WC72 – Review of The Secret

Rvu_thesecret The Secret
Producers Rhonda Byrne, Paul Harrington.
Director Drew Harriot.
Prime Time Productions, 2006

"Homophobia from Religious Liberals"

Review by
Rev. Vilius Rudra Dundzila, Ph.D., D.Min.

Two liberal religious denominations are showing a movie that blames homophobia on Gay people. The Unity School of Christianity and Religious Science are both hosting screenings of the movie The Secret. In the opening segments, it demonstrates how the bad thoughts of Gays attract homophobic attacks. The scenes depict a nameless Gay man who experiences assaults at work and on his way home. The movie claims the problems will go away when Gays focus on good thoughts instead. The Gay man is next seen with a happy smile at work and flirting with someone on his way home.

I found it painful to watch the exaggerated Gay-bashing scenario and listen to the simplistic solution. Homophobia is a dangerous and very real problem: GLBTs are attacked and killed in our own country. They are executed in Iraq by the puppet government that the USA installed. For GLB people, our own internalized homophobia is a serious problem, but it does not cause homophobes to enact hate crimes on us. Attackers cause hate crimes, not the victims.

The “Secret” of the movie is that “bad” thoughts attract the bad, and vice versa. The movie teaches a few spiritual practices that develop “good” thinking, such as gratitude, prayer, visualization, etc. It emphasizes the power of positive thinking. According to the movie, good thoughts will lead to wealth (specifically, becoming part of the wealthiest 5% that controls 80% of the world’s resources), fancy cars, a rewarding career, a multi-million dollar house, a fabulous relationship (no GLBT couples were depicted), etc.

Moreover, poverty and disease would go away if the poor and the sick had good thoughts. The movie praises social injustice and economic exploitation. I would expect such capitalistic ideology at a Republican convention, but not at a liberal church. As it turns out, the movie is based on book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles and Judith L. Powell. Moreover, many of the people featured in the movie are highly successful entrepreneurs or investors (the movie is a montage of interviews with about 20 individuals, interwoven with dramatizations). The materialistic and narcissistic message of the movie serves to belittle its superficial spiritual teaching. It makes no mention of loving one’s neighbor or enacting justice: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, etc.

In terms of disease, the movie provides two examples of the power of healing. One is a woman who cured herself of breast cancer by good thoughts alone, without radiation or chemo-therapy. The second is Morris Goodwin who miraculously recovered from an airplane crash. The implication is clear: if she could do it, everyone can. This miasmic view of disease victimizes patients for their illnesses. It was and still is used to blame Gay men for AIDS. Positive thinking is one factor in a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to health, but it is not the sole factor. In my own case, I have been living well with HIV for 22 years now: by the grace of God, by the power of positive thinking, and by the medical miracle of HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Treatment).

Unity and Religious Science are two churches that have been very friendly to the GLB community (I am not sure how well they relate to Transgendered people): they ordain Gays, bless same-sex unions, and have very large Gay followings. Unfortunately, their current preaching perpetuates “bad thinking” not only against the GLBT community, but also against the sick and the poor.

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