Soulforce Denominational Team Letter to His Eminence Theodore E. McCarrick, Archdiocese of Washington, DC

May 26, 2004

His Eminence Theodore E. McCarrick
Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, D.C. 20017

Dear Cardinal McCarrick:

My name is Kara Speltz, and I am the chair for the Catholic Denominational Team of Soulforce, Inc.*

We have stood in prayerful vigil for the last four years in Washington, D.C. as the USCCB meets in November. I am also one of three who was refused Eucharist in 2002 at the Bishops’ Mass, and again, in 2003, I was one of a number of people refused Eucharist. I cannot express the deep sense of sorrow I experienced at that refusal. For weeks after, tears would flow remembering that moment at Mass. It is the Eucharist above all that keeps me in the Catholic faith. To be denied that was utterly devastating.

I read with great hope your remarks concerning serving Senator John Kerry Eucharist. I was delighted to read your statement, "I do not favor a confrontation at the altar rail with the sacred body of the Lord Jesus in my hand." I pray that your statement indicates that you will now instruct priests to give Eucharist without discrimination.

The rainbow cross that I wear daily represents for me a sign of God’s covenant with God’s people and the diversity of God’s creations. I am a lay minister of the Eucharist at my own parish in California, and I wear my cross at all times. It is a sign of my faith. I am hopeful that your recent remarks are an indication that all God’s children are welcomed to the table. I look forward to your response.

We pray for and with you,

Kara Speltz
Chair for the Soulforce Catholic Denominational Team

*Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. We employ the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

Protesters to Confront Untruths at Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting for 5th Year in a Row – June 13-16

Soulforce Vows to Hold Members of the Task Force on “Ministry to Homosexuals” Accountable for Spiritual Violence against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People.

SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 20, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

Lynchburg, VA – On June 13-16, 2004 the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting will be held in Indianapolis, IN. Protests at the Convention Center will take place again this year by Soulforce, Inc, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

The purpose of the action will be to hold the Southern Baptists accountable for their anti-gay religious policies and teachings and the spiritual and mental anguish they inflict on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. This will be the 5th year in a row that Soulforce has tried to dialogue with Southern Baptist Leaders in an attempt to change their hearts and minds regarding GLBT people.

Soulforce’s efforts to dialogue over this past year have been focused on 10 members of the “Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals”. Throughout the year, Soulforce volunteers have been sending Task Force members their stories and pictures in an attempt to dialogue with Task Force Members and change their hearts and minds about sexual and gender minorities. A letter to Task Force members and a sample note card are available online at www.soulforce.org.

During the 2003 Southern Baptist Convention, a report from the Task Force was released and a website launched with the purpose of “welcoming” gays and lesbians into the church, and then converting them to evangelical fundamentalist Christianity and heterosexuality through “ex-gay” and reparative therapy.

In an article for beliefnet.com entitled “A Deviance From God’s Norm: Our society has the responsibility and the right to discourage the practice of homosexuality,” Richard Land, chair of the Religious Liberty Commission and member of the Task Force, makes it obvious that this is not just about “conversion”, when he stated, “As Christians, we will continue to support politicians who speak out against homosexuality and to oppose those who support special rights for homosexuals.”

“This task force is actively promoting reparative therapy despite the numerous health organizations that say homosexuality is not a sickness nor a deviance from the norm,” Jamie McDaniel, Soulforce Southern Baptist Denominational Team Leader replies. “Southern Baptist leaders are also using this as a means to prevent us from having equal civil rights by convincing unsuspecting and ill-informed people we can and should change. Incredibly, they stick to this spiritually violent position despite the many testimonies of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, many of who live contented, spirit-filled lives, and have been in committed, faithful relationship for twenty, thirty, and forty years.”

Soulforce plans to have large pictures of Task Force members, asking people to pray for them because they are trapped by misinformation and they do not understand the harm they are causing to GLBT people. Additional plans for civil disobedience have not yet been released.

For more information on Soulforce, see www.soulforce.org.

Hundreds of Soulforce Supporters and United Methodists Join Forces to Interrupt General Conference Proceedings

United Methodist General Conference Votes Against Gay and Lesbian Equality in Church and in Society cause Dissent

SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 6, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Pittsburgh) Approximately 400 people joined in a peaceful protest today inside the Convention Center during the United Methodist Church General Conference being held this week in Pittsburgh, PA.

Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) people, led the action during the Thursday morning session that included hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allies from both inside and outside the church. United Methodist caucus groups Affirmation, Reconciling Ministries Network, and the Methodist Federation for Social Action joined in the direct action, which stopped proceedings for approximately 20 minutes.

In a series of decisions earlier this week, the United Methodist Church reconfirmed their misguided stance that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, strengthened their prohibition against ordaining “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” and voted on other anti-gay legislation designed to prevent gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from participating in the full life of the church and society.

Protestors sang songs, carried rainbow banners and signs with a variety of messages, including, “Remember our Baptism,” “God loves me just the way I am,” and “Not of one mind is better than being mindless.” Hundreds of people left the visitors bleachers and delegates and bishops stood in their seats in support.

“We want the delegates who voted against us to see the faces and the pain of those who they condemned this week,” said Rev. Marylee Fithian, United Methodist minister and co-chair of the Soulforce United Methodist Denominational Team. “If one person’s heart or mind has been changed through this incredible demonstration of love, we have succeeded.”

In any direct action, Soulforce works to dialogue and negotiate with their adversaries. Leaders had asked the bishops for the opportunity to go out on to the floor and ‘address’ the delegates. The request was not denied, therefore civil disobedience was not needed and the protest proceeded without incident.

After the interruption, hundreds of protestors and several delegates proceeded to a rally on the 3rd floor of the convention center.

Rev. Phil Lawson, retired United Methodist Minister, and Soulforce advisory board member, said, “The struggle for gay, lesbian bisexual, and transgender equality runs parallel to the civil rights struggle. The major difference is that we had the church and we had our families, GLBT people have neither. This is why I am part of this movement for equality for all God’s people, to support those who need it most.”

For more information about Soulforce, see www.soulforce.org