Soulforce, the organization seeking to have conservative Christian groups embrace their gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, intersexed, questioning members, is sponsoring another Equality Ride. They have been quite successful with their previous rides to Christian Colleges and Universities to discuss how they have treated sexual minority students. This fall they will be coming in October to Heritage Christian University in Florence, AL and Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.
Soulforce is based on Gandhi’s teachings of non-violence to create change and justice. I was privileged to have been able to participate in Soulforce’s first event in meeting with Rev. Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, VA. It was a powerful event meeting face to face with 200 of Jerry Falwell’s congregation and attending his worship service. I went back to Lynchburg a few years later and served as a peacekeeper for Lynchburg’s first Gay Pride event. Having conservative Christians lean up against me and shout in my ear that I was attempting to sexually assault them was a most difficult moment in being silent and resilient in justice work. Being the buffer of their hatred so those who came to celebrate their humanity could do so was well worth it. We also stood in silent vigil this time outside of Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday in prayerful intercession regarding Jerry’s violent accusations of Gays and Lesbians being one of the causes for 9/11.
While in Lynchburg, I heard first hand how difficult it was to be in the closet at Falwell’s Liberty University. The anguish the students faced, trying to please their parents by going to a Christian University; trying to discover who they were as a child of God; and knowing that being that person at that campus meant at best expulsion and worst the taking of their life. The spiritual violence committed is atrocious. The pain and suffering is incredible.
The message of Jesus seems so clear to me. Love one another. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Those who heap vile hatred against others must not be able to love themselves very much and they also must want to be treated in the same manner. How very sad. And after 2000 years, the message of Jesus is still not heard even by those who call out ‘Lord Lord.’