Soulforce to counter Southern Baptist Leaders蔘サ Violent Rhetoric against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people with Education and Compassion, June 13 – 16

Southern Baptist women invited to hear evangelical mother speak about losing her lesbian daughter; Youth to receive 48 page study guide.

Soulforce Press Release, June 9, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Indianapolis) – For the 5th year in a row, Soulforce volunteers will be present at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to hold Southern Baptist leaders accountable for statements and practices against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. The annual meeting is being held in Indianapolis, June 14-16, 2004.

“A hundred Soulforce volunteers will once again be on the front lines of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to confront untruths and lovingly challenge Southern Baptists to learn more about GLBT people,” said Jamie McDaniel, co-chair of the Soulforce Southern Baptist Denominational Team. “We encourage Southern Baptist youth and leaders to study the scriptures from more than one perspective, to get to know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and talk to family members who have lost a child to suicide and thought they were doing the ‘right’ thing by rejecting their child.”

Soulforce volunteers will be distributing a 48 page study guide geared toward Southern Baptist youth, entitled: Christian Youth – an Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America. The guide was written by Soulforce youth and young adults. Additionally, Soulforce volunteers have been writing to each and every member of the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, asking them to meet and get together during the annual meeting.

In 2003, the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals announced a program designed to be a “less hateful” approach to GLBT people, which included reparative therapy and conversion. However, within 6 months of this announcement, Richard Land, a Task Force member who heads the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, was using words like “cultural war”, “spiritual war”, “unnatural and unholy”, and other violent rhetoric.

“This kind of rhetoric is spiritual violence, and hurts people and destroys families,” said Mary Lou Walner, an evangelical Christian whose lesbian daughter committed suicide. “Since my daughter’s death, I have vowed to confront this kind of hurtful language and shameful words, by bringing the truth in love relentlessly to other evangelicals. They need to hear and know that God loves their children exactly as they are – before it is too late!”

Mary Lou Wallner will be speaking outside the convention on Maryland Street on Monday, June 14 at 8:30am, 1:00pm, and 5:15pm. Pastors’ wives and other interested people are invited to come hear Mary Lou speak about God’s love, and the tragic consequences that the rejection of her daughter cost her.

Soulforce will be vigiling and handing out literature outside of the convention center, Sunday through Wednesday. Although no civil disobedience is planned, those who wish to participate must take part in a 2-part nonviolent civil disobedience training to be held at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 530 South Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, IN , on Sunday and Monday night, June 13 and 14, at 6:30 pm.

Media are encouraged and welcomed to attend any of the events.

Soulforce is a national interfaith organization committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities. For more information, see