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Soulforce, Falwell, and the Rotting Cryptkeeper

Rev. Mel White was a former ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that put himself through over $100K of therapy, electroshock treatment and even exorcism to “rid” himself of his homosexuality. It didn’t work. When he reached peace with his orientation, he reached out to others struggling with their faith and identity by founding Soulforce.

The group plans an ‘equality ride’ to Falwell’s Liberty University on Monday to speak with students at the conservative, religious institution and to meet with students that “are forced to live closeted lives.”(

“We’re concerned about the treatment of students at Liberty,” Jake Reitan, director of youth programs for Soulforce, said Thursday. “We’re going to bring Falwell letters from (gay and lesbian) students who are in the college and show him the problem that exists now.

Reitan said about 60 students from a dozen other Virginia colleges and universities will arrive at Liberty by bus at 9 a.m. to spend the day talking to Liberty students about sexual orientation and gender identity. Soulforce, also based in Lynchburg, plans a news conference at 1 p.m.

Liberty’s gay and lesbian students are forced to live closeted lives, always fearful that if found out they will be expelled with their transcripts locked and their tuition lost,” Reitan said.

Liberty officials did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press, but said in a statement they were aware of Soulforce’s plans to make an “uninvited visit.”

Mel White also has some interesting things about our friend Fred Phelps. In another article at, he gives a clearer picture of where the man is coming from (not that it helps any): Indy: What about Fred Phelps, of “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9-11” fame, who is planning to come back to Colorado Springs while Soulforce is here? One of their announced stops is in front of Focus on the Family to protest the ministry’s empathy for gays.

MW: I spent an hour and a half, two hours, with Fred in his office in Topeka and talked to him about his theology. He believes that God wants homosexuals dead. And any kind of tolerance, any kind of discussion less than that is not fulfilling the call. So [according to Phelps] anybody who says anything less than what the Bible says — and the Bible makes it clear that a man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed — is a traitor to the Bible and should be executed.

So Phelps is an extremist, but he gives this insight into the stealth of people like Dobson who say they’re biblical literalists but then refuse to go all the way. Phelps says that while Mel White is obviously doomed to death, Dobson, just by being a selective literalist, is also dooming himself because he’s not taking the stand that homosexuals should be killed.

Mel White of Soulforce is an “old fag preacher,” according to Fred Phelps.”

Indy: Why did you spend two hours with this man?

MW: Because nonviolence demands that we take our enemies seriously, that we hear them. Fred Phelps has an earned Ph.D., he has a major library in both Greek and Hebrew texts, he is a long-term biblical scholar who, like John Calvin, is consistent. He has gone all the way with those texts; he takes them literally. So I wanted to see really whether he was a nutcase or whether he had an analyzable theology, and he does. He’s very articulate.

Indy: So how did the conversation go? I’m trying to envision it …

MW: Oh man, he was concerned about my soul and I’m concerned about his. For me, the Bible is not inerrant, the Bible is inspired and trustworthy in all those areas to which it was called to speak — but it’s not trustworthy in terms of science.

[Phelps] and I debated all these issues that a literalist would debate with a person like myself, who loves and respects [the Bible] but isn’t a literalist. So we had a great time, and then I went out and held up signs in front of his place saying, “God loves fags, God even loves Fred Phelps.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding