1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE
In 8th grade, I stood on a chair and declared I was “done with religion.” Eight years in Catholic school, my teacher had just told me that if I went to my mother and told her I was gay, it would be the equivalent of me telling her that I had murdered someone. It was quite the sight in my classroom of 18 students. I was appalled. My conflict with religion has been fraught with pushback ever since. Then I saw a film that took my breath away. Sharon “Rocky” Roggio‘s urgent and eye-opening documentary 1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE features the philosophical battle between the biblical text and sexual orientation as a distortion of language. The film explores the linguistic integrity and worldwide implications of the word “homosexual.” 1946 is nothing short of captivating.
Roggio’s father is a pastor with stringent beliefs. In his view, The Bible is the word of God. Sharon knew she was gay early on and understood the familial implications immediately. Following a breach of trust leading to Sharon leaving her childhood home, she and her father, Sal, have a public battle in the early 2000s. Thus beginning her path of advocacy. Enter Kathy Baldock, stage left.
Baldock was about as Christian as one person could be until her impending divorce led her to take up hiking. After learning fellow walker Netto is a lesbian and coming to terms with the fact that her religion would ostracise her new friend, Kathy refuses to accept this is what God teaches. She began her lifelong path to understanding why the word “homosexual” did not appear in biblical text until 1946. How did it get there?
Ed Oxford (now MDiv) was a finance guy, a Christian, and a gay man. But, because the church told him his existence was an “abomination,” his suicidal ideations began as a child. He began collecting every biblical text he could get his hands on, and after meeting Kathy, the two formed an unstoppable team. Together, they travel down the rabbit hole of linguistics to unlock the original meaning of the biblical text, and Sharon “Rocky’ Roggio captures it all.
Yale University’s meticulous record-keeping in the Sterling library proves invaluable. After scanning 60, 000 pages in the microform media room, the aha moment appears; a 1959 letter between Dr. Luther Allan Weigle, one of the translation committee members, and a mysterious seminary student offering his knowledge of New Testament Greek. That discovery changes everything we think we know about the term “homosexual” and its translation in theologic history. This avalanche of miscommunication has disrupted millions of lives. When religion meets politics in the Reagan era, all hell breaks loose. Gay people are a propagandist prop for the Republican party. It has only gotten worse with the rise of social media.
Pencil-drawn animation and timeline graphics mixed with video clips of influential religious leaders and sit-down interviews with theologists comprise the visual and fact-finding journey in 1946. Historical scholars break down weaponized verses or “clobber passages” used to target the LGBTQ+ community. Kathy and Ed buckle down, never wavering in their search for the truth. Simultaneously, Sharon tries to share the ever-evolving findings with her dad. Roggio’s patience is incomprehensible. Witnessing her composure with her father as they engage in debate is exemplary. The fact that her father, while vehemently fixed in his beliefs, still wants to connect and support his daughter is, for lack of a better word, a miracle.
To think of the impact that one mistake has made on the world, especially as the LGBTQ+ community struggles to survive the vitriolic rhetoric and now physical threats, is shocking and disheartening. This single word and an abhorrent culture have put innumerable lives at risk. If 1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE proves anything, it is this: we do better by respecting one another and by educating ourselves. I hope audiences go in with an open mind because the film deserves your full attention.
1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE — Directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio
World Premiere — US Competition — Acquisition
Produced by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, Jena Serbu
Executive Produced by Daniel Karslake, Teresa and Todd Silver, Sabrina Merage Niam
Original Music by Mary Lambert
Featuring Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford
Synopsis: 1946:The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture is thrilled to announce its World Premiere at DOC NYC 2022. Produced and Directed by Sharon ‘Rocky’ Roggio, 1946 is a feature documentary that follows the story of tireless researchers who trace the origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians to a grave mistranslation of the Bible in 1946. It chronicles the discovery of never-before-seen archives at Yale University which unveil astonishing new revelations, and casts significant doubt on any biblical basis for LGBTQIA+ prejudice. Featuring Commentary from prominent scholars as well as opposing pastors, including the personal stories of the film’s creators, and original music by Grammy winning artist Mary Lambert, 1946 is at once challenging, enlightening, and inspiring.