Mel White Interviews on the Day of Rev. Falwell’s Death

On May 15, 2007 Rev. Mel White appeared on Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss the passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell and Soulforce’s attempts to change Jerry’s heart and mind concerning LGBT people over the years.

Larry King Live Interview

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Anderson Cooper 360 Interview

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Mel White also remembered Jerry Falwell in a recorded conversation with JewsOnFirst.org. That MP3 is available at www.jewsonfirst.org/audio-video/white_falwell.mp3

Help Soulforce Guard The Constitution This November!

Soulforce Guard the Constitution

Help Soulforce Guard The Constitution This November!

48 hours of nonstop protection outside the National Archives in Washington, D.C., November 5-7th, 2006

In this mid-term election, religious fundamentalists have waged a full scale war against the United States Constitution and the values of freedom, liberty, and the critically important separation of church and state. Well-organized and determined, they intend to create a "Christian Nation" in which every office is held by "righteous men" who attack basic civil liberties like marriage equality, adoption and foster-parenting (by LGBT parents), stem cell research, and a woman’s right to choose. Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson and powerful others want an America in which their interpretation of the Bible trumps the Constitution in the governance of our great country. Soulforce needs you to help us sound the alarm, raise public awareness, and encourage fair-minded Americans to vote for equality this November.

Soulforce is organizing volunteers to symbolically "Stand Guard" outside the National Archives where the United States Constitution is kept. During the last 48 hours leading up to the election (Sunday, November 5 – Tuesday, November 7), fair-minded Americans will take turns standing vigil wearing "We the People" t-shirts and passing out materials that educate the public on the dangerous connection between Christian dogma and the resulting loss of civil liberties. Our founder and president, the Rev. Dr. Mel White, will share excerpts from his new book, Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right during a press conference.

Sign up for a 2-hour block of time.

Bring your family and friends to Washington, D.C. and help Soulforce Guard the Constitution!

Southern Voice Article: "Falwell Speaks in Favor of Gay Civil Rights"

Conservative leader calls housing, employment for gays "basic rights"

By EARTHA JANE MELZER
Aug. 26, 2005

The Human Rights Campaign has formally thanked Rev. Jerry Falwell for apparently speaking out in favor of gay rights for the first time publicly.

Falwell, the high profile televangelist, founder of the Moral Majority and of the Liberty University, recently discussed potential Supreme Court nominees with President Bush before a pick was named.

On Aug. 5, during an appearance on MSNBC’s "The Situation with Tucker Carlson," Falwell raised eyebrowns when he said he was not troubled by reports that nominee John Roberts had done volunteer legal work for gay rights activists on the case Romer vs. Evans.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the state of Colorado could not create laws with the sole intention of discriminating against gay men and lesbians. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – the judges that President Bush has said best represent his preferred judicial philosophy – along with Chief Justice William Rehnquist, dissented from the majority opinion.

Falwell, who in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, blamed the terrorist attacks on "the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians," and who describes himself as "very conservative," told Carlson that if he were a lawyer, he too would argue for civil rights for gays.

"I may not agree with the lifestyle," Falwell said. "But that has nothing to do with the civil rights of that… part of our constituency.

"Judge Roberts would probably have been not a good very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans."

When Carlson countered that conservatives, "are always arguing against ‘special rights’ for gays," Falwell said that equal access to housing and employment are basic rights, not special rights.

"Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value," Falwell went on to say. "It’s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said his group welcomed the apparent softening of Falwell’s position on at least some gay rights.

"Like most Americans, it seems Rev. Falwell has reached the conclusion that everyone deserves basic rights," said Solmonese. "I hope he also supports legislation that would deliver on these values."

Soulforce lobbying pays off?

Falwell was not available this week to discuss his views on gay issues. His office said that he was deluged with requests for comment on fellow televangelist Pat Robertson’s call for the assassination of the Venezuelan president.

Earlier this summer, Falwell spoke at an "ex-gay" conference organized by the Christian group Exodus International. During his sermon he spoke warmly about the efforts of the activist group Soulforce, which seeks to free gays from religious oppression and is based in Lynchburg, Va., near Falwell’s church. Soulforce has done extensive outreach to Falwell.

Falwell also spoke at length about a major heart operation he had had earlier that week.

Soulforce was founded by Mel White, a gay man who had worked closely with Falwell (even ghostwriting his autobiography) and his partner Gary Nixon.

White and Nixon founded Soulforce and moved into a rented house across the street from Falwell’s church in 2001, after they realized that Falwell was not going to change his views and accept gays without long-term persuasion.

"I think last month when he dealt with his heart condition, he got closer to his maker," Nixon said. "And I think he knows in his heart that what he was doing is wrong."

見2005 The Southern Voice

http://www.sovo.com/2005/8-26/news/national/fawell.cfm

Rev. Jerry Falwell Reacts to the Equality Ride visit to Liberty University

The Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell wrote the following about the Equality Ride visit to Liberty University in his "Falwell Confidential" which is sent to the members of the Moral Majority.

Soulforce comes to town

by Dr. Jerry Falwell

This week on the campus of Liberty University, a homosexual organization known as Soul Force arrived to protest the university’s policy of prohibiting sexual immorality, specifically homosexuality.

Soul Force is a group led by Mel White, one-time husband, Christian author and Fuller Seminary professor. But somewhere along the way, Mel determined that he was a homosexual; he subsequently abandoned his wife and children and his career, turning to homosexual activism in the name of Christianity. He has also written a book that suggests that the Bible contains no condemnation against homosexuality. (I wonder if he actually becomes blind when he gets to the passages that plainly and unmistakably prohibit homosexuality.)

Mel has persistently urged me to renounce the biblical design for the family. He wants me to follow the path of many modern-day clerics who have abandoned biblical principles, instead embracing societal whims that suggest that homosexuality is acceptable in the eyes of God.

To do so, I would have to rip pages out of my Bible. Marriage is a solemn covenant between a man and woman, exclusively designed by God, and it would be fraudulent for me to suggest otherwise.

Mel may not realize it, but sin remains sin, no matter who says otherwise.

A few years ago, I agreed to call on the evangelical community to denounce violence against homosexuals. I believe that all Americans have the right to live without threat to their way of life. But that’s where my relationship with Mel ended. So he continues to call me a bully and suggests that my message is creating a dangerous environment for homosexuals.

His claims are empty. And he continually takes my words out of context to suggest that I have an anti-gay agenda. This is patently untrue. My ministry has a history of reaching out to homosexuals; thus, we have seen several former gays renounce their lifestyle after they have committed their lives to Jesus Christ.

Sadly, Mel has lost his ability to understand that the Christian’s relationship with Christ is damaged when he/she chooses to walk in darkness. A homosexual who is truly a Christian will abandon his/her lifestyle and will seek to walk in the Spirit of God. That is the message of the Bible, and it holds true for everyone.

Mel recently stated that there are 300-400 homosexual students enrolled at Liberty. I don’t know how he came up with such a wild number, but when pressed to identify these students, he acknowledged he had no such list of names. I wonder if he ever tires of being so outrageously wrong. Liberty does have a handful of students who struggle with same-sex temptations, and many of these kids are involved in campus counseling programs that are designed to help them live in the fullness of Christ.

Once again, we can see the fraudulence of Mel’s "ministry." Yet he continues to suggest that Liberty is brimming with students who feel persecuted because they are gay. Because Liberty is a Christian school, we do not allow the use of alcohol or drugs, nor do we allow the practice of sexual sin – heterosexual or homosexual. It is true that students who openly break our biblically based rules of conduct get in trouble. But they know our rules when they enroll.

Mel White knows what the Bible teaches and yet he has decided to ignore God and do his own thing. I can think of no greater tragedy.

Liberty allowed the Soul Force "demonstration" this time because we hoped the demonstrators would see and hear Christ in our students. I believe this happened. While Mel makes a living stirring up controversy. We can only attempt to show the love of Christ to those who hate our message.

The Liberty demonstration was another attempt to tell his financial supporters he is still "fighting the good fight." Again, for Mel, it is all about money and notoriety. He is in Lynchburg only so he can get the media’s attention because he is in "Jerry Falwell’s town."

But Mel’s message is getting tired. One day he’ll look around and no cameras will be there. I wonder what he’ll do then. In the meantime, I will continue to direct Liberty University as we train thousands of young people to be bold and compassionate (and morally pure) representatives of Christ in a lost world.

 

60 Lesbian, Gay, and Allied University Students from 12 Virginia Universities to Bring Plea for "Academic Freedom" and "Personal Safety" to Falwell’s Liberty University for Liberty’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender Students

******************************************
SOULFORCE MEDIA ALERT: April 21, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jake Reitan, Director of Youth Programs
952-212-8311 jake@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Lynchburg, VA) At 9 a.m. Monday morning, April 25, 2005, approximately 60 students from a dozen Virginia universities will arrive by bus at the entrance to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University determined to spend the day exchanging views about sexual orientation and gender identity with LU’s students, faculty and staff.

At 1:00 p.m., after eating lunch with Liberty Students, the Equality Riders will hold a press conference and then set off as a group to deliver books to Liberty’s library; letters from suffering students to Liberty’s Chaplain; information on a "Safe Place" program that guarantees lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students at least one person on campus where they can be heard without recrimination; and an Open Letter to Chancellor Falwell requesting academic freedom and personal safety for all students.

"Our Equality Ride to Dr. Falwell’s school takes place within 10 days of the 44th anniversary of the Freedom Rides launched May 4, 1961," explains Jake Reitan, the Director of Youth Programs for Soulforce, Inc. "Only this time we are riding for the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers to a school where those rights are denied."

After interviews and emails with dozens of gay and lesbian students at Liberty, Reitan reports that Falwell’s students have "no access to the latest scientific, psychological, historical, or even biblical evidence about sexual orientation" and professors, students, and guest speakers at their compulsory chapels regularly "caricature and condemn homosexuals, insisting that God can change them through prayer, discipline, and even getting married. What’s worse," Mr. Reitan adds, "Liberty’s gay and lesbian students are forced to live closeted lives, always fearful that if found out they will be expelled with their transcripts locked and their tuition lost."

One of the letters Reitan will deliver reads in part: "I am currently a junior at Liberty University. I am also gay. No one knows. I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell anyone. I know if my family found out they would disown me…I don’t know what God thinks about me being gay. Why would he make me like this in the first place? I did not choose it. Regardless of what God thinks I know what everyone else thinks. They would think I’m evil if they knew. I’ve never even been with a guy. I really hope that someone could talk some sense into the school and Christians in general. I’m tired of being all alone. Please don’t use my name!"

"It’s terribly sad," says Mel White, Soulforce director "that Jerry’s confusion about a handful of Bible verses leads to so much suffering for so many students. I am so glad that these Equality Riders are planting truth on Liberty Mountain. It’s long overdue."

PRESS CONFERENCE AND DIRECT ACTION
1 PM, Monday, April 25, 2005
Main Entrance Liberty University, Corner University Blvd. and Eriksson Dr.
Lynchburg, VA.

For more information go to www.soulforce.org/liberty

Report on Soulforce Lynchburg Weekend, October 9-12, 2003

October 16, 2003

Lynchburg, Virginia, the home of conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell, is the hub of anti-gay misinformation and misguided teachings about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and families.

On October 11, National Coming Out Day, Lynchburg was transformed into the home of the 2nd annual Soulforce Out and About Pride event, and the home of the first Soulforce sponsored "Equal Civil Marriage Rights" Forum.

On Sunday, October 12, across the street from Thomas Road Baptist Church, Soulforce volunteers vigiled while Rev. Jimmy Creech blessed couples and families who came to let the world see that "it is love that makes a family."

Jerry Falwell has said that he is dedicating his "talents, time, and energies over the next few years" to the passage of an anti-gay "marriage" amendment to the US Constitution that will "protect the traditional family." To that end, he started the "one man one woman" campaign. This is a prime example of how spiritual violence spreads directly from the churches to our government.

In reality, these anti-gay efforts are not really about "preserving marriage," but about denying equal protections to families that are not headed by one man and one women. It is not about protecting families, but about discriminating against our families.

Therefore, Soulforce is going to be dedicating part of our talents, time, and energies over the next few years to help train and educate people about the rights of civil marriage and the spiritual violence and misinformation surrounding the religious right’s efforts to discriminate against our families.

THE MARRIAGE FORUM: Saturday, October 11, National Coming Out Day at First Christian Church in Lynchburg.

The marriage forum started National Coming Out Day with a wealth of information and a new perspective on civil rights advocacy and insuring that our families are protected and treated equally.

Speakers on the panel were John Aravosis (Dontamend.com), Chris Purdom (Interfaith Working Group), Peter Montgomery (PFAW), and Chalee Shorton (GLAAD). Also speaking were Imam Daayiee Abdulla (Al-Fathia) and Rev. Jimmy Creech.

As a result, Soulforce is making packets of information, with a Power point presentation and marriage brochure (thanks to Chris Purdom) for our local group leaders to organize forums and disseminate information in their area. Additionally, leaders at First Church are creating a Sunday School curriculum for mainstream denominations on supporting equal civil marriage rights, and defeating the anti-gay "marriage" amendment.

Soulforce is going to be devoting some time and energy to this issue – as we assume many of the denominations are going to try to pass resolutions supporting the anti-gay marriage amendment.

Additionally, we realize that it is our allies that need to be educated about faith based support for the rights of civil marriage for GLBT people, and we need them to be advocates as well, and provide them with the information and resources they need.

An article on the forum was in the Lynchburg News and Advance – www.soulforce.org/lynchburg1003/newsadvance101203forum.htm

Resources and talking points will be available in the near future.

THE PRIDE FEST: "Coming Out and About in Lynchburg"

The pride fest was a smashing success, with hundreds of people from Lynchburg and across Virginia and the entire United States attending and supporting the event. A dozen or so detractors try to dampen the day, but with the sun shining unexpectedly nothing could have diminished the spirit of love and camaraderie that radiated through the crowds and the clouds.

Pictures are worth 1000 words, so see for yourself at www.soulforce.org/article/31

There were 30 sponsoring organization who signed on in support of our efforts to make Lynchburg gay friendly, and locals expressed appreciation for our 2nd pride event.

Thank you to the local group committee, the set up crew, and Bill Carpenter for taking charge of it.

Special thanks to our sponsors and to Lambda Rising Bookstore for providing us with Pride paraphernalia and merchandise!

Special thanks to our entertainers, and especially Marcus Young for allowing us to use his sound system!

Read the article from the Lynchburg News and Advance at www.soulforce.org/lynchburg1003/newsadvance101203pridefest.htm

THE SUNDAY VIGILS AND BLESSINGS:

The spirit of love and truth shone brightly on Sunday morning on Thomas Road, as 100+ supporters carried 18×24 inch photos of couples and families who are discriminated against because of who they are and the structure of their families.

As some supporters carried family pictures of those who were unable to join us, others received blessings for their relationships and families, under an arch on a public sidewalk. The blessings were conducted by Jimmy Creech, co-chair of the Board of Soulforce, and Rev. Pam Defusco, local group leader for Soulforce Northern Kentucky.

Our banner read: Focus on our Families too – Because LOVE makes a family.

Pictures are available at www.soulforce.org/article/31

An article is available at https://soulforceactionarchives.org/lynchburg1003/newsadvance101303blessing.htm

THE TRAININGS

Three trainings took place over the course of the weekend.

Thursday October 9 – Friday October 10 two workshops were offered on grassroots organizing and negotiation/dialogue skills. Attendees at both trainings raved about how valuable the information was!

Friday night, Soulforce supporters were treated to music by the Soulforce Ad-hoc choir, a non-violence training by Rev. Mel White, and plenty of camaraderie.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Soulforce used this weekend as an opportunity to educate our community about civil marriage equality. We trained Soulforce supporters in grassroots organizing to expand the local group network, and in dialogue and negotiation to help change hearts and minds.

We celebrated gay pride in the park to help empower GLBT people in Lynchburg, and provide a safe space for an afternoon for people to be "out" and comfortable with who they are, further encouraging them to come out and be out.

We provided a visible presence in front of Thomas Road Baptist Church representing the thousands of GLBT families to whom Jerry Falwell wants to deny equal protections.

We blessed on another with our presence and our gifts.

Stories from the weekend include heartwarming tales of a young man from Thomas Road Baptist Church who tearfully embraced one of our vigilers, and high school students who were thrilled to be able to buy pride merchandise in Lynchburg .

This event took place because of the hard work of dozens of people. It would be impossible to name them all, for fear of forgetting someone in the process.

THANK YOU to everyone who made this weekend a success!

Laura Montgomery Rutt
Special Events Organizer
Director of Communications
www.soulforce.org

Lynchburg News and Advance Article: "Gay Activists, Their Foes Take up Usual Positions"

Both sides push viewpoints at rally in Lynchburg park
By Darrell Laurant
Lynchburg News and Advance
Sunday, October 12, 2003

The Rev. Mel White climbed the stone steps of the bandstand at Riverside Park Saturday afternoon and looked up the hill to where the Rev. Richard Knodel was standing with his bullhorn.

"Hi, Mr. Knodel," White said.

"Hi, Mel," Knodel replied. "It’s unlovely to see you again."

This was the second annual gay rights rally Out and About in Lynchburg, sponsored by White’s national organization Soulforce, and there was a definite feel of deja vu in the warm fall air – the same rainbow balloon arch as last year, the same booths, the same protestors trying to outshout the Soulforce speakers.

"I know just about everybody here," said Lynchburg Police Chief Chuck Bennett.

There was, however, a new issue – the question of gay marriage, the subject of a forum held earlier in the day at First Christian Church (referred to in one protestor’s sign as "First Sodomite Church," to the chagrin of interim pastor Don Bohlke).

The Rev. Jerry Falwell is pushing a constitutional amendment limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples, a position shared by President Bush, and that issue was dramatized Saturday by an old red truck with California plates that spent the afternoon making circuit after circuit of the park’s looping access road.

"Stop Judicial Tyranny!" proclaimed a sign on the truck.

Except for electronic conflict, with the event organizers bringing in larger speakers midway through to compete with the bullhorns, the day passed with no incidents – thanks in large part to a sizable contingent of Lynchburg police that took pains to keep the groups separated. But Soulforce member Kris Elkins of Fredericksburg said he saw dangerous times ahead.

"There is going to be a lot of backlash from that (U.S.) Supreme Court decision (overturning a Texas anti-sodomy law)," Elkins said. "We’re already seeing some of it, and I’m afraid there’s going to be an increase in hate crimes.

"I’m 60 years old, and I don’t mind being a Matthew Sheppard (a young gay man killed in Wyoming several years ago) if that’s what it takes."

Michael Glass came from Pittsburgh with his wife and children for the second year in a row.

"I understand the simplicity of this," said Glass, casting a glance at the line of protestors, "and how misinformed some people are. But what I don’t understand is how it can be led by so-called Bible believing churches."

Jeff Daniels had no problem with that at all. Stocky and bearded, he staked out his own position on the hill above the bandstand with a large wooden cross and bullhorn louder than Knodel’s.

"I hear the argument that people should be able to do whatever they want to do in the privacy of their own bedroom," Daniels said. "I agree. If they want to go to hell, that’s up to them. It’s none of my business. But when they’re all over TV and movies, they’re coming into my living room. And then it becomes my business."

One of the speakers at Saturday’s rally, however, has chosen a different battleground than the Bible.

"The Koran speaks of marriage as a very important part of life as a Muslim," said Shiekh Daayiee Abdullah, a Sunni Muslim religious scholar from Washington, D.C. "It doesn’t specify that it had to be marriage between a man and a woman.

"Most people don’t understand their own book, and I say that of all religions. Sound bites get them excited, but they don’t understand the context. The story of Lot in the Bible, for instance, is misinterpreted."

Saturday’s speakers were interpersed with musical acts, one of which was female impersonator Ravyn Vega of Lynchburg.

Well over six feet tall and tottering in his blocky high heels ("That’s why I have to keep a couple of people standing next to me, in case they have to catch me"), Vega led the crowd in the ’80s disco hits "We Are Family" and "I’m Coming Out."

A Virginia Commonwealth University student named Christmas Joye Abbott then stepped to the microphone and spoke about being beaten up on campus because she was a lesbian, choking back tears at the end.

And finally, the closing message came from Jimmy Creech of Raleigh, N.C., who was defrocked as a United Methodist minister in 1999 after presiding over two single-sex marriages in Nebraska.

"I changed my mind about this issue," Creech said earlier, "when a male member of my congregation down in North Carolina came out to me and told me all the oppression and persecution he had undergone as a gay man. That made a real impression on me."

As the afternoon wore on, the exchanges between the several hundred Soulforce members and the handful of protestors richocheted back and forth like echoes off a canyon wall.

"They’re screaming at you," said a Soulforce speaker, "but there’s no dialogue."

"You think you’re sophisticated because you’re in rebellion against the Lord!" Daniels shot back.

"God is not hate! God is love!"

"If everyone believed as you did," Knodel retorted, "it would be the end of society. All of you are the result of heterosexuality."

Several young boys were part of the protest team, their shrill voices providing a constant counterpoint: "God hates you! You’re an abomination! You’re going to burn in hell!"

And the red truck made its ceaseless rounds, two yellow wooden tablets listing the Ten Commandments attached to the back of the cab.

"You fish where people are at," said Jeff Daniels. "That’s why I’m a street preacher."

On the other side of the asphalt divide, Michael Glass said: "I’m looking forward to the day when we won’t have to have this event any more, because it won’t be necessary."

碁 Contact Darrell Laurant at dlaurant@newsadvance.com or (434) 385-5544.

Weekend of Gay Pride and Activism in Lynchburg, Virgina Sponsored by 27 National, Regional, and Local Organizations

October 10-12 Activities include Civil Marriage Forum, Pride Festival, and Vigil at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church

Soulforce Press Release: October 1, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org

(Lynchburg, VA) – A weekend of gay pride and activism in Lynchburg, Virginia will take place October 10-12, 2003, and is being sponsored by 27 religious and civil rights organizations. Lynchburg is the home of anti-gay televangelist Jerry Falwell, who stated that he is dedicating his talents, time, and energies to the passage of an (anti-gay) amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Jerry Falwell says that he wants to ‘protect traditional families,’ but what he is doing is promoting discrimination against our families,” said Gina Grubb, one of the organizers from Tennessee. “Our families are families, too. What Jerry doesn’t seem to grasp is that it is LOVE that makes a family, not the family structure itself!”

OCTOBER 11 – NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY in LYNCHBURG, VA

9:00 am – CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY FORUM focused on religious support for equal marriage rights, at First Christian Church, 3019 Rivermont Avenue – with representatives from Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, People for the American Way, Interfaith Working Group, and Dontamend.com.

12:30 am – PRIDE MARCH TO THE PARK from First Christian Church to Riverside Park, along Rivermont Avenue.

1:00 pm – COMING OUT AND ABOUT IN LYNCHBURG – This mini-pridefest includes merchandise from Lambda Rising Bookstore – Washington DC, information booths from many of the sponsors listed below, and a variety of music – female impersonator Ravyn Vega from Lynchburg, trombonist Ben Hunt and singer/songwriter Shana Scudder, both formerly of Lynchburg, electric guitarist Joe Osborne from Charlottesville, Christian contemporary singer Marcus Young, singer/songwriter Judy Insly, poet Laurie Pollack, opera singer Arthur Pekar, and more. Speakers will include openly gay Muslim cleric Imam Abdullah from Washington DC, Rev. Jimmy Creech, Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, and others. Soulforce Youth coordinator Jake Reitan will be the emcee.

Other weekend activities include:

  • October 9-10, (Thurs-Fri) Soulforce local group grassroots training – Wyndam Inn on Candler Mt. Road.
  • October 10 at 7pm, (Fri. night) Soulforce Nonviolence training –First Christian Church, 3019 Rivermont Ave.
  • October 12 at 8am, (Sunday morning) Vigil and blessing of families in front of Falwell’s church – Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Sponsors include: Al-Fatiha (GLBTQI Muslims), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Catawba Valley PFLAG, Dontamend.com, Equality Virginia, Family Pride Coalition, First Christian Church (Lynchburg), Fellowship of Reconcilliation, First Light Ministries, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Interfaith Working Group, Lambda Rising Bookstore, Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia, Love Makes a Family, Inc., Lynchburg PFLAG, Marriage Equality – USA, MCC Charlottesville, New Beginnings Christian Church of Richmond, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge, Remnant Worship Group, Roanoke – 7, Soulforce, Inc., Virginia NOW, Virginia Organizing Project – Lynchburg Chapter, Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club, World Congress of GLBT Jews, and more added daily.

MEDIA VISUALS: Throughout the weekend, participants will carry large photographs of same-gender couples and their families. A blessing of couples and families will take place outside Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday during services.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

——————
Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

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

Gay Pride Fest Takes Place in Lynchburg, Virgina, October 11, 2003 National Coming Out Day

Civil Marriage Equality Forum to be Held to Counter Misinformation by Rev. Jerry Falwell

***************************************************
Soulforce Press Release: September 8, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
****************************************************

(Lynchburg, VA) – Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied Soulforce supporters and friends from across the nation will gather in Lynchburg, VA, October 9-12, 2003, home of far right televangelist Jerry Falwell for trainings, celebrations, a civil marriage forum, and a vigil in front of his church.

The civil marriage equality forum takes place at 9am, Saturday October 11 at First Christian Church, 3109 Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg. Panelists include representatives from several national organizations, including DontAmmend.com, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, People for the American Way, and the Interfaith Working Group.

The Pride Festival, “Coming OUT & ABOUT in Lynchburg,” begins at 1pm at Riverside Park on Rivermont Ave., 1.1 miles from First Christian Church. The festival will kick off with female impersonator Raven, singing “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. A march from First Christian Church to the park takes place at 12:30pm.

“We are gathering in Lynchburg to show to Falwell and the rest of the nation that our families are families too,” said Karen Weldin, Director of Operations for Soulforce. “Our families deserve the same protections, rights, and basic responsibilities under the law as heterosexuals. Unfortunately, the United States is behind many countries when it comes to equality and freedom for all its citizens.”

Currently, married couples in the United States receive over 1000 government benefits associated with marriage. Several countries, including Canada, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Belgium sanction marriage regardless of gender and it is still unclear if those marriages will be recognized in the United States. Rev. Jerry Falwell, a conservative religious leader who preaches against homosexuality, recently started a campaign to support officially sanction government discrimination against gay and lesbian couples through the federal anti-gay “Marriage Amendment.”

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. There are currently 22 licensed local Soulforce groups all across the United States working to end violence and discrimination.

Plans for the weekend also include grassroots trainings for local groups and local group start-ups, a nonviolence training on Friday night, and a vigil outside Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday, October 12. The vigil includes a blessing of same sex couples and families, and pictures of families who are hurt by discrimination against them. Rev. White, cofounder of Soulforce, and other Soulforce supporters from Lynchburg attend services at Falwell’s church frequently so he can also see the gays and lesbians he is condemning from the pulpit on a regular basis.

Participating organizations include Soulforce, Inc., People For the American Way, Interfaith Working Group, Roanoke 7, First Light Ministries, New Beginnings Christian Church (Richmond), First Christian Church – Lynchburg, Hickory NC PFLAG, MCC Church of Charlottesville VA, Marriage Equality USA, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, DontAmend.com, and more.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES – Members of the media are invited to join in the weekend at any time. Nonviolence training begins on Friday night, October 10 at 7pm at First Christian Church in Lynchburg. For more information, see https://soulforceactionarchives.org/lynchburg1003. The Pride Festival at Riverside Park from 1- 4 pm offers the opportunity for photos and extensive interviews with individuals and families from Lynchburg and across the United States who have come to say, “We are family, too!”

For the Soulforce Policy Statement on Civil Marriage, seehttps://soulforceactionarchives.org/main/civilmarriage.shtml

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

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Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

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

DC 2002 – Alert #4

11/5/02

Dear Soulforce volunteers:

We’re less than a week away from our time together in Washington, D.C. and our leadership team is still feeling the powerful effects of the lives we changed in Lynchburg. For pictures and stories about Lynchburg, check out our webpage, www.soulforce.org. I hope you have been spreading the word about our gifts for our "Neighbors in Need." It’s not too late to invite your friends and family to participate in this gift giving to those in need. The plans are coming together in such a way that we can only give thanks for the clear presence of God’s will in our lives.

Remember that it gets very cold standing outside vigiling, so bring, hats, gloves and long underwear to keep yourselves warm during those hours of vigiling. If for any reason you can’t make it, now is the time to let us know as we are in the process of putting together our squad teams.

Whatever your spiritual process, now is the time to make it a primary focus in preparation for this time, so take some time out of your busy schedules to put on your "spiritual armour." We do not do this work by ourselves!

Remember to bring your shirts from prior actions, because we’re not having a shirt made up for this one. Gary and Mel will bring some of the shirts from our "Out and About in Lynchburg," for those who have never participated in an action, and will need a Soulforce Tshirt.

We are grateful for your presence and your prayers and we look forward to doing justice with you in Washington, D.C.

Philippe, Richard, and Kara
CATHOLIC CO-CHAIRS