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Jerry Falwell Meeting with Mel White Causing an Uproar

Attempts to Reconcile with 'Baptist Bigot' are Damned

Fiery Long Letters Fly between Bob Kunst & Mel White


By Jack Nichols

melwhite2.jpg - 6.90 K The Rev. Mel White will meet with his former employer the Rev. Jerry Falwell Oct. 22-24 in Lynchburg, Va. Lynchburg, Virginia—A local newspaper here News & Advance, has confirmed plans to meet October 22-24 made by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority decades ago, and Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce.

White, a former ghostwriter for Falwell but now openly gay, doesn't expect Falwell to rescind his anti-gay views but the gay minister does hope for a joint resolution condemning speech that leads to anti-gay and anti-non-gay violence.

The two clergymen will not be the only leaders of concerned groups convening in Lynchburg. The News & Advance also tells how Bob Kunst, who led Miami's struggle against Anita Bryant in 1977, is planning a presence for his Oral Majority group to protest what he called in GayToday "a photo opportunity" for Falwell—who, he said, is a "genocidal Baptist bigot" and for White, "his tool."

Kunst says Falwell is attempting a comeback after his Tinky Winky public relations disaster and that "White is aiding and abetting him."

Another presence in Lynchburg will be that of the Rev. Fred Phelps (www.godhatesfags.com) who insists the Rev. Falwell is wrong to say that God merely hates the sin but not the sinner. Baptist preacher Phelps says he'll be on hand to insist that God does, in fact, hate people, and, most specifically, "fags."

A member of Rev. Phelps' clan, Margie J. Phelps, justified this view in a letter published Thursday in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel which said: "The fact is that God hates people -- not disembodied sins." Ms. Phelps triumphantly quotes Rom. 9:10-13 and insists: "These words are plain. God hated Esau -- the person -- before Esau had been born to have done any sin."

Rev. Mel White, who worked with Falwell ghostwriting his autobiography, now leads a non-violent movement he calls Soulforce. He was asked by GayToday to reply to critics of his current strategy based, he says, on the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and of Mahatma Gandhi.
phelps100.jpg - 22.91 K If things wouldn't have been confusing enough, the hate-filled Rev. Fred Phelps' clan also will be in Lynchburg at the time of the White-Falwell meeting.

The former ghostwriter replied that he had no time at present to reply to his critics. He insisted that gays and lesbians must also hear what the Rev. Falwell has to say and that Falwell too has "been a victim of our hate."

He told GayToday:

"We're in Lynchburg again, working out the details.

"It's fascinating how this has brought the whole city to life. We're meeting with clergy today from across the area who are joining with us in condemning speech that leads to anger, fear, and hate.

"We're planning a deeply moving memorial service on the Memorial Steps in Lynchburg with pictures of all those innocents who have died in the past year from people motivated by hate.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Bob Kunst Protests Jerry Falwell & Mel White Meeting

Oral Majority's Pro-Sex Agenda Gets Wide Notice

Baptists are Fattest Says Perdue Study

Related Sites:
Rev. Mel White's Soulforce

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

"Phelps and other haters are promising to be there in force. The mayor and the police and the citizenry generally have promised their full support.

"I'm getting so much criticism from both sides that there is really no time to respond.

"It will take time for our critics to understand that this 'dinner with Jerry' is just the beginning of changing his mind and heart.

"And it will take time for people on both sides to realize that we all contribute to the rise of anger, fear, and hatred in America.

"Jerry has been a victim of our hate, too.

"This is not a one sided issue.

"Rabbi Heschel said, "Speech has power...Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed."

"To reverse the process requires a lot of risk going in, but I think it's definitely worth the risk. Until then, the critics will have their say."

In a separate letter to Oral Majority's activist-director, Bob Kunst, however, the Rev. White made, on the following day, yet another overture, inviting his opponent Kunst to join in the pre-Fallwellian Lynchburg discussions:

melwhitegary.jpg - 5.89 K Rev. White (right) with his partner, Gary "Dear Bob,

"First, thanks for your work on behalf of our community over the past almost quarter century. Since your press release about coming to Lynchburg to protest our meeting, I've learned a lot about you and your significant contributions as an activist over the years. You have much to teach me.

"Second, your press release raises a lot of important questions that we, too, have asked. I'm grateful again to you for being one of those rare activists who takes Falwell seriously.

"He's far too dangerous to be caricatured as the 'village idiot.' His rhetoric on TV and in print, his endless guest appearances on TV and radio programs, his own TV and radio work, his ability to sway legislators and legislation, his personal friendships with far too many politicians, his ability to organize and carry thru...make him one of the truly dangerous men in America.

"We have full agreement on his status as a 'war criminal.' He's been waging war against us for more than twenty-five years. When I ghost wrote his autobiography, my agent was Swifty Lazar. Simon Schuster hired me to write his life story because I also had a doctorate in religion.

"What he didn't know was that while I wrote that book, I, too, thought homosexuality was a sickness and a sin. I was living in a dark celibate closet, married with two kids, struggling to become an 'ex gay' taking electric shock and aversive therapies, but ghost writing to keep my kids in college.

"I've never worked for any of them in any capacity but to ghost write pulp bios for their mailing lists. Now that I see my sexual orientation (at last) as a gift from God, I feel badly that I even ghost wrote their autobiographies, but I've asked the community to forgive me and that is in the past.

"For 10 years, I've been monitoring Falwell's rhetoric. We have video and print files on him that are scandalous. And until August 17 he refused to see us, to hear our case against him.

On August 17 he and his staff read just one of the letters we've collected and before I could even point out that it was false and inflammatory in every way, he said, 'We've let it get out of hand. I'm sorry. I've asked Mark DeMoss to put systems in place to see that it doesn't happen again.'

"Then, to keep this from being a hollow promise, I asked for this confrontational visit with 200 of GLBT friends and allies. We are going with our case in hand. This is not a time of cheap grace or easy reconciliation. This will be a real event where opposite sides discuss this issue (most for the first time).

"This reaching out to Falwell is risky at best. We understand that. We've decided that his willingness to sit down with 200 GLBT people and our allies (with 200 of his leaders) to discuss this issue is worth the risk. But, your questions are valid and need to be heard.

"Third, would you present your questions to our entire delegation in Lynchburg on Saturday morning, October 23, at the First Christian Church where we will be training for the meeting with Jerry?

"If you can join us, I would be delighted for our 'Lynchburg 200' to hear and discuss your concerns. We would like you and a guest to join us for a at 10AM for coffee, to share your concerns with us in a 10-15 minute address followed by another 10-15 minutes of dialogue with us.

"If this is not a good time for you, give us an option. Call or e-mail me anytime. If we're not in, the answering service will have a forwarding number or leave a message."

Oral Majority's Bob Kunst responded to Mel White:

"Mel:

"Thanks for your letter and, yes, I'm willing to address your organization, but I'm very critical of making Falwell look good in any way possible, when he has already been soundly defeated and your meeting with him, 'weakens' our position as a body politic.
kunst.jpg - 16.58 K Activist Bob Kunst

"We don't need Falwell as an ally, but to treat him with all the contempt possible as well as to continue to 'use' him to further move the public to our side. So strategy wise, I feel that your efforts are hurting and not helping anyone but yourself in terms of the publicity.

"With Anita Bryant/Falwell accusing Gays of having sex with dead people and animals as part of their 'witchhunt', this is as unforgivable as Pat Buchanan thinking that Hitler was no big deal either.

"Revisionism is a very nasty thing, and mouthing about Gandhi and King doesn't answer the basic facts that monsters and Nazis need to be dealt with and not to be compromised.

"You have to live with your support and writing your anti-gay diatribes when we were fighting for and still are fighting for our lives.

"I don't forgive you for that, and am suspect now as to both your motive and honesty on this issue and approach and don't mind standing alone, if I have to, to defend our history . To make Falwell look good is totally inexcusable and why we will be in Lynchburg to oppose this attempt at historical revisionism.

"My purpose to address your group is to state fully my position to this meeting which allows the 'phobes' to have an unearned victory which I cannot do. Falwell, we agree is a war criminal.

"I wish to treat him as the pariah he is, and not offer him any respect, which your meeting will attempt to do. Legitimizing Falwell is to slam at every Gay and Lesbian who's had to endure his bigotry and is too high a price to pay.

"Your role in this is suspect both in capitalizing for your group this attempt to mobilize the media for your own purposes which as nothing to do with our struggle you opposed by writing Falwell's meanness.

"Your sin in this matter is not resolved by me at all, or any of the gay, bisexual and heterosexual folks who've made our struggle possible and the victories, so many victories, you've never been a part of, also possible.

"Whitewashing Falwell is like the Nazis saying there was no Holocaust.

"I can't let you get away with this.

"And I'm willing to state this publicly as a necessary step in keeping our movement both honest and in progress. Falwell and yourself are from the very Baptist folks trying to tell Jews to 'convert'.

"Another insulting manipulation, deserving of the national condemnation it continues to receive. So what to do?

"If my role is 'David' vs. 'Goliation', no problem. Been there and done that and won by not compromising my essence and being and activism and all those who made it possible.

"With over 900 'hate' groups; 2000 'hate' web sights; and 10,000 'hate' crimes last year alone, conducted by the climate of 'hate' pushed by Falwell and the GOP Right Wing, forgetting and forgiving this monster is a total stab in the back to all who have suffered while coddling this criminal.

"To ask Falwell his 'opinion' on any of this, is to be enslaved and betray 500,000 of our brothers dead by the AIDS Genocide in the U.S. alone, this bum has encouraged and played out.

"I can't do this and won't. I have fed 2000 AIDS clients and raised $5 millions to do this to keep people alive while seeing over 200 dead and losing my closest friend Dr. Alan Rockway, who co-authored with me, the 'affectional and sexual preference' ordinance which made this monumental difference in our movement and our victories.

"I cannot nor will I betray his love or that of so many others, which is what this meeting with Falwell is all about.

"After all the killings in the schools and other acts of violence, and then I see these preachers codling the criminals by 'forgiving' them, I want to scream at this built-in rip-off of doing the dirty work and then getting forgiven' for 'salvation' politics and I will never do this for any Nazi out there and on any level.

"I don't believe your work is 'Gandhi' or 'King' oriented on this level with Falwell. It ignores so much while you play out this charade for personal reasons.

falwell3.jpg - 5.05 K The Rev. Jerry Falwell "You empower Falwell who has no power except to be continually made a fool of and this is of much value to all of us who have to struggle with Falwell's politics.

"We never asked Falwell for his opinion of us. Nor of any politician, nor anyone. It's none of their business.

"The issue is plain and simple: 'Taxation With Representation'. While the Baptist Bigot wants to discriminate and misrepresent-- which is as unChristian as possible, he has no problem asking all of us to pick up the tab including the latest scam, not just to fill his pockets but that we should ignore the separation of Church and State and dismantle the public schools to pay for private schools teaching their kids to hate Gays, Jews, Blacks etc.

"Amazing and illegal. with lawmakers playing lawbreakers, that is the crux of the crisis of what befalls this nation and there is no compromise on any of this which has been our successful process, and to let you manipulate this enormous impact that has forced millions out of their closets and to take over the media with new information, again will not be allowed.

"For the homophobic media, you are their perfect tool.

"You are their token slave.

"You make their case, that you are the 'reasonable' gay to sell our your community now as you did before. Your 'enslavement' is transferred to us as a body politic.

"But we reject this.

"For those that hate themselves. Go straight and leave us alone.

"To those who understand the power of same-sex love, spontaneity, multiple choice, independence, we are indeed light years ahead of the general public and we aren't committing the social violence, which you are negating by insisting that we haven't discovered Gandhi and King, when our whole process is just that is rejecting the limitations imposed on us by an unjust society and arbitrary institutions that can't clean up their own mess while insisting on shoving their theologies and isms down all of our throats, and in many cases, preaching one thing and doing the opposite and so many of these Falwellians can be documented and why the public so dislikes and despises such hypocrisies that no amount of reconciliation will cover-up.

"Falwell's stench is so great, and you made much of that possible.

"You want the Gay community and others to forgive you.

"I won't forgive or forget what you've done and been a part of and if this effort to meet with Falwell is your opportunity to change your own image, you are doing it the wrong way, in my opinion.

"The discussion you want on the morning of the 23rd of October should have been done long ago, before attempting to falsely speak for us all.

"Under these circumstances, I'm willing to publicly state our case before you, but I wouldn't go to any meeting with Falwell, anymore than I would sit down and dine with any Nazi out there.

"I wouldn't dine with a Pat Buchanan, or a Ronald Reagan who went to Bitburg, Germany in 1985 to honor "SS" Nazis murderers buried there.

"I led a rally in Miami with 100 against this betrayal of every gay, bisexual and heterosexual who gave life and limb to stop these Nazis scum and now you want to bring all of us victimized by this disease to the same table to have Falwell again attack our love-making while telling us he won't be as nasty as before while the damage has already been done. No way, will I allow this consensus or betrayal to go unchallenged.

"If you want me to state this before you and your group, those are my terms for appearing to speak before you but I will also be outside before the media to openly oppose this meeting I see no different that Chamberlain in WWII coming back to England with that 'peace in our time' paper that led to 60million dead including the Holocaust of 7 million Jews and tens of thousands of gays.

"I haven't forgotten them either and why I am an activist to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

"Falwell and Bryant and Robertson and Buchanan and gangsters the lot, are there to be used to mobilize our side to understand that our liberties are dependent on our eternal vigilance.

"I also have to live with myself and can't and won't do anything else to be 'accepted' by all the fear, violence, negativity, self-hate that Falwell and gangsters embody. This is the 'Christianity' that has killed millions in the last 2000 years, and is pushing 'Armageddon' to fulfill their version of prophecies to justify this insanity and mass murder.

"I don't forgive any of it.

"I only ally myself with people of like conscience. I'm in Tennessee for a few days to replenish my energy to take on this project.

"I see this as an opportunity to also tell the world again, how we did it and are doing it, and so your attempt to reconcile with Falwell, will backfire, big time, and on levels you can't think of now, but will be there.

"You may well be unleashing a massive new witch hunt on our community and are you ready to handle reaction to you on this matter?

"I've had to endure this being a Jewish and Gay Activist. Anita, Falwell and I are part of a unique club when it comes to sitting on the 'hot seat'.

"You may think you have also been there, but you haven't and that is why this reckless action on your part may be much more than you can handle.

"The worst part is how many you might endanger by doing this political charade of yours.

"Emotional violence is Falwell's forte. He's earned as much retribution as we can hand out and that is also my forte and expertise, and still dishing it out as much as I can and in honor of all who I love and have loved who have suffered because of Falwell guilty of being such a fraud, and also beaten time and again.

"Let me know if these terms of my speaking are acceptable. Yours in the struggle."

Falwell's spokesman, Mark DeMoss, says that the point of the meeting is "to join together to say that while we disagree about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality and what the Bible says about it, we agree on one thing ... there's too much violence aimed in both directions, both at gays and non-gays."

Thursday's Chicago Tribune quoted Falwell's self-serving slant on hate-crime violence. The Lynchburg minister said: "Most hate crimes in America today are not directed toward African-American or Jewish people or lesbians. They are directed at evangelical Christians."

Two-hundred persons will accompany both Falwell and White so that all may "get to know one another" though from opposite sides of the fence.

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