Soulforce Announces New Executive Director
- Soulforce Announces New Executive Director and Renewed Dedication to
Ending Homophobia at its Source
February 9, 2006
This week Soulforce, the national justice organization founded by Rev.
Dr. Mel White, announced expansion plans by naming Jeff Lutes of
Austin, Texas as their new executive director. In addition, Rev. Dr.
Mel White was named President of the Board, freeing him to expand his
visibility and that of Soulforce. The once ghostwriter for evangelists
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, White will soon be embarking on a
speaking tour for his fall book release, Religion Gone Bad: A Call to
Resist Fundamentalism (working title).
As an internationally recognized cleric and activist, White will
continue as primary spokesperson and fundraiser in Soulforce's mission
to halt homophobia at its source. White asserts that "The evil intent
of fundamentalist Christianity is to impose their worldview on all
Americans, a worldview that would deny rights and dignity to all gays,
lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people. Our new infrastructure
will equip us to better equip activists for the critical work of
stopping this form of religious violence. Under Jeff's leadership,
we'll be taking this to the streets like never before."
As Soulforce's new Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC, will
oversee the day-to-day operations of Soulforce. In accepting the
position, Jeff said, "I believe the message of Soulforce is visionary
in that it has become clear we can not win this battle with
legislative actions alone. We must create a critical mass of people
who are fed up with bigotry, prejudice and discrimination and who are
willing to speak out in the media and engage in other forms of
nonviolent resistance. We must be on the offensive in confronting the
religious and political assault on our civil rights, and not just in
the defensive position of fighting the next anti-gay piece of
Soulforce also adds two new members to our Board of Directors,
prominent civil rights activists Dr. Rodney Powell. M.D. and Rev. Phil
Lawson. Powell commented, "I believe Soulforce is the most promising
GLBT organization to influence and redirect the enormous energy,
intellectual capacity, resources and power that exist among gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, allied persons,
organizations, and institutions to resist, oppose and stop the threat
of Christian fundamentalism."
Soulforce's next action includes the Equality Ride, a seven-week bus
tour taking 35 GLBT youth to nineteen colleges that have anti-gay
Soulforce is a movement; an organization of activists committed to
ending homophobia caused by religious bigotry. For more information go
to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.
Jeff Lutes is a licensed professional counselor in Austin, Texas who
has supervised over 100 therapists and directed several inpatient and
outpatient psychiatric-treatment programs in a variety of clinical
settings, including hospitals and nonprofit counseling centers. He has
been in private practice for many years, specializing in couples and
family therapy. He has written numerous newspaper articles on the
issues facing LGBT people and same-gender families and presents
research-based workshops on strengthening relationships. He is a
member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American
Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), and the Council on
Contemporary Families (CCF). He is a lay worship leader in his church
and a community leader able to organize sustained nonviolent
resistance to religious and political assaults on LGBT people and
their families. He has been a volunteer for Soulforce since the first
direct action in 1999. He and his partner, Gary Stein, are the proud
parents of a 9-year-old son.
Rev. Phil Lawson is a United Methodist Minister and veteran of the
1960's civil rights movement. Over 40 years ago, it was the Rev. Phil
Lawson's brother, Rev. Jim Lawson, who trained the Freedom Riders in
nonviolence prior to their journey to justice for civil rights. Rev.
Lawson is courageously outspoken in his support of LGBT equality and
has participated in several Soulforce actions over the years. He is
currently the Interfaith Program Director for East Bay Housing
Organizations (EBHO) where he leads the Interfaith Action in Housing
Program. He remains active with Richmond Vision 2000, Northern
California Inter-Religious Conference, Greater Richmond Interfaith
Program (GRIP), Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and
California Council of Churches.
Rodney N. Powell, MD is a Pediatrician, International Health
Specialist and former Professor of Pediatrics and Health Services
Administration at University of Minnesota School of Medicine, and
Professor of Family Practice and Community Health, John A. Burns
School of Medicine, University of Hawaii. Rodney is a gay, African
American, who has lived in Hawaii since 1976 with his partner of 30
years, C. Robert Eddinger, PhD. While a medical student at Meharry
Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee during the years 1957-61, as a
student protest leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement,
Rodney had the privilege and honor to learn and apply the philosophy
and strategies of love and nonviolence under the guidance of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and other dedicated ministers of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference.
The goal of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender people from religious and political oppression through the
practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.
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