Soulforce Urges People of Faith to Stand in Silent Protest at Houses of Worship that Participate in "Protect Marriage Sunday" July 11th, 2004

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Soulforce Press Release, June 29, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
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(Lynchburg, VA) Soulforce, a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, is encouraging people of faith to protest if their religious leaders use worship time to urge their congregation to support the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), thereby, using the pulpit to oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Soulforce is asking people in the pews to silently stand in nonviolent protest with a message that says, “I oppose the FMA,” if their houses of worship participate in “Protect Marriage Sunday” on July 11.

The Federal Marriage Amendment, a much-debated proposed amendment to the Constitution, seeks to define marriage as “between one man and one woman”, thereby writing discrimination into the Constitution and creating second class citizens of hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, couples, and families throughout the United States.

“We can no longer sit quietly in the pews and do nothing when the pulpit is used to oppress us, we must stand up against our own oppression! To use worship to demean and oppress same-gender couples is wrong,” said Karen Weldin, Director of Operation for Soulforce, Inc. “Additionally, for leaders to accuse our marriages and loving relationships as being a threat to anyone is total hyperbole and lies.”

In a recent email from the American Family Association, leaders of the political/religious right are urging pastors to use Sunday School Classes and sermon time on July 11, 2004 to preach against equal marriage rights for same-gender couples, and pass out information on “how to contact your senators” regarding the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. A vote on the FMA is scheduled in the Senate the week of July 12, 2004.

According to the New York Times on May 16, 2004, Religious Right leaders are having trouble mobilizing support for the FMA in the churches. Matt Daniels, founder of the anti-gay Alliance for Marriage, said, "Our side is basically asleep right now," and Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Tradition Values Coalition, said: "I don’t see any traction.”

“What many people seem to forget is that the rights of civil marriage and the religious ritual of marriage are two different things. Because we have freedom of religion in this country, houses of worship can always decide for themselves which rituals they will perform,” said Laura Montgomery Rutt, Director of Communications for Soulforce. “Our government, however, has an obligation and a responsibility to treat all people equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It is not the government’s task to enshrine one religious definition of marriage into the Constitution, thereby undermining the Establishment Clause and destroying our country’s most basic tenant of religious liberty.”

In an email action alert on June 25, Soulforce urged people of faith who are committed to justice and equality to contact their Senators on or before July 12, 2004 to express their opposition to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Additionally, a letter to Congress written by Soulforce (http://www.soulforce.org/marriage/fmacongressletter.shtml) was hand-delivered to Senators on June 25, 2004.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce Letter to Congress Opposing the Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment

June 22, 2004

As people of faith, Soulforce is committed to working for justice and equality for all.

We stand firmly against amending the U.S. Constitution for the express purpose of excluding, discriminating, or restricting the rights of any group of individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

Currently, marriage has two distinct components: civil marriage and the religious ritual of marriage. Freedom of religion guarantees that each faith and religion can define the religious ritual of marriage within their institution as they see fit, and this is true regardless of what the government decides about civil marriage rights.

Many religion’s and religious institutions support equal civil marriage rights between two consenting adults, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Religion has thrived in this country because of the freedom of religion afforded by the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the Constitution. Freedom of Religion is one of the most basic tenets of our democracy, therefore, it is the not the government’s task to enshrine one religions’ viewpoint about marriage into our Constitution at the expense of destroying religious freedom for all.

We therefore oppose any Federal Marriage Amendment that seeks to define marriage as between a man and a woman. This amendment undermines religious liberty and seeks to misuse the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to discriminate against and create 2nd class citizens of millions of American couples, families, and children and deny them equal rights and protections under the law.

We ask our legislators to vote against any Constitutional Amendment that takes away peoples’ rights, rather than enhances and promotes equality.

Soulforce, Inc.
www.soulforce.org


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 teach and employ the nonviolent principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

Soulforce Report on Southern Baptist Action in Indiana – Anti-Gay Rhetoric Continues

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Soulforce Press Release, June 17, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
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(Indianapolis) – For the 5th year in a row, Soulforce volunteers stood vigil outside the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to confront the untruths perpetuated by Southern Baptist resolutions and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. The annual meeting, which took place in Indianapolis, attracted about 80 Soulforce volunteers, who gathered in Indy to try to help change the hearts and minds of the Southern Baptists and empower GLBT people to stand up against their own oppression.

For three days, in the heat and the rain, Southern Baptist messengers encountered Soulforce volunteers at the street corners and sidewalks, handing out literature and booklets, singing songs, and talking about the spiritual violence wrought by Southern Baptist rhetoric and policies.

Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions supporting the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which is intended to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution against GLBT couples and their children by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Earlier in the day, President Bush spoke by satellite praising Southern Baptists for their conservative views, and urging them to support the FMA.

In addition, the Southern Baptist Convention pulled out of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) because the SBC felt the BWA was increasingly anti-American and too tolerant of liberal theology, by accepting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as a member in 2003.

On the final evening, Rev. Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Ala., railed against homosexuality, by saying, "God characterized homosexuality as an abomination in Leviticus 18, and He sandwiched it right between adultery, child sacrifice and having sex with an animal." He also urged Southern Baptists to contact their congresspeople to lobby for approval of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“The SBC continues to be a primary source of spiritual violence against us. It saddens and sickens me that they are so full of fear and condemnation. I know God loves gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people just the way we are, and some day, full equality will happen, and the church will have to apologize to us,” said Karen Weldin, former Southern Baptist, graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and Director of Operations for Soulforce. “We will be in Nashville in 2005 for the next SBC annual meeting to continue our relentless confrontation of the shameful untruths.

“Our hope in changing the SBC lies with the youth,” said Jamie McDaniel, co-chair of the Soulforce

Southern Baptist Denominational Team. Soulforce volunteers distributed a 48 page study guide geared toward Southern Baptist youth, entitled: Christian Youth – an Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America. The guide was written by Soulforce youth and young adults and is available at www.soulforce.org/youthstudy

Pictures taken at the action can be viewed at www.soulforce.org.

A Hundred Soulforce Volunteers Arrive in Indy to Spread Truth to Southern Baptists about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People

Plans include Vigils, Signs, Banners, Pictures, Speakers, Youth Study Guide and more, June 14-16, 2004

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Soulforce MEDIA ALERT, June 13 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:Laura@soulforce.org
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(Indianapolis) – For the 5th year in a row, Soulforce volunteers will be a presence at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to hold Southern Baptist leaders accountable for statements and practices against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. The pastor’s convention and annual meeting is being held at the Indianapolis Convention Center, June 14-16, 2004.

WHO: 100 Volunteers from Soulforce, Inc., a national interfaith organization committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people.

WHAT: Soulforce will be holding vigils, passing out information, and inviting people to hear an evangelical woman speak about the suicide of her lesbian daughter.

WHERE: In front of the Indianapolis Convention Center – Monday – Wednesday, June 14-16

WHEN: Vigils begin each morning by 8am, Mon. – Wed., June 14-16, and follow the times that Southern Baptists will be exiting and entering the Convention Center.

Speaker Mary Lou Wallner will be telling her story Monday, July 14 at 8:30am, 1:00pm, and 5:15pm – outside the convention center on Maryland Ave. at the Capitol Commons Park. She is an evangelical Christian whose lesbian daughter committed suicide.

Soulforce youth will be distributing a 48 page study guide throughout the event geared toward Southern Baptist youth, entitled: Christian Youth – an Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America.

WHY: The purpose of this action is to empower GLBT people, change the hearts and minds of the Southern Baptists, and to let gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people inside and outside the church know that God loves them just the way they are.

Although no civil disobedience is planned, those who wish to participate must take part in a nonviolent civil disobedience training being held at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 530 South Capitol Avenue, on Monday night, June 14, at 6:30 pm.

MEDIA PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Vigils will be held with signs, banners, and pictures of Southern Baptist leaders who perpetuate untruths about GLBT people. Media are encouraged and welcomed to attend any of the events.

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

Soulforce to counter Southern Baptist Leaders蔘サ Violent Rhetoric against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people with Education and Compassion, June 13 – 16

Southern Baptist women invited to hear evangelical mother speak about losing her lesbian daughter; Youth to receive 48 page study guide.

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Soulforce Press Release, June 9, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592 Laura@soulforce.org
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(Indianapolis) – For the 5th year in a row, Soulforce volunteers will be present at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to hold Southern Baptist leaders accountable for statements and practices against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. The annual meeting is being held in Indianapolis, June 14-16, 2004.

“A hundred Soulforce volunteers will once again be on the front lines of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to confront untruths and lovingly challenge Southern Baptists to learn more about GLBT people,” said Jamie McDaniel, co-chair of the Soulforce Southern Baptist Denominational Team. “We encourage Southern Baptist youth and leaders to study the scriptures from more than one perspective, to get to know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and talk to family members who have lost a child to suicide and thought they were doing the ‘right’ thing by rejecting their child.”

Soulforce volunteers will be distributing a 48 page study guide geared toward Southern Baptist youth, entitled: Christian Youth – an Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America. The guide was written by Soulforce youth and young adults. Additionally, Soulforce volunteers have been writing to each and every member of the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, asking them to meet and get together during the annual meeting.

In 2003, the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals announced a program designed to be a “less hateful” approach to GLBT people, which included reparative therapy and conversion. However, within 6 months of this announcement, Richard Land, a Task Force member who heads the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, was using words like “cultural war”, “spiritual war”, “unnatural and unholy”, and other violent rhetoric.

“This kind of rhetoric is spiritual violence, and hurts people and destroys families,” said Mary Lou Walner, an evangelical Christian whose lesbian daughter committed suicide. “Since my daughter’s death, I have vowed to confront this kind of hurtful language and shameful words, by bringing the truth in love relentlessly to other evangelicals. They need to hear and know that God loves their children exactly as they are – before it is too late!”

Mary Lou Wallner will be speaking outside the convention on Maryland Street on Monday, June 14 at 8:30am, 1:00pm, and 5:15pm. Pastors’ wives and other interested people are invited to come hear Mary Lou speak about God’s love, and the tragic consequences that the rejection of her daughter cost her.

Soulforce will be vigiling and handing out literature outside of the convention center, Sunday through Wednesday. Although no civil disobedience is planned, those who wish to participate must take part in a 2-part nonviolent civil disobedience training to be held at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 530 South Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, IN , on Sunday and Monday night, June 13 and 14, at 6:30 pm.

Media are encouraged and welcomed to attend any of the events.

Soulforce is a national interfaith organization committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities. For more information, see www.soulforce.org.