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For They Know Not What They Do
A documentary by Daniel Karslake

91 minutes, color, 2019

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From the director of the acclaimed FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO and winner of six festival Audience Awards comes FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO, a new documentary that explores the intersection of religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in current-day America.

The arrival of marriage equality was seen by many as the pinnacle achievement of the march toward full equality for LGBTQ people. But for many on the Right, it was the last straw, and their public backlash has been swift, severe and successful. In collaboration with religious conservatives, politicians are invoking both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution in their campaigns for the 'religious freedom' to legally discriminate. By telling the stories of four families struggling with these issues, the film offers healing and understanding to those caught in the crosshairs of scripture, sexuality, and identity.

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"Eloquent." - Hollywood Reporter

"Unforgettable."- Documentary Magazine

"[5 stars]! A powerful and intimate documentary that takes us inside the reality of what it means to be 'different.' It may leave you in tears." - AARP

"Daniel Karslake's documentary is instantly engaging, never boring, overwhelmingly enlightening, and, most of all, a beautiful blessing." - Common Sense Media

"Urgent and powerful. 'For They Know Not What They Do' expands on Karslake’s landmark feature, 'For the Bible Tells Me So,' which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival before making that year’s Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary. Over ten years later, his new film revisits Christianity’s evolution on the subject of homosexuality, focusing on the parents whose queer children helped them embrace a more loving interpretation of scripture. It is a stirring call to action, and an urgent warning to those who place religion above their child’s survival. Most importantly, however, the film does not judge or speak down to those who most need to hear its message. By the film’s end, it’s incredibly moving to see they ways they’ve each experienced a deeper and far more profound love — both for God and for their fellow humans. Inspiring and uplifting." - Indiewire

"Absorbing testimonies, compelling narratives and effective commentary highlight the violence faced by L.G.B.T.Q. people (especially transgender people of color). But its success comes from interrogating the cultural assumption that there is no space for a range of sexual orientations and gender identities within religious communities." - The New York Times

"If there is an unexpected gift to be found in the wholesale pause of the entertainment industry, it's the chance to check in with the boom in smart, illuminating documentaries. In For They Know Not What They Do, director Daniel Karslake lets his subjects do what the form at its best is meant to do: not just speak truth to power but show us a wider world, and why it serves all of us to care." - Entertainment Weekly

"Potent. A wake-up call that the LGBTQ community is under fierce attack." - Film-Forward.com

"In this vital, authentic follow-up to For the Bible Tells Me So, filmmaker Daniel Karslake returns a decade later to the religious right, embittered by the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision and emboldened by the rise of Trump. Heartbreaking - and inspirational." - The Advocate

Disc Features
  • Conversation with Director Daniel Karslake
  • Resource Guide
  • Optional English & Spanish subtitles


Film website



Educational Inquiries

Q&A with Director Daniel Karslake

More about this film's theatrical run »

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