A GAY CHRISTIAN ANSWER
TO SOUTHERN BAPTISTS
BAPTISTS DENY THEIR OWN HISTORY. For over 150 years Baptists have
believed and taught soul freedom of the individual and have respected
and supported the autonomy of the local church. Recent actions by
the Southern Baptist Convention have rejected and repudiated these
great principles of the historic Baptist tradition! The
Convention's call for Baptists to boycott DISNEY was a blatant
rejection of principles for which Southern Baptists have stood for many
generations as well as a way to show the world their new mean
legalistic judgmental spirit.
CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL TAKE OVER of Southern Baptist Seminaries and
other institutions has undermined the objective academic credibility of
once great schools and boards and has made Baptists the object of scorn
and ridicule in the scholastic world. Some institutions have
already lost their accreditation.
DENY THE BIBLE in their attacks on homosexuals. Baptist Greek
scholars know, like all others do, that the Bible has no word for
"homosexual" in the Old Testament Hebrew or the New Testament
Greek. Yet the same incorrect translations and out of context use
of only six verses to attack and condemn gay people continues in this
so called "Bible believing" denomination.
DENY JESUS in their attacks on Gay people. Jesus never mentioned
sexual orientation or even hinted at the idea of homosexuality.
Jesus never said, "Hate the sin and love the sinner." That slogan
has become a favorite weapon used to condemn gay and lesbian
people. If Jesus is the guide to understanding all Scripture, why
don't Baptists let Jesus guide them in fighting the abusive and
mistaken use of Bible passages to condemn and destroy Gay people?
- BAPTISTS DENY REALITY in their support for so called "Ex-Gay" ministries
that try to use religion to change the sexual orientation of
people. Scientists, medical doctors, psychiatrists, attorneys,
psychologists, and other professional groups have taken a clear stand
against the abusive use of "reparative therapy" to try to change gays
to straight. There is no reliable evidence that a person's sexual
orientation can be changed. ALL of these failures will be
corrected if Baptists come back to JESUS.
Turn away ("repent") from your homophobic lifestyle of legalistic
judgmental religion that denies God's unconditional love and grace for
all people. SHAME! for betraying the spirit and legacy of John A.
Broadus, Richard Furman and George W. Truett. SHAME! for
retreating from soul freedom, autonomy of the local church, and
separation of church and state. SHAME! for claiming to follow
Jesus yet teaching ignorance and prejudice. TURN BACK to Jesus as
the only way to truth and life for individuals and churches.
of my friends recently asked me to point out what parts of the New
Testament Southern Baptists have ignored in their attitude of
condemning and rejecting gays. My first response was, "just about
all of it!" But upon reflection, these passages seem to be the
most obvious ones: Matthew 7:1-5; John 3:16-17; 10:10; 12:47;
13:34-35; 17:20-23; all of Acts 10, esp. vss. 28 and 34; I Corinthians
13; II Corinthians 10:3-5; all of Galatians, esp. 2:11-21; 3:1-5,
23-28; 5:1, 14-15, 22-23; all of Ephesians, esp. chapter 2; Philippians
2:1-13; I Peter 3:15; II Peter 3:14-18; I John 3:13-21; 4:7-19;
and most of all Romans 15:1-7. What do you think?
See the web site for "Honesty Texas," and the web site for Rainbow Baptists
the support groups for Southern Baptist and American Baptist Gays and
Lesbians. Also see the book that I have found to be most helpful
and informative in understanging the recent struggles of Baptist and
other evengelical lesbians and gays and their pastors and friends: Congregations in Conflict: The Battle Over Homosexuality, by Keith Hartman, published by Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1996.
Update for June 17, 2001:
A Report on Soulforce Events at the 2001 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans:
"LIFE OR DEATH"
protests and civil disobedience action that I joined in New Orleans
June 10-13, 2001, was not about Southern Baptist doctrine. It was
about genocide. It was not about Southern Baptist polity and
practices. It was about the life or death choices that multitudes
of gay and lesbian young people face leading to suicide and other
self-destructive actions caused by Southern Baptist religious abuse and
misinformation about God, Jesus, the Bible, and the truth.
THE SOULFORCE TEAM
White and Jimmy Creech led the Soulforce activities. An
experienced and dedicated Soulforce team of specialists guided and
taught us. Every leader was well prepared, calm, consistent and
always appropriate. I was amazed at the competence of every
person in leadership and teaching. I learned more in those few
days than I ever expected and more of what I need to know than I would
have thought possible.
other over 100 Soulforce volunteers also were my teachers as all of us
learned from each other and our leaders. A cheerful positive
attitude prevailed. We learned details about the results of
abusive religion against all people. We learned how to behave and
participate most effectively in a vigil, a march, a non-violent protest
and a civil disobedience arrest, which I experienced along with many
My life will never be the same after Soulforce in New Orleans.
Tuesday and Wednesday, all of us participated in silent vigils outside
the Southern Baptist Convention. We handed out "Invitation to a
Jazz Funeral: To mourn for gay Southern Baptists and their
families." We carried a large banner at vigils and at the "jazz
funeral" that proclaimed:
"SOUTHERN BAPTIST TEACHINGS
ARE KILLING GOD'S GAY, LESBIAN
AND TRANSGENDERED CHILDREN."
the first vigil on Tuesday, Don Hinkle of the "Baptist Press"
interviewed me about who I was and why I was there. We had a
great conversation. I gave him my brochure on "Steps to Recovery
from Bible Abuse" and he asked if he could quote me from the
brochure. Of course I encouraged him to do so. He wanted a
copy of my book, and I have sent him one. Don works out of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
during the funeral procession, a reporter from Mobile, Alabama,
interviewed me for her newspaper. Many others were interviewed by
various news media covering the convention and our protests.
final act of Soulforce protest was a dramatic attempt to enter the
Southern Baptist Convention to request an opportunity for dialogue with
the leaders about the suffering and death of Southern Baptist GLBT
people and others.
Jazz Funeral procession followed behind a casket that held the names
and stories of wounded and dead Southern Baptist GLBT people. A
large New Orleans Jazz Band led the procession, playing mournful
music. The symbolism was powerful!
the arrests, several of us had the opportunity to speak to a press
conference of our experiences of spiritual violence from Southern
Baptists. I spoke briefly of who I am and why I was protesting
genocide against gays that uses misinformed religious teachings to
convince GLBT young people to fear, hate and kill themselves. I
said that the casket in the funeral was much too small, because to
contain all of the dead and mutilated bodies of gay Southern Baptists
who had been victims of spiritual abuse and violence would require a
casket a big as the Super Dome, which loomed over us like a mountain!
I added that according to the Centers for Disease Control,
suicide is still the leading cause of death of gay and lesbian teens.
our group arrived at the entrance of the convention hall, the New
Orleans Police stopped us. Mel White and Jimmy Creech stated our
intention of going into the convention to request to be heard and to
enter into dialogue with the SBC leaders about the tragic destruction
and death that homophobia has brought upon gay and lesbian
people. Television crews recorded all of this for many different
networks and local stations.
representative of the SBC refused our request and the police ordered us
to leave or be arrested for trespassing. The order was repeated
and we were given one minute to leave. During this time, Mel
White and Jimmy Creech repeated our request for being heard and
repeated our objection to the deadly consequences of religious abuse
and homophobia against us.
we did not move, the police ordered us to be handcuffed and taken into
custody. 34 of us were handcuffed and one by one were escorted by
to the waiting police van (bus) to be transported to the New Orleans
City Jail. As I walked to the van in handcuffs escorted by a
police officer, the crowd cheered and applauded. It was an
incredible moment. All of us were very polite and were treated
with utmost courtesy by the police.
the casket was taken away, the New Orleans Jazz Band played "When the
Saints Go Marching In." That really got to me and made me
cry. I never cry for myself. But I cried a lot on Wednesday
as I was made to remember the many gay friends who have suffered and
died because of neglect, rejection, misinformation, self-hate and other
evils dumped upon us by sick abusive religion.
police sergeant had been assigned to work with Mel White and Soulforce
to plan this event and he told us how to conduct ourselves and was
totally supportive of our right to free speech and our non-violent way
of expressing our message. He met us at the jail and announced
that the District Attorney had dropped all charges and that we were
free to go. We were not booked and did not have to pay the $100
fine that each of us had brought along to pay. Instead, we gave
the money to Soulforce.
we rode in the police van to the police station, I could not
sing. I was so emotionally overcome by what I was feeling.
I felt totally unworthy to be in the company of the ghosts all around
me: the ghosts of gay men wearing pink triangles being taken in busses
to Nazi concentration camps and the gas ovens simply because of who
they were. I wept for the black men who were taken by the police
into remote areas of the Old South to be lynched by angry white people
simply because of who they were.
wept for the Jews of all sexual orientations who were transported by
busses and boxcars by the millions to slave camps and then to the gas
ovens simply because of who they were.
wept for the Native Americans who were carried or driven from their own
land into American concentration camps called reservations. I
wept for the thousands of Native American men, women and children that
were exterminated by the United States Army so efficiently that dozens
of entire Native American Nations were totally wiped out simply because
of who they were. Genocide is an ancient human tradition in many
cultures, including ours.
want to exterminate vermin, you find a way to make them
self-destruct. Religion in America has found a way to exterminate
GLBT people, not by killing them, but by teaching and convincing them
that they are an abomination to God and that they are evil and have no
right to live. You don't have to kill people you hate if you can
make them kill and destroy themselves.
is "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political,
or cultural group." (Webster's Dictionary) You cannot protest
genocide too much. "Racial, political, or cultural group"
includes Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals. I have been
basically a writer and teacher. I have always supported whatever
protests my LGBT community has used to try to challenge and change the
fear and violence of homophobia that is killing us by the thousands.
New Orleans I had the great privilege and opportunity to join an act of
open protest and civil disobedience with others in Soulforce and
experience the increasingly harsh reality of closed minded and arrogant
religion in my former religious affiliation of Southern Baptists.
I have great respect and admiration for Mel and Gary, Jimmy, Laura,
Gina, Richard, Dexter, Karen, Diana, Doug, Jean, Rodney, Bill and all
of the others who led in many ways and were not listed on the
program. I am grateful for everyone who attended my workshops and
who shared personal experiences with me. Everybody in Soulforce
was my teacher, and I am profoundly grateful.
Carolyn Mobley came to the Monday through Wednesday events even though
her church office at Resurrection MCC in Houston was under two feet of
water from the flood, which also flooded the new church
sanctuary. Carolyn, a former Southern Baptist home missionary, is
associate pastor at MCCR and has joined with me many times in ministry.
DID BAPTISTS HEAR US?
THINK THAT MANY OF THEM DID. There is much unrest and a great
disturbance in the force in the Southern Baptist Convention. A
number of anti-gay resolutions were offered at this convention, but
none of them were passed. I have had conversations recently with
many past Southern Baptist leaders who feel as I do that the
denomination that we love and once served and honored is now
dead. God can raise the dead, and there is hope for Southern
Baptists, whom I still love and pray for that they will enter into a
new age of hope and love for all people.
Spirit of God that was so evident to me in Soulforce people and actions
is also in many Southern Baptists. The Spirit moves among and
within us and brings us into understanding and awakening. Nothing
is impossible with God. Even the most obstinately anti-gay
religious group in America can change: one by one. The Holy
Spirit is still working in all of us long after the convention and the
demonstrations and the speeches are over. All that we can do is
to testify to and demonstrate our truth in confidence and love.
Then leave the results to God.
Father's Day 2001
is Father's Day. Everything in this letter is intended to honor
my father, who was the best Christian I have known and who loved,
accepted and encouraged me in all of my life and ministry both before
and after I was outed as gay. See Soulforce site for more details.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION 2001
plan to be in New Orleans June 7-14 at the time of the Southern Baptist
Convention June 11-13 in order to participate in the ministry of Soulforce
with Mel White, Gary Nixon, Laura Montgomery Rutt, Jimmy Creech and the
great corps of Soulforce volunteers who have already had a great impact
on many religious groups to challenge spiritual violence against GLBT
people. See "PLANS FOR NEW ORLEANS".
This section of my web site gives a GLBT Christian response to Southern Baptists. See
for the details of my own background and history with Southern
Baptists. Read all of this section for details of how Southern
Baptists have abandoned their own principles and traditions in order to
attack and condemn LGBT people. The section on "THE LOST BAPTIST ARK"
is especially informative and important.
The earliest Baptists in England and the United States were committed to three great principles: Soul Freedom (expressed in "the priesthood of all believers"),
separation of church and state, and the absolute autonomy of the local church.
In misrepresenting and rejecting gay, lesbian, trans and bi people,
Southern Baptists have denied and abandoned their own basic principles.
current attempts by Baptists to use political power and public pressure
to enforce their views on others is a radical break with the past and
with the views of Roger Williams, Richard Furman, John A. Broadus and
other founders of Baptist higher education, Lottie Moon, George W.
Truett, Ellis A. Fuller, and a great host of men and women who have
given their lives and energy to protect and preserve individual
religious liberty and the freedom of each individual to enjoy and serve
God in whatever way is fitting and appropriate.
pressure always produces hypocrisy. Roger Williams, the founder
of the first Baptist church in the colonies at Providence, Rhode
Island, declared that to force people to practice a religion that they
do not believe is to make them into hypocrites, which is worse than no
religion at all!
Williams fought long and hard for the freedom of all people of every
faith to enjoy the right to believe and to worship as they pleased
without pressure to conform to abusive oppressive religion that people
in power felt they had the right and obligation to force upon
others. Somehow along the way, Baptists and others today have
lost that clear honest vision of truth.
that we are doing now in this web site, my book, the ministries of
Soulforce, many local churches, the Universal Fellowship of
Metropolitan Community Churches, The Alliance of Baptists, and a
growing army of supports within every religious tradition is devoted to
recapturing that vision and reconnecting with the true Spirit of the
real Jesus of faith.
(Details of the events in New Orleans will be added later.)
This material was added on April 30, 2001:
"SOUTHERN BAPTIST AUTHORITY"
Southern Baptist Convention has no authority! That may seem
strange for such a powerful and influential religious denomination of
16 million members. In view of my planned participation in
Soulforce at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans
June 7-14, I have been giving a lot of thought lately to just what the
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is and what makes it so strong and
also what makes it vulnerable.
Baptists are by far the largest non-Catholic religious body in the
United States. Their 16 million members make it larger than the
Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches combined.
Actually, Southern Baptists are only about half of the total number of
Baptists in the US. There are about 30 denominations of Baptists,
all of which are committed to some degree to the basic Baptist
principles of soul freedom, local church autonomy and separation of
church and state.
Southern Baptist Convention only exists as a body for three days once a
year at the annual meeting. That meeting consists of about 40,000
"messengers" sent from the local churches to represent the local
church. They usually represent their own personal views and are
seldom instructed by the local church as to what to do or how to
vote. The president of the convention is elected for one year and
may be re-elected once. The president of the convention does not
speak for the whole denomination. The president can and does
often express personal convictions and views that many other Baptists
may or may not agree are true.
NOBODY SPEAKS FOR SOUTHERN BAPTISTS
the media will report that a Southern Baptist leader "speaks for
Southern Baptists or represents Southern Baptists" and then gives the
opinions of a seminary president, a president of the SBC or some agency
director. Nobody speaks for Southern Baptists, however, and the
understanding of Baptists for a long time has been that individual
Baptists speak for themselves and nobody else can speak for them.
Southern Baptist Convention is basically a huge collection of 16
million highly opinionated individuals who never completely agree on
anything, especially on the Bible and on social issues. The
seemingly unanimous homophobic attitudes of Southern Baptists are the
result of the collective ignorance that pervades the mentality of any
large self-righteous group of religious fundamentalists.
incident in the early 60's when I was pastor of Ingleside Baptist
Church in Norfolk, VA, is typical. At the annual Norfolk Baptist
Association meeting a man stood up to speak against the use of
alcohol. He raved on for quite a while with many supportive
"amen's" being shouted as he spoke. A reporter was there and
interviewed the man and reported the emotional anti-liquor Baptist
discussion as the lead story about the local association meeting.
The problem was that nobody at the association meeting knew who the man
was or even it he was a Baptist at all!
of the 16 million Southern Baptists believe that their opinion is as
valuable as every body else's and that they have the right and
obligation to speak, whether they know what they are talking about or
NO CENTRAL AUTHORITY
have no "leader" who can speak for the entire denomination. Most
other large religious bodies do. Baptist leaders have a lot of
influence, depending on their position and personality, but they have
no authority over what local churches or local individuals think or
do. When a Baptist church decides to withdraw from the convention
or is thrown out, it does not affect the church financially or
interfere with the church property. Local churches have total
control over their property, finances, choice of pastor and staff and
most major religious denominations, the Southern Baptist Convention has
no authority over local churches. All of the authority runs from
the bottom up, from the local churches to the Associations, State
Conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention. Each of these
units of local church, local association, state convention and Southern
Baptist Convention is independent and has no authority over the
others. The connection is by "cooperation" and not by
force. Associations and conventions can "withdraw fellowship"
from churches but they cannot force the churches to do anything.
Membership in associations and conventions is entirely voluntary.
Many churches have voluntarily withdrawn from these denominational
units in protest against their extreme legalism and
and power are two different things. Authority is the right to do
something. Power is the ability to do something. A lot of
power and influence runs from the SBC leaders and agencies and
institutions to the local churches, but the right to decide what to do
always remains with the local church and with the individual members of
CHANGING THE LEADERS
the thinking of the leaders of Southern Baptists does not automatically
change the millions of individual church members. In no other
major religious denomination is the individual church member recognized
as the spiritual authority and final decision maker for all faith and
of this long-standing intense individuality, Baptists have throughout
their history been involved in controversy and endless debate.
One church where I was pastor had actually experienced fistfights
breaking out during business meetings in the past. Colonel
Roberts devised "Roberts Rules of Order" primarily to give guidance to
tumultuous Baptist church meetings.
only way to change Southern Baptists is to change each of the 16
million individuals that make up the denomination. Now, how do we
do that! It is not impossible. Over a twenty year period,
fundamentalist biblical literalists have gradually changed enough
Southern Baptists into legalistic judgmental homophobic advocates of
prejudice to produce radical changes in many of the Baptist
institutions and to influence many recent statements approved by the
annual conventions against homosexuals, women in church leadership and
in their own homes, and other marginalized peoples.
Baptist higher education and publishing has come under the control of
fundamentalist forces that are alien to objective academic freedom in
education and for mind and thought control in literature.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS ARE DIVIDED
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and The Alliance of Baptists along with the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
have become strong and growing movements within the SBC. The
Alliance of Baptists along with the Baptist Peace Fellowship OF north
America have strongly affirmed and welcomed GLBT people and produced
great literature by Dr. Mahan Siler, Dr. Millard Eiland and others to
help local churches become welcoming and affirming. The
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is larger and by taking an anti-gay
position has created a lot of conflict with the Alliance of Baptists
and other pro-gay Baptist forces. (Each of these groups has a web
First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC, was the church that led in the
founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, GA, in
1845. Rev. William Bullein Johnson, pastor of the Greenville
church, was the first president of the SBC. Greenville First
Baptist Church was also the first location of the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary and the church where the Sunday School Board was
started. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of
Baptists also began at the First Baptist Church of Greenville.
the First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC, voted last year to leave
the Southern Baptist Convention, it was a very important historic
decision to act decisively against the distortion and destruction of
traditional Baptist values by the present denominational
leadership. Many other local churches have left the
convention. Even more dramatic has been the decision by the 2.7
million members Baptist Convention of Texas to withhold all financial
support from SBC seminaries because of the distortion and misuse of the
Bible by SBC agencies and schools.
The current SBC web site
is filled with articles and opinion pieces by various leaders and
officials of institutions declaring the absolute authority of the Bible
in every word as equal to the authority of Jesus, thus creating a fourth member of the Trinity: "Bibleinity!"
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
face the formidable task of getting accurate adequate information about
GLBT people to the 16 million individuals that make up the Southern
Baptist Convention. Only a tiny fraction of them will actually
attend the three-day convention in New Orleans. Most of them will
read newspaper and denominational reports and will hear about the
convention from their pastors, who usually attend the conventions.
continue to be a "grass roots" movement in which local churches do
whatever they want to and call and dismiss preachers as they please
without any control from an outside authority. Sunday School
literature was one of the great forces that held Southern Baptists
together for many years and still does. The spiritual influence
of powerful preachers and highly respected denominational leaders have
often given direction and inspiration to the church pastors and
members. No single person leads or ever has led the denomination.
But we do have the Internet.
One of my aims is to get information about my web site and book to as
many Southern Baptists as possible. I plan to do whatever I can
and follow whatever opportunities become open to me in New Orleans to
advertise and make known the availability of truth and freedom that are
only a mouse click away!
I expect to learn a lot that I need to know from Mel
White, Gary Nixon, Laura Montgomery Rutt, Jimmy Creech and everybody else with Soulforce
as well as from many GLBT supporters and leaders already in New
Orleans. You and I and Soulforce and everyone who reads these
updates are part of our mission from God to bring truth, hope, freedom,
and self-acceptance to all of our LGBT sisters and brothers throughout
the world. There is no turning back. We have to "take our
stand". We can do no other. We cannot change people, but
God can. We can let God use us in whatever way God decides is
right for us: by life or death or ministry or silence by witness or
writing or learning or teaching or marching or praying and most of all
by letting God be in control as we let go and move on into a better and
more hopeful future of freedom and respect for all.
This material is given in one long page so that you can easily print it to study and pass on to others
in the Gospels defined his ministry by who he included that had
previously been left out. See the first home town sermon that
Jesus preached in Nazareth and notice the response in Luke 4:17-30.
When the people rejected the inclusive message of Jesus, he left town.
When Southern Baptists defined themselves by who they left out
(homosexuals) in changing the Bylaws of the Southern Baptist Convention
to exclude any church that accepted openly Gay and Lesbian members,
Southern Baptists ceased to be Christian (Christ like)! They also
forced pastors, staff and church members into the closet of denial and
oppression about sexual orientation. To force people to lie about
who they are is at least spiritually unhealthy and at most is evil.
This update was added April 12, 2001:
is an increasingly explosive issue. Religion is explosive,
confusing, controversial and inconsistent. Religion often is
abrasive, abusive, misinformed and destructive. Why, then, is
religion so influential and powerful in our culture?
and various other racial, social, sexual and personal prejudices are
based on sick oppressive religion. Why? Churches with
vastly contradictory teachings exert tremendous political and financial
power over millions of people. Why? How does the obviously
destructive force of misinformed religion continue and thrive in
today's world of progress in information and understanding in every
other area of life?
we face and resolve these questions, religion will continue to enslave
millions of people in the grip of distortions of reality that defy
logic and reason. The human misery that has been created by
religion is beyond comprehension. To document just the mindless
religious abuse of women and children would stagger the imagination and
bring all modern spiritual and social values into serious question.
THE BIBLE PROBLEM
and misunderstanding of the Bible has become one of the greatest
problems in dealing objectively and realistically with religion.
Southern Baptists, the largest non-Catholic religion in America,
aggressively teach that the Bible is "the word of God," meaning that
every word of the Bible has equal authority and has to be believed and
followed in detail by all people of faith.
preparation for going to New Orleans to participate in Soulforce during
the Southern Baptist Convention in June, I looked through the Southern
Baptist web site. There the main issue for debate and discussion
stems from the decision by the Texas Baptist State Convention to
withdraw all financial support from Southern Baptist Institutions that
teach and promote biblical literalism in oppressive and abusive ways
that are inconsistent with the historical Baptist faith.
result of this development is a long series of articles and papers on
religious and biblical authority. The SBC position is an
increasingly severe emotionally charged ferocious defensive of the
absolute authority of the Bible, placing Jesus and the Bible on the
same level of authority and inspiration. This recent development
is a great departure from the objective realistic study of the Bible
that I learned in my college and seminary education offered by Southern
Baptists from 1952 to 1968.
(Click here to see Southern Baptist Convention Site.)
THE CRUSADE PROBLEM
crusades in the name of God have dominated church history.
Fallout from the religious military crusades of the eleventh through
the thirteenth centuries continues today in violence and death in the
Middle East. One of my friends recently commented that the
purpose of the church is the same today as when Constantine made
Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire: "to make soldiers for
abusive use of "Christian" religion to subdue and destroy native
populations who got in the way of European expansion into the world
continues to oppress and encourage violence against third world
populations. In Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, many
indigenous people and their leaders are fighting back and returning to
their own cultures and religions with a sense of revenge and "holy war."
has always been emotionally explosive. Vigorous emotionally
charged religious crusades springing from contradictory sets of
doctrines and teachings fill the television, radio, and printed media
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There is no let
up in the intensity and extremism of contemporary religion.
evangelism" by which emotional hypnotic repetition of simplistic
religious ideas accompanied by overpowering gospel music and dramatic
emotional public displays have recruited millions of "converts" to
popular misunderstandings and misinformation about the Bible and
Jesus. This crescendo of religious fervor will find one of its
most powerful expressions at the Southern Baptist Convention in New
Orleans in June.
WHY SOULFORCE IS NECESSARY
(See the Soulforce Web Site.)
The religious establishment in America is an incredibly powerful force
of oppression and abuse against people who don't accept the prevailing
cultural view of themselves and who will not any longer tolerate
religious abuse simply because they are different from the so-called
"moral majority" (which is neither!).
protest against abusive religion began when Cain killed his brother
Abel over the explosive religious issue of whose sacrifice was most
pleasing to God! Religious war has escalated ever since into
genocide, human sacrifice, abusive childhood religious conditioning,
military slaughter of innocent people, torturing and burning heretics,
and every imaginable cruelty perpetrated by people against other people
in the name of God.
teachings and misinformation about the Bible, God and Jesus form the
primary basis for homophobia, self-hate, suicide, violence, neglect,
rejection and spiritual abuse against homosexuals. Protesting
homophobia is protesting genocide. You cannot protest genocide
too much. Our survival is at stake.
ACTIVISM AS AN ACT OF GOD
I was part of the gay activism in San Francisco in the early 1990's, I
saw riots and the destruction of public property in response to
repressive and abusive actions against GLBT people. Far more
devastating, however, was the internal hate that public and religious
policy encouraged and reinforced in GLBT people. Self-destructive
behavior is not limited to suicide. There are as many ways to
punish and destroy one's self as there are people who have been taught
to hate and reject themselves and give up.
have always supported and encouraged my Gay and Lesbian sisters and
brothers who confront and fight against homophobia and abuse in
whatever way fits them as individuals. Some have entered politics
and become the current community leaders in our area. Some have
devoted themselves to fighting the AIDS plague. Others have
worked for changes in many different places and by many different
means. MCC has been part of the struggle. Other churches of
many denominations have joined in.
Soulforce is focusing attention specifically on homophobia and
spiritual abuse in the leading religious groups in the world. The
public media and the Internet have greatly expanded the reach of
Soulforce and other activists.
Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans will be my first
time to identify in person with the great work of Mel White and
Soulforce. I am proud to be part of what is already being
done. My ministry of teaching and information has been mostly
through writing, the Internet, my Web site and book, and leading local
retreats, conferences and church workshops.
don't know what my role will be in New Orleans, but I am confident that
God wants me to be there. So I am going. God will show me
what to do when the time comes.
Thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers.
MARTYR MEANS WITNESS
is a sobering thought to remember that more people probably have died
fighting against religion than for it. The Greek word "martyr" is
translated as "witness" in the New Testament. A "witness" is
someone who puts his/her life on the line for God. Luke said in
Acts 1:8 that Jesus called his followers to "be my witnesses" (be my
martyrs) beginning where they were and extending to the "uttermost part
of the earth."
don't have to die or suffer physically to be a "martyr". When you
listen to other people and demonstrate compassion for rejected
marginalized people, you are a witness/martyr. When you extend
the unconditional inclusive love of God to others and help abused
oppressed people recover their self-esteem and joy of living, you are a
witness/martyr. Whatever you do for one of the "least of these,
my brothers and sisters," Jesus declared, "You have done it for me."
It really is all that simple.
Jesus concluded: "Love one another just as I have loved you. Then everybody will
know that you really do belong to me." Love means non-violent.
See Matthew 12:14-21 for the words that Jesus used to remind himself of his (and your) gentle non-violent mission.
This update was added November 3, 2000:
"SHAKING THE FOUNDATIONS"
solid is the spiritual ground on which you stand? We recently
have witnessed a severe shaking of the foundations of traditional
religion in the split with Southern Baptists by President Jimmy Carter
and the decision of The Texas Baptist Convention to cut off all funding
for Southern Baptist Seminaries! See articles about this in the "Recent Updates" page of my web site.
find no pleasure in seeing my old denomination engaged in such
self-destructive behavior. The Southern Baptist Convention that I
grew up with as a child, a teenager and a pastor and university
professor doesn't exist any more. This is tragic and sad loss for
me personally. My childhood church was filled with love and
kindness. My experiences as a ministry student and student pastor
for four years at Furman University in Greenville, SC, laid my
foundation in honest objective scholarship and a deep appreciation for
the basic Baptist traditions of personal freedom, autonomy of the local
church, religious liberty, separation of church and state, and above
all a spirit of kindness and generosity founded on the life and
teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.
the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, I earned
three theology degrees including a doctorate in 1968. My
professors and classmates were committed to objective vigorous
scholarship. The primary aim of all of my teachers was to help us
learn to think for ourselves and be prepared for whatever the future
might offer to us in our rapidly changing world.
I wrote Adult Sunday School lessons for the Southern Baptist Sunday
School Board for 7 years, my editor, John Steen, encouraged me to be
creative and taught me how to write. He was a lot like Adam
DeBaugh, the editor and publisher of my recent book, in that he did not
change what I said but worked hard to make it easier to read. Dr.
Steen is still my friend, has a copy of my book and encourages me in my
present Internet and writing ministry.
HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
I was a student at the Southern Baptist Seminary from 1956-62
and1964-68, the seminary was probably the finest and most respected
evangelical seminary in the world. Many of my professors wrote
the textbooks that were being used all over the world. They wrote
the multiple volumes of "The Broadman Bible Commentary," which I used
for textbooks in several of the courses that I taught at Baptist
College. That commentary set has been withdrawn and made
unavailable in Baptist seminaries and bookstores. In fact, all of
the existing volumes were taken up and kept away from sale several
bold censorship of objective scholarship has been one of the greatest
losses that any major denomination could suffer. It compromises
the truth and undermines the future for everybody. It has taken
20 years for the forces of ignorance and ambition to snuff out the
Southern Baptist evangelical light that once burned more brightly than
USE YOUR INFLUENCE
GLBT vote is crucial in the national election next Tuesday. Your
influence, however, may go far beyond what you can do yourself with
your vote. Let your parents, family and friends know the issues
that are at risk for you in this election. Encourage them to vote
for people who clearly stand for fairness and equality for Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual people. This could have a
cumulative effect that can turn the tide of politics for all of us for
years to come.
NO TIME FOR FEAR
is no time for fear and timid retreat. Our world is changing
rapidly before our very eyes. Nothing remains the same.
Everything continuously changes and moves in new directions across new
boundaries and into uncharted territory. Have you found a
spiritual anchor that is adequate for you and that gives you a solid
rock to take your stand and not waver or give up?
is the only dependable foundation that I have found to be adequate in
every situation and in the ever-expanding uncertainties of my
world. I don't want anything to blur or distort my vision of
Jesus. Religious nonsense and misinformed biblical literalism
cannot be allowed to distract me from the real Jesus. I must
resist the temptation to defend and justify sick and abusive religion
just because others are doing it.
REV. DAVID PETTITT
friend, Rev. David Pettitt, is the founding pastor of the Metropolitan
Community Church of Monterrey, Mexico. The church under his
leadership has experienced phenomenal growth and brought national
attention to the spiritual life and ministry of GLBT people in
Mexico. His recent letter is thrilling and encouraging.
Read it also by clicking on my
"RECENT UPDATES" page in my web site.
e-mail comes from all over the world now. I just received e-mail
today from a 14 year-old girl in upstate New York. She had been
struggling with religious oppression from the "Extreme Teen
Bible." She was sinking into confusion and despair. She
wrote: "Now, in November, the moment after reading part of your web
site and realizing what the content meant, a huge burden was lifted off
my shoulders. I could not stop smiling from ear to ear, thanking
the Lord that he is so kind and accepting and praying for help in
spreading the truth, because I know and believe that the truth NEEDS to
be heard. One who is a Baptist still believes I am possessed with
the devil. I gave her the address for your web site, so hopefully
through you she will find the truth also. Dr. Truluck, you saved
e-mail also came yesterday from a man in Pretoria, South Africa, who
said that stumbling on my web site was truly answered prayer. He
spent over 4 years as regional director of an ex-gay ministry in South
Africa trying to change. He said that he eventually gave up after
a lot of heartache for the pain of others and his own ensuing
depression because of his failure to change. He went on to
describe his depression and desperation and concluded by saying: "I
thank God for using you as an instrument to reach out to me."
you do to reach out to others to encourage and lift them up will
accomplish far more than you can imagine! I am convinced that
when we really care about people, the Spirit of Jesus moves within us
to energize us to know what to say and opens doors for us to reach out
to others in the kindness and humility that Jesus has created in our
This update was added October 31, 2000:
TEXAS BAPTISTS REVOLT
Southern Baptists at Odds
By Hanna Rosin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday , October 31, 2000 ; Page A01
Texas Baptists dealt a serious blow to the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday, voting to cut off $5 million in funds to
protest a recent fundamentalist shift in the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, by far the largest of the
denomination's state groups, and officials of the Southern Baptist
Convention both saw the vote as a moment of truth, a warning that
dissatisfaction with the national leadership's attempts to consolidate
power could become serious enough to someday split the denomination.
is meant to indicate our grave concern over the continuing move of
Southern Baptist leaders toward a more fundamentalist position," said
the Rev. Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General
Convention of Texas. He called some of the leadership's recent
decisions "almost blasphemous."
Southern Baptist leaders who had traveled to the annual state convention inCorpus Christi to
lobby Texas leaders were shaken by yesterday's vote.
a very sad day for the Southern Baptists and for the spirit of
cooperation," the Rev. Bill Merrell, spokesman for the Southern Baptist
Convention, said after the vote. "Many see this as the beginning of the
endgame in which a new national convention will be formed."
vote follows the defection of hundreds of churches across the country
after the central leadership's June vote to ban female pastors and its
declaration two years earlier that wives should "submit graciously" to
this month, former president Jimmy Carter mailed a letter to 75,000
Baptists saying he "can no longer be associated" with the Southern
Baptist Convention because the denomination's leadership has become
"increasingly rigid," imposing a doctrine that "violates the basic
tenets of my Christian faith."
2.7 million Texans, who represent nearly a fifth of Southern Baptists,
voted yesterday to cut most of the money--$4 million--they give to six
Southern Baptist seminaries. Wade said the seminaries teach an
"over-direct evangelizing" style at the expense of more traditional
Christian social work.
they will divert that money to the three more moderate Texas Baptist
seminaries. Almost half of all Southern Baptist seminarians attend
schools in Texas.
Texas convention also cut off all $1 million of support to the
denomination's headquarters in Nashville, which is controlled by the
new leadership. Texans will continue to contribute $20 million directly
to missionary work at home and abroad.
more importantly, Texas leaders changed their constitution toactively
welcome other states to join the Texas convention and serve on its
committees, a move Southern Baptist leaders saw as planting the seeds
of a competing denomination.
Texas leaders are not nearly as liberal as Carter is. But the dispute
transcends politics and involves elemental theology, the kind that
historically has split denominations.
the protesters see it, the fundamentalists who have taken over
leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention in the last 20 years have
changed the very nature of this 150-year-old denomination, moving it
away from one that values religious autonomy--an individual's personal
experience of faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
its place they have established a system under which self-appointed
"Baptist popes," as critics call them, become the sole interpreters of
biblical truth and impose that truth on individual believers.
church history there are times when those in power have used the Bible
as a club to bludgeon the conscience," Wade said. "But we believe God
created us to be free moral agents."
leaders specifically object to a June modification to the Baptist Faith
and Message--the closest statement the denomination has to an official
creed. The statement, revised only twice before in the denomination's
history, drops language that says the faith is "grounded in Jesus
Christ." Instead, it says the Bible "is the source of our authority."
Baptist leaders dispute those objections as based on an extreme reading
of the changes. In a new World Wide Web site set up to refute the
charges, they deny "demoting Jesus" and "replacing him with a book."
new statement merely clarifies misunderstandings caused by vague
language in the 1963 version, they write. Often, the emphasis on Jesus
has allowed believers to use their religious experience to engage in
free-lance scriptural interpretation, writes Russell Moore, a Baptist
added that Southern Baptist seminaries have always required their
students to sign statements saying they agree with tenets of the faith.
(This is not true--Truluck)
Baptist Faith and Message has been the victim of severe negative
spinning," Merrell said yesterday. "If you read it closely, you will
see that we reject the idea that any ecclesiastical body can coerce the
beliefs of anyone."
© 2000 The Washington Post
CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TEXAS BAPTIST CONVENTION ACTIONS.
Update for June 18, 2000
"THE LOST BAPTIST ARK"
update is longer than usual. I suggest you print it out to read
it more easily. Pass it on to others. Keep it to show to
the climactic scene in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Indiana
Jones and his girlfriend are tied to a pole to watch as the Nazis open
the ancient Ark of the Covenant. This holy symbol of Israel's
religion has been captured and is being taken as a trophy for
Hitler. When the Ark is opened, beautiful light and colors and
faces appear then suddenly turn into scenes of horror as shafts of
light strike through the onlookers killing them while the faces of
those who opened the ark melt and explode! Indiana Jones and his
friend survive, because they do not look at the desecration of the Ark.
1610 a small group began to meet with John Smyth in London to celebrate
their belief in the priesthood of all believers, complete religious
freedom for each individual, the separation of church and state, and
responsibility of each individual to make his or her own decision about
their faith in Jesus Christ. This led to the practice of
believers' baptism. Smyth's little group was the first known
church that is basically the same in beliefs as modern Baptists were
until the falling away from freedom that began at about the same time
as the Stonewall rebellion in 1968 in New York.
people were called Baptists. They practiced the same basic
beliefs as the Baptists who help to begin the United States of America
and who led in the fight for religious freedom for all and the
separation of church and state in the United States Constitution and
Bill of Rights.
group later grew into several groups and began to start churches.
Their belief in the absolute autonomy of the local church developed to
protect the individual believers from abuse and oppression by a
controlling central authority.
Helwys joined with John Smyth and in 1612 wrote a book, "The Mystery of
Inequity," that included the first plea in the English language for
religious liberty and the separation of church and state. For
this, Helwys was imprisoned and died in prison. Roger Williams in
1631 read "An Humble Supplication' by another Baptist, John Murton, who
wrote while in prison. Williams was convinced by Murton's
message. Later, Williams received a grant of land, which became
the present state of Rhode Island. Williams founded the first
Baptist church in the colonies in Providence, Rhode Island.
Williams was deeply committed to religious freedom and separation of
church and state. The Rhode Island colony was the first political
state to allow total religious freedom to all faiths, Catholics,
Protestants, Jews, Moslems, Atheists, pagans, etc. Other colonial
leaders vigorously opposed total religious freedom, because they were
convinced that without a state religion, anarchy and unbridled crime
would lead to a complete break down of society and government.
Instead, the Rhode Island colony became a model of efficiency and
peacefulness. The example of Rhode Island greatly influenced the
development of religious liberty in the beginning of the United States.
favorite quote from Roger Williams is: "If you force people practice a
religion that they don't believe, you make them into hypocrites, which
is worse than no religion at all!"
I grew up in the First Baptist of Clinton, South Carolina, and entered
the ministry in 1952, Baptists still held to these basic beliefs in
soul freedom, the spiritual competency of the individual, separation of
church and state, and the absolute autonomy of the local church.
LOCAL CHURCH AUTONOMY
almost 400 years, Baptists consistently celebrated the absolute
autonomy of the local church. Even through the ordeals of a
disastrous civil war and two world wars accompanied by great social
upheavals and cultural changes, Baptists in America remained committed
to their individual religious freedom, separation of church and state
and the autonomy of the local church.
in 1992, the Southern Baptist Convention made a radical turn in a new
and uncharted direction. The convention reacted to the
celebration of holy union for two gay men by Rev. Dr. Mahan Siler,
Pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, by
casting out a local church from the SBC for the first time in its
history. The SBC also changed their bylaws to exclude any church
from the convention that accepted openly gay and lesbian people as
personal response was to see this as a call to action and a challenge
to everything that I had respected and honored all my life as a
Southern Baptist. My seminary friend and classmate, Mahan Siler,
had sparked a whirlwind of revolution that continues to explode in all
directions. Mahan and I have had many opportunities to discuss
and follow up on this event. My web site and book are part of my
soon as Southern Baptists defined themselves by who they left out, they
ceased to be Christian. This has produced an ongoing and
intensifying "horror show" that seems for now to be endless.
my friend Adam DeBaugh suggested the term "selective inerrancy" to
describe the current Baptist principle of biblical misuse. The
abusive use of the Bible against women, people of color, homosexuals,
objective scholars and others by Baptists has been based on the
selective use of often dubious texts and the abysmal neglect of texts
that give another view. Jesus described in Matthew 23 the mindset
of hypocrisy and mean spirited religion that prevails in many religious
I was still a student pastor, Dr. W. A. Criswell, pastor for many years
of the largest Southern Baptist Church, the First Baptist Church of
Dallas, Texas, published a book that combined misinformation with
enthusiasm in a powerful statement: "Why I Preach that the Bible is
Literally True." This book was one of the most influential ever
in Baptist history. Because of his success in building a church
with thousands of members, Criswell became the great authority on
everything for multitudes of Baptists, especially for the struggling
local pastors who were trying hard to survive.
A BAPTIST BLIZZARD OF WORDS
of the prevailing Baptist opinion that the Bible is the "word of God"
and is infallible in every detail, words have become absolute and
worshipped in place of God. The Bible never calls itself "the
word of God." Jesus is the word of God in all of the Gospel of
John and in many other places in the New Testament.
continue to call themselves "people of the Book," which produces a
sickening neglect of Jesus Christ and the humble, inclusive loving
Spirit of Truth promised by Jesus to all believers.
downloaded and read the entire 31-page "2000 Baptist Faith and Message"
which gives the 1963 and 1925 statements in parallel columns. It
is a blizzard of words that gives copious biblical references without
regard to their context, accurate translation or relevance to what they
are being used to prove.
all-inclusive attempt to say everything about all religious issues is a
bold rejection of the Baptist principle of soul competency of the
individual and a thinly veiled grasp at control through an official
"creed," which Baptists vigorously deny that they have!
ABANDONMENT OF EDUCATION
I attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville,
Kentucky, 1956-68 for three degrees including a doctorate, it was the
leading evangelical seminary in the world. Dr. Duke McCall was
President. My professors were authors of textbooks that most
major evangelical seminaries used, especially in teaching biblical
Greek and Hebrew. My professors all had the same objective: to
teach students to think for themselves by learning accurate information
from primary sources and by developing effective personal methods of
study and research.
has changed. The present President of Southern Seminary, Albert
Mohler, ended the debate at the Convention about the authority of the
Bible when he said: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it all comes
down to: The Bible is not merely a record; it is the revelation of
God." The messengers stood and applauded. (Thanks to
Lawrence Reh at FirstLight@egroups.com for this info.)
No room is left for effective disagreement and debate in the
present state of legalistic fundamentalist control of the SBC.
few days ago a retired friend of mine who was once a leader at the
Southern Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville said: "Most of us
left the Southern Baptist Convention 10 years ago."
Jesus through the Holy Spirit bring change and hope in this prevailing
attitude of Baptists that makes not just the Bible but their particular
literalist interpretation of the Bible absolute and binding on
So far, the Southern Baptist move into legalism and literalism continues to accelerate.
SIGNS OF HOPE
great tragedy of Southern Baptists is that this once powerful force for
truth, freedom of religion, excellence in theological education, local
church autonomy, separation of church and state and progressive social
change has fallen into the pit of legalism and the abusive use of the
Bible against just about everybody, including themselves.
of hope, however, are beginning to emerge. Mel White and
SoulForce go marching on with truth, love and glorious commitment to do
whatever it takes to overcome the misunderstanding and distortions that
are destroying our GLBT sisters and brothers around the world.
American Baptist Convention progress is in stark contrast to Southern
Baptist regression in GLBT acceptance and affirmation. Many other
evangelical churches and denominations are openly affirming and
including GLBT people at every level of church life and
the great work of the Alliance of Baptists and the Baptist Peace
Fellowship of North America in their new workbook for Churches (address
given below). My personal experience with the Southern Baptist
"Honesty" retreat in Austin, Texas, last September and "American
Baptist Concerned" retreat last weekend in Seattle greatly encouraged
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches continues to
lead the way in the United States and 19 foreign countries. MCC
for over 31 years has given accurate information, encouragement, hope
and the opportunity for Christian fellowship and ministry to multitudes
of GLBT people, including me.
of people are hearing the real truth about GLBT people for the first
time and are listening, learning and changing their minds, as indicated
by many recent surveys of public opinion.
CLICK HERE TO SEE UPDATE REPORT OF MY VISIT TO SEABECK, WASHINGTON ON JUNE 9-11, 2000, TO LEAD RETREAT FOR
"AMERICAN BAPTISTS CONCERNED".
The following update
tellS of my visit to University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas in September, 1999.
"GOD IS HEALING HOMOPHOBIA"
Update for September 23, 1999
is alive and healing homophobia at University Baptist Church, "Honesty"
Gay and Lesbian Baptists, White Rock Community Church, and among a
growing number of other accepting and affirming people and churches
"deep in the heart of Texas!"
POSITIVE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS are receptive to the good news of God's love
and acceptance of GLBT people at University Baptist Church in Austin,
Texas. Our two-day "Honesty" Gay and Lesbian Baptist Retreat was
a celebration of great progress that has begun among many open minded
people from 17 cities attended my workshop on "Rebuilding The
Bridges." One man drove from Florida for the retreat.
Pastor Dr. Larry Bethune of UBC was a gracious and encouraging
host. His Sunday morning sermon was inspiring and informative,
and you can read it on the UBC web site.
My own heart was deeply touched by being in a Baptist Church to lead
and teach for the first time in over 18 years. I am greatly
encouraged by my experience last weekend in Austin, Texas. What a
joy it was to see and feel the love and acceptance for homosexuals by
Southern Baptists who have learned, believed and acted on the truth
about God's love for all people! Pastor Larry Bethune has done a
wonderful job over the past several years leading and educating the
people about the Bible and homosexuality.
WHAT I LEARNED
of acceptance and affirmation for homosexuals are being opened by many
ordinary local Baptist people. The Sunday School meeting that I
led for all gay and non-gay adults Sunday morning was emotional for
me. I found great enthusiasm and acceptance. I was affirmed
in my mission, and so were they. This level of knowledge and
acceptance did not happen over night. The church has a teaching
pastor who had equipped the people to understand and accept GLBT
people. I met and learned from many people.
VENABLE and DAVID STAHL have been lovers and partners for 16 years and
have been active members of UBC all of that time. When Hans was
elected a deacon, someone decided to "out" him as gay and inform the
local Baptist Association, which promptly voted to throw the church out
of the Association if Hans remained a deacon. The pastor and the
church stood by David, and the story was told in detail with pictures
by the "Dallas Morning News" and many other Texas newspapers.
Information about these events can be found in the University Baptist
Church web site under "NEWS." (See also "Open Circle" in UBC web site.)
Allen, son of Dr. Jimmy Allen, former Southern Baptist Convention
President and Speaker for UFMCC General Conference in July, was at the
Retreat and told his story to me and to the group. Meeting and
getting to know Skip was an uplifting and revealing experience for
me. Skip also played the piano and sang his own compositions at
the Saturday night concert. Skip encouraged me and made me
realize even more the importance of our mission of information and
education for evangelicals.
realized that he was gay at a very early age. He has battled AIDS
for years and is living in hope. He has worked his way through
the confusion, homophobia, anger, rejection and pain of being the son
of a Southern Baptist pastor who also served as President of SBC and
wrote a book about AIDS in the family that took the lives of Skip's
sister-in-law and two nephews. Skip has endured the spotlight of
unwanted national attention and with God's help has found peace and
hope along with contagious joy and an exuberant sense of mission in
Jesus Christ. Skip was a blessing to me, and I look forward to
continuing our new friendship and seeing what God is going to do
through his life in the future. I was impressed with the large
percentage of Gay and Lesbian participants in the Retreat who also were
NEW GENERATION of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals is learning
that God loves and accepts homosexuals as God's children. Truth
is bringing freedom and hope to multitudes of GLBT people who had once
given up on God, Jesus, the Bible, the Church, and themselves.
The Church still needs a lot of work. The Bible needs to be seen
for what it really is. God, however, is doing just fine.
Jesus has never really been in trouble, just misunderstood and
What will you do to make these good things happen for more of us?
MY MOTHER SEES MY WEB SITE
88 year old Mother can barely see. She is visiting her sister
this week in McCormick, SC, and told me that one of my cousins, who is
the local librarian, took her to the library and set her before a
big-screen computer to let her see and explore my web site. She
had not seen it before. She read a lot of it and told me that she
really enjoyed it and was amazed at how easy it was to find her way
around and "click" from place to place!
recent events convince me that long-time Southern Baptists can change
and can become informed and affirming friends of Lesbians and
Gays. All that they need is accurate information, the truth about
Jesus, and a lot of love.
of the Retreat participants had seen my web site. In fact, my
invitation to lead the Retreat was suggested by a member of the
committee who did not know me but had seen "Steps to Recovery from
Bible Abuse" and had passed it on to his friends.
If you know of any church or group who would like to plan a similar event of learning,
dialogue, fellowship and inspiration, please tell them to get in touch with me.
"HELP WITH HOLIDAY STRESS"
On November 14, 1997, my following article appeared in Second Stone
magazine. I am repeating it here for you to read and send on to
anyone that you feel will be helped by it. Second Stone
had to cease publication in 1998. All subscribers were transferred to The Other Side magazine to receive the rest of their subscription.
I renewed my subscription to continue to receive
The Other Side
and received today the promised bonus special issue on "Christians
& Homosexuality: Dancing Toward the Light" ("a Life-affirming
exploration of personal, biblical, and ethical issues"). I am
grateful that the life and ministry of Second Stone is being continued by The Other Side. Contact The Other Side at 300 W. Apsley Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144. Click here to see THE OTHER SIDE web site.
"JESUS HELPS US TO HANDLE HOLIDAYS STRESS"
I was outed in 1981, I resigned from Baptist College and moved to
Atlanta. I began to dread the holidays. I worked for a delivery
service and put myself on to work every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and
New Year's Day. I did not want to spend a holiday thinking about
and grieving over my lost family and children from who I had been
separated. I kept as busy as possible. I even had a hard
time going to church on holidays. MCC in Atlanta was a lot of
help to all of us who were lonely and depressed during the
holidays. They had special events, meals at church, and a lot of
pleasant fellowship was available. I was still lonely and
can be a painful time of remembering lost friends and family and
departed comrades. Separation from our parents and other
relatives can hurt more than usual during the holidays, especially when
you are told, "You can come, but don't bring Steve!"
I did not want to face the loneliness and separation of the holidays, I
did a lot of holiday drinking. Once, in 1988, when I first tried
to quit drinking, I went to an AA meeting in August, took a white chip
and became sober. I did OK until Christmas, when I began to drink
again, and soon I was more under the control of alcohol than
before. I learned the hard way that one drink is too many and a
thousand drinks are not enough. I kept drinking until the next
August 8, 1989, when I went to another AA meeting and started over with
another white chip, and with God's help to live "one day at a time". I
became sober and have stayed sober for 9 years, four months and one
week today! I know better than to use alcohol to try to handle
conflict and stress. Do you?
can we handle the conflicts and stress of the holiday season in
constructive and positive ways? Does Jesus give us any
endured his greatest stress and the ultimate test of his purpose and
mission in life during a holiday. He was betrayed, abandoned,
tortured and murdered during the holidays! The Passover was the
biggest holiday of the year in Israel. The population of
Jerusalem swelled to over 2 million people during the Passover
season. People were everywhere, just like Christmas shopping mall
mob scenes today! In the midst of the celebration of Passover,
Jesus went apart to be alone in the Garden and prayed, "If it is
possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will,
but Your will be done."
stress you face, Jesus has already faced it and handled it well.
This is why the presence of the Spirit of Jesus in you will guide and
empower you to handle your pressures and disappointments. Holiday
time can be a time of spiritual growth and an opportunity for outreach
in love and ministry for Jesus in the lives of the people around you.
that other people are hurting and need you. Reach out to
others. Give yourself in phone calls, visits, writing letters,
sending e-mail, and giving your time and your attention to people who
need you. Most of all, share Jesus with others. If you are
prepared to share your experience with Jesus, God will give you the
opportunity to give the greatest gift of all: the gospel of the good
news of God's love.
was a deacon at Golden Gate MCC in San Francisco when I was Pastor
there. She met David at a homeless shelter and encouraged him and
became his friend. She shared with him the MCC brochure on how to
become a Christian: "The Bible as Your Friend." David had AIDS
and was seriously ill. At about midnight one night, David called
Sue from San Francisco General Hospital and told her that he needed to
see her because he was afraid. Sue went to see David and as soon
as she saw him, she knew that he did not have long to live.
said, "Sue, I am afraid that when I die I will go out somewhere into
limbo or something." Sue reminded David of the brochure and they
read through it again. Sue told David that he could have Jesus in
his heart and life if he just invited Jesus to come into his
life. David asked Sue to help him pray. She did.
David fell back on his pillow and looked up and smiled and said, "I
think I have my purple angel wings now!" After a couple of hours,
David asked Sue, "Can I go home now? I want to go home."
Sue said, "Yes, David, you can go home." David shut his eyes and
died at 3:00 A.M. David was 16 years old.
week later, Sue called David's mother, for David had given her the
phone number. David's mother told Sue, "As far as I am concerned,
David died 6 months ago!" That was when she had learned
that her son was gay and had AIDS.
needs you to be the family that has abandoned them because they are gay
or lesbian. Your greatest gift to others is to be the loving
hands and voice of Jesus to touch people who are wounded and in pain
because of the homophobia and religious abuse and oppression that
prevails in our society. You may be someone's only hope.
David is still out there. Look for him. He needs your love
this holiday season.
knew what it was like to be misunderstood by his own family. He
showed us how we can select the people who are to be our spiritual
family and how to make good choices about who we let be close to
us. See Mark 3:20-21 and 31-35, where Jesus said, "Whoever does
the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
encourage you to look at my web site on "Steps to Recovery from Bible
Abuse" for information that will equip you to understand and help
others with the encouragement and love of Jesus. Merry Christmas
to you and to all a good night!
"The Christmas holidays are whatever
you make them to be for you."
If you want to explore more fully the spiritual support of gay and lesbian Southern Baptists see
See also the web site for Cathedral Of Hope MCC in Dallas
hard hitting "Personal Testimony" video response to the Southern
Baptist attacks against gay and lesbian people has been produced by one
of my friends here in the Bay Area and is available for purchase.
Contact the producer by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
See also a new site called "BAPTIST WATCH".
Special thanks to Barbara and Chris Purdom for sending my web site updates
on to the readers of religion@CritPath.Org. I learn a lot of news and up-to-date information from religion@CritPath.Org. If you have not yet done so, look at the web page for Interfaith Working Group and
sign up to receive their regular e-mail news items about "gay rights,
reproductive freedom, and the separation of church and state"
throughout the world. Write to them and thank them for what they