Soulforce will once again be on the front lines of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, this time in St. Louis in June of 2002, and we are asking you to be there too. In fact, we are planning for more than 1,000 Soulforcees to join us.
Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) continues to wreak havoc on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals and their families both inside and outside the church – no one within the church is advocating for them. Because we have tried to communicate with Dr. James Merritt, President of the SBC, and he responded that he refuses to enter into dialogue with us about the issue, and will not change his position that homosexuality is a "sinful lifestyle."
We are asking you to join with us because gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth who are trapped in Southern Baptist churches have nowhere to go, no role models to guide them, and no one to turn to in this crucial time in their lives. Few people in their churches dare to say it is OK to be gay and God loves them just the way they are; in fact, most Southern Baptists hold the opposite view. Individuals who may stand up in their churches and fight for their rights get shunned.
Over the past two years, Soulforce has helped mobilize and motivate thousands of people to action, and their lives were transformed by the experience. Hundreds of people have taken part in vigils, non-violent acts of civil disobedience and arrests as we live out the principles of non-violence as taught by Gandhi and King.
In fact, Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will be our keynote speaker on June 8 and lead us in a weekend of speakers and training workshops in nonviolence. Civil Rights veterans will also be present as well as other noted experts in the area on nonviolence to help us reach the people in the SBC who don’t have anyone to stand with them. It is time to stand up for those who have no one to turn to, and nowhere to go.
If you are interested in joining us and being part of this exciting experience, let us know now. Sign up today. We will keep you updated and aware of all the exciting things taking shape regarding this action.
As the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the SBC is one of the biggest challenges to the truth because of their discriminatory policies and misguided teachings. The fact that the Southern Baptists voted in 2000 to disallow the ordination of women provides a case in point and their interpretation of the Bible on women’s issues parallels their position on homosexuality, ignoring current medical, genetic, psychological and even scriptural evidence:
- The SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message states that "In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose … all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography."
- A resolution was passed in 1996 by the Southern Baptist Convention states that even the "desire to engage in a homosexual relationship is always sinful, impure, degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent and perverted."
- At the 2000 meeting, delegates (called "messengers") overwhelmingly approved a motion to commend Dr. Laura Schlessinger for her "courageous stand and opposition to homosexuality."
The examples go on and on, but we’ll stop there. You canread more about the Case Against Southern Baptist Teaching.
We are asking supporters, volunteers, and leaders and groups from other organizations and denominations to join with us to be those role models, to be that voice for justice for Southern Baptist youth and families. We are asking you to stand in solidarity with Soulforce and 1,000 other people at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June of in St. Louis. We are asking you to show the truth to those who are shackled to the untruths taught to them in their churches — that they can live with honesty and integrity and walk with God as healthy and happy gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals.
Already, advocacy groups from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, including the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, Lutherans Concerned/North America, Wingspan, and Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries have pledged their support and commitment for this action. Individuals from PFLAG, Equal Partners in Faith, Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis, and former Southern Baptist ministers and other free and faithful Baptists are joining together with many others to support one another in this important event. All these people realize the importance of supporting our brothers and sisters, no matter what our faith or our creed.
You do not have to take part in the arrests, but do come stand with us. Be part of Soulforce. Join us in the nonviolence trainings and workshops. It is time for change, and we can be the change we wish to seek in the world. Your life will be transformed, and your spirit will be renewed.
We hope that you will stand with us to help stop spiritual violence and spread the word to Baptist youth and their families that God loves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people just the way they are.
Rev. Mel White
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Soulforce Director of Operations
Co-Chair Soulforce St. Louis
Rev. Doug Donley
University Baptist Church
Co-Chair Soulforce St. Louis
P.S. You can also support these efforts by contributing to Soulforce. All contributions are tax-deductible.