"Truth Forever On The Scaffold"

APA Warning
Ex-Gay Fraud
Article on Ex-Gays
Beyond Abuse
Sick Religion

Picture shows
Rev. Fred Phelps' Followers Protesting at a Grave.


An article about the homophobic religious drive of the "Ex-Gay" movement to destroy homosexuals

By Dr. Rembert S. Truluck
(Originally written for and published in
Second Stone magazine)

Bobby spent two years as a resident in a house run by an "Ex-Gay" program in Marin County across the Bay from San Francisco.  He had been rejected and harassed  by his religious parents and had fled from them and his oppressive rural home and religion to find help in the program that promised to change him from gay to straight.  After two years of learning to reject and hate himself, he finally bailed out of the program and moved into the city.  Bobby accepts himself as OK to be gay and Christian, but why has he also sought out a legalistic and judgmental gay church to attend?  What are the long term effects of the intense religious brain washing that he endured?

My experience with people who have survived the ex-gay movement both in San Francisco and in Nashville, Tennessee, where I served as Senior Pastor of MCC congregations, is that the lasting effects of abusive religion are as complex as they are unhealthy.  In teaching recent study groups on Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse,  I have realized that the first step to "Admit that you have been hurt by religion" is far more difficult than it seems.  Admitting that your religion has hurt you is like criticizing your grandmother!  You have an emotional resistance to rejecting your childhood religion as abusive, and you therefore develop patterns of denial and become defensive about it.

Remember the reaction when Jesus told the people that "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free" in John 8:31-59.  The people said that they were already free and never had been slaves to anyone.  Yet they had been slaves in Egypt, exiles in Babylon, the subjects of Greek rule for many years, and were under the oppressive control of the Roman army.  They also were controlled by an oppressive and abusive system of religion that never let up in its pressures and demands of absolute conformity and blind obedience to The Law.  The end of the discussion came when the people took up stones to kill Jesus because he pointed out that they were being hurt and destroyed by their own religion.


Recovery from any addiction begins with admitting that you are being controlled by something that is hurting you.  It can be alcohol, drugs, codependency, or religion.  Many of the people I have seen get out of the ex-gay movement still have difficulty staying away from abusive forms of religion, especially judgmental legalism.  Like the child who defends abusive parents and hides their bruises and scars or the gay/lesbian person who repeatedly goes back to an abusive partner, the abused gay Christian can develop a fatal attraction to abusive and oppressive religion to embrace and defend.

This update added May 18, 2003:

The "dumbing down of the churches" has reached apocalyptic proportions!  Precise and unrelenting use of misinformation about GLBT people has so completely contaminated the churches that everything that current "Christianity" does is suspect.

In a letter to me today, my friend Rev. John House reflected on his situation as a GLBT accepting and affirming pastor of an open and affirming Baptist Church in the Midwest.  John told me how his son John Mark had received his bachelor's degree and will begin medical school in August in Little Rock.  John Mark also is a good friend for whom I led a week of revival and workshops in Ft. Lauderdale several years ago.

John House served as pastor of the GLBT church that his son John Mark had started.  John then returned to resume being pastor of his former Baptist church.  Local Baptist Association pastors visited John and demanded that he not serve the church because he had served a GLBT church.  John's church withdrew from the Association and supported John and his ministry.

This is what John wrote to me today:

"Our little church is so different to the other churches in town that we have very little in common.  I think all but the Catholic have taken a stand against "deviant sexual orientation."  Actually, the Lutherans are fairly accepting of gays, but none of the others are.  I've had at least one sermon preached against me, in which my name was used and our church was anathematized.  It doesn't worry us at all.  We just get tired of it once in a while.  Outside the hallowed buildings' walls we are well accepted by all but the ministers.  Two, the Methodist and the Assembly are friendly.

"Well, we all experience satan's wrath when we seek to serve the Lord, don't we?  At age 75, I probably won't have to worry about that at all for very long!

"Keep doing the good work! I pray for you."


For one thing, I soon will be 70 years old myself on March 9, 2004.  I don't know how much time I have left to perform spiritual corrective surgery!  I look forward to sharing in the conference in Columbus, Ohio, on June 14-15.

Why are the churches so willing to abandon logical, objective, realistic, practical thinking in order to maintain misinformation and lies about GLBT people in their official policies and doctrines?  Thirty years ago, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association along with the American Medical Association, American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association began to declare and affirm that homosexuality is not a disease or a crime and that homosexuals should be granted the same legal protection against oppression and discrimination already accorded to all racial and ethnic minorities.



The people most injured and abused by misinformation are GLBT people who have been seduced by misinformed religion into hating and rejecting and destroying themselves!  The credibility of the churches has been compromised by their own ignorance and rejection of the facts.  Faithful supportive church members throughout the world have the right to know the truth that has been carefully hidden by modern religion in the name of a distorted view of God and a blatant rejection of the real Jesus of the Gospels.

Rev. John House and many other courageous pastors have lived and taught the truth about GLBT people and have suffered rejection, slander, spiritual abuse and often loss of ministry and income.  A small handful of courageous ministers like my friends Rev. Jimmy Creech and Rev. Mel White have been able to help lead truth missions like "SoulForce" and challenge the religious ignorance dragon directly in dramatic confrontations in many places.


The churches with the most power and influence are the ones with the most money.  Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists lead the way in wealth and in spiritually abusive ignorance and misinformation.

The rest of culture and science continue to explore new worlds and learn challenging new facts about every field of human existence – except for religion!   The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, where I earned three theological degrees including a Doctor of Theology, is now under the leadership of a misinformed and politically ambitious president and has abandoned the historic mission of Southern Baptist theological education begun at Furman University and continued in all seminaries until recently.

The leader of past Baptist progress and enlightenment has now become an instrument of misinformation and unbelievable ignorance about the facts.  In promoting misinformation about GLBT people, the president of the seminary in his statements in the seminary web site denounces Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people on the basis of lies and distortions about the Bible and science.  Shame on you, Dr. Mohler!  You have abandoned the historic mission of the seminary and become a homophobic slug!

A recent revision of the "Baptist Faith and Message" rejects women in spiritual leadership and declares that women are to be submissive to their husbands.  The SBC missionary board has required missionaries to sign their agreement to this misleading and misinformed document in order to continue to serve as missionaries.  Hundreds have refused to sign.  Good for them!  But resisting the evil dogmatic dragon can be costly.


Many friends and family of us GLBT people are supportive and accepting simply because of their love for us.  They deserve also to know the facts that support us and that reveal the hypocrisy and duplicity of anti gay religion!

I have not yet found a way to improve on my web site and my book, which are both out there and available to anyone who wants to know and share the truth.  As I have read over sections of my book to see if anything should be changed, I find nothing that I want to change in the book.  The one exception is my translation of biblical passages.  I am never satisfied with my translations.  The original biblical languages and cultural setting defy accuracy in translations!  Making the biblical material relevant and clear to people today requires constant re-thinking and fresh inspiration at every turn.


Recent letters and conversations have made clear to me the absolute necessity of a "Fresh New Look at Jesus."  I don't know about you, of course, but as for me I cannot get away from the call and mission of Jesus in the Gospels as the basis that we need for future exploration and practical effective spiritual actions in our rapidly changing world.

I am convinced that there is a great gulf of difference between following Jesus and following the doctrines and distortions of traditional religion about Jesus.

I have come to two basic convictions:

1. Every human is created in the image of God.  You already have the image of God within you.  This image may be distorted and blurred by your religious background, but God also gave you a brain to think for yourself and to look within for who God is for you.

2. The Spirit has been given to the entire human race.  In Acts 2, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a dramatic inclusive event in which the Spirit of God came upon all races, languages and people.  Joel 2:28-32, the most inclusive passage in the Hebrew Bible, was quoted and fulfilled.  Nobody was left out!  The religious teaching that you can have the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you only if you know the proper formulas or have the approved fundamentalist experiences is ludicrous and assumes that God is as stupid as the people who distort and deny God while they claim to know God and represent God!

Religion can be the worst enemy of spiritual realism and practical Christianity that works in our modern world.  Don't let abusive misinformed religion keep you from knowing and accepting who you really are as a child of God and a person of great value.


Jesus was totally new.  Everything that Jesus did was brand new and inclusive.  Nobody ever before had accepted all people of equal value before God.  Nobody before Jesus taught that accepting and loving outcast and unclean people was the only way to know and serve God.  Jesus said, "I am the truth."  "Follow me".  Jesus was simple and direct in his actions and teachings.  Jesus wove no fantastic fabric of convoluted doctrines and religious demands.  It all boiled down to one simple fact: "love one another just as I have loved you."  "You will know the truth, the truth will set you free."

Back to the basics means back to Jesus.

Where do you plan to go from here now?

Rembert Truluck
May 18, 2003

This update was added August 4, 2002:

Raging against the storm does not change the storm.  A timely e-mail from my friend John McNeill last week questioning my "anti-Catholic" statements in my most recent update caused me to take a long hard look at my approach to religious oppression and abuse against LGBT people and against everybody else.  Raging against the storm (or tilting against windmills) cannot really change our world for the better.

As John pointed out, the work of "Dignity" within the Roman Catholic Church is doing a wonderful job of progress for GLBT rights and acceptance from within the church.  The motto of "Dignity" is most appropriate: "We are here for good."  Within every religious establishment are to be found many LGBT Christians who are "here for good."  All is not lost, and much is being gained by many dedicated GLBT believers within every religious group in America and around the world.


As I observe the powerful destructive forces of traditional religion, I am tempted to take desperate measures to respond and to challenge the entire religious system at every level.  So far, that has not really changed anybody or anything in the established religious systems that dominate our culture and society.

I do get e-mail every day from individuals who thank me for my ministry and declare their joy and freedom from abusive religion as a result of finding my web site.  I also get e-mail like the letter that came yesterday to say simply: "Your entire ministry is bullshit!"

How do we find the perfect path to self-acceptance and freedom between "bullshit" and truth?  Nobody ever said this mission would be easy!  Jesus never promised any of us a "rose garden" but promised only the "way of the cross," which to me means the way of giving yourself for others no matter what the cost.

The "way of the cross" is by nature desperate.  It does not refer to what may happen to you because of your own mistakes or bad judgment.  It refers to what you voluntarily do to accept responsibility for the sins and mistakes of others just as Jesus did and pay the price of making a difference for people on the basis of what love demands and empowers in each individual situation.

To "take up your cross and follow Jesus" means something different for each person.  There is no preset pattern to follow.  You follow Jesus in whatever way fits you and your life situation.  Nobody else can decide this for you.


To follow Jesus is to risk being misunderstood just as Jesus was.  When Jesus challenged the human misinterpretations and abusive uses of religious laws, he was declared to be evil and a tool of Satan.  Even the disciples that followed Jesus misunderstood him and missed the point time after time.  See Mark chapters 8 and 9 for graphic details of this problem.

Don't let being misunderstood stop you from loving and accepting yourself and every other person your life touches.  Jesus didn't.  Misunderstandings happen, no matter what you do.  What really matters is that you understand what you are doing and know that you are doing the will of God in your love for others as you follow Jesus.


The famous parable of the "wheat and tares" in Matthew 13:24-30 tells the story of how good seed was planted and then an enemy sowed "tares" (a weed that resembled wheat).  The good wheat and the weeds grew up together, and the workers suggested that the weeds should be pulled up and destroyed, but the wise farmer said, no.  Let them grow together, and then at the harvest we can separate the wheat from the tares and burn the tares and save the wheat.

The point of this parable is that the workers are to let God take care of the weeds and not waste their time trying to defeat the enemy by disturbing the harvest prematurely.  What does this say to you about your approach to abusive misinformed religion that contaminates and dilutes the spiritual lives of multitudes of people today?  To what extent are we to offer a better way in Jesus and to what extent are we to condemn and reject the weeds?

We wrestle with this issue at every turn in our spiritual journey through the wasteland of destructive abusive religions.


"Religion made me sick."  "My religion made me self destructive and suicidal."  "Religion destroyed my self-esteem and made me hate myself."  Yet as we take an honest look at ourselves, we wake up to the fact that we actually do all of these things to ourselves with or without the help of "religion."  Blaming religion for your negative attitudes and low self-esteem can simply distract you from being realistic and taking responsibility for your own decisions by hiding behind your "victim mentality" that has been encouraged by your own failure to think for yourself and be logical, objective and realistic!

To see yourself as the victim of abusive religion is to take a giant step away from recovery.  Accept responsibility for how you see yourself and deal with it honestly and with accurate information.  Emotional blaming of religion for your unhappy state of mind is no different from blaming others for bad decisions that you made or shifting blame for breakups in relationships to the other person instead of admitting your own part in the conflicts that led to pain and separation.


Spiritual recovery and growth begin and continue within you.  Outside forces and influences do not determine who you are or how you see yourself.  You can let negative external pressures jerk you around and mess up your mind, but you do this willingly and without resistance simply because you have nothing better to give you a sense of self-esteem and purpose in life.  The Spirit of Jesus, who already dwells with you, is the available positive powerful new direction that can bail you out of whatever cesspool of self-pity and despair you have allowed yourself to wallow in.

You escape from the slough of despair when you bail yourself out.  Nobody else can do this for you.  You do not do it by yourself, however, because you have already been given the image of God and the Spirit of Jesus within you.  Exercise your spiritual resources and the mind of Jesus that already have been given to you.  Look ahead in front of you and see the light and freedom that are beckoning you into the next phase of who you are becoming.


You make the difference in who you see yourself to be and in your vision of what you can become in your unfolding spiritual journey.  Other people either for or against you do not make these choices for you.  You make your own choices, and you alone can act on your own behalf to enjoy the freedom and responsibility of being the very best you that you can.

Religion is not the problem, you are!  The solution is within you, because Jesus is within you.  Jesus is not the prisoner of religion.  Jesus is far above and beyond religion.  Everything in the Four Gospels makes that clear and plain.


Follow Jesus does not mean religion.  It means to accept yourself, think, be humble, learn, grow and question everything.  It means to be objective, logical, realistic, practical and relevant.  It means to love people and do good.  Following Jesus will cost you everything.  It will also give you everything, including your real self.


My sister, Jackque, and I will travel to Laurens, South Carolina, this Wednesday, August 7, through Monday, August 12, to celebrate with our mother her ninety-first birthday on August 11.  Mother's eyesight and hearing are failing now, and she has said that this may be the last time she can actually see us when we come to visit her!  Mother's mind is as sharp as ever, but her ability to read and to see to move freely around the retirement center has been greatly limited in the past few months.

I cannot express fully enough my appreciation for the support and acceptance that I have received from both my mother and my sister in all of my life and ministry.  I am grateful and most fortunate to have these two wonderful women in my life!

Rembert Truluck
August 4, 2002

See 16 new regional Soul Force Groups

My sister, Dr. Jackque Warren, Executive Director of the YWA of Oakland, CA, has recently written a new book on the use of inner city church buildings in social and community services.  The book, "Open the Doors, See All the People" is "A Guide to Serving Families in Sacred Places" published 2001 by Partners for Sacred Places: 1700 Sansom Street, 10th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103; (215) 567-3234:   Copies of the book are free.  You can contact Jackque Warren at PO Box 14471, Oakland, CA 98614. For this book project, Jackque earned her Ph.D.

This update was added on August 1, 2002:

Religion has been a dominant feature of human life throughout history.  The study of ancient history is primarily the study of religions.  This week, the news has been dominated by the Pope's visit to several enormous religious rallies in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.  The incredible amount of power and influence exercised by the ailing leader of the Roman Catholic Church has been reinforced by television coverage of these visits.

The "persistence of religion," like "the persistence of memory," is a fact of life that resists change and defies understanding.  Why does religion persist in the face of contradictory evidence and obvious denials of reality and truth that are characteristic of all religions?


Roger Williams was the founder of Rhode Island Colony and the first prominent Baptist leader in America.  He established the first Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode Island.  Williams once wrote that "to force people to practice a religion that they do not believe is to make them hypocrites, which is worse than no religion at all."  The Rhode Island Colony was a radical departure from all previous settlements.  Religious freedom was guaranteed to everybody: Jews, Moslems, Protestants, Catholics, atheists, etc.

This was a new idea of community that cut loose from the ancient tradition that every political unit must have a dominant religion to keep society orderly and under control.  Freedom from religion was the startling truth that Roger Williams and a lot of other leaders of the new order in America were committed to promote and protect.

Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics and many others today, however, even in the United States, take the position that religious freedom means the freedom to force their beliefs on as many people as possible by whatever means it takes.  Abusive controlling religion is so persistent in our society that vast multitudes of people accept it as normal and necessary.  It is neither.


"Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is freedom."  Or is it?  Jesus may set you free, but religion does not!  The word "religion" is built on the concept of "binding" or "controlling" and gives expression to the inappropriate control of people by other people in the name of a god.  The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt used religion to control their people, Moses used religion to control Israel, Mohammed used religion to control the Arabian nations, and the popes used religion to control Western Europe for centuries.  Southern Baptists use religion today to control their willingly ignorant obedient flock of their "nation of sheep."

Breaking the death grip of religion on the minds and creativity of human beings has been only partially and infrequently successful.  Advocates of real freedom from religion have been declared to be heretics or insane and have been discredited and eliminated whenever powerful abusive religion gains control, as in Nazism, Communism, Christianity, and a thousand other expressions of the ignorance called "religion."


Education is always a two-way street.  We teach and learn from each other in a non-threatening environment that is accepting and not judgmental and that encourages a free and unhindered search for truth.  Is that just wishful thinking, or does such education ever really exist anywhere outside of AA meetings?

When I was professor of religion at the Baptist College of Charleston in the 1970's, a large group of Iranian students came to the college to finish their formal education.  I had over 30 of these students in my two semesters of Bible Survey, which was required for their graduation.  Most of the students had never even seen a New Testament.  I tried to be helpful by meeting individually with each student and discovering what they needed to help them complete the course.  As I look back on this, I realize now how stupid I was not to try to learn more from them at the same time that I was trying to teach them the basics of Bible history.

This was just before the revolution in Iran that toppled the Shah and changed for ever the politics and culture of the Middle East.  I was too busy trying to help these Iranian students learn my material to stop and listen and learn from them what all of us later realized that we needed to know and respect.


As I watched the travels of the Pope in Mexico and Central America, I was impressed with the enthusiastic crowds and the efficiency of the Papacy in displaying and flaunting power and wealth in the midst of great poverty and need suffered by the people of the land.  I had to recall how the Catholic priests and conquistadors many years earlier invaded these lands and slaughtered the people as they destroyed their culture and taught the people to be "Christians," never giving any thought to listening and learning from them.

The same tragic scenario has been repeated over and over by "Christian" destruction of Native Americans, Hawaiians, African Americans, Asian Americans, GLBT Americans and every group invaded by religious engines of conquest, control and subjugation.

When will religion ever learn to listen, as Jesus did?  Only when people become more important than religion will the true spirit of Jesus prevail.

Rembert Truluck
August 1, 2002

"Freedom from religion is the beginning of education."

The following update was added on June 7, 2002:

The most unacceptable thing about the Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist churches is not the sexual sins of the priests or the homophobic nonsense of the preachers.  It is the claim by both groups to speak for God.  They don't!

Traditional religions are out of touch with their own unreality.  They cannot see the absurdity of their claims to speak for God and the blatant ignorance of their belief that they alone know the mind of God and speak for God.  No logical objective person can fall for the hypocrisy and absurdity of current churches to claim to follow Jesus.  What diabolical power has been enlisted to convince great multitudes of people that lies are the truth, distortions are doctrines of faith and misinformation is the true gospel?

How have the churches been able to blind so many people to truth and to realistic thinking?  Is early childhood brain washing an adequate explanation, or is something far more powerful and insidious involved?


Over 300 Christian denominations dominate the religious scene in America today.  Each of them teaches that they speak for God and each of them claims that all of the others are wrong.  How can anybody seriously follow any of them?  Yet millions do.  Do you know why?  I would like to be able to blame it on the devil, but there is no evidence for that.  Perhaps the sins of the fathers are being visited upon the children unto infinite generations.

Perhaps unrealistic religious speculation and misinformation have been repeated so frequently and so powerfully that the average person cannot make any reasonable choices or informed decisions.  Religious lies, no matter how eloquently, frequently, or convincingly they are told, are still lies and are the deadliest enemy of the truth.

Southern Baptists meet next week in St. Louis and the Roman Catholic Bishops meet the next week in Fort Worth, not to face logically and objectively the challenges of a rapidly changing world and to ask themselves the hard questions about what they are doing wrong, but to work hard to find ways to convince themselves and everybody else that they alone speak for God and that they are right when everybody else is wrong.  What a colossal waste of time and energy!  The rest of the world is plunging into a new age of terrorism and cultural warfare of unprecedented technical capabilities, while the churches are still living in the middle ages in abject spiritual darkness and mind numbing irrelevance.


Discredited preachers continue to deceive and confuse the public.  Rev. Robert Tilton is back on television every day.  Rev. Jimmy Swagert still commands a large television audience.  Rev. Dr. James Kennedy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale continues to spew his anti-gay legalistic venom on a thousand television stations across America.  Rev. Jerry Falwell has not muffled his ignorant attacks against minorities nor have any of the religious leaders in America effectively silenced the spiritual quacks and fakes that dominate the religious landscape in all directions.

The Pope still claims to speak for God and yet shows far more concern for protecting the integrity of the Church than for the suffering of sexually abused children.  The president of the Southern Baptist Convention continues to refuse to repudiate the Alabama Supreme Court Judge who said that imprisonment and execution should be used to keep GLBT people from becoming parents!  The horror! The horror! The horror! The horror is not in street crime and violence or in the drug trade, corporate stealing and political corruption; the horror is in pulpits and in pastors' studies, in prayer meetings and in local churches!

Wake up, America!  Jesus could be the vital relevant answer to many questions we face today if only the churches had not twisted the gospel to serve their own financial power-hungry self interests and distorted the story of Jesus into the unrecognizable disaster that we are facing today in all churches.


I will be in St. Louis this weekend to be part of the Soulforce mission of truth to the Southern Baptist Convention.  I identify with, love and support Mel White and the Soulforce leaders and volunteers in their ministry of information and confrontation with evil destructive religious forces.  To defend and try to justify the current policies and teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention against women and homosexuals and against local church autonomy and soul freedom is a denial of basic Baptist heritage and a leap into the abyss of irrelevance and spiritual apostasy.

One feature of the Soulforce presentation will be the personal stories of GLBT people who have been wounded and destroyed by Southern Baptist teachings and misinformation.  In truth, every Southern Baptist has been hurt by the misinformation and ignorance that have dominated the denomination for recent years regarding the true meaning of Jesus and the Gospel.  By its homophobic policies and teachings, the SBC has compromised and repudiated the inclusive mission of all churches at home and in foreign missions.

Millions of religious Americans dump billions of dollars of support every year into the religious cauldron of confusion that is dividing and distorting the spiritual life of our nation, our communities, and our families.  People who give money to this destructive industry firmly believe that they are serving God and doing the will of God to the best of their ability.  What has so effectively blinded religious America in the twenty-first century?

Perhaps the greatest barrier to the use of logic and reason to get through to the homophobic legalist religious leaders is the fact that religion is not based on logic and reason in the first place.  Religion grows out of fear, ignorance, family and social pressure, emotions, vague absolutes, ancient mythologies and just about every possible source except logic and reason.


GOD is still everywhere.  You are still made in the image of God.  The Spirit of Jesus is still available to teach and guide and empower you in new directions of hope, truth and spiritual renewal.  Your brain continues to function to give you insights that are objective, logical, realistic and practical.

In the face of conflicting and confusing religions, you are far from helpless and incapacitated.  The obvious decline and fall of current religion is an open door of opportunity for every one of us to take a good fresh look at the real Jesus of the Gospels and start over!  We still have basically reliable accounts of Jesus in the Four Gospels.


The Internet has given to us the incredible capacity to reach millions of people around the world with a single mouse click.  Web sites and books that teach the truth are growing in number at a rapid rate.  Over a million new web sites continue to be added to the Internet every month!  The pile of information mixed with misinformation is truly mind-boggling.

Be selective.  Know what to ignore and avoid.  Learn what to trust and accept.  Always consider the source of any information that reaches you.  Test everything that is told to you about religion.  Listen to your inner voice of reason and logic and follow your personal spiritual instincts that have been given to you by the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

One of the main reasons that I am going to St. Louis this weekend is to visit with Mahan Siler and read the manuscript of his soon to be published book that tells the story of his experiences and the decisions and events at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., that challenged and changed the Southern Baptist world in 1992.  We will share in discussion and dialogue that will edify and strengthen both of us in our ongoing mission of information and truth.  I expect to learn a lot from Mahan Siler.


You already have within you the real answers that fit you.  God has not forgotten you or left you to grope aimlessly in the dark night of the church!  There is light within the tunnel, not just at the end.  Jesus is the light that is given to you by the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth, power and love to lift you above the conflicts and confusions of religion.  A much higher ground is available to you than the dismal swamp into which contemporary religion is sinking like the House of Usher.

Don't get drowned because you wasted your life arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!  Leap now into the spiritual lifeboat that Jesus offers to you in a form and size that perfectly fits you.  When you face your spiritual choices and they don't fit, then you must simply quit.  There is always a better way than the present hypocritical religious mess, no matter how convincingly it is served up by dedicated religious chefs.  You can still turn away from religion and follow Jesus.  Read the final chapter of the Gospel of John as spiritual boost in the right direction.

The following update was added June 21, 2002:

Sexuality, sex scandals, sexual orientation and other social, economic and political issues have dominated recent activities of Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists and other large denominations.  Incredible distractions from the main mission of following Jesus have driven contemporary churches off the road and deep into the jungle of self-inflicted self-defeating hypocrisy and idolatries.  What will it take to bring "Christianity" back to Jesus?  What is the real identity of the Jesus of history and faith?

Why has Jesus been abandoned and replaced by a deadly mix of politics, ambition, greed, pride, prejudice, misinformation, deception and hypocrisy in the churches?  How did Jesus get so completely lost in the religious shuffle that we are witnessing today?  Who is the real Jesus, anyway?  Why is the religious fog so thick that all we can see of Jesus is a pair of sad eyes and a dim halo?  Has religion so misrepresented and distorted Jesus that the real Jesus is lost forever?


Jesus continues to be the dominant point of reference in churches and in spiritual life in America.  Yet, the real Jesus is vague, obscure, misunderstood, and remote.  Why?  What has so thoroughly deadened the impact of Jesus in the traditional churches?  What was the intended impact of Jesus in the first place?  Can we still discover the true intentions of Jesus beneath the mountain of religious dinosaur bones that have accumulated during the past 2,000 years?

I think that we can.  We can look for the obvious most significant characteristics of the life and ministry of Jesus in the Four Gospels.  We can reclaim the truth that has been there all along but has been obscured by the institutionalizing and religious empire mentality of the churches.

The Spirit of Jesus is our best teacher and will guide us into all truth that is relevant and helpful for us today.  Jesus is still the best source of information about Jesus.  What are the simple clear obvious facts about Jesus?


The first most obvious truth about Jesus is that Jesus accepted and affirmed himself as he was.  Jesus saw himself as being in the image of God, just as you are.  Jesus saw himself as having a special mission from God, just as you do.  Jesus saw himself as a child of God, just as you are.  You have far more in common with Jesus than you have with religious experts and ordained specialists who think that they have something from God that you don't!

To follow Jesus is to accept yourself as God made you.  You are like Jesus in that you are special, different and with a mission in life that uniquely fits you.  As Jesus made quite clear to his parents at the Temple and elsewhere, "I am not like all of the other little boys."


Jesus affirmed and accepted his real humanity.  He did not compromise his humanity by trying to turn religion into magic or satisfy his own human needs by using superhuman powers.  He helped others at every turn, but he let go and suffered and died as a human being, not as a god.

When you accept and celebrate your humanity as a gift from God, you are following in the footsteps of Jesus.


Jesus challenged and questioned all of the religious and political authorities and powers of his world.  Jesus revealed the hypocrisy of all religious authority that abuses and rejects people who are different and outcast as unclean.  Jesus came into a world that separated and divided and evaluated people on the basis of religion, race, and status.  Jesus consistently cut through all of the cultural walls that separated people and affirmed the equality of all people before God.

Jesus challenged and systematically broke the laws that religion and custom had developed to demean and cut off undesirable people.  The teachings of Jesus were obviously never intended by Jesus to be written into a new code of oppressive demanding laws that would create again the legalism that he came to destroy!

One of the greatest challenges to disciples of Jesus today is to follow the Spirit of Jesus without taking the statements and stories of Jesus in the Gospels as a new legalism that denies the real spiritual freedom that Jesus came to give to all of us.  Following Jesus today means challenging and questioning everything that makes itself a rival to God's unconditional inclusive love and spiritual power.


This month of June is "Gay Pride Month" as it has been ever since the Stonewall Riots in 1969.  Gay Christians are celebrating their pride, self-acceptance and joy in who they are along with millions of others during this special time.  Jesus celebrated who he was in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem when he rode the humble donkey and identified with the common people instead of coming in a military display of worldly pomp and glory.  Jesus said in every way possible that he identified with the rejected and outcast people of his time and not with the religious authorities and civil rulers.

When Jesus was baptized, he joined John the Baptist in attacking and rejecting contemporary religion and even more significant: Jesus clearly identified with the sinners, the outcasts, the religious rejects, the unclean, and the common people of his world.

Jesus fed the multitude, a great crowd of mixed religions, races, social status, beliefs, and ancient cultural and social enmities.  This demonstrated his own acceptance of all people as well as creating a setting of "eating together" that revealed a new and unheard of equality of all people with each other.  Throughout the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels are many celebrations of God's acceptance and affirmation of all people.

Gay Pride celebrations continue this heroic movement from oppression into God's love and acceptance.  San Francisco's Gay Pride celebration is appropriately called the "Freedom Day Parade."  (See "Gay Pride Parade" history web site below.)  Thousands of non-gay people will join in the San Francisco Freedom Day Celebrations the last Sunday of June.  I plan to be there too.  The Spirit of Jesus also will be there.  Several MCC congregations and many other GLBT accepting and affirming churches will march in the parade and will have booths at the festival.  Thousands of LGBT Christians will be in the parade.


When we memorize and demand obedience to misunderstood and misrepresented biblical teachings and ignore the obvious humble inclusive actions of Jesus, we compromise our mission and buy into the 2,000 years of religious empire building that has created the abusive destructive religious mess we have inherited today.

The actions of Jesus speak far louder than the words attributed to him in the Gospels.  All of the teachings and sayings are subject to a great deal of interpretation and misapplication.  Teachings and religious formulas have been cast in many varieties of languages and translations with copious added notations and comments to the point that recapturing the exact "words of Jesus" is probably impossible.  Knowing Jesus, however, does not depend on knowing the words.  As with all people, the actions of Jesus speak louder than the words.

This is why the obvious emphasis in the Gospels is on the action of following Jesus rather than on learning and enforcing the words attributed to Jesus.  We still need the Gospels, but God has given you a wonderful brain to equip you to be objective, logical, realistic and practical in whatever you study and learn.  Use your brain to help you be selective about what really matters and what fits you in your spiritual journey into communion and communication with God.


Jesus repeatedly gave a simple direct invitation to all: "Follow me."  This call begins and ends the Gospel of John.  It allows no distinction between men and women, between laypeople and clergy, between young and old, between gay and straight, between educated and uneducated, or between races, classes or cultures.  "Follow me" puts the emphasis on the actions and attitudes of Jesus, not on difficult often unclear pronouncements, laws and religious formulas.

To follow Jesus means to accept yourself as a beloved child of God and to affirm your humanity by identifying with and having compassion for other people of every level and condition in your world.  Following Jesus means questioning and challenging ignorance, injustice, hypocrisy, and religious abuse.  Following Jesus means looking for and encouraging the potential for spiritual growth and maturity in every person you meet.  Following Jesus means accepting and including everybody as having equal value to you as well as to God.

Following only Jesus will expose legalism for the idolatry and hypocrisy that it is.  Following Jesus will cost you friends, loved ones, and social acceptance, just as Jesus also experienced.  Following Jesus invites rejection by legalistic judgmental abusive religion.  Following Jesus may confuse and offend others who do not understand what you are doing.

Following Jesus can never be fully explained or justified.  Following Jesus is who you are and what you are in your own personal relationship with the God who made you in God's image and who surrounds you and fills you with the Spirit of Jesus at all times.  Churches are the greatest distraction from the real Jesus in our contemporary culture.

The churches say: "Look at us!"  The true followers of Jesus say: "Look at Jesus."

Above all else and in place of all else: Follow Jesus.


Now, sit down in a straight back chair with good light and read carefully through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting.  Use any easy to read modern translation, like the Good News Bible or the New American Standard Bible, with large print.  Let the actions of Jesus run freely through your mind and heart.  Follow up this event by making time to read carefully as quickly as possible the Gospels of Luke and John.

As you do this, take some time to stop and think about what you have learned and felt.  You will go away from this with a better grasp of who Jesus is and who you are as you follow Jesus.  When you do this, please write to me and tell me what you are learning and how you feel about it.

Rembert Truluck

Distractions from Jesus have the same effect as misinformation, false teachings and homophobic religious abuse.  Distractions from Jesus, like talking on your cell phone in heavy traffic, can be and have been deadly!

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in that wonderful face;
And the things of this world will grow strangely dim
In the light of God's glory and grace."

See the story of the beginning of Gay Pride celebrations in a recent web site sent to me by my friend David Kelly in West Hollywood:

See San Francisco Gay Pride: http://www.sfpride.org

See a recent development in the Anglican Church in Canada concerning "EQUAL MARRIAGE" for Same-Sex Couples:

The following update was added on April 28, 2002:


On Saturday, April 27, 2002, I had the great joy and privilege of sharing in a workshop with "Transcendence Gospel Choir" of the City of Refuge Church in San Francisco.  Over twenty people were present.  This was the first time that I have been in a meeting where the great majority of people were transgendered and I, as a gay man, was in the minority!  It was refreshing and inspiring.

Ashley Moore, director of the choir, planned the workshop and included me in it.  Todd Holland videotaped the entire workshop, and I hope soon to be able to make a copy available to you.  As usual, I learned more than I taught.

During the four-hour session, I learned more about the people and the issues faced in the transgendered community than I ever had imagined.  I gained a great admiration and respect for the spiritual maturity and social skills of transgendered people who have had to struggle all of their lives for self-acceptance and for a place at the table of the larger LGBT world.

I met many wonderful people, who shared their story and their faith journey in the group.


Professor Joan Roughgarden, a member of the choir, Professor of Biology at Stanford University and the author of six books, shared her latest book manuscript with us: "Evolution's Rainbow: Gender and Sexuality in Nature & People" with specific attention to "Biblical Transgender Expressions & the "Bible's Affirmation of Diversity".  I learned a lot that I did not know from Prof. Joan.

Ashley Moore led us in a brilliant presentation of "The Historical Spiritual Role of the Transgendered" & "Jeanne D'arc: the Transgendered Patron Saint".

Michelle Garcia, a transgendered Native American member of the choir, led us in: "Native-American Two-Spirit Shamanism" & a letter from the Elders.

Rev. Jonathan Thunderword, one of the pastors at City of Refuge, shared with us on "Elements of Emancipation for Transgendered Christians" or "A Liberation Theology for Transgendered Christians."  Jonathan also gave me some good lessons in how to preach!  He referred us to Vanessa Sheridan's book: "Crossing Over: Liberating the Transgendered Christian."

I could only wish that every reader of my web site and updates could have been with us on this magical Saturday of encouragement, information and inspiration in San Francisco!  The quotation at the end of the program was from Beverly Wildung Harrison's "Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics": "Jesus' death on the cross, his sacrifice, was no abstract exercise in moral virtue.  His death was the price He paid for refusing to abandon the radical activity of love – of expressing solidarity and reciprocity with the excluded ones in His community."


My part in the workshop was to share my material and enter into discussion of Jesus and the Bible with special emphasis on recovery from abusive religion.  We read the words and listened to Harry Chapin's great parable in song: "Flowers Are Red."  Many of the participants secured copies of my book to use in personal study and in small group dialogue.  A number of the people at the workshop gave me their phone numbers for me to contact them in anticipation of my beginning an ongoing small group study for them of "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse".  The time and place will be decided later.

Everybody in the group was my teacher.  I was reminded as never before that all of us have something important to share with others in telling our story.

Later in May, I will share with members of the choir and Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of City of Refuge, in video taping the story of the choir and its ministry.  This story will be shown on television.  I will let you know further developments in this exciting new direction in ministry.

On April 25, 2002, The New York Times reported that the City Council of New York "extended protection from discrimination to transgendered people, transsexuals and others whose gender identity the bill's backers say does not fit societal norms."  Mayor Bloomberg plans to sign the bill, which was approved by a vote of 45 to 5, with one abstention.


My friend Ken Gies in Kansas City wrote a powerful review of my book that was published in the Kansas City Gay paper: "Midwest Times" on April 12, 2002, just before I went to Broadway Baptist Church last weekend.  You can see this review by going to http://www.MidwestTimes.com and clicking on "Archives" and entering the April 12 edition and going to pages 10 and 11.  Also includes an article by staff writer "Blake" on "Recovering from Bible Abuse."

See below where I have added Ken's review of my book to my web site.  Ken's review accurately expresses the purpose and nature of my book, and I greatly appreciate his special writing ministry.

Rembert Truluck
Aril 28, 2002

Jesus never rejected people because they were different.

Jesus never rejected anybody who was abused by religion.

Jesus never rejected anybody.

Jesus never rejected you.

If you follow Jesus, YOU will never reject anybody.

"Transcendence Gospel Choir"

Review of Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse
By Ken Gies: added April 28, 2002:

Review by KEN GIES
Staff Writer
"Midwest Times"
Kansas City, Missouri
April 12, 2002, pages 10-11

Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse
Dr. Rembert S. Truluck
551 pages/2000/hi Rho Press
www.chirhopress.com/$24.95 + P&H
Also available at Larry's Gifts and Cards

If you have ever been the victim of "bible abuse," through a conservative upbringing, Sunday School or Fred Phelps, then this book should be at the top of your must-read list.  If Dr. Truluck were asking $100 per copy, it would be worth it at ten times that price.

Dr. Rembert Truluck has a Doctor of Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.  He was a Southern Baptist pastor from 1953 to 1973, and Professor of Religion at Baptist College of Charleston, South Carolina, from 1973 to 1981.  For six years, he wrote Southern Baptist Sunday School Lessons that were used throughout the denomination.

In 1981, Truluck joined First Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Atlanta, where he served as Bible teacher, writer, and preacher.  He then served as Senior Pastor at Golden Gate MCC, San Francisco, and at MCC Nashville, Tennessee.

Today, he lives in the San Francisco Bay area where he is active as a writer, teacher, and counselor. In his "spare" time, Dr. Truluck travels the nation providing workshops based on Steps to Recovery, sharing his wealth of knowledge and understanding with thousands every year and encouraging GLBT people everywhere to reclaim their spiritual birthright.

Steps to Recovery cuts through the darkness of shame and guilt that many of us have felt or are currently feeling.  It sheds a million watts of light on subjects such as Overcoming Hostility and Violence, Jesus and Same-Sex Love, and How Jesus Liberated Outcast People.  It gives practical teaching directed to anyone who has ever felt the pain of religious abuse, rejection and oppression

In the Preface to Steps, Dr. Truluck writes, "We are living in a New Reformation that will challenge the churches for many years, probably for the next century…"  In the subsequent pages he illuminates a pathway of recovery, healing and wholeness, by making clear what constitutes abuse and then giving a "fresh look at the bible", that emphasizes that "Jesus came to heal sick religion" and those infected by it.

Steps to Recovery is not another painful catalog of finger pointing and blame.  It is not another dull book of hard to understand theology.  It is easy to read and although you may not find it a single-sitting type of book, once in your library, you will turn to it time after time, in situation after situation, to deal with the realities of being gay and being spiritual and you will use it to teach others.  Its life-giving vitality springs from the depth of pathos and knowledge and the enlightening and often humorous way in which it is disseminated.

Truluck writes from both a wealth of education and biblical scholarship, as well as a depth of personal experience.  Having taught for several years at Baptist College of Charleston, South Caroline, he was abruptly outed by another gay man and then forced to resign his professorship.  From there, a spiral into alcoholism interrupted what was to become one of the most powerful ministries in Christendom today.  Truluck is a rare treasure, a wise and Godly man, with an insight into all things biblical, spiritual and religious, that challenges both the abused and the abusers.  At the same time, his book, his web site ( www.truluck.com), and his willingness to tirelessly share his insight, endears him to anyone who will take a risk, buy the book and let its principles of love, renewal, grace and goodness wash over them in healing waves of gladness and recovery.

Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse will not be just a great read, but will be the beginning of a revolution of reformation, healing and restoration!

Dr. Truluck will be in Kansas City, at Broadway Baptist Church, Broadway and 39th Terrace, April 19-21, 2002, to present his workshop and share his uplifting and liberating views on healing and recovery among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of faith.  Join him on Friday evening for a reception and return on Saturday to experience his life-changing workshop.  Dr. Truluck will also speak at the 10:00 a.m. service on Sunday morning.  For details, contact Broadway Church at (816) 561-3274 or log onto www.roadwaychurch-kc.org.



"Trick or Treat" is a mild childhood form of extortion in which children are given candy and treats in response to an implied threat to play some form of damaging trick on the adults.  We all learn very early to play along and enjoy the Halloween tradition.  So much for playful harmless extortion!


EXTORT: "to wrench out or twist;" from French ex + torquere (from which we get the word "torture"); "to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power"-- Webster's Dictionary.

Some of the earliest forms of religion were variations on giving treats to avoid the tricks of angry gods, who were believed to control the weather, fertility of crops and flocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, and the outcome of battles.  The Hebrew Bible tells of baal worship in which sexual rituals were performed at shrines called "high places" to force the gods of fields and flocks to bless the land with economic prosperity and success.  This extended even to the "treat" offering of live babies in sacrifice to the fire god Moloch to avoid the "trick" of the displeasure of this angry god.  A temple to Moloch set up in Jerusalem in the time of Solomon was still there in the time of Jeremiah.


Religions often offer escape from the threat of purgatory or hell as the reward for "treats" of money, faithfulness, political support, and rigid obedience to legalistic demands and requirements.  "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" remains the underlying basis for religious demands for unquestioning loyalty and blind obedience to the will of religious establishments throughout the world.

How many Baptist and other churches base their money raising campaigns on the clear biblical statement that withholding your tithes and offerings to the church is to rob God.  Malachi 3:8 plainly declared: "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say: how have we robbed Thee?  In tithes and contributions!"  This failure to deliver the "treat" had resulted in the "trick" curse of plagues, crop failures, and other disasters.

Multitudes of money raising schemes in churches rely on the well-known verse: "THE TITHE IS THE LORD'S" from Leviticus 27:30 displayed on banners at the front of churches, printed on offering envelopes and made the central theme in fund raising literature.  The only problem is that the statement is not in the Bible.  Leviticus 27:30 is actually a longer verse that spells out the agricultural and cultural setting of the legal requirements for supporting the tabernacle and the priests: "The tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord."  We know that this is not the only verse in Leviticus that is altered, misrepresented and used to enforce a legalism that is not only alien to Jesus but is alien even to the spirit of Leviticus!


Jesus, however, spoke of the tithe only in criticism of those who used their gifts as an attempt to manipulate God or who gave tithes instead of showing love to others: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and spice, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23)."  All of Matthew 23 is relevant to understanding the attitude of Jesus about religion that bargains with God and that practices trick or treat religious extortion.

Jesus never said, "Sell what you have and give it to me." Or Sell what you have and give it to the church."  Jesus said only: "Sell what you have and give it to the poor."  To Jesus, people were the avenue through which we love and honor God.  See the words of Jesus about social justice and helping the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, outcasts and prisoners as a way of following Jesus in Matthew 25:35-40.  Why have the traditional churches for centuries avoided this clear teaching of Jesus regarding the true meaning of spiritual maturity?

The only giving that Jesus commended was giving everything that you have, not a percentage or a token and not to a church but to needy people.


Several years ago, my mother was writing a large check to give as an offering to her church, even though she and my dad had only their small social security income to live on.  I asked why she was doing it.  She said, "It's God's money!"  I asked, "Then why are you giving it to the church?"  She never has thought that was funny.

The more I concentrate on the humanity and compassion of Jesus, the more I realize that Jesus always gave himself and his resources to others and never took anything for himself.  Jesus had no house ("no place to lay his head"), no change of clothes, no property, no permanent residence, no formal education, no money, no political power and no status in society.  Jesus became tired, hungry and thirsty.  All he asked for was a drink of water from the woman at the well.  Then he gave her back her self-respect and a new life.

Jesus listened to the people that everybody else ignored or despised.  He associated with and dined with the outcasts and rejects of his time.  He gave himself without hesitation wherever he was wanted and welcomed.  Jesus borrowed everything he ever used: the upper room, the donkey he rode into Jerusalem, the boat from which he preached and even the tomb in which he was buried.  Jesus traveled light.


You are created in the image of God.  What are you doing with it?  What are you creating every day with your mind and the other resources that God has given to you?  How would being like Jesus change your life?  Make a list of things that would change.

The call to follow Jesus is not a call to play God or put on a big show or gain a lot of power and control over other people.  The call to follow Jesus is to be truly and humbly human, just as Jesus was.  When you follow Jesus, you see and feel the hurt and humiliation of other people.  You reach out to lift them up and help them to respect, accept and love themselves.  You expect nothing, no recognition or praise in return.  The reward for following Jesus is following Jesus.

Following Jesus is to fulfill your purpose by being the real human you were meant to be.  It means being honest with yourself and others and honest with and about God.  It means giving up childish games and entering fully into spiritual maturity as an adult.  It means above all to love one another just as Jesus loved you.


This Halloween weekend is filled with television reruns of most of the old horror movies along with ads for upcoming new versions of last year's hit horror thrillers.  The real horror show of 2,000 is the awful truth of the power of "trick or treat" extortion based religion that dominates the lives and imaginations of millions of people, even those who claim to be Christian. 

Extortion religion is a nightmare where you never wake up.  It is the greatest hindrance to spiritual maturity that exists today.  The nightmare of religion based abuse and oppression is more clearly seen and most painfully experienced by GLBT people.  GLBT people, however, are not the only victims of extortion religion.  Everybody suffers from this religious plague that has siphoned off human lives and resources beyond belief.  And that's the problem: few people believe that the "faith of our fathers" could turn out to be so destructive!  When Jesus attempted to apply his mission to "open the eyes of those who cannot see" and include everybody in God's love, his own people attempted to kill him (Luke 4:16-30).

We have an easily available alternative to extortion religion.  We can decide to follow the real Jesus and avoid religious distractions from the truth.

THESE UPDATES are not intended as a substitute for your own experience and ideas.  They are intended to encourage and help you to think for yourself and be logical about yourself and your spiritual life.  Religion seems to take many forms that encourage people to abandon logic and forget that God has made us reasonable people with an incredibly well developed brain that can be objective.  We are learning all the time if we truly listen to what we hear and experience.

So let go and move on.


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