Protesters to Confront Untruths at Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting for 5th Year in a Row – June 13-16

Soulforce Vows to Hold Members of the Task Force on “Ministry to Homosexuals” Accountable for Spiritual Violence against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People.

SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 20, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

Lynchburg, VA – On June 13-16, 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting will be held in Indianapolis, IN. Protests at the Convention Center will take place again this year by Soulforce, Inc, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

The purpose of the action will be to hold the Southern Baptists accountable for their anti-gay religious policies and teachings and the spiritual and mental anguish they inflict on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. This will be the 5th year in a row that Soulforce has tried to dialogue with Southern Baptist Leaders in an attempt to change their hearts and minds regarding GLBT people.

Soulforce’s efforts to dialogue over this past year have been focused on 10 members of the “Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals”. Throughout the year, Soulforce volunteers have been sending Task Force members their stories and pictures in an attempt to dialogue with Task Force Members and change their hearts and minds about sexual and gender minorities. A letter to Task Force members and a sample note card are available online at www.soulforce.org.

During the 2003 Southern Baptist Convention, a report from the Task Force was released and a website launched with the purpose of “welcoming” gays and lesbians into the church, and then converting them to evangelical fundamentalist Christianity and heterosexuality through “ex-gay” and reparative therapy.

In an article for beliefnet.com entitled “A Deviance From God’s Norm: Our society has the responsibility and the right to discourage the practice of homosexuality,” Richard Land, chair of the Religious Liberty Commission and member of the Task Force, makes it obvious that this is not just about “conversion”, when he stated, “As Christians, we will continue to support politicians who speak out against homosexuality and to oppose those who support special rights for homosexuals.”

“This task force is actively promoting reparative therapy despite the numerous health organizations that say homosexuality is not a sickness nor a deviance from the norm,” Jamie McDaniel, Soulforce Southern Baptist Denominational Team Leader replies. “Southern Baptist leaders are also using this as a means to prevent us from having equal civil rights by convincing unsuspecting and ill-informed people we can and should change. Incredibly, they stick to this spiritually violent position despite the many testimonies of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, many of who live contented, spirit-filled lives, and have been in committed, faithful relationship for twenty, thirty, and forty years.”

Soulforce plans to have large pictures of Task Force members, asking people to pray for them because they are trapped by misinformation and they do not understand the harm they are causing to GLBT people. Additional plans for civil disobedience have not yet been released.

For more information on Soulforce, see www.soulforce.org.

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