Soulforce Responds to "Good News" Falsehoods

Soulforce has responded to a newsletter spreading misinformation about Soulforce handed out by our adversaries in the Good News Caucus to delegates this morning, April 29th, at the United Methodist General Conference in Pittsburgh.

This is the Good News article as it appears on the web:

Below is Soulforce’s rapid response handed out to delegates returning to Conference from lunch. Delegates thanked us for our rapid response to Good News’ rumor-mongering.

Read Soulforce’s response below:

Inaccurate News from Good News

Soulforce is saddened that an unofficial United Methodist caucus calling itself “Good News” has gone to print bearing false witness in the form of inaccurate “news” about Soulforce. “Soul force” is the translation of a word used by Gandhi which may also be translated as “truth force” and so we have some obligation to present to you the truth as we are able.

In their “General Conference Focus” of Thursday, April 29, Good News dismisses our serious accusation of “spiritual violence” as only “colorful rhetoric.” We are deadly serious as we try to bring home to United Methodists the sometimes death-dealing consequences of the Church’s condemnation and rejection of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members. We know too many who’ve had their spiritual journeys cut short, their lives disrupted and even ended by United Methodist teaching that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. We have heard too many tales of murder committed by persons who thought their actions reflected “God’s will” and the teachings of the church.

It is ironic that Good News expresses concern about the violence suffered by Christians in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Rwanda, while ignoring the violence committed in those places in the name of Christianity where Protestants and Catholics kill one another, where Christians commit genocide against Muslims–and, in Rwanda, where Christian guilt and complicity in genocide is now making mass conversions to Islam. It is truly tragic when those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace have hands bloodied with violence, physical or spiritual.

Good News inaccurately confuses the nonviolent direct action of Soulforce outside the Cleveland General Conference in 2000 with the nonviolent protest carried on a day later inside the Conference Hall by delegates and members of Methodist organizations. This was not a Soulforce-endorsed action.

Good News inaccurately describes a frightening outburst by an overwrought woman who teetered on the edge of the balcony at the Cleveland General Conference as “political theater.”

Soulforce leadership was as surprised, shocked and frightened by this incident as were all those present at General Conference. Who knows why this woman committed this act? But it is important that we take seriously how United Methodist teaching brought her to the very edge of harming herself and the delegates who bravely braced to break her fall. Tender-hearted Christians ought not to cynically dismiss her cry for help as a mere act of “political theater.”

Good News inaccurately describes Soulforce as “professional protestors.” Please know the truth that all members of Soulforce volunteer much, if not all of their spare time and financial resources in the cause of the truth that LGBT persons are children of the same Creator.

While Soulforce has not disrupted the business of General Conference, and has no plans to do so at this time – please be aware that such an action would be carefully considered, and carried out with as much dignity and love as was the demonstration by United Methodist LGBT-ally caucuses in 2000. We believe Good News is inaccurate when it compares such an action as comparable to the ”gruesome placards” of “angry anti-abortion protestors” We are simply at a loss to understand why Good News compares Soulforce with the National Rifle Association? Is this a scare tactic? Such inaccurate and “loaded” comparisons do not serve the cause of dialogue.

We are proud to stand with the spirits of Gandhi and King–and not only with their spirits, for in Cleveland we were joined by the daughter of Martin Luther King and the grandson of Gandhi who were proud to stand with us.

Good News calls for a “family conversation” while inhospitably telling Soulforce volunteers to “stay home” — we are your brothers and sisters, many of us members (and former members) of your congregations. We are here because we are members of your family whom Good News would disown. We are here to hold the United Methodist Church accountable to its own promise to be a church of “open hearts, open minds and open doors.”

Rev. Marylee Fithian, retired member, Minnesota Annual Conference
Steven E. Webster, member, Bethany United Methodist Church, Madison, WI