A Tragic, Front Line Story from Karen Weldin
Vice-Chair, Soulforce Leadership Team
Coordinator, Soulforce Regions and Local Groups
Dear Soulforce Friends,
While I am not active in the Southern Baptist denomination any longer, it is still very active in my life. I’m sending you copies of a recent correspondence with my mother. I wanted you to know and feel some of what I am experiencing. It is a part of what continues to motivate me in Soulforce. My Mother is an active member of a Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, OK. I received a letter from her yesterday in a birthday card. The letter reads:
March 20, 2001
Regarding your letter of 11/3/2000
I did not choose to watch the videos you sent, not did I pass them on to Debbie and Linda. Regarding the statement "what would Jesus do?" I believe he would express his love for all and say, "Go and sin no more."
I am growing much in my support group and believe this is where God wants me to be. I have taken steps to learn about homosexuality and the very best has come out of this study, the wonderful closeness I have found with my savior.
Gods standards are absolute and not subject to man’s opinions. For those wishing to maintain those standards, God’s grace is available to overcome any number of sinful tendencies. I believe I have addressed this in all of the previous letters.
You mention anger and bitterness and if I struggle with these. These are not an issue in my life. How about yours? All of your letters reflect this toward all of your family.
I will not accept and cannot accept your sin and life-style. I LOVE you very much. I have given you back to God. He made you and loves you more than I ever could. I believe we are put here with a free will, and you my child have chosen to believe the biggest liar that ever was. I believe that one day, in God’s own time He will turn you around and bring you back into the fold and he is going to save your soul. It may be that He will take you out of this life, and that’s okay with me, as long as your soul is saved. I cannot change you. My job is to pray for you. He’s in charge. I’m not.
I love you,
Our Soulforce Karen shares her feelings about this letter, typical of the letters other lesbians and gays, bisexuals and transgenders get from their Southern Baptist parents:
The video my Mother mentions in the letter above was our latest Soulforce Video, There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy, the wonderful explanation of Romans 1 by Dr. Lewis B. Smedes. Debbie and Linda are my two sisters.
The support group she mentions is a group she chose over my request for her to attend a PFLAG meeting. Christmas of 1999 I sent her a letter and told her that the one thing I wanted for Christmas was her willingness to attend a PFLAG meeting. Months later she finally wrote back and told me she could not do that because it would "hurt her witness for Jesus." She informed me that she had found her own support group.
I am so sorry she believes that God’s grace is only available to those who believe in God’s absolute standards as she believes them to be.
I did ask her about anger and bitterness in my letter to her last November. Never have I witnessed such anger and bitterness than this past December when I witnessed my Mother’s face, demeanor and actions as she physically took my niece from my sister’s arms at a police station where my sister had been ordered to surrender temporary guardianship to my Mother. The pain and anguish for my sister and her daughter were almost too much to bear. Only thirteen days earlier my sister had been honest when confronted by my Mother inquiring if she were a lesbian. (There are three siblings in my family. Two of us are lesbians.)
I am not sure what my Mother means when she says that she has "given me back to God." I only feel sad for my Mother as she accuses me of "believing the biggest liar that ever was." What does she mean, "It may be that He will take you out of this life, and that’s okay with me, as long as your soul is saved?" Would she rather I be dead?
This was my birthday present from my Mother. There is no doubt in my mind that it is a direct reflection of the teaching she has received from her Southern Baptist religion.
What makes me so very very sad is the fact that young people all over the world who are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, and who have parents who are Southern Baptists, are receiving these same messages in letters, words and actions from their parents, also.
I believe in a loving God who created me just the way I am – left-handed and a lesbian! I can survive the spiritual violence my Mother is inflicting upon me. My heart aches over the many many persons who for whatever reason can not withstand such abuse. They end up living lives of fear, isolation, self-degradation, drug/alcohol abuse, and many even commit suicide.
What my Mother does not realize, is that each of these letters from her only fuel my passion to do what I can to stop such spiritual violence. You see, my Mother knew for years that I was homosexual but would not talk about it. It was when I made my reality visible that the abuse and injustice was made visible too. I want the injustice to be visible.
I want all my Southern Baptist and Ex-Southern Baptist gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender sisters and brothers to stand with me. I want them to come out to their families and their churches and be visible. I want the covert abuse and violence to be made visible also. We must be visible in order to combat the spiritual violence.
The spiritual violence is alive and doing well in my family… I will be in New Orleans in June.
I am currently an M.Div student at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma. My life is committed to the ministry of helping stop spiritual violence against gays/lesbians/bisexuals/transgenders. The tragic consequences of my honesty about who I am with my Mother is still not reason enough to hide the truth in my heart. The benefits of living a life of dignity and integrity still out way the pain ten fold. Praise God my journey has brought me out of the darkness of the closet and into the light of Truth and love.
Please pray for my Mother and the many many other parents just like her.
Pray for the children.
In love and peace,
A Note from Mel White, Soulforce Executive Director:
It is important to remember why we have posted this exchange on our Soulforce website. It is not here to make you angry at Karen’s mom or to make you feel sorry for Karen. Karen’s mother, too, is a victim of the tragic untruths taught by the Southern Baptist Church about God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children. She doesn’t mean to hurt Karen. Nor do thousands of other Southern Baptist parents who condemn and reject their children in the hope of helping them.
If you knew Karen Weldin and her life-partner, Susanne, you would be shocked that any mother could condemn or reject these two beautiful, thoughtful, creative, courageous women. We’re going to take our stand in front of the Southern Baptist Annual Meeting in New Orleans, June 12-13, 2001, because 10,000 Messengers will be there and everyone of them needs to see and hear the truth about sexual and gender minorities. The truth must be known. The suffering must end. Will you help us?