Friday, March 9, 2007

Never a Dull Moment with Soulforce

Sigh. Here is a press release that was emailed to me yesterday from Rainbow Sash Movement:
For Immediate Release
Soulforce’s Agenda Troubling to GLBTQ Catholics

On March 8 & 9, 2007 a bus of Soulforce members will be visiting Notre Dame University. The Rainbow Sash Movement was contacted by Soulforce for its endorsement of this event. After thoughtful dialogue with a Soulforce representative and a representative of the local Notre Dame Catholic GLBTQ leadership we found we could not in good conscience support Soulforce action at the University of Notre Dame for the following reasons.
The local Notre Dame GLBTQ leadership expressed concern that Soulforce’s visit would negatively impact, and hinder its on going dialogue with campus leadership. Also that Soulforce’s communication with the local community appeared to only be concerned Soulforce’s agenda, and not the effect it would have on the local community. After a lot consultation we felt that Soulforce had been somewhat disingenuous in its communication efforts with the local Catholic GLBTQ leadership at Notre Dame. The Rainbow Sash Movement could not turn a deaf ear to the concerns of the local community.
We asked Soulforce to reconsider its visit in the light of the concerns expressed by the local GLBTQ Catholic Community, as sign of its willingness to understand, and respect those concerns. We felt the local community was far better at dealing with local concerns around GLBTQ issues on campus, than were uninvited outsiders.
It is with deep sadness we find ourselves issuing this press release to publicly call on Soulforce to respect our Catholic Space in this matter. We must begin to listen, and respect the various diversities in our National GLBTQ Community, if we are genuinely going to make progress in the areas of civil rights. One group or individual does not speak for all of us. Yes, that means an none Catholic Organization such Soulforce cannot speak for a Catholic Community.
We are calling on Soulforce to reconsider this action, which we believe to be reckless, and ill conceived, and at odds with Soulforce’s call for genuine dialogue. Furthermore, we call on Soulforce to enter into a meaningful dialogue process that will ensure we are not working at cross-purposes with each other as we go forward.
Rainbow Sash Movement
At first I thought I'd received a spoof. But after I did some checking, I found the press release to be legitimate. Their website is here. Then I went to Soulforce's website and read about this conflict in their forums. I urge you to do the same.

This conflict makes me sad because it is so unnecessary. The two groups ostensibly have the same mission. What I see oozing from Rainbow Sash Movement's press release is fear, fear that seeps from the gaps between their words and phrases. It seems to me they're afraid of losing what little precious gains they've fought for. They don't want these "outsiders" to come in and rock the boat.

Here's my answer to them: please go read Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Substitute "gay" for "Negro." Sometimes, folks, civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.

ps. I admire you for wearing rainbow sashes to worship and am sorry you are often denied communion because of it. This is precisely the kind of thing we need to fight together to change.

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