Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Satyagraha and the GLBT rights movement
I found this on the web and felt I need to sare it with all.
Soulforce: An Interfaith Movement For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
For thirty-five years, The Rev. Dr. Mel White struggled to "overcome" his homosexual orientation through prayer, fasting, various aversive therapies, exorcism, and even electric shock. A victim of misinformation and biblical misuse, Mel thought his same-sex orientation was a sickness and a sin. During those "closet years" Mel served the Christian church as a prize-winning television producer and filmmaker, a best-selling author, a pastor, seminary professor, and ghost writer to religious leaders including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell.
After a time of terrible depression, Mel finally reconciled his Christian faith and his sexual orientation. In his autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, Mel announced, "I'm gay. I'm proud. And God loves me without reservation."
For the past decade, Mel and his partner, Gary Nixon, have been helping to build a movement that applies the "soul force" (Satyagraha) principles of Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the struggle for justice for sexual minorities. They have collaborated with others to create Soulforce, an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. This movement uses nonviolent action inspired by Gandhi and King's principles to challenge and transform religious communities and their attitudes and policies that dehumanize, diminish and exclude LGBT people.
Soulforce has developed a step-by-step process for nonviolent transformation. Part of this process includes transforming one's attitudes about one's adversaries, as indicated by the following seven points developed by Mel White:
Seven Soulforce Beliefs About My Adversary
My adversary is also a child of the Creator; we are both members of the same human family; we are sisters and brothers 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.
For Gandhi and King, 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, I find it most difficult to believe that their motives are as "pure as mine." I want to believe that my adversaries are waging this war against me to raise money and mobilize volunteers.
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. (You can contact Soulforce at http://www.soulforce.org/.)