Soulforce Launches Petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Signers Ask Leader Not to Segregate Openly Gay Bishop Robinson at Lambeth in 2008

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 24, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Austin, TX) — Soulforce has launched an online petition asking the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to invite Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, to the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

According to the New York Times, Williams has expressed liberal views on gay men and lesbians in the past, but appears willing to withhold Bishop Robinson’s invitation to this important meeting of Anglican bishops in order to try to avoid schism within the communion.

The Lambeth Conference only happens once every ten years. In 1998, the bishops passed a resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" and opposed the blessing of same-sex unions. The archbishop has indicated that he hopes the 2008 meeting will focus on prayer and reflection rather than policy.

Like many gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters, Jay Decker–a choir member at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois–reacted to Robinson’s exclusion with heartfelt outrage: "If the Archbishop will not reflect together with gay people on the faith they share with him, what hope is there of reaching any positive resolution? If he will not see us, how will he ever understand our heart and our humanity? If the Archbishop will not gather to pray with gay people, what hope do we have of finding welcome in that Church?"

The text of the Soulforce petition is below. The online petition can be found at: www.soulforce.org/petition/3

A hard copy of the signed petition will be mailed to the archbishop’s office.

"I ____________ cannot accept that the way for faith leaders to deal with the tension resulting from an oppressed group of people’s struggle for justice is to exclude both the oppressed and the oppressor from historic church gatherings–especially meetings of prayer and reflection.

I call upon the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to do the right thing and invite V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, to the 2008 meeting in London."


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Mel White Interviews on the Day of Rev. Falwell’s Death

On May 15, 2007 Rev. Mel White appeared on Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss the passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell and Soulforce’s attempts to change Jerry’s heart and mind concerning LGBT people over the years.

Larry King Live Interview

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Anderson Cooper 360 Interview

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Mel White also remembered Jerry Falwell in a recorded conversation with JewsOnFirst.org. That MP3 is available at www.jewsonfirst.org/audio-video/white_falwell.mp3

Young Adults Arrested at Focus on the Family

Couple Faces Charges to Publicize Dobson’s Divisive Politics on Fostering and Adoption

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 11, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Colorado Springs, CO) — At 11:00 a.m. on May 11, 2007, Amanda Harris, 22, of Conway, Arkansas, and Kourt Osborn, 21, of Kanab, Utah, entered Focus on the Family headquarters during a regularly scheduled tour. Once inside, they spoke to fellow visitors about their experiences as a queer woman and a transgender man, and they held a sit-in to raise public awareness about the organization’s defamation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. They were arrested for trespassing at approximately 12:30 p.m., processed at a nearby facility, and then released.

The sit-in, which is the third action in an ongoing campaign called "Focus on the Facts," coincided with Focus on the Family’s summit on orphan care. Although summit materials speak of "unity in the Body of Christ for the sake of the orphan," the organization’s politics on adoption and foster care have historically been more divisive than uniting. Most recently, in his April 19 broadcast, Dobson urged Colorado citizens to pressure the governor to veto HB 1330, the Second Parent Adoption Bill.

James Dobson and his colleagues have consistently misrepresented LGBT families and individuals as dangerous, sinful, and undeserving of equal protection under the law. These dehumanizing portrayals are often bolstered by misleading references to social science research. In recent months, several social scientists — including Dr. Carol Gilligan of New York University and Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale — have publicly rebuked Dobson for mischaracterizing their research conclusions.

"The misinformation that Focus on the Family employs does not create a stronger family and does not defend it, but creates barriers and breaks apart families across the country, including my own" says Osborn, who recently completed the 8-week Soulforce Equality Ride.

Focus on the Facts calls on Dobson to take a step toward reconciliation with the LGBT community by ceasing his misleading statements about social science research on LGBT families.

Focus on the Facts aims to intervene in Dobson and Focus on the Family’s representations of lesbian and gay families through an ongoing campaign of civil disobedience modeled on Gandhi’s nonviolent "Satyagraha" movement. In the words of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi "believed in the efficacy of pitting the soul force of the Satyagraha against the brute force of the oppressor and in effect converting the oppressor to the right and moral point."


The Focus on the Facts campaign is coordinated by Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization founded on principles of nonviolence. For more than a decade, members and allies of Soulforce have confronted Focus on the Family’s anti-gay rhetoric and publicized its harmful impact on the lives of individuals, parents, and children. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce Equality Ride Sows Lasting Change at Christian Colleges

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 10, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Minneapolis, MN) — On April 26, 2007, 52 Soulforce Equality Riders bid farewell to the massive buses that served as their surrogate home for eight weeks on the road. Emblazoned with the slogan "Faith Forward Social Justice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People," the two buses carried these remarkable young adults to 32 Christian colleges on two separate routes. They began and ended in Minneapolis, but traveled as far as the Pacific Northwest and the Deep South on their mission to start conversations about faith, sexuality, and inclusion.

Now the buses have stopped rolling, but the impact of the 2007 Equality Ride is still unfolding across the nation.

All of the colleges on the 2007 Equality Ride have policies that silence or exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. But while discrimination is the common thread, the schools exhibited a wide variety of responses to the Equality Riders’ invitation to create a public dialogue about the experiences of LGBT students.

Negotiations with prospective schools began last October. Some schools welcomed the Riders’ diverse perspectives, some set narrow limitations on the Riders’ campus access, and others went so far as to ban them from campus.

In the end, the Riders suffered more than 100 trespassing arrests in order to bring a message of hope and justice to every school on both routes.

But while arrests provide one indicator of the Riders’ commitment, the Ride’s lasting impact at the schools can be measured in other ways:

  • Six of the schools on this year’s route have new gay-straight alliances.
  • An unofficial LGBT support group at Pepperdine University has been granted a new hearing on achieving official group status.
  • At Baylor University, students have started a petition asking the institution to review its policy on "homosexual behavior."
  • At University of Notre Dame, the gay and lesbian alumni network has called for a boycott on giving to their alma mater.
  • Seattle and New York City proclaimed April 11 and April 14, respectively, as the official Soulforce Equality Ride 2007 Day.
  • Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, changed its policy during the course of the Equality Ride. The revised policy clarifies that the university will respond to "homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation." The previous policy had prohibited "homosexual behavior, whether implicit or explicit."

According to Equality Ride Co-director Haven Herrin, who organized the BYU school stop during the 2006 Equality Ride, "the policy change is a step forward. The Honor Code Office has more checks on its power to intimidate or discriminate against students. The change is a long time coming and involved the voices of students who, as they tell us, were galvanized by our stop there last year."

Impacts on individual hearts and minds will continue to develop long after the Equality Riders have returned home. Student newspapers continue to cover students who have come out in the wake of the Equality Ride. And, in cities across America, hundreds of people have now engaged in conversations about sexuality and faith because their churches, student groups, and equality organizations joined Riders for meals, community service, and public presentations.

At the Riders’ "Welcome Home" service in Mankato, Minnesota, the mother of a straight student from Bethany Lutheran College approached Herrin. "As she cried, she told me that she was so disappointed in how they responded by arresting 10 Equality Riders. Her son came home from school that day to tell her he was transferring because he was so disgusted."

"As long as these schools, like Bethany Lutheran, continue to discriminate, they will have to face the consequences. Financially, spiritually and socially, they cannot turn away from the suffering they create," affirmed Herrin.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce Releases Video of "Focus on the Facts" Campaign; Citizens Bring Roses and Reality Check to Dobson’s Headquarters

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 1, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Colorado Springs, CO) — Soulforce has posted video documenting an ongoing campaign called "Focus on the Facts," which asks Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to cease his misleading statements about research on lesbian and gay parents.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. on April 28, 2007, Christopher Hubble and Leigh Lyon of Denver, Colorado, were arrested and removed from Dr. James Dobson’s ministry headquarters in police custody. The two entered the campus after an earlier vigil during which participants silently prayed for Dr. Dobson’s wholeness and then read aloud numerous inflammatory and dehumanizing statements that Dobson and his associates have published over the years regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.

During the first Focus on the Facts action on February 19, Soulforce was challenged to document Dr. Dobson’s and his colleagues’ negative bias toward LGBT people. Later, in an interview with Reuters, Dobson claimed that he has never made a hateful statement about lesbians and gays.

At the April 28 event, Soulforce members provided ample evidence to belie Dobson’s claims.

Video of the vigil and the recitation of the statements is available at: www.soulforce.org/article/1257

This is the second action in the Focus on the Facts campaign, which is modeled on Gandhi’s Satyagraha campaigns in South Africa and India. In the words of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi "believed in the efficacy of pitting the soul force of the Satyagraha against the brute force of the oppressor and in effect converting the oppressor to the right and moral point."


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.