Soulforce News Alert
June 9, 2000
Sisters and Brothers,
We’ve just learned today, June 9, that our civil disobedience in Orlando at the Southern Baptist Convention, June 14, could cost us 24 hours in jail before our arraignment, a fine of up to $500 (with an additional $200 in court costs), and the possibility of another 60 days in jail.
I called Arun Gandhi immediately and asked what "his Grandfather would do." You could feel his excitement as Arun replied. "This is a wonderful opportunity, Mel," he said. "Don’t even think about paying the fine. Grandfather Gandhi wouldn’t. He opened his arms to the opportunity of going to jail for justice. So did Dr. King. Let them sentence all of you to 60 days in jail and the minute you are sentenced there is likely to be massive public pressure to get you released."
I hope he’s right. There are no guarantees. But we’ve studied Gandhi and King on the role of "voluntary redemptive suffering" in winning justice. We’ve learned the principle and signed the pledge. Now, Orlando offers us a moment to see what happens when we are willing to pay the price as well.
Southern Baptist policies against sexual and gender minorities lead to discrimination, suffering, and death in towns and cities across the nation. Their tragic belief that women should be subservient to men and that Southern Baptist women called to ministry can no longer be ordained or serve as clergy is just more evidence of the fundamentalist takeover of America’s largest Protestant denomination.
This is a moment of truth for our community, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a stand for justice that just might be seen and heard by the nation. We’ve been planning this and announcing this for five weeks. We have almost 100 folks already signed up. But we’re still hoping that even at this last minute, you will consider join us, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday night, June 13, in Orlando at JOYMCC, our Soulforce Central for the Southern Baptist Convention. The church is located at 2351 S Ferncreek Ave. The phone number is 407-894-1081. Go to www.joymcc.com for a map and easy directions. Pastor Carol Trissell has offered housing for folks who have no place to stay on Tuesday night. Our get an inexpensive motel nearby. Our direct action (civil disobedience) is on Wednesday, June 14.
If you don’t want to be arrested for this misdemeanor offense, you have until the last moment to decide. But come to the training and give yourself the chance to take a stand for justice, even if you just cheer us on. However, if you are in an emotionally unstable time, if you are going through dangerous times of anger or depression, if you can’t love our Southern Baptist sisters and brothers genuinely, please don’t come.
You must bring a photo ID. All medications must be in their original bottles with the prescription clearly identified. You must NOT have an outstanding warrant for your arrest. You cannot be under 18 or have a child with you during our civil disobedience. You must be willing to sign our pledge to total nonviolence (of the heart, the tongue, and the fist) and you must sign to obey the monitor in your group if our nonviolent protest needs to be called off at the last moment.
Our liaison with the Sheriff’s office has warned us that there might be KKK, skinheads, and/or white supremacists staging protests against us. Naturally, Fred Phelps and his crew will be there. However, we feel confident that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has things well in hand for Tuesday and Wednesday. But there is always a risk and we cannot ignore that risk.
You will stand in the company of heroes and sheroes. Dr. James Lawson, King’s mentor in nonviolence, and Jim’s brother, Phil will stand with us. Jimmy Creech will be there. Ed Harris, a founder of Honesty, the Southern Baptist GLBT solidarity group, and other Southern Baptists and former Southern Baptists will be arrested with us.
Now, all we need is you! It’s a difficult and expensive decision to be sure, but we will never be recognized as a legitimate civil rights movement until thousands of us are willing to pay the price to do justice, whatever it costs.
See you in Orlando Tuesday evening, 6:30, June 13?
Bless you, whatever you decide.
THEN FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR LISTS.
POST IT. PRINT IT. DISTRIBUTE IT. WE HAVE JUST A FEW DAYS.
Let’s see once again the power of the Internet at mobilizing our community and its wonderful allies to do justice.
Lots of love,
Mel White and Gary Nixon, Partners in Soulforce
It would help us if you would sign up on line, but you may also just appear on Tuesday evening to be trained.
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