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28 Arrested Protesting at Southern Baptist Convention

Baptist Leader: Homosexuality & Murder are both 'Sin'

No Same-Sex Love! No Equality for Women as Clergy!

Compiled By GayToday

Orlando, Florida--Twenty-eight persons were arrested yesterday as as result of their civil disobedience at the annual conference of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), held June 13-14 at the Orange County Convention Center.

Police charged the group with "unlawful assembly."

Until their arrest, the group had been kneeling or standing in silent prayer. Six protestors were released on bond, and the remaining 22 spent the night in jail awaiting their initial appearance before a judge this morning.
melwhitearrest2.jpg - 6.38 K The Rev. Mel White, who led the demonstration against the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday, is arrested at a previous protest

Civil disobedience at the convention was sponsored by Soulforce, a coalition of people of faith working “for justice for the non-heterosexual community.”

Rev. Paige Patterson, the outgoing convention president, declined to disassociate the issues of murder and same-sex love when he was asked by a CBS Evening News reporter if he equated the two.

“Referring to homosexual lovemaking as “sin”, Rev. Patterson replied: “Whether you fall in the deep or the shallow end of the pool, you still get wet.”

With its adoption of this year's "Faith and Message," the Southern Baptist Convention has placed homosexual people on its official hit list. Many other mainstream Protestant denominations also have language in place that prohibits homosexuals, bisexuals and the transgendered from full participation in the church.

The Southern Baptist Convention has also officially denied women the right to take part in its church life as ministers. The Rev. Raye Nell Dyer of Tennessee, President of Baptist Women in Ministry, deplored the Convention's decision.

"It is about domination over women and about having power," she said of the 15.9 million member Protestant sect's convention decision.

Not until 1995 did the Southern Baptist Convention vote to condemn the cult's historic support for slavery and failure to confront racism in the South.

"Baptists have made it clear that sexual and gender minorities are not welcome in their church," said the Rev. Dr. Mel White, Soulforce co-founder, at the group's nonviolence training the evening before the arrests.

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Related Sites:
Rev. Mel White's Soul Force

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"We are committed to the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, Gandhi and King, and we are going to bring the truth relentlessly to churches that condemn or misrepresent us."

Among those arrested were the Rev. Dr. James Lawson, a Methodist minister who trained Martin Luther King in Gandhi's principles of nonviolent resistance, Jimmy Creech, a Methodist minister whose credentials were revoked last year by the UMC for performing a same-sex commitment ceremony, and Ed Harris, a gay retired Baptist minister and founder of Honesty Virginia, a group for non-heterosexual Baptists.

In addition to Methodists and Southern Baptists, those arrested included Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Unitarians as well as those of other faiths. They came to Orlando from across the country.

Soulforce is planning other civil disobediences this summer: at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, June 24-25 in Long Beach, Calif., at the Episcopal Church General Conference, July 8-14, in Denver, and at the Reclaiming America for Christ conference, September 28 to October 1, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In May, White and 190 others were arrested and jailed as a result of Soulforce's civil disobedience at the United Methodist Church's (UMC's) General Conference in Cleveland.

At the UMC conference, the group peacefully blocked an exit from the convention center, symbolically proclaiming that there should be "no exit without justice" for God's non-heterosexual children.

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