SBC President James Merritt asked to publicly refute Justice Roy Moore’s "execution" statement at June 11 Press Conference
Soulforce Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Soulforce vows to escalate nonviolent protests at Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis on June 11
(Laguna Beach, CA) – Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) individuals and allies from Soulforce, Inc. will be on the front lines of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC’s) annual meeting for the third year in a row to protest anti-gay Southern Baptist teachings and policies. The SBC’s annual meeting will be held at the America’s Center in St. Louis this year.
Soulforce, Inc., an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, believes Southern Baptist teachings, policies, and inflammatory rhetoric lead to suffering and death. Dozens of Soulforce supporters were arrested during nonviolent civil disobedience at previous SBC annual meetings, and Soulforce leaders have vowed to escalate the protests this year.
PRESS CONFERENCE: Tuesday, June 11, 10:45 AM – Outside the America’s Center
SBC President Dr. James Merritt has been invited to repudiate a "legal opinion" crafted by Southern Baptist Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, which obstinately stated, "The state must use…confinement and even execution" to prevent gays and lesbians from parenting children.
If Merritt refuses to repudiate Justice Moore’s statement during the 10:45am outside press conference, a delegation of Soulforce supporters will immediately carry a prepared case against anti-gay SBC teachings to the podium inside the America’s Center during Merritt’s opening statement.
"For three years now Dr. Merritt has refused to consider the evidence that homosexuality is not a sickness or a sin," stated Rev. White, Executive Director and Co-founder of Soulforce. "So we are giving him the opportunity to take a stand against inflammatory rhetoric that convinces us that Southern Baptist teachings lead to intolerance, suffering, and even death for God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children."
In a May 23, 2002 letter to Merritt, Mel White invited Dr. Merritt to hear "tragic true stories" of personal suffering by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender that resulted from "anti-homosexual Southern Baptist teachings and actions." These "hearings" take place on Monday June 10 from 9 AM – 4 PM at Centenary United Methodist Church. Media are welcome to attend.
Soulforce will be providing workshops and trainings in nonviolence from June 7 – 10 at Centenary United Methodist Church, 55 Plaza Square in St. Louis, Missouri in preparation for the direct action on June 11. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, will be the keynote speaker on June 8.
For more information, a copy of the letter to Merritt, or a schedule of events, please see www.soulforce.org.
Additionally, a pre-event press conference will be held on Monday June 10 at 5:45 outside the Pastor’s Conference at America’s Center. MEDIA ARE INVITED TO ALL SOULFORCE EVENTS.