With the Rev. Dr. Mel White
"THE RHETORIC THAT LEADS TO SUFFERING MUST BE STOPPED…"
Just a few days after Jerry Falwell found himself at war with Tinky Winky, Gary and I took a long, quiet walk on Laguna’s Main Beach. We were enjoying the splendor of this sacred place when we were stunned to see a retaining wall freshly spray-painted with these three terrifying words: "Kill Rev. Falwell."
We wouldn’t have been shocked to see "Die fag" painted on a rock. We wouldn’t have been surprised to hear "Kill a homo for Christ" shouted from a passing car. Even in our "gay-friendly" town, we know how quickly the anti-homosexual rhetoric becomes violence against us. But we were stunned to see (on our favorite beach) an example of how the anti-Falwell rhetoric led to this call for violence against Jerry.
Jerry Falwell is not our enemy
Gandhi and King would remind us that the "religious right" is not our enemy. Jerry Falwell, James Dobson,.James Kennedy, Gary Bauer and the other anti-gay religious leaders (including the Episcopal bishops at Lambeth or Cardinal Ratzinger in the Vatican) aren’t the source of our suffering. If they disappear the suffering will go on.
Our real enemy is UNTRUTH. Eliminating Jerry would only hurt our cause and hurt it badly. That kind of irresponsible act (and the rhetoric that gives it license) would only support their Untruths about us.
Those who believe (and even those who teach) the UNTRUTHS about sexual orientation are victims, too. To understand the cause of our suffering is to understand the untruths, half-truths, and misunderstandings that have victimized us all.
Untruth is our enemy
The origins of UNTRUTH about homosexuality and homosexuals are ancient and complex (1). In past centuries, our sisters and brothers had almost no evidence to support the TRUTH that they were God’s children, too.
Now, there is plenty of EVIDENCE that supports the American Psychological Association’s declaration that "it is as natural to be homosexual as it is to be left handed." (2) Unfortunately, new truth always has a difficult time at overcoming ancient prejudice. Jerry is a primary modern source of ancient Untruth Jerry didn’t invent homophobia (the fear of homosexuals that comes from Untruth about them). But his obsessive anti-homosexual rhetoric stirs up those ancient fears with tragic consequences for us all.
At the close of this Step, you will find a typical letter from Jerry sent to an estimated four million supporters on his old Moral Majority mailing list. It is just one of hundreds we have collected. Reading it may cause you to hyperventilate. I’m sorry for the pain it may cause you. But you need to know exactly what Jerry and the others are saying about us. Their rhetoric has consequences in your life and in the life of those you love.
Abraham Heschel, rabbi, scholar, poet, another "soul force" hero, reminds us why.
"Speech has power and few realize that words do not fade. What starts out as a sound ends in a deed." -Abraham Heschel (3)
Several of you have asked why I’m making this "Journey into Soulforce" so "Falwell specific." Here’s why.
- I believe that this false and inflammatory anti-homosexual rhetoric is poisoning the minds and hearts of the nation, that it leads to wasted lives, ruined relationships, divided families, wide-spread suffering and even death.
- I believe that something must be done to stop this endless flow of toxic waste at its source, the religious leaders who use this rhetoric to raise money and mobilize volunteers.
- I believe that it isn’t enough to put out the wild fires that their UNTRUTHS ignite in the Congress or the courts, in our national and local religious bodies, in state legislatures, local city councils and school boards. We must also change the minds and hearts of the arsonists.
- I believe that the "soul force" principles show us how to do that NONVIOLENTLY.
The Rhetoric of Jerry Falwell must be stopped NONVIOLENTLY
The publicity Jerry Falwell received from the Tinky Winky Wars made him (once again) the primary anti-homosexual spokesman in the nation. Someone has to confront the rhetoric seriously. Someone has to end it NONVIOLENTLY. Why not start with Jerry?
That is why Gary and I have invited you on this Soulforce Journey. We believe that we can learn from Gandhi and King how to change the mind and heart of Jerry Falwell.
Don’t laugh. When Dr. King said he believed that Governor Wallace could become a friend of the "negros" everybody laughed even harder. The Black Panthers and The Black Muslims called him a fool or worse. But King refused to give in to violence (of the tongue, of the fist, or even of the heart.)
He didn’t ask them to forgive or ignore Wallace either. He called his people to confront the racist Governor with the powerful tools of nonviolence. He dreamed that one day he and Wallace could live side-by-side in a "beloved community." King was assassinated before the Governor’s mind and heart were changed. But they were changed.
I was in jail in Virginia Beach (March 7, 1995) when George Wallace asked the nation to forgive his racist past. On the Edmund Pettus Bridge where state troopers bashed and bloodied demonstrators on "Bloody Sunday" (March 7, 1965), Wallace prayed for forgiveness and called us to "love one another." As I read that moving story in my cell, I prayed that, one day, Jerry and the others would understand the TRUTH and be transformed by it. Will you join us in that task?
The Case Against Jerry’s Rhetoric
We begin by building our case against Jerry’s rhetoric. We can’t confront it until we know what it is. We have collected ten years of it: books, pamphlets, letters, direct mail appeals, bulletins, faxes, videos. It goes on forever. We only ask you to read the one sample letter that follows. It is typical of Jerry’s anti-homosexual propaganda.
As you read his letter mark it with a red pen, in the spirit of Miss Jones your evil 7th grade English teacher.
Underline any thing Jerry says that is TRUE about us (or even comes close).
Underline and number the 15-20 UNTRUTHS that offend you most.
One last thing, circle the words or phrases used to incite people’s fears and stimulate their anger against GLBT people.
Now, take four deep breaths, pour yourself a strong drink, and read the letter.
READ (AND MARK) JERRY FALWELL’S LETTER
(After you’ve read the letter, copy Step 7 to your Partner on the Journey)
Love to you all,
FOOTNOTES STEP #7
(1) Suzanne Pharr, another of my "soul force" sheroes, wrote an eloquent, deeply personal account of the origins and effects of the fear of homosexuals. You can get a copy of her HOMOPHOBIA: A Weapon of Sexism, from The Women’s Project, 2224 Main, Little Rock, AR 72206. (As them to put you on their mailing list.)
(2) For American Psychological Association resources check their web page.
(3) Abraham Heschel quoted in Branch, Taylor, Pillars of Fire: America in the King Years (1963-1965), Simon & Schuster, 1998, p23.
A JERRY FALWELL FUNDRAISING LETTER TO HIS SUPPORTERS
[The letter was mailed in a large envelope stripped in bold yellow and black. The outside of the envelope read: "WARNING: SENSITIVE CONTENTS"]
"THE RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ONSLAUGHT OF AMERICA IS RAGING…
I cannot believe what I have read..
The Vice President, Al Gore, and his wife, Tipper, recently entertained 150 radical homosexual leaders in their home.
I am shocked that the Vice President and his wife would invite these types of radical characters to their home.
I wonder how much of our tax funds were used to wine and dine these perverted homosexuals who absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, God-fearing citizens stand for.
It seems the Clinton Administration is obsessed with forcing us to accept homosexuality as normal behavior.
You remember the Clinton plan to put "gays in the military." However, that is just the tip of the iceberg…
What you may not know is that Mr. Clinton has appointed homosexuals to at least 26 top-level positions.
Recently these 26 people – gay men and lesbians – proudly posed for a group photo in "OUT," a national homosexual magazine. [A photo with a chart giving the names of each appointee is enclosed in the letter.]
For the past two years these and other Clinton appointees have been quietly forcing federal workers to accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle through "re-education" seminars.
I doubt if you have heard about these shocking stories. The liberal media would rather hide these facts from you.
You probably did not know our Vice-president had opened his home – the official home, owned by the taxpayers – to a horde of homosexual leaders.
It is not secret that homosexuals have an inside track, through top level White House and cabinet officials, directly to the massive federal bureaucracy.
Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom.
Someone must "stand in the gap" for America’s children. Someone must not be afraid to say, "Moral perversion is wrong!"
If we do not act now, homosexuals will "own" America!
[Homosexuals] want total political approval and taxpayer money for their perverted political and social programs…
Make no mistakes my friend, this is a battle between good and evil. And the consequences for America are clear: the judgment of Almighty God on our nation.
Today, I’m asking you to take direct action.
Support Sen. Helms bill to halt the homosexual invasion of our government. Ask the Speaker of the House to pass similar legislation in the House. Send a message of disgust to Vice President Gore and his wife, Tipper, over their courtship of these perverted homosexuals in their home, a public building.
Send an immediate strong and loud message that we oppose this homosexual trampling of Judeo-Christian values.
[Use your power] to tell Washington politicians not to hand over our government to militant homosexuals.
In addition I need you to enclose a generous contribution for whatever amount you can to Liberty Alliance immediately.
If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual streamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way.
For those of us who believe in traditional moral values and refuse to openly embrace homosexuality, it may mean penalties or fines.
Preachers of the Gospel, like Jerry Falwell, who do not hesitate to call homosexuality a sin, may be imprisoned in the not-to-distant future.
I must have your help if we are to be successful. The small, but outspoken and financially well-heeled, homosexual political lobby is a dangerous foe.
They will stop at nothing, including violence, to secure their goals. I have been a target of their hatred many times.
I will be vilified by the liberal media and pro-gay politicians like homosexual Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Ted Kennedy.
WILL YOU JOIN ME IN TAKING A STAND FOR DECENCY?
I have two grandchildren. I want them to grow up in an America free from homosexual intrusion into their lives.
The radical homosexuals have made incredible, almost unbelievable gains in society in just a short time, primarily because of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Back in the 1970s, when I first began warning Americans about the homosexual threat through the Moral Majority, I had no idea they would have come this far in just a few years.
From gays in the military…to gays in the White House…in the Administration…in the Congress…as FBI agents…judicial activism on their behalf…local ordinances giving them "special rights"…to more spending for AIDS than for heart disease or cancer…all underpinned with support from Washington, the powerful national media and Hollywood movies and television.
YES – HOMOSEXUALS CERTAINLY HAVE COME OUT OF THE CLOSET – INTO OUR LIVING ROOM ON PRIME TIME TV.
And mark my words – their primary target is the nation’s public schools and our impressionable children.
That is why homosexuals are so desperately trying to make inroads in the federal bureaucracy.
Homosexuals want to use the power of the federal government to force this nation to adopt homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle and homosexuals as a bonafide minority -which would mean hiring quotas, affirmative action and ultimately forcing churches to hire homosexuals on their staff!
I pray that you will join me in fighting for America’s children and families through the Liberty Alliance…We urgently need whatever financial help you can give to underwrite the large expenses of this type of national effort.
We must stop this homosexual onslaught at all costs!
Sincerely, Jerry Falwell
PS: It is time to put a stop a stop to this homosexual invasion of our nation – through our very own federal government…Do not forget to enclose a gift of $50, $25, $15 or even $100.
NEXT: Step 8
Mel White and Gary Nixon, Partners in Soulforce, Inc.
P.O. Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA. 92652.
Fax: (949) 455-0959