Mel White Letter to Dr. James Merritt, President, Southern Baptist Annual Meeting, June 1, 2001

June 1, 2001

Dr James Merritt
President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, Fellowship of Joy Southern Baptist Church
2400 East Main Street
Snellville, GA 30078

Dear Dr. Merritt,

Two weeks have passed since our letter of May 17. Apparently, you’ve decided not to respond to our requests for dialogue. I’m sorry. Did my letters offend you? Did they seem contrived or disingenuous? How could I convince you that we are sincere in our attempts to find ways to reconcile our differences?

We are neighbors, you and I, children of the same loving Creator, citizens of the same great nation, brothers in Christ. Is there any way we can justify simply ignoring one another when our differences lead to wasted lives, broken families, divided churches, suffering, and even death?

Yesterday, I notified the Office of Mayor Morial and the offices of the New Orlean’s Police Department that we do NOT want to conduct a civil disobedience at your Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 13, 2001. I explained that we would be delighted to cancel that nonviolent protest if you would reach out to us in any significant way. In our first letter we suggested taking four small steps towards understanding.

  1. Meet with us before or during your Convention in New Orleans, June 12-13, 2001. Hear the tragic testimonies of gay Southern Baptists, their friends and families.

  2. Appoint a SBC "Blue Ribbon Committee" to take another look at the SBC assumptions about homosexuality and homosexuals, to examine the new evidence, to seek ways for the SBC to help end the suffering.

  3. Ask SBC Messengers to re-examine their teachings and actions about homosexuality and homosexuals to be sure that they reflect the love of Christ.

  4. And in a press conference or public announcement in New Orleans remind the nation that the Southern Baptist Convention condemns anyone who incites or commits physical, emotional, or spiritual violence against sexual and gender minorities.

We will cancel our civil disobedience gladly and gratefully if you will meet with us, even briefly, to begin a dialogue about this issue; and if you or your spokesperson joins us on our Wednesday Noon press conference to condemn TOGETHER anyone who incites or commits violence against God’s children whatever their color, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

Please know that we love you and your Southern Baptist colleagues enough to put our bodies on the line. We will not go away. We will appear at every Annual Meeting, at your National Headquarters, and at your key congregations until a serious dialogue begins. The suffering must end. Let us resolve to help end it TOGETHER.