US / Uganda / Rwanda Christian connections
Over the past week there has seen a string of blog posts and news articles criticising the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Below is a roundup of some of the more interesting and useful ones including a video from the October protest outside the London High Commission for Uganda. There will be another protest on December 10th from 12-3pm.
In my post from last week I mentioned the connection between US Christian fundamentalist churches and the export of homophobia to Africa and Asia.
Various reports have been circulating the internet over the past week on the export of homophobia by the US religious right to Asia and Africa and anywhere they can find an entry with their doctrine of hate justified by fallacious readings of religious texts. The comments are based on the report by Kapya Kaoma “Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia“] The report is important for a number of reasons. Because it places the homophobic project of the religious right in a global context; because Kaoma makes the additional connection between the export of culture and hatred with the dumping of toxic and electronic waste etc on continental Africa; because of “Gay Imperalism” the critique of which is presently under attack by Peter Tatchell and Outrage.
Two reports name specific individuals from both Uganda and the US who are directly involved in the “anti-gay” movement. The first mentions North Carolina Democratic House members, “Reps. Heath Shuler (NC-11) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07)” and “Nevada Republican U.S. Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.” All four are members of a group called “The Family”. In the second report goes further and lays the origin of the Bill with members of this group who work their hate via their African outreach programmes.
In March of this year, American anti-gay activists traveled to Uganda for a conference that pledged to “wipe out” homosexuality. Seven months later, David Bahti, a Ugandan lawmaker and a member of the Family sponsored the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.”
The Family had converted Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to its anti-gay brand of Christianity. The organization’s leader, Doug Coe, calls Museveni the Family’s “key man” in Africa. The Family and other anti-gay groups have long viewed Uganda as a laboratory to experiment with Christian theocracy.
The next connection is between Pastor Rick Warren [supporter of Prop 8] and Ugandan Pastor, Martin Ssempa who apparently is a regular guest at Rick Warren’s church. Ssempa is a vicious hate driven individual responsible for outing gays and lesbians.
Warren has since disowned their relationship but not Ssempa’s ideas. He has remained silent and refused to speak out against the Bill claiming saying he believes in the fundamental rights of all he but does not get involved in politics. Warren also has strong ties with the equally homophobic church and state in Rwanda. The man has a tendency t0 speak with a forked tongue so it is not clear where his relationship with Ssempa stands.
About Rick Warren, Kaoma notes: “In America Warren says ‘I love gays.’ In Africa, he says it’s not a natural way of life. He’s said, “I can’t say this in America, but I can say it in Africa.” In America, people will hold him responsible, and in Africa, nobody will.
The Christian fundamentalist connection is far more insidious and threatening than just the involvement of these individuals as Michelle Goldberg explains…
Warren’s silence has repercussions beyond Uganda. Draconian anti-gay legislation is appearing throughout the continent, often closely tied to the explosion of American-style evangelical Christianity. Warren has been a crucial part of that explosion and has tremendous clout with conservative African clergy and with many politicians.
Warren is very close to both the Ugandan and the Rwandan leadership. He counts first lady Janet Museveni, who has spoken at Warren’s Saddleback church, as a personal friend. During a visit to the country last year, Warren lent his voice to the anti-gay stance of Uganda’s Anglican bishops. “Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right,” reported one Ugandan newspaper. “‘We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,’ Dr Warren said.”
Goldberg also makes an interesting point about the language of the Bill which further reinforces the connection between the US and Uganda. For example the mention of adoption which is ridiculous since homosexuality is already illegal in the country and applies to the US not Uganda.
However not all church leaders have been silent on the Bill. The United Reform Church in the UK has condemned the Bill as has Exodus which is busy saving us from ourselves by “overcoming same sex attractions” – Their support is most definitely not wanted with their disingenuous motives and agenda. Sour Grapes picks up on the “False Witnesses” who claim to have been saved from eternal damnation by being “cured of homosexuality” and mentions one Ugandan man who was paraded as “saved” and then proceeded to make all sorts of false claims about events and people only later to be found out to be still gay and hopefully “unsaved” after causing so much harm.