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Fighting the
Christian fundies

Fighting the
Christian fundies


Mel White, 66, has stepped down as head of Soulforce, the gay activist group he cofounded, to get back to the front lines against antigay Christian fundamentalists. His new book is Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right (Tarcher/Penguin).

From the successful Equality Ride to the current Right to Serve campaign against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, this has been a breakout year for Soulforce. Why? It took some time to warm up--we've only been alive since 1999, and we've needed to train folks. It takes something to convince people that you've got to do more than send in a check. That's important, yes, but you've got to create an interest in investing in the idea that we will not acquiesce to our oppression.

Are you talking about religious fundamentalism? A lot of people don't understand fundamentalism. It's not just nutty religious people--it's militant piety. And it's a real danger, not just to us but to anybody who doesn't agree with the white guy in charge of the fundamentalist movement. There is a big push right now to create a fundamentalist Christian nation, and unless we stop the virus that has infected the church and state alike, it will be a long time before we get any civil rights.

You stepped down as executive director of Soulforce in April. Why? I wanted to be on the ground and involved on the front lines again, to participate in events like our march on Focus on the Family and the Equality Ride. Next year's ride is going to include two buses doing two separate routes. We're going to send a bus to Eastern Europe to visit the capital cities of the countries that have antigay policies. Many of these countries are trying to join the [European Union], which frowns upon discrimination. I'll be involved with that.

What do we need to do politically? We need to stay focused. Winning our rights is only a small part of making sure the country isn't taken over. We can't forget that other people are suffering. We really need allies right now, but we can't expect them to show up and help us if we don't show up and help them.

How will Soulforce achieve that goal without you at the helm? I think we will become predominantly a youth movement. Revolutions are always carried out by the young. Currently we have a youth movement that is acting separately from the adult movement. We've trained a new generation of activists willing to take to the streets and get the word out. I'm very excited about what they're doing.

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