Step 2: Seeing activism in a whole new way
The “radical religious right” is not our enemy. Gandhi and King remind us that our real enemy is untruth.
Those who believe (and even those who teach) the untruths about non-gender conforming (LGBTQIA) people are victims, too. To understand the cause of our suffering is to understand the untruths, half-truths, and misunderstandings that have victimized us all.
The untruth about homosexuality and homosexuals is ancient. In past centuries, our community members had almost no evidence to support the truth that they were valid, worthy and wonderful just as they were.
Now, there is plenty of biblical, scientific, psychiatric, psychological, medical and historic evidence that supports the American Psychological Association’s declaration that “it is as natural to be homosexual as it is to be left handed.”
Unfortunately, new truth always has a difficult time at overcoming ancient prejudice and particularly that born out of patriarchy which is the root of oppression of non-gender conforming people, women and people who are differently abled. Churches that align with patriarchy most often use the Bible or the Book of Mormon to justify their religious bigotry and, therefore, the creation of polity and policies that openly discriminate against non-gender conforming people and their allies. Young LGBTQI people who grow up in these settings and who “buy in to” this polity and these policies are 8.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. This makes sense when you think about their perspectives. They believe that their parents will reject them, their pastors and friends will reject them and, ultimately, that God rejects them.
The tragic untruths are supported by the misunderstanding and misuse of these seven biblical passages:
Genesis 1:27~Genesis 19~Leviticus 18:22 (20:13)~Deuteronomy 23:17-18~Romans 1:26-27~I Corinthians 6:9~Timothy 1:10
Believing that the tragic untruths are “supported by the Bible”, there is a “holy-war” being waged against homosexuality and homosexuals by Fundamentalist Christian Leaders (with their own TV & radio networks, publishing houses and direct-mail campaigns), by clergy and laity in the historic Protestant Denominations; by the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and by cardinals, bishops, and priests of the Roman Catholic Church (GOOGLE THE MOST RECENT NEWS RELEASE THAT DESCRIBES AND USE IT)
A few religious organizations accept homosexuals unconditionally, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarians; Metropolitan Community Church and many Evangelical Lutherans. Three of the major Jewish groups no longer discriminate. Most Quakers do not discriminate.
Individual clergy are taking personal risk to support freedom and equality for all people (LINK TO HRC FAITH & RELIGION COUNCIL AND EMPIRE PRIDE IN THE PULPIT and RECONCILING NETWORK) LINK TO JACK ROGER’s BOOK
But, the majority of fundamentalist and mainstream Protestant and Catholic leadership continue to give tacit support to a “holy war” against homosexuality and homosexuals. (LINK TO MEL’s BOOK RELIGION GONE BAD) And many clergy and lay leaders who know the truth remain silent in the face of powerful fundamentalist factions working in their own denominations threatening to withhold personal and financial support if they openly support full membership, ordination, and marriage.
It is easy to aim our anger at the people who believe and who teach the untruth. But the principles of Soulforce remind us that there is a more effective way.
Step 2 on the journey to soulforce begins when we see our adversaries in a whole new way.
SEVEN “SOUL FORCE” BELIEFS ABOUT MY ADVERSARY
- My adversary is also animated by common dignity, worth, love and Spirit; we are both members of the same human family; we are people in need of reconciliation.
- My adversary is not my enemy, but a victim of misinformation as I have been.
- My only task is to bring my adversary truth in love* (nonviolence) relentlessly.
- My adversary’s motives are as pure as mine and of no relevance to our discussion.
- My worst adversary has an amazing potential for positive change.
- My adversary may have an insight into truth that I do not have.
- My adversary and I will understand each other and come to a new position that will satisfy us both, if we conduct our search for truth guided by the principles of love.
To “love” our adversary means that we respond to our adversary guided exclusively by the principles of “ahimsa” or nonviolence. Gandhi said it this way. “No physical, verbal, or psychological violence.” In King’s words, “No violence of the fist, the tongue, or the heart.”
Of all those seven beliefs about our adversaries, it is often most difficult to believe that their motives are as “pure as mine.” We want to believe that our adversaries are waging this war against us to raise money and mobilize volunteers.
Rev. Mel White, Founder of Soulforce says, “Before I discovered Soulforce, I felt a growing rage at these religious leaders “who should know better.” But I worked as a ghost writer for many of them. I know my adversaries intimately. They are sincere, though sincerely wrong. And though they do use the untruths to raise money and mobilize volunteers, they do believe the untruths and are themselves victims of those same untruths.
How easy it is to demean and demonize our adversaries. How many times have we been tempted to hate them, to call them names, to wish them dead? How quickly our rallies and marches can deteriorate into name calling contests. How often our banners and posters reflect insult and rage. Soulforce calls us to a better way. We will never win the minds and hearts of our adversaries until we learn to out-love them. Signing this Credo is an important step in that direction.