Soulforce at the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce, will debate Joe Dallas at the National Religious Broadcasters’ Convention on March 1. We will be updating this page with links to news stories about the event and the issues.

WHAT: Rev. Cindi Love, the Executive Director of Soulforce, will participate in a Public Policy Debate on the church’s response to the gay rights movement.  The debate, to be held March 1 at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, will be moderated by socially conservative radio host Janet Parshall, and will feature Joe Dallas, "former homosexual" and "ex-gay rights activist" and co-author of The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality, representing opponents of gay rights.

WHO: Rev. Cindi Love is the Executive Director of Soulforce, an organization advocating nonviolent resistance against religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. She brings a wide range of leadership, management and organizational experience to her leadership role. From January 2005 until April 2009, she served as the Executive Director of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). Prior to MCC, she served as an Executive Dean in the third largest community college system in the United States, as a Senior Executive of The Toro Company (NYSE:TTC) and CEO and Founder of several award winning corporations, including one named to the INC 500 in 1990. In 1990, Dr. Love was named one of the "Top 50 Entrepreneurs" in North America by Inc. Magazine, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Love is the creator of the Would Jesus Discriminate? campaign and author of a book by the same name.

Said Love:  "I’m grateful that the NRBC has offered me the opportunity to debate a prominent opponent of LGBT rights before an audience of Christian broadcasters.  Christian media has played a major role in spreading and heightening anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. and around the world.  The most recent horrific example has been in Uganda, where the use of media as a tool by American evangelicals to spread misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric about LGBT people and support anti-gay legislation has created a climate of hatred, violence and fear for the country’s LGBT population.  By participating in this debate, I intend to confront the rhetoric that has cost lives around the world, and attempt to open up an honest dialogue that has been absent for far too long."

WHERE/WHEN:
March 1, 2011
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Delta Ballroom C
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN

CONTACT: For any questions or to speak with Rev. Love, contact Cathy Renna (917-757-6123; cathy@rennacommunications.com)

 


"Christian Broadcasters Urged to Fight ‘Gay is the New Black’ Agenda"

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pastor and cultural apologist Voddie Baucham challenged Christian broadcasters at their annual convention on Saturday to not buy into the "gay is the new black" propaganda, but instead to remain committed to defending biblical marriage on the airwaves.

Read full story from Christian Post

Black & LGBTQI Timeline

Our executive director, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love developed Black & LGBTQI Timeline for Metropolitan Community Churches.

This project honors the lives and contributions of Black & LGBTQI people who have served as lay and clergy leaders for the movement and ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide.  The project has two aspects: Creation of a timeline of contributions of Black & LGBTQI people adapted from the Black History Project and MCC’s own Oral History and Archives Project titled "In Our Own Words – MCC".

A brief narrative drawn from the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. of a "world house" and the story of one of our clergy leaders, Rev. Carolyn Mobley.
We hope that the time line and the narrative will encourage you to visit "In Our Own Words – MCC" and add your own story and that of people you know who have contributed so much to our work worldwide.

View the timeline on MCC’s "In Our Own Words" site

UN Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights: A growing coalition for decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity

The United Nations Faith Coalition for Human Rights mourns the loss of our friend and colleague, David Kato, who was murdered in his home at mid-day on January 26, 2011, in Uganda. David was a leading advocate for the rights of sexual minorities in his country and around the world. He was outspoken, courageous and incisive. His persona, spirit, intelligence and wit animated our lives and our Coalition’s collective pursuit of equality and justice for all people.
David’s death comes days after winning a law suit against Rolling Stone newspaper in Uganda for the publication of his name, photograph and address in a list of "Top 100 Homosexuals" with a hangman’s noose next to the pictures.

Over the last year David and others fought the "kill the gays" bill which is still pending in the Ugandan Parliament. Conservative Christians worked hand-in-glove in the planning of this bill and Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who describes himself as a devout Christian, said in a quote in the New York Times, "Homosexuals can forget about human rights."

Frank Mugisha, head of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) said, "The international community must not ignore David’s Kato’s death which is one more sign of rising persecution and genocide. LGBT people are fleeing from their homes in fear for their lives. People of good will must speak out."
The Coalition urges news coverage of and participation in the following vigils:

  • Feb 3-4 p.m. — United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York
  • Feb 3-6-8 a.m. — "Breakfast without Bigotry" Wash. DC, Hilton Hotel 1919 Connecticut Avenue NW
  • Feb 7-7 p.m. — Rev. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church,132 Odell Clark Place (W 138th St) NYC

David’s life must not be in vain. As faith leaders and citizens, we must respond to David’s murder. Change will only happen when people of good conscience everywhere stand up and say, "I know someone who is gay, I know someone who is transgender. Let them live their lives in peace with full rights of citizens and the same protection of laws as I have."

Pastor Joseph Tolton, of The Fellowship, said, "As part of the African Diaspora, we are saying out loud, that when any of us are targeted, we are all at risk."
We know that people from the United States with tax exemptions use their anti-gay brand of religion to raise money and feed the frenzy of anti-gay rhetoric that led to David’s death. Those same preachers will deny any connection to the horrific murder of David, but they cannot erase their broadcasts and stadium events that demonize gay people. This must stop.

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, from Uganda, said, "As a straight ally to LGBT people, I see the growing persecution of people because of who they are and who they love, in part, because Evangelicals from the USA come to Uganda and preach against LGBT people. This divides families, communities and countries."
Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, said, "We call upon our colleagues in ministry who have contributed to the rise of violence against gay and transgender people in Uganda and around the world to repent of their preaching and public pronouncements that being gay is a sin or an illness that can be ‘cured.’ These untruths distort family and community relationships, encourage violence and, when unchecked, result in murder." Dr. Love is the Executive Director of Soulforce and member of the Human Rights Campaign Religion Council,

We call on the leaders of all nations to use the power of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, international treaties and economic aid to defend sexual minorities throughout the world. Uganda and other nations receive millions of aid dollars from the US, and persecute gay citizens for no other reason than their expression of love for someone of the same gender. 120 nations imprison or execute gay people and one third of them recently received economic aid from the US.

We call on President Obama to use his presence at the National Prayer Breakfast to mourn our brother and to express his Administration’s position on governments who "fail to protect" their citizens and tax-exempt Christian institutions who export hate and fear.

We call on all countries to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles which say, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse."

The United Nations Faith Coalition for Human Rights is a growing network of thousands of people of faith around the world who work for respect, inclusion, equality and human rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

UN Faith Coalition Urges Protections for Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity

A growing coalition for decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity

Media Release
December 17, 2010
Contact: Ann Craig (213)-703-1365 craig@glaad.org<mailto:craig@glaad.org>

UN Faith Coalition Urges Protections for Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity

Forty national faith leaders and organizations in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were convened on December 13 by the Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights. The group, meeting across the street from the United Nations at the Church Center for the UN, spoke out strongly against the action of a committee in the UN that removed gay people from a list of groups protected from violent targeting and extrajudicial killing.  The Coalition expressed strong support for Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, who is expected to propose reinstatement of sexual orientation to the UN resolution on December 20.

The essence of the Resolution is reflected in the following comments by leaders in the Coalition.  The full document can be read on our blog.

Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office, said, "Thousands of supporters have been called on to contact US State Department officials and the UN to urge the reinstatement of sexual orientation as a protected class.  In addition to this protection, the UN and all countries can add protection for everyone by adopting the Yogyakarta Principles which say, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.’"

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, retired bishop from Uganda, said, "As a straight ally to LGBT people, I see how countries in Eastern Africa are increasingly persecuting people because of who they are and who they love, in part, because Evangelicals from the USA come to Uganda and preach against LGBT people. This divides families, communities and countries. The UN removal of sexual orientation from a list of protected groups is one more symptom of a deeply disturbing trend."

Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce, said, "Imprisoning or executing people for sexual orientation or gender identity does not just violate human rights, it undermines trust, social cohesion, economic development and public health. Trust is vital for cooperation among nations, communities, families and co-workers.  We call on the UN to rebuild this trust by protecting all people who are subject to persecution by unjust laws and mob actions."

Frank Mugisha, head of SMUG (Sexual Minorities of Uganda) said, "The international community must not ignore the warning signs of persecution and genocide.  LGBT people are fleeing from their homes in fear for the lives.  Any law that calls for imprisonment or execution based on sexual orientation or gender identity creates a climate ripe for vigilantes. People of good will must speak out."

Pat Bumgardner, head of the Metropolitan Community Church’s International Committee, said, "All faith traditions support human rights but many faith leaders get cold feet when it comes to LGBT human rights.  It is time for faith leaders to step up and support human rights for all people.
Pastor Joseph Tolton, of The Fellowship, said, African American people of faith understand that LGBT people have always been part of our faith communities.  As part of the African Diaspora, we are saying out loud, that when any of us are targeted, we are all at risk.

Episcopal Canon Albert Ogle, head of St. Paul’s Foundation, said, "When I was in Uganda this year, I saw the needs for pastoral ministry such as Bishop Senyonjo is offering.  Today, we call on all faith leaders to know that much rests on their shoulders.  They need to follow their conscience to take actions to protect LGBT people both in the US and across the globe."

The UN Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights is a coalition of the Unitarian Universalist UN Office, Metropolitan Community Church, National Black Justice Coalition, The Fellowship, Union Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s Foundation for Reconciliation.

Dr. Cindi Love to attend UN Human Rights Consultation

Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce will attend 2nd LGBTI/SOGI HUMAN RIGHTS CONSULTATION DECEMBER 13th, 2010 at the United Nations.  The task force will further its work in countering the homophobia that is quickly spreading throughout the world, particularly in regions like Africa and the Middle East and explore more opportunities to raise religious voices and support human rights defenders on the ground throughout theworld.  There are more than 80 nations where a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person may be imprisoned for life or executed for being open about sexual orientation or gender expression.

The meeting coincides with several other events held at and around the UN commemorating International Human Rights Day.  Three frontline
advocates from both Uganda and Kenya will be featured at the consultation, Bishop Christopher Senjonjo and Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Frank Mugisha from Uganda and the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, David Kuria Mbote.

Soulforce to hold rally in Philadelphia

by Matthew E. Pilecki
EDGE Media Network
Original article

LGBT activists from across the country will gather in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 5, to rally against homophobia in support of subjugated LGBT youth.
Soulforce, a non-profit that hopes to end political and religious oppression against LGBT people through nonviolent resistance, will sponsor the ‘Life Rally’ in Love Park. The event is part of a two-day initiative , which will include a symposium that is aimed at "debunk[ing] the myths that plague [the national conversation about homosexuality."

The Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce, told EDGE the recent media attention surrounding LGBT teen suicides and Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project offers an opportunity to end bullying once and for all.

"While we completely support the idea of It Gets Better, we also know that young people need tools that help them get better right now, not someday," said Love. "The only good news about the recent focus on teen suicide is that everyone now knows something has to be done. We hope that our symposium is a catalytic event in the lives of individuals and our community so that concrete steps are taken to better support and empower young people."

The idea for the rally came after Jason Connor, community director for Soulforce’s, came out to his family during their annual Equality Ride, a bus tour that addressed anti-LGBT legislation at college campuses across the country. Connor’s Mormon family consequently disowned him, spurring him to address the alarming number of LGBT suicides within the faith-based community.

"He found a way out for himself and wanted to create a safe and vibrant space where we could not only think about our losses but also think about the ways in which we can celebrate our lives," said Love about Connor. "It was his idea to create the rally and our cohort of Equality Riders in Philadelphia joined with him to bring the event into being."

Love works closely with religious traditions to establish safe spaces for LGBT youth and conduct workshops on inclusion even when the places of worship have no intention of changing their ideology. She is confident networking with faith-based organizations can bring reform providing comfort to LGBT youth at odds with their faith.

"Fundamentalist religious belief is at the root of patriarchy and, therefore, at the root of sexism, homophobia, heterosexism, misogyny and the exclusion of LGBTQ people from full citizenship in society and in the church," said Love. "People in the faith-based communities are in the best position to advocate for the elimination of polity and policies within denominations that are harmful to the lives of LGBTQ people. They speak the language of the oppressor while not having to choose to be the oppressor."   

New Jersey lawmakers recently introduced an Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that would create school safety teams and require annual reporting on bullying instances from school and district administrators. Furthermore, Garden State schools would be graded on how they handle bullying, harassment and intimidation.

While Love believes instances of bullying need to be addressed on an individual basis, she thinks the law will encourage some teens to stand up to their aggressors.

"I believe that we always need a law to enforce what is right when people don’t choose to do what is right in the absence of law," she said. "I also believe that the law is simply a tool to encourage people to think differently-perhaps to hesitate before they commit a crime of bullying. We only stop cruelty and rejection on a one-on-one basis when one person says ‘no more.’ I believe that laws support people who choose to stand up and be courageous and do what is right."

Soulforce to attend Affirmation Conference in San Francisco

Affirmation Conference Logo. Red fields are on the top and bottom with a black field in the center. The text reads, 'Affirmation Gay + Lesbian Mormons Presnet Stand Up! For love, For acceptance, For truth, For compassion, For justice, For integrity, For liberty, For harmony, For respect, For equality, For honesty, For freedom. San Francisco, October 8 - 10, 2010'Soulforce is pleased to announce our advisory role in the upcoming STAND UP! Conference -The Annual conference for the group Affirmation – to be held in San Fransisco on October 8-10. Affirmation’s mission is to provide a forum for gay Mormons to associate with their peers. They seek to meet the needs of persons experiencing frustration or alienation from family, friends, and the Church because of their sexual orientation. In addition to offering assistance during life’s occasional struggles, Affirmation provides a lifelong opportunity for service, fun, friendship, personal enrichment, and spiritual growth. You can learn more about Affirmation at their website: www.affirmation.org.

Soulforce has been asked to provide our Non-Violent resistance training to the STAND UP! Conference staff and volunteers. In addition to training,  the Executive Director for Soulforce – Rev Dr Cindi Love, has been asked to speak at a suicide prevention rally being held on Friday evening, October 8th as part of the larger conference program. She will also be speaking at the dinner held on Saturday evening October 9th. 

Soulforce’s Director of Programs – Jason Conner, will also be in attendance. Jason is a former member of the LDS (Mormon) church and will be helping with the facilitation of the Non-Violent Resistance training, as well as other program initiatives throughout the conference. You can follow Jason through live blog updates here on our website throughout the conference, as well as through the Soulforce twitter handle - @soulforceorg.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the Affirmation Conference, please visit the Affirmation Conference website.

We encourage everyone in the San Fransisco area to attend the Stand Up to Youth Suicide March and Rally being held on Friday, October 8th. You can find out more information about the rally on the Affirmation website listed above, as well as through the Facebook event page.

We look forward to seeing you all at the rally. Even if you can’t attend the rally, please help Soulforce be able to participate in this and future events by donating today.

Soulforce announces Ray Boltz as honorary spokesperson

Ray BoltzThe Board of Directors of Soulforce is deeply honored to announce that Ray Boltz has been named Honorary Spokesperson for our organization effective September 3, 2010.  In this role, Ray will introduce Soulforce to concert audiences around the world and encourage attendees to volunteer and contribute to the mission of Soulforce in the world.  In addition, he will assist with the promotion of the Soulforce Equality Ride 2011 which has been expanded to include a Town Hall meeting in the cities where college campuses are visited by the Ride.  Ray will host a celebration concert in selected cities along the route.  Before Ray came out as a gay man, he served as Spokesperson for Missions of Mercy and raised millions of dollars for orphanages outside the United States.  He developed a very effective witness through music and stories that helped enroll people in these projects.  He plans to use a similar approach in his work with Soulforce. His opening act, Azariah Southworth, was the host of a popular Christian TV series before coming out and went on to be a rider on the 2008 Equality Ride.

Ray Boltz was born in 1953 in Muncie, Indiana, United States) and was a singer songwriter who first came to wide notice in contemporary Christian music. Many of his songs tell stories of faith and inspiration. He was raised by his parents William and Ruth Boltz, and was married to his wife Carol Boltz for over 30 years prior to coming out as gay in 2008. They have four children.  They are now divorced but Carol remains a huge supporter of Ray. 

Boltz wrote "Thank You", which won the Song of the Year prize at the 1990 GMA Dove Awards. After the release of Songs from the Potter’s Field in 2002, and his last tour in 2004, Boltz retired from the music industry and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In a September 2008 interview with the Washington Blade, Boltz came out of the closet and announced that he was gay.  Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, then Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Church, co-led a worship service with Ray at MCC Washington D.C. as part of his coming out process. At that same service, Ray introduced the song "Who Would Jesus Love?" at that service.  Ray says the song was inspired by his reading of the book Would Jesus Discriminate? written by Dr. Love. He also stateed that he was further inspired by the work of Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce and Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches. Boltz is also well known for the 1986 song "Watch the Lamb" which has played to millions of people around the world during Easter services.

Biography adapted from Wikipedia
Photo by Howard Zucker

Stand Up to NOM

No More Hate Yes on Marriage Equality

Recently, Soulforce executive director Rev. Dr. Cindi Love urged people everywhere to stand up to the hate and lies of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and meet them with nonviolence at NOM’s stops around the country.

While Soulforce is unable to organize an "official" action, our strength lies in our committed grassroots networks of concerned people around the country. We are calling on you to stand up to NOM. View the list of stops for NOM’s "Summer of Marriage" tour, review Soulforce’s core values & pledge to nonviolence, put together a group or meet others on location, and take justice to the streets.

We’ve put together a one-sheet poster you can print on standard computer paper or have printed on a tshirt. Download your poster here (also available as a PDF).

Download the flyer here

Executive Director to Join Dialogue with Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network

Two weeks ago, Soulforce Executive Director, Dr. Cindi Love and Soulforce Founder, Rev. Mel White, went to Washington, D.C. to meet with eleven LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network.  Dr. Love has been invited to join the conference calls with SLDN to provide insight regarding the influence of fundamentalist religious leaders within and on the armed forces.

We want you to have the background on this dialogue provided in summary by MRFF.  America’s civilian Commander in Chief issued a directive that changes are to occur in the US military. This includes specific expectations of how changes will be put in place to ensure justice and a respect for Constitutional and privacy issues for persons based on sexual orientation. These changes will come about in the future, and it is critical for the military to be ready to understand how this evolution is part of accepting the pluralism of the world in which they function.
Many young and gifted recruits turn to the armed services as a step toward adulthood. Not surprising, many do so with struggles and questions about who they are as a person just as about their spirituality.

Soulforce is grounded in our commitment to ensuring that policies such as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and outdated philosophies regarding sexual and gender orientation do not interfere with any soldier’s free expression of their rights. As you are aware, fundamentalist Christian organizations are fighting the repeal of DADT and we need your help to nonviolently resist the pressure of these organizations.  Please write your representatives in Washington and ask them to repeal DADT now.