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Soulforce Prepares to Confront Anti-gay Rhetoric at SBC's Annual Meeting

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE From Soulforce ... Soulforce Prepares to Confront Anti-gay Rhetoric at SBC s Annual Meeting in St. Louis June 11 Merritt refuses
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2002
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      From Soulforce

      Soulforce Prepares to Confront Anti-gay Rhetoric at SBC's Annual
      Meeting in St. Louis June 11

      Merritt refuses to repudiate "execution statement"

      On June 11, hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
      individuals and allies will converge on the America's Center during
      the first day of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC's) annual
      meeting to distribute flyers, hold a press conference, and conduct
      civil disobedience. This is the third year in a row that Soulforce
      has been present to protest anti-gay Southern Baptist teachings
      during their annual meeting.

      A Soulforce press conference will take place on June 11 at 10:45, in
      front of the America's Center, just prior to the scheduled address of
      SBC President Dr. James Merritt to the entire Southern Baptist

      According to a letter faxed to Dr. Merritt on May 23, Merritt was
      invited to join the Soulforce press conference on Tuesday to denounce
      the anti-gay rhetoric of influential Southern Baptist Justice Roy
      Moore. Alabama Chief Justice Moore stated in a "legal opinion" in
      February of this year that, "The state must use.confinement and even
      execution" to prevent gays and lesbians from influencing children.

      "Southern Baptist anti-gay rhetoric, policies, and teachings lead to
      suffering and death for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
      children of God," said Dr. Rev. Mel White, Executive Director and
      co-founder of Soulforce. "We have asked James Merritt to join us to
      denounce the violence caused by this rhetoric, but he has refused."

      "The fact that James Merritt refuses to repudiate Justice Moore's
      'execution statement' should horrify the 15 million members of
      Southern Baptist Churches. It is our hope that his silence a not sign
      that all Southern Baptists condone violence against gay, lesbian,
      bisexual, and transgender people," said Soulforce spokesperson, Laura
      Montgomery Rutt.

      Additionally, Fred Phelps, minister of the Westboro Baptist Church
      has vowed to picket the Soulforce presence in St. Louis, with signs
      that proclaim "God hates fags."

      "Southern Baptists may not use the same language as Fred Phelps, but
      the message they send is the same, said Karen Weldin, Soulforce
      Director of Operations and a former Southern Baptist. "We plan to do
      whatever it takes to get the message out that Southern Baptist
      teachings are killing people."

      Prior to the vigil, press conference, and civil disobedience,
      supporters of Soulforce will be trained in the principles of
      relentless nonviolent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King. From
      June 7-10, trainings and workshops will be taking place at Centenary
      United Methodist Church, 55 Plaza Square in St. Louis, Missouri.
      Saturday, June 8: Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi will be
      keynote speaker at Centenary from 11am - 12:30pm. He is the founder
      of the M.K. Institute of Nonviolence.

      Monday, June 10: Sharing Our Stories - hear "tragic true stories" of
      personal suffering by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
      individuals that resulted from "anti-homosexual Southern Baptist
      teachings and actions."

      Press Release, 06/03/02
      For Immediate Release
      Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
      Cell: 717-278-0592 email: soulforcemedia@...
      For more information on Soulforce, or for a more detailed schedule,
      please see www.soulforce.org

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