Soulforce Action at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, June 21-22, 2005

Dear Soulforce Friends,Laura Rottman and Gene Hannold distribute Soulforce booklets in Nashville

On Tuesday, June 22, six volunteers with Soulforce worked to distribute over 500 pro-gay Bible studies outside the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. We arrived at 7:30am and worked until 2:00pm, handing out the booklets and talking with Southern Baptists attending the annual meeting of the SBC. We were interviewed by all four local Nashville TV stations and several newspapers reported on our actions.

On the previous night, the local GLBT community in Nashville organized a "Faithful Witness" where approximately 100 people turned out to march around the Gaylord Entertainment Center seven times while holding candles and singing.

Jamie McDaniel
Soulforce Southern Baptist Team Co-chair


More About the Action in Nashville:

Photos from Tuesday, June 22

Messenger-Inquirer Article: Two Sides of Homosexuality Debate Present at Convention

Oklahoman Article: Caution Urged With Schools

Press Release: Gays Who Grew Up Southern Baptist to Distribute Pro-Gay Bible Studies at 2005 Southern Baptist Convention

Soulforce Booklets Distributed in Nashville:

Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America

What the Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality

Messenger-Inquirer Article: "Two Sides of Homosexuality Debate Present at Convention"

Karen Owen
Messenger-Inquirer, 06/25/2005

Outside the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville this week, one young man in a suit was handing out a Bible study.

There was nothing remarkable about that, except the study argues the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.

Most of the 11,000 Baptists streaming into the Gaylord Entertainment Center Tuesday morning ignored him. After all, other people on the sidewalk were thrusting leaflets at them promoting everything from Christian comedians to vegetarianism.

If they bothered to look at this man’s booklet, many of the church members would have considered it heretical.

Inside the exhibits area, two members of a task force were publicizing efforts to encourage homosexuals to leave the gay lifestyle and churches to be more "compassionate, caring and redemptive."

The man handing out the Bible study was a member of Soulforce, a gay-rights group that is "committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings."

The group is led by Mel White, a former ghostwriter for the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

The Way Out, the Baptist task force, is made up of ministries affiliated with Exodus International, a group that promotes "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."

"Exodus is evangelical but nondenominational by nature," said McKrae Game, a Way Out volunteer from Spartansburg, S.C. "The Southern Baptists for a long time, until recently, have not taken a very compassionate approach, and it’s driven people away.

"Not all Southern Baptist churches have been won over to the compassionate approach."

Game and Richard Holloman, an Evansville native who is involved in an ex-gay ministry in Nashville, both say they have left homosexuality.

A Soulforce booklet says there’s no reliable scientific evidence ex-gay ministries succeed in changing an individual’s sexual orientation.

"The reason why ex-gay ministries fail is because God created and loves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people exactly as they are without reservation," says Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America, a Soulforce publication.

Game said he left homosexuality 14 years ago and married nine years ago. He has two children. "I love my wife more deeply than I ever was able to understand loving a man," he said.

"Everybody wants to define what change looks like." It doesn’t mean a person will no longer be tempted. "Scripture does not promise any Christian to live without temptation."

With Christ’s help some people change instantly, Holloman said, but for most people, including him, it is an ongoing process.

After nine years, his same-sex attractions are only a "flicker," he said.

What the Bible Says — And Doesn’t Say — About Homosexuality, which White wrote, points out that Jesus says nothing about same-sex behavior. Neither do the Jewish prophets.

"There are just six or seven verses out of the Bible’s million verses that refer to same-sex behavior in any way," White writes, "and none of them refer to homosexual orientation as we understand it today."

God’s model in scripture for human sexuality is clear, Holloman and Game said: One man and one woman together for a lifetime. The Bible has nothing to say about how to live a healthy life as a homosexual, the men said. It has plenty to say about healthy heterosexuality.

"We’re either going to believe the word is God-breathed or it’s not," Game said. "That’s where the church is divided."

God would not create someone to live in a way that’s contrary to His word, Holloman said.

Science has not proven genetics program people to be homosexual, even though "openly gay men" conducted the studies, he said.

Soulforce quotes the American Psychiatric Association that reparative therapy like Exodus recommends to change a person’s sexual orientation can lead to depression, anxiety, self-hate and self-destructive behavior.

Such ministries only obscure the true message of the gospel and drive homosexuals "away from Christ rather than to him," the guide for young Christians says.

"Their claim is they don’t have peace and joy because we don’t let them have it," Game said.

If a person is in a right relationship with God, though, "You should be able to have peace and joy, regardless."

"We believe the (homosexual) behavior is contrary to God’s plan," Holloman said. "At the same time, Jesus died for all people. We want to share the love of God without compromising the word of God."

"Exodus is not about seeking out people who do not want to change," Game said. "We spend all our time helping people that want out."

Karen Owen, 691-7304,

kowen@messenger-inquirer.com

www.messenger-inquirer.com/columnists/owen/8584534.htm

 

Nashville Photo Album: June 22, 2005


Jamie McDaniel, Soulforce Southern Baptist Team Co-chair

Gene Hannold talks with the Faith Riders

Blair and Adam

Adam and Laura hand out pro-gay Bible studies

The 2005 annual meeting of the SBC

The 2005 annual meeting of the SBC

Laura Rottman and Gene Hannold hand out Soulforce booklets

Blair and Adam talk with Southern Baptists

Cris Elkins talks with a Southern Baptist messenger

We talk with Southern Baptist young people

We talk with Southern Baptist young people

Laura Rottman and Gene Hannold

Adam and Blair talking with Southern Baptists

Adam and Blair sharing their stories with the next generation of Southern Baptists

Gays who Grew up Southern Baptist to Distribute Pro-Gay Bible Studies at 2005 Southern Baptist Convention

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ALERT: June 17, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamie McDaniel
Soulforce Southern Baptist Team Co-chair
Cell: 859-230-5625 jamie@soulforce.org
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(Nashville) – The 2005 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will take place in Nashville, TN and a select group of gays and lesbians from Soulforce, Inc. who grew up Southern Baptist will be on hand June 21 distributing pro-gay Bible studies and attempting to dialogue with Southern Baptists.

"A lot of gays and lesbians who grew up in Southern Baptist fundamentalism leave the denomination and never look back," said Jamie McDaniel, a gay Baptist who serves as co-chair of the Soulforce Southern Baptist Denominational Team. "But on Tuesday, June 21, we will be present at the annual meeting because we want the next generation of gays growing up Southern Baptist to know that they are ok and that God loves them exactly as they are – despite what their leaders might tell them."

"Southern Baptists leaders fervently promote the belief that homosexuals can and should change into heterosexuals, while gay people of faith testify that we became healthy and whole once we accepted our sexual orientation,” said Adam Riley, a 24-year-old gay male who grew up Baptist, attended ex-gay ministries while in college, and now lives in Nashville. "Southern Baptist leaders also attempt to rally their congregations to defeat nearly every piece of legislation that would help gay and lesbian Americans gain equality," added Riley.

In an attempt to reach the next generation of Southern Baptists, Soulforce volunteers will work to distribute the 48 page study guide geared towards youth and youth ministers entitled Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America. The study is available for download at www.soulforce.org/youthstudy

The other booklet to be handed out is Rev. Dr. Mel White’s What The Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality. Mel White is a co-founder of Soulforce who, prior to accepting himself as a gay man, underwent decades of reparative therapy. In 1994 he authored the book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America. The booklet What The Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality is available for download at www.soulforce.org/biblesays

Soulforce volunteers will be distributing the materials outside the Gaylord Entertainment Center on June 21 from 8:00am – 5:00pm and will be available for media interviews.