Saturday, February 25, 2017

Soulforce Organizing Direct Action During Proclaim 17 Convention in Orlando

Proclaim 17, the International Christian Media Convention, will take place from February 27th to March 2nd at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida. The Proclaim convention is the annual gathering of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), a network of conservative Christian media professionals. Judging by its homophobic code of ethics, the recipients of its awards and its positions on Trump administration policies, Israel, the Johnson Amendment, and "religious freedom", the NRB is very much part of the Religious Right.

Proclaim 17 offers Christian media professionals an opportunity to network and develop new strategies for engaging with audiences. While much of the convention's content focuses on technology, outreach, and industry trends, some of its workshops have a decidedly right-leaning flavor.

  • Is Transformation Really Possible for Persons with Same Sex Attraction? (presented by Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network, an "ex-gay" ministry)

  • The Fight for Religious Freedom and the Future of the Courts (presented by Ryan T. Anderson and Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation)

  • Personal Attacks on First Amendment Freedoms and What May Lie Ahead (presented by Todd Starnes of Fox News and the Benham brothers)

  • Pastors Lunch: Shall We Talk About Islam? (featuring no Muslim speakers, oddly enough)

  • The Human Cost of the Attack on Religious Freedom

  • What Does the Trump Presidency Mean for Christian Radio?

Let's not ignore the convention's speakers, who include right-wing figures such as Alliance Defending Freedom founder Alan Sears, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, anti-abortion activist Alveda King, David and Jason Benham, and homophobic ex-Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran.

Writing at the Advocate, L. Cole Parke observes that both NRB and many of the organizations participating in Proclaim 17 are opposed to LGBTQ equality. The fact that Proclaim 17 will take place in Orlando, the location of last year's devastating Pulse massacre, makes the participants' homophobia even more painful to behold.

Fortunately, Soulforce is organizing a direct action during the convention under the hashtags #StopKillingUs and #KeepPulseAlive. According to their website, Soulforce will be honor Pulse victims with a Living Altar of paper doves while "bringing healing, witness, joy, and resistance to the leading Christian Right Wing communicators who are killing our people."
"The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a Right-Wing communications network with 1400+ member stations broadcasting around the world. Their annual meeting will be hosted this year in Orlando, FL during which thousands of members and supporters will convene to strategize, network, and gain skills to further their aggressive anti-LGBTQI and anti-Muslim agenda that broadcasts to the world.

Soulforce invites all those who are willing and able, both in Florida and everywhere, to hold vigil over this Living Altar with us in Orlando as we honor our dead and challenge the power of this communications hub to harm our bodies and spirits with death-dealing rhetoric.

Soulforce, in partnership with local and regional organizations, is collecting doves from around the world to join our Living Altar. These doves symbolize those who were made ancestors at the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando in June 2016."
As the Religious Right explores ways to promote its agenda through broadcasting in Orlando, people of conscience will be holding them accountable for their bigotry. Soulforce's direct action will serve as another reminder that the Religious Right will encounter resistance to its intolerance.

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