This is an open statement by Soulforce, Inc. (issued March 25, 2005) regarding a public "panel discussion" on the interpretation of Biblical passages concerning homosexuality and the Bible proposed by James Dobson’s organization, Focus on the Family for April 25, 2005:
It has come to the attention of Soulforce, Inc. that Focus on the Family has proposed a public "panel discussion" on the interpretation of Biblical text concerning homosexuality.
The "panel discussion" was proposed for April 25, 2005. James Dobson and Focus on the Family are well aware that Soulforce, Inc. and over 1000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, couples, families, and their allies will be in Colorado Springs the following weekend, May 1, 2005 for a picnic and rally outside the entrance to Focus on the Family.
Soulforce, Inc. strongly recommends that any invitation to participate in this "panel discussion" be politely turned down. Instead, we encourage those invited to participate in the public "panel discussion" to request a private dialogue with James Dobson and Jim Daly, while also extending an invitation to all parties involved to attend the picnic right outside Focus on the Family on May 1, 2005.
For Soulforce, the debate about the worth, dignity and Spirit evident in the lives of LGBT people is over! However, Soulforce has requested three times in the past four months to engage in private dialogue with James Dobson or Jim Daly, the new President and CEO of Focus on the Family.
One purpose for requesting these dialogues is to come to a better understanding of why Dobson and Focus on the Family misuse the Bible and social science research to spread unfounded and misguided fears about LGBT people. These tactics are deployed in an attempt to deny LGBT people equal civil rights and elect fundamentalist conservatives to public office.
The following attempts have been made to engage in private dialogue with either James Dobson or Jim Daly:
- On December 3, 2004, a letter that was faxed and mailed to Dobson requesting a private dialogue was ignored.
- In February, a mutual friend in the evangelical movement tried to initiate dialogue, and was refused.
- On March 9, 2005, a letter that was faxed and mailed to Jim Daley requesting a private dialogue, and included an invitation to meet our families during the picnic on May 1, was ignored.
Both letters are documented on the Soulforce web site at www.soulforce.org/televangelists/dobson/2005action
If Dobson and Focus on the Family are truly interested in understanding the way in which some progressive Christians interpret Biblical text concerning homosexuality, a booklet is readily available on the Soulforce website, entitled,What the Bible Says, and Doesn’t Say, About Homosexuality by Soulforce founder and executive director Dr. Rev. Mel White.
If Dobson and Focus on the Family are truly interested in dialogue, we propose, once again, that James Dobson and Jim Daly agree to a private dialogue with Soulforce staff, and accept the Soulforce invitation to meet our families at the family picnic right outside the gates of Focus on the Family on May 1. We also encourage Dr. Dobson to allow our families to tour the Focus on the Family facility on May 2, so our families can meet his staff at Focus on the Family and share lunch with them in the lunchroom.
In doing so, James Dobson and the staff at Focus on the Family may come to see that no matter what the structure, a committed and loving family is the greatest gift to society there is.
James Dobson’s organization, Focus on the Family, is a conservative religious/political nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that uses a narrow interpretation of Biblical text, in an attempt to deny civil rights and condemn and demean lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as activists and people of faith who support equal civil rights for LGBT people.
Soulforce, Inc. is a national interfaith non-profit whose purpose is "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from political and religious oppression". Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles as taught by Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.