Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"The Other Side"
‘Bible-believing, Christian’ response to documentary planned in Coudersport
By Bob Hooftallen - August 21, 2010
It’s been nearly a month since a documentary pitching tolerance for alternative lifestyles was shown at the Coudersport Public Library.
At the time, the screening of “Out In The Silence,” a movie about a gay teen’s struggle to survive in a small town, prompted some Coudersport pastors to question not only the focus of the movie and its impact on the community, but also the decision to show the film in a place that is supported partially by tax revenue.
In an effort to address each of those concerns, a Coudersport resident has reserved the library for a program depicting the “other side” of the gay lifestyle debate, essentially testing the library board of directors’ commitment to the right to assemble and speak no matter the topic and offering an opportunity for people to hear a rebuttal to “tolerating” alternative lifestyles.
Dr. Robert Wagner, a relatively well-known Coudersport physician who created a stir in the 1980s with his self-published “True Press,” has scheduled the program from 6:30 pm to 8 pm Wednesday.
Wagner’s description of the program is “a Bible believing Christian response to ‘Out In The Silence’ and related topics.”
Guest speaker will be Diane Gramley, President of the American Family Association of Pa.
When it was first reported that there may be a response to the filming, the documentary’s director, Joe Wilson, hinted that his organization would attend. He has since changed his tune.
“What we’ve learned over the years is that it’s much more productive for us, and the movement, to focus on building relationships with potential allies than it is to engage with those who hold extremist views (about our movement),” he said. “Our work continues to reach a broader audience and we’ve expanded our network of allies. That’s what gives us hope.”
Wilson, who has made several successful documentaries, recently learned that Out In The Silence has been nominated for an Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
Boro Hears Film Concerns
Coudersport Borough Council members heard concerns about the previous screening and kudos for Wagner’s planned program during their meeting Wednesday evening.
Calvary Baptist Church pastor, the Rev. Richard Kuehlman, expressed his concern for tolerating such programs in Coudersport.
“As a religious leader in the community, I cannot see how an abnormal lifestyle should be tolerated by our community,” he said. “My concern is that there are already so many problems in Coudersport among our youth . . . Is this a lifestyle that we want to promote to (them) as acceptable?”
Pastor Kuehlman, who has lived in Coudersport for close to seven years after living in Japan for the previous 23, also said he was concerned that the program went on, despite “great protest from the community.”
“It seemed to me that when this took place, nobody seemed to care and the minority was going to do what they were going to do,” he said.
Pastor Kuehlman, who said he is “grateful” the opposing view will be presented Wednesday, questioned whether or not his church, or others, could hold religious events in publicly funded places.
“If this (the documentary) is an acceptable thing, can I hold a tent revival in a park?” he queried.
Borough Manager Marlin Moore said he would gladly check to see if that would be legal. He also noted that he did question the borough solicitor as to whether or not the airing of the film violated any laws. The answer was “no.”