Hope Not Harm

Hope Not Harm

On February 20, 2011, Sunday, Soulforce will join with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to engage in a non-violent act of resistance to the exportation of homophobia and religious bigotry to Uganda by Lou Engle, evangelist and founder of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and The Call. We will be joined by volunteers from the organization EQUAL of Kansas City, Missouri, volunteers who conducted a highly visible public protest of Mr. Engle’s activities last December, 2010. 

UPDATE – FEBRUARY 17, 2011: As of today, Lou Engle has agreed to meet with a group representing HRC and Soulforce at a date to be determined. HRC and Soulforce look forward to meeting with Engle and directly communicating their concerns about his radical views, and urge him to immediately make two statements on record: one opposing the criminalization of homosexuality in any country, and another, delivered on Ugandan soil, explicitly opposing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  In the meantime, Sunday’s scheduled vigil and delivery of petitions will go forward as planned in order to educate the public about the horrific situation in Uganda and the role American evangelicals have played in escalating it.

We will deliver a petition with 36,000 signatures calling for the end of USA supported ministries in Uganda that catalyze harm and death to LGBTQ people. We will join in a vigil outside the church during worship services at IHOP, awaiting Mr. Engle’s response to our letter request to dialogue about the horrific treatment of LGBTQ Ugandans arising out of USA broadcasts and on-site religious propaganda.

We want to thank the United Nations Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights for its groundbreaking work in Uganda in defending the worth and dignity of all people, particularly members of the LGBTQ community. Friends and allies of LGBTQ people are invited to join together on the sidewalk in front of the International House of Prayer (3535 Red Ride Road) at 7:45am on Sunday morning.

7:45 am – Vigil begins on sidewalk in front of the International House of Prayer
10:15 am – Sunday Worship
12:30 pm – Press Conference

The International House of Prayer is located at 3535 E Red Ridge Road, Kansas City, MO 64137.
Limited parking is available across from IHOP and in the surrounding residential areas east and west of IHOP

Please check out our Facebook event, and rsvp to attend this action.

For those interested in attending the action, we will be having an important call – in training and briefing about our schedule for this action and the non-violent principles by which we operate. This call will take place at 7:30pm EST on Thursday, February 17th. We ask that when you join the call, you not announce yourself and place your devices on mute. There may be a large number of participants, and this will make the call more functional. The call will last about an hour, and will be informational. A period for questions and feedback will take place after the briefing and training. A copy of our source material for the presentation can be downloaded here.  Participants are encouraged to read over this presentation and follow along throughout the call.

 Conference Call details
1. Call (712) 451-6050 prior to 7:30pm EST.
2. Dial our conference code: 1007067# to connect.
3. Place phone on mute to eliminate background noise.

We are dedicated to ending the exportation of bigotry and spiritual violence. We also want to honor and keep in remembrance those whose lives have been taken in Uganda, including most recently David Kato.

Please make plans to join us in Kansas City. Even if you can’t be with us in person, you can still aid this and other important programs by donating today!

Please pass this information along to all of your friends and folks who live in the Kansas City area!

Video references

Below are a series of videos from Rachael Maddow’s show which give more information and shed light into the on-going situation. We invite you to spend 30 minutes watching them if you haven’t already.



Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Vote Delayed: Take action today

Thank you for your support on the attempt to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Senate Republicans blocked the bill that contains the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" from even receiving an up-or-down vote. Not a single one broke ranks.

It’s an outrage. But this doesn’t mean the fight is over. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing the bill back up after the November elections – and we’ll have a fighting chance to get it passed then – so we’ll put everything we have into that effort.

The Human Rights Campaign is collecting signatures on an open letter to the Justice Department asking them to refuse to defend in appeals court. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was recently ruled unconstitutional and barred its enforcement. If Attorney Justice Eric Holder does not appeal the law, it could soon become a relic of the past.

Add your name to the letter here.

United Nations Update

Thank you all for your commitment and prayers for our work on the United Nations task force on decriminalization in Uganda. With your help, Bishop Christopher from Uganda was able to complete his seven week tour of the USA and Ireland. You can follow some of the more detailed reaction to his visit on the Integrity Blog "Summer Pilgrimage with Bishop Christopher" www.walkingwithintegrity.org.

As a result of your generosity, Integrity USA collected $32,000 and agreed upon a budget to sustain the bishop’s courageous work among some of the most marginalized people of Uganda. Inspired by his favorite saint, the Bishop has renamed his Center "The St. Paul’s Center for Reconciliation and Equality". Now, we are focused on technical assistance to those on the ground in Uganda and sustainability of the work there. You can designate a gift for this work by writing "United Nations" in the note field on our Donate to Soulforce page. We are joined by the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and other leading justice organizations in supporting this work.

We have achieved a great first step and, it is important to understand that the Center and Bishop’s Christopher’s work is only funded through March 2011, so this second and third stages are critical to sustaining the work in Uganda and creating a potential model LGBT and allied progressive network for the region.

Proposition 8 Decision Day: Unconstitutional

A minister from Middle Collegiate Church holds a sigin reading 'Middle Church for same-sex marriage'California was given a "do over" as the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger was handed down, today, August 4 (www.hrc.org). There are major implications for all of uswithin the LGBTQ & A community which we will address more thoroughly in a later alert. This notice is to help everyone understand what has happened in the past and what happened today. We want to acknowledge Chris Geidner, Washington, D.C. for his excellent comments regarding the context for today’s decision contained herein.

Read the full comments (and discuss them) on our blog.

Soulforce Holds an Interactive Workshop in Nonviolent Resistance during National Equality March Weekend

Oct 10, 2009, 2:30-5:30PM
HRC, 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC

This workshop will be led by Bill Carpenter, Director of National Actions, and Chris Hubble, an LGBT activist with Soulforce-Colorado.  Participants in this workshop will join a dynamic conversation that will introduce them to an understanding of the incredible power and potential that lies in the principles of nonviolent resistance and the history of nonviolent movements. Participants will also be empowered to apply this knowledge in their communities in the struggle for social and economic justice for all people.

An introduction to the Tool Kit contained in the new website www.nonviolence4equality.org will further enable participants to return to their respective communities and immediately begin grassroots organizing for nonviolent social transformation. Participants in this workshop will engage with the subject matter utilizing a variety of experiential learning methods.

Bill Carpenter and Chris Hubble Train National Equality March Activists in the Philosophy and Practice of Nonviolent Strategies. Jeff Lutes, Bruce Bastian, and Rev. Dr. Mel White at the National Equality March


ACLU – Six National Gay Organizations Fight for Soulforce Equality Rider’s Rights; Riders Being Held in Clinton, Mississippi

Soulforce Equality Riders Bring Attention To Discrimination and Fear

Civil Rights Trump Gay Rights In Mississippi – ACLU Steps In

Six Major GLBT Rights Organizations Step In With Letter to The Mayor of Clinton

BYU Arrests Mother and Son

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com
Kyle DeVries, East Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6284, kyle@equalityride.com

(Clinton, MI and Provo, UT) — The Soulforce Equality Riders arrived at the Mississippi College campus in Clinton seeking to end religion-based oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT people at Christian colleges across the country. The riders are attempting to engage in a dialogue concerning the harmful effects of policies that silence of exclude LGBT students. Twenty-five lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight young adults made the trip. Four of the group’s members were arrested when they stepped off a public sidewalk and onto the grass in front of the college’s administration building. The fifth was arrested about an hour later for the same thing. The Riders were given the choice of staying in jail for a week or performing three days of community service. They chose the latter and will stay behind in Clinton and reconnect with the bus in Alabama. Authorities continued to harass the Equality Riders throughout the day. Local officers used harsh and intimidating language with the Riders. SWAT teams from Clinton Township were also called in. The Soulforce Equality bus was continuously followed and forced to leave Clinton. As Riders were waiting for the return of some of the members of Soulforce to return a police vehicle approached the bus with its lights flashing, signaling the bus to move. The bus driver immediately turned down the nearest road and into a church parking lot to await the Equality Riders. The same officer once again followed them into the parking lot, with his lights on and asked the driver to speak with him. The officer was quite aggressive in demanding that they "go on and get out of town." The driver explained that we were still waiting on the remainder of our group, but was still forced to move the bus. At that time, they drove and parked the bus in a lot that was previously designated by the city of Clinton. For the third time, a police vehicle approached them with flashing lights. The officer who had approached the bus was extremely indignant and asked "what is your problem? We have already given you breaks today." The driver explained that we were in the space the City provided for us. In response, the officer asserted that the driver would be arrested if he were to take Equality Riders anywhere else and not leave the city of Clinton immediately.

In a letter to Rosemary G. Aultman, Mayor of the City of Clinton, Lambda Legal, NGLTF, NCLR, GLAAD, HRC and Log Cabin Republicans state: On March 20, Clinton police officials informed Soulforce that its members would be cited if they
"attempt[ed] to gather or travel in a group of four or more" near the campus of Mississippi College. Lt. Thomas R. Ruffin acknowledged that the department’s actions "could be construed as conflicting with constitutional allowances," but said that Soulforce’s presence in Clinton presented "valid public safety concerns." This accusation is utterly without merit: Soulforce is enormously well respected across the country and is relentlessly nonviolent. Only after being contacted by the American Civil Liberties Union did the police lift the threat of citation.

Despite the arrests, riders and students engaged in constructive dialogue about sexuality, gender, and faith. Over one hundred Mississippi students eagerly awaited the Equality riders in hopes of opening up this dialogue. Many shared stories of discrimination and fear for their lives.

Some students supported the group’s right to visit the school. "While I disagree with them, I believe we should welcome them," 20-year-old student Alex Touchstone, of Meridian, said. "Jesus loves them the same as he loves us."

Rider Brandy Daniels states, "It was exciting and encouraging to see students cross school boundaries to engage in conversation. It really demonstrates that this is a conversation that students want to have, despite the opposition of the administration."

"We come to these campuses to create dialogue and to be a support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," Daniels said. "Mississippi College teaches that LGBT people are sick and sinful. But we know and express that God affirms LGBT people in their identity and truth."

Mississippi College is one of 32 Christian colleges and universities that Soulforce will visit as part of its second annual Soulforce Equality Ride. The 2007 Equality Ride is a 2 month journey by bus that is taking 50 young adults on 2 distinct routes to schools that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Mississippi College is a private Christian college located in Clinton, Mississippi. Their student handbook includes "homosexual activities" in a list of improprieties subject to disciplinary sanctions.

The riders came to speak with students at the university about this discriminatory policy towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and the doctrine that sustains it.

At BYU on Thursday, Mormon Equality Rider Kourt Osborn, and his mother, Karel Allen, were arrested in an attempt to deliver a list of concerns to the administration regarding BYU’s discriminatory policies against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. Current and former BYU students, gay and straight, submitted over fifty pages of concerns for the well being of LGBT students at BYU. Four of the Riders were raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

The BYU Student Honor Code states that "no one known to be guilty of overt and active homosexual conduct is to be enrolled or permitted to remain at Church Educational System (CES) campuses as students…"

Equality Riders spent an afternoon at Utah Valley State College leading presentations about sexual orientation and faith for community members, including LDS youth, and spent Wednesday evening with fifty BYU students discussing the reconciliation of the Church and LGBT individuals.

Melissa Pomeroy, a sophomore at BYU, shared her concern: "I feel like I’m all alone at BYU. There is no way for me to meet others like me, even just to talk, because everyone is so afraid of coming out."

"We remain hopeful that the student leaders will continue this dialogue beyond our [Equality Ride] visit and that the administration will come to see the value in this discussion," says Matt Kulisch.

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.