Interview with Dr. Rev. Mel White, founder and executive director of Soulforce, Inc., on the direct action to confront Focus on the Family and James Dobson on May 1, 2005 in Colorado Springs

February 23, 2005

QUESTION: Simply put, why are you going to Colorado Springs on May 1?

Rev. White: The world headquarters of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is located in Colorado Spring, Colorado. For more than ten years, Dobson has broadcast lies about homosexuality and homosexuals to millions of Americans everyday. We have collected his anti-homosexual radio tapes and archived his anti-homosexual books, pamphlets and fundraising letters. To help end this avalanche of anti-homosexual propaganda we have asked him to meet with us, to hear our stories, to learn the truth about us. He has refused. We have no option but to take the Truth to Dobson and on May 1 we’re going to do just that.

QUESTION: Why is James Dobson such a threat to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) people and our country?

Rev. White: Dobson’s Focus on the Family Radio Broadcasts reach 200 million people. His headquarters gets 10,000 calls a day, many of them from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, their friends and families seeking help from Dobson’s ex-gay ministry. His lies cripple the spirits of our sisters and brothers. They turn our friends and families, our pastors and employers against us. His untruths lead to wasted lives, divided families, and ruined relationships.

Now, he’s gained massive political power while warning the nation that homosexuals are a threat to children, to marriage and the family, to the nation and even to western civilization. He’s determined to see the Federal Marriage Amendment passed that will make us second class citizens in our own land while demeaning our relationships and denying us more than 1000 rights and protections that go with civil marriage.

QUESTION: Why is it that more people don’t see or understand this threat?

Rev. White: Until this last election, too many of us thought people like Dobson, Robertson, and Falwell were buffoons. We laughed at their attacks on Tinky Winky and SpongeBob. Then, suddenly, we realized that while we were laughing these same Fundamentalist Christians managed to gain power over church and state alike. For too long we had said, "They have the right to believe what they want." In fact, their beliefs demonize and dehumanize us. Their beliefs lead to the denial of our rights and protections. Their beliefs give gay bashers permission to harass and even murder us and the motivation for our sisters and brothers to kill themselves. Their beliefs MUST BE CONFRONTED. And even if they don’t hear us, when we stand up to them our own spirits are renewed and our lives given new meaning.

QUESTION: Do you think James Dobson really believes that Equal Marriage Rights for LGBT couples will destroy traditional marriage and the family?

Rev. White: Absolutely. Never question the sincerity of these people. These are sincere believers and that makes them all the more dangerous. In some ways, Dobson is right. Dobson’s "traditional marriage" is based on ancient biblical understanding of the roles of husbands, wives, and children. Husbands are "in charge." Women are loved but they do the husband’s bidding. Children are "born in sin" and must be disciplined to obey the "strict father." Our relationships undermine the very foundations of heterosexism. Dobson is disgusted by men who "take the place of women" in bed or in the kitchen. He is threatened by our call to equality in relationships. He hates it that we would raise children without these strict heterosexist role models. He sees us a threat to HIS traditions of marriage and family and WE ARE!

QUESTION: What do you think James Dobson’s ultimate goal is regarding LGBT people?

Rev. White: That’s the scary question we all must ask. He’s already said that once the Federal Marriage Amendment is in place, he will move on to attack civil unions and domestic partnerships. From there, he will push to see us denied the right to co-parent, adopt or provide foster care to children. He will certainly work to see the sodomy laws revived, the ban on gays in the military enforced, and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act defeated for all times. We who know Dobson and his allies best used to think that all he wanted was to drive us back into our closets, to silence our voices and to eliminate our influence in church and state alike. Then we read the passage in Leviticus that "a man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed." Right now he just calls us an abomination. But he’s warned us that he takes the Bible literally. Does that mean he’s just waiting to enforce the execution part? I don’t ask that question as an alarmist or an hysteric. I ask that question because it’s real.

QUESTION: What do you think James Dobson’s ultimate goal is for America?

Rev. White: Above all else Dobson wants to see this nation "return to its Christian roots" to be again truly "one nation under God" where only Fundamentalist Christians like himself are equipped to rule the people. He wants to tear down the wall of separation between church and state. He wants the Bible (as he understands it) to trump the US Constitution when it guarantees rights to all Americans equally. He wants non-Christians to be converted (or face the consequences of their disobedience.) This is not a Christian nation. It never was. It must never be. That wall between church and state must be kept in place. And the Constitution must always trump the Bible or we who love the Bible but disagree with Dobson about its meaning will be silenced and worse.

QUESTION: Do you really think he is capable of changing his beliefs / attitude and why or why not?

Rev. White: In seeking justice, I am guided by the ‘soul force’ principles of M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both men (and a lot of women who also practiced nonviolence) urged us to believe that our worst enemy is capable of change. Gil Moegerle, the co-founder of Focus on the Family did change and even wrote a book condemning Dobson’s half truths, hyperboles and lies. But all kinds of other things will happen on MAYDAY, 2005, when we bring truth to Dobson’s world headquarters. First, something powerful will happen to every person who stands with us. When you put your body on the line, when you say "I will not let you lie about me any longer," when you take a day off from your busy life to invest it in doing justice, your life is given meaning and your spirit is renewed. The media will cover MAYDAY and closeted GLBT people across the US will see us taking our stand and be inspired by it, perhaps inspired enough to take stands for justice and truth where they live. You wait. Some of Dobson’s employees will suddenly have the courage to stand with us. The people of Colorado Springs will finally have an outlet to express their own grief and anger. All kinds of positive things will happen whether we reach the heart and mind of Dobson or not.

QUESTION: What is next for Soulforce?

Rev. White: Soulforce is NOT an organization. We are a movement. We are determined to learn, teach, and apply the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King. Our goal is to enable people all across the US and around the world to learn, teach and apply the principles where they live. We will be standing for justice in Colorado Springs on Mayday, 2005. We will stand for justice and total equality with our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Orlando in August at their Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly. We are contemplating other direct actions against injustice in the Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic Churches. We are planning an Equality Ride in the Spring, 2006, with a busload of GLBT students who have the courage to take truth to anti-homosexual Christian universities and even a military academy. Whatever we do, our primary goal is always to liberate GLBT people from the oppression of these religion-based anti-homosexual teachings, to stop the spiritual violence against us and to equip our sisters and brothers to reclaim their spirits, to see themselves as sons and daughters of the Creator who loves them exactly as they are and who calls them to do justice with her wherever injustice rules.

QUESTION: What else would you like to add?

Rev. White: Visit our web page www.soulforce.org Learn the ‘soul force’ principles of relentless nonviolent resistance. See where you can do justice with Soulforce and dream about organizing do justice in your town, your church, where you study, work, or play. Make a tax-deductible donation to Soulforce so that we can continue our work. Contact us. Tell us your story. Become a part of this movement to do justice nonviolent not just for LGBT people but for all people who suffer injustice in this country and around the globe.

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