Miami - An Easter weekend prayer vigil outside Coral Ridge Church by gay
Christian activist, Richard Murphy, resulted in a meeting with Reverend D.
James Kennedy, Leader of Coral Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Coral Ridge Ministries actively opposes gay civil right and sponsors programs
designed to "convert homosexuals to heterosexuality" through reparative
therapy and conversion to Christianity.
This was the second time Murphy, an openly gay Christian and member of Soulforce, Inc., stood vigil outside Coral Ridge Church to bring attention to the anti-gay rhetoric and escalating violence on both sides of the homosexuality debate. The first vigil took place in October of 1998, the day after the violent death of Matthew Sheppard, a young gay man who was murdered in Wyoming.
Murphy and Kennedy met cordially and conversed five times during the ensuing year. However, relations became estranged after their February 25, 2000 meeting when Murphy and colleague Robert Skaggs formally presented examples of untruths and false witness used by Kennedy and Coral Ridge Ministries.
"Bob and I were disheartened with the Reverend's comments during the meeting last year, when he said he didn't see anything wrong with the examples we presented to him. Even though he said he did not have the time or intention of responding to them, we did not expect that the door to dialog would be slammed shut after that meeting," explained Murphy.
However, according to Murphy, on Saturday April 14, 2001, Rev. Kennedy agreed to re-open dialog with gay Christian advocates and their allies and begin searching for willing participants from his ministries to take part in a joint "blue-ribbon" panel to discuss untruths, false witness, inflammatory language and spiritual violence."
The prayerful and non-violent vigil was preceded by a published open letter to Reverend Kennedy and Coral Ridge appealing to them to "re-open dialog," "jointly appoint a blue-ribbon panel" and "place an immediate moratorium on the oppression and holy war presently being waged by Kennedy and Coral Ridge Ministries against God's gay children."
"I was renewed and gratified when Rev. Kennedy and his wife drove to the church on Saturday and stopped and invited me to lunch. Reverend Kennedy concluded by agreeing to re-open the door to dialog and to attempt to search for people in his organization that would be willing to serve on the joint blue-ribbon panel. The question about the "holy war" moratorium was not addressed at this time," said Murphy.
"This is great day for all God's people and a good sign and divine step forward," said Murphy. "This may sound silly to some but, as people of faith, we genuinely believe in Soul Force principles, that as long as we stay committed to truth and guided by God and the spirit of love, all things are possible."
Soulforce, Inc is a national network of people of faith committed to the principles of relentless non-violent resistance as taught by Gandhi and King, and committed to ending religious policies of exclusion and discrimination against God's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Copyright © 2001 by the author
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Martin Luther King Jr.