Grassroots groups take ‘Soul force’ message and tactics to the local level
August 2, 2002
Soulforce Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
(Laguna Beach, CA) – Leaders of Soulforce, Inc. recently announced the existence of a network of local licensed affiliated Soulforce groups all across the United States. The purpose of the local groups is to support and carry out the struggle for justice and equality that Soulforce volunteers are doing nationally, and at the same time, take that struggle for justice to the local level.
Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, announced that already there are 16 licensed affiliated Soulforce local groups active in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
"So much physical and spiritual violence against sexual and gender minorities flows out of the misguided religious teachings heard in local congregations each Sunday," said Mel White, executive director and founder of Soulforce, Inc. "We need to work at all levels to stop the source of misinformation that leads to suffering and death."
All local groups are autonomous; however, members agree to abide by the basic "soul force" principles of non-violent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King and to work relentlessly to apply those principles for the liberation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In the past two years, over 5,000 people have been trained through Soulforce in the principles of nonviolence, and over 500 people have been arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience.
Soulforce, Inc., web pages have been redesigned to include news and updates about each of the licensed local groups, and can be accessed at https://soulforceactionarchives.org/main/localgroups.shtml . Each group must go through a licensure process in order to become a licensed local group.
Soulforce in Oklahoma is currently conducting monthly Sunday morning vigils in front of a Southern Baptist church. Over 95 have participated in these vigils, which started in January after the minister refused to dialogue with Soulforce in Oklahoma leaders
Soulforce South Florida leader, Richard Murphy, conducted a third vigil Easter weekend outside of Coral Ridge Ministries, the church of D. James Kennedy. Kennedy, a leader of the Religious Right, refuses to follow through on a previously made promise to appoint a committee to discuss homosexuality with Soulforce South Florida.
Soulforce Alabama was recently formed to bring truth to Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore, who stated in a recent legal opinion that the state has the power of the sword, which includes confinement and even execution, and should use that power to keep homosexuals from influencing children. Soulforce Alabama sent a letter to Justice Moore requesting a meeting with him. Justice Moore is a Southern Baptist and a friend of D. James Kennedy.
Soulforce Lexington (KY) is conducting ongoing meetings with two Baptist ministers in Lexington. Last summer, a silent prayer vigil was conducted at the church of one of the ministers, and on July 14, 2002, Soulforce in Kentucky stood vigil for nearly five hours outside Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Information on all local groups can be found at www.soulforce.org/article/102
"Every national civil rights movement begins locally," said Karen Weldin, Soulforce, Inc. director of operations and local group coordinator. "Therefore, we must work locally and nationally to stop the violence that is committed against GLBT people in the name of religion. And, we must work relentlessly to insure that the source of misinformation doesn’t go unchallenged!"