NPR’s Fresh Air raised the Uganda story to a higher level of interest in late 2009 when Terry Gross interviewed Jeff Sharlet. Today, another segment of Fresh Air revisits the issue by again interviewing Jeff Sharlet, this time about Sharlet’s article in Harper’s about his Uganda trip (a portion of the Harper’s article is at the link). Recently, I noted Bahati’s appeal to Leviticus as a public policy and here again he describes his intent to Sharlet:
Sharlet recently traveled to Uganda to speak with Bahati, the bill’s author, which he writes about in a September 2010 Harper’s Magazine magazine piece entitled “Straight Man’s Burden.” He describes how gay Ugandans are struggling to survive — and recounts his meetings with Bahati — in a conversation with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.
“Bahati said ‘If you come here, you’ll see homosexuals from Europe and America are luring our children into homosexuality by distributing cell phones and iPods and things like this,'” Sharlet recounts. “And he said, ‘And I can explain to you what I really want to do.'”
Sharlet accompanied Bahati to a restaurant, and later to his home, where Bahati told Sharlet that he wanted “to kill every last gay person.”
“It was a very chilling moment because I’m sitting there with this man who’s talking about his plans for genocide and has demonstrated over the period of my relationship with him that he’s not some back bender — he’s a real rising star in the movement,” Sharlet says. “This was something that I hadn’t understood before I went to Uganda, that this was a guy with real potential and real sway and increasingly a following in Uganda.”
Sharlet also explores Bahati’s involvement in the Fellowship prayer groups in Uganda:
And he has connections to American leaders. Sharlet explains that Bahati is one of the Uganda leaders of an American Evangelical movement called the Fellowship, or the Family. The secretive fellowship of powerful Christian politicians who wield considerable political influence, both in Washington and abroad.“I discovered, thinking that there was a more distance change of relationship [between Bahati and the Fellowship,] that there was this very direct relationship,” Sharlet says. “And [the Fellowship members] are emphatic and saying ‘We haven’t killed any gay people in Uganda. This isn’t what we had in mind. We didn’t pull the trigger.’ And that’s true. They didn’t pull the trigger. But there’s a sense in which they built the gun, which was this institutional idea of government being decided by small groups of elite leaders like Bahati, getting together and trying to conform government to their idea of Biblical la(w). And this is what their American benefactors wanted them to do.”
“David Bahati has been over to the United States to study the Christian leadership principles of the Family — or the principles of Jesus, as they call them. And he was upset [when I visited,] because he had gotten into a sort of schism with the group. [Because] when the [anti-homosexuality] bill became publicized, the American Family — which organizes something called the National Prayer Breakfast — really tried to distance themselves from Bahati.”
The audio will be available after 5pm.