About three hundred Houstonians (SRO capacity at the Christ Church Cathedral downtown) gathered to watch Alex Pelosi's new documentary "Friends of God" and chat with the director last night. Among the many godless liberal activists, there were also the Texas Freedom Network, Americans United, and ACLU staff and board members, Rep. Scott Hochberg, Rep. Donna Howard, and yours truly. (The film makes its debut next month on HBO. Here's a snippet:)
There are some reviews of Pelosi's debut here (more about the after-party than the film itself, the documentarist's infant son, and best friend Moby, including the famous "Karl-Rove-might-be-my-long-lost-brother" remark), a somewhat indignant but generally spot-on Christian review and some spiteful comments here, and a more-even-handed take here.
JFTR, Alexandra Pelosi is a raised-and-practicing Catholic. She comes from good progressive stock of course, grew up in San Francisco and lives in New York, but remarkably bonded with the now-disgraced Pastor Ted Haggard during the filming (and defends him still). Read the links above for more.
What I was impressed with during the post-screening Q&A was Pelosi's commitment to show the evangelicals in the best possible light. She genuinely identifies with several of her subjects, and portrayed in the doc only those whom she she carefully considered were the most sincere. She was quick to note that she met many Christians in her cross-country travels who were full of shit, and left their stories on the cutting-room floor.
Knowing that these might be the best the American evangelical movement -- numbering between 20 million (BARNA) and eighty million (per the late Jerry Falwell) -- has to offer, you can watch the documentary with perhaps a clearer eye. And make up your own mind, as Pelosi intends.
There's no denying the intensity of the belief and the commitment to the cause, as well as the considerable influence on US politics and the Republican party over the past generation. The only question is whether the movement in terms of that electoral influence has peaked, particularly in the wake of the myriad of moral scandals of both those in the ministry as well as their adopted political party.
Can the fundamentalists continue to turn out the vote post-Falwell? Can the Christian issues of abortion, creationism and gay marriage keep driving the believers to the polls to vote straight-ticket GOP? Or are the war in Iraq, global warming, and the cost of health care -- issues which divide the evangelical bloc as deeply as the rest of the nation -- more important to voters in the coming elections?
Time and our respective efforts, as always, will tell.
Update (8/25): Via Dungeon Diary, AMERICABlog has the news of Pastor Ted's latest misadventure. I just have to wonder what it's going to take for Alex Pelosi to see through him.