, and acceptance by turning away from the restrictive and discriminatory dogma coming from a faith that once condoned many other forms of discrimination that now considered unacceptable by society.
That is why my husband (a practicing Catholic) and I worked together to create this film, a labor of love filled with the stories of openly gay priests, LGBTQ+ Catholic groups like Dignity and New Ways Ministries and trailblazing allies like Father Jim Martin and Sister Jeannine Grammick.
These people are not walking away from the church. They are staying put to create change and speak to the pain suffered and the progress possible within the faith they are devoted to and love.
Wonderfully Made - LGBTQ+R(eligion) discusses LGBTQ+ rights, acceptance, and inclusion, and those organizations, communities and the Church which deny us using religion as an excuse to discriminate against us. Most importantly, it puts a face on the powerfully resilient people who want to make the Catholic church better and more relevant in today's world.
We may shock some with this film but more will be moved to better understanding, and for those who are LGBTQ+, an inclusion they may have never experienced. If that is not what the church is about, then what is?
Yuval David is an activist, actor and filmmaker. Follow him on Instagram: @yuval_david.Get updates about the film's release by following @LGBTQreligion. Watch the trailer below: