Martin Ssempa’s campus group dropped from AIDS grant in 2007

 Back in June, I posted several articles which described events in 2007 which were prologue to the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. One August, 2007 article described an anti-gay rally organized by Martin Ssempa and his views on gays and AIDS programs:

“Homosexuals should absolutely not be included in Uganda’s HIV/AIDS framework. It is a crime, and when you are trying to stamp out a crime you don’t include it in your programmes,” Ssempa said.

These events led to an article by Scott Long, Director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch detailing the threats to HIV treatment and human rights in Uganda. Ssempa then responded to the article in an editorial where he said:

First you [Scott Long] talked about our church, Makerere Community Church, as a recipient of PEPFAR HIV/AIDS funding. The fact is that Makerere Community Church has never received funding.

I found that to be a curious statement since his church is listed as a subpartner on the PEPFAR website for 2004 and then again in PEPFAR grant documents for 2006-2007. Based on these sources, I wrote the following in my June post:

Ssempa said in this editorial that he did not receive PEPFAR funding. However, according to this letter from USAID, his Campus Alliance to Wipe Out AIDS was a subpartner to the Uganda Youth Forum and was subsidized for abstinence based publications. World Magazine identifies a 2004 grant as being $40,000 which came as a subpartner to Population Services International, according to the PEPFAR website. Children’s AIDS Fund reveived 131,666 in Fiscal Year 2007 for work in Uganda. CAWA was one of the subpartners, receiving $50,000 to publish (pg 20) and distribute the newsletter, The Prime Timer. Altogether, groups controlled by Ssempa received at least $90,000 from PEPFAR, according to government records. It is baffling why Ssempa would say otherwise.

I learned last week that I need to make a correction in what I wrote above. Rev. Ssempa did indeed get PEPFAR money via CAWA but not at the level reported on PEPFAR program documents. I spoke last week with Anita Smith, Executive Director of the Children’s AIDS Fund. Since 2005, CAF has implemented the “Preserving African Families in the Face of HIV/AIDS Through Prevention” grant. The grant planned nearly 10 million dollars for abstinence and fidelity education (the AB components of Uganda’s ABC approach) to be spent over five years. One of the subpartners for this operation was Martin Ssempa’s Campus Alliance to Wipe Out AIDS (CAWA). CAWA was slated to get $50,000 as I pointed out in my June post. The funds were proposed for the monthly publication of a magazine directed at college students, called the Prime Timer, for the purpose of promoting abstinence.

However, the group did not get anything close to that, according to Ms. Smith. Why not? According to Smith, CAF ceased their relationship with CAWA due to “lack of performance.” Ms. Smith told me that Martin Ssempa signed the contract in July, 2006 and agreed to produce one magazine per month. However, Smith said she remembered “only one publication that was produced in January, 2007.” 

According to Smith, they were paid $3,950 for the expenses of that one magazine and then the contract was ended in January, 2007. Thus, if World Magazine’s report is accurate and Ssempa’s Global Alliance for Prevention (referred to on the PEPFAR website as Makerere Community Church) received $40,000, then the amount of PEPFAR funding would be $43,950. Here is what World’s Emily Belz said about the use of the funding:

As one result, PSI is no longer fronting abstinence programs in Kampala, and GAP within the last year secured $40,000 in U.S. abstinence-education money. That’s a small sum compared to the $12 million PSI received in the first round of funding, but it’s enough for Ssempa to publish a newspaper promoting abstinence. He distributes the paper on Kampala’s high-school and university campuses.

PSI is Population Services International which was Makerere Community Church’s partner in 2004 according to the PEPFAR website. In any event, it appears that at least some small amount of PEPFAR money was given groups headed by Ssempa.

Ssempa said to the BBC back in February that he receives no funding from the United States (at about 6:10 into the clip). We now know that is a misleading statement since his living expenses and staff salaries are funded by Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. It seems unlikely that he could have devoted the time and resources to his campaign if he did not have the backing of the church. It is not clear to me why Rev. Ssempa would be sensitive about the funding issue. My guess is that it would undermine some of his appeal to African values which has been one core aspect of his campaign for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Family Feud: Karl Rove on Christine O’Donnell

The Architect is redrawing the plans for a GOP takeover of the Senate given Christine O’Donnell’s primary victory in DE Tuesday night. He doesn’t think she can win and pretty much has the opposition research details covered. Roll the tape:

O’Donnell will not garner many glb votes either as she has a history on the subject. Here the Daily Beast interviews ex-ex-gay Wade Richards who used to work with her in an ex-gay ministry as well as with Peter LaBarbera at AFTAH the First.

Will anyone avoid the Values Voter conference because Bryan Fischer is speaking?

Right Wing Watch asks a similar question in a statement and blog post earlier this week.

Mr. Fischer has blamed the Holocaust on homosexuality and thinks Muslims should not be given citizenship and many more things, some of which I have written about. These are radioactive positions that would ordinarily send politicians running the other way.

Pass the popcorn.

I think the RWW post is worth the read as they are not making things up about Mr. Fischer’s views. They are extreme and regularly leave me scratching my head.

From where I sit, these kind of skirmishes are preliminary to what the next two election cycles will look like. The GOP appears to set to fragment with social and fiscal conservatives fighting for dominance for the tea party movement. Could 2012 be a Ross Perot kind of season where a Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee is denied the GOP front runner status but goes off in third party direction?

At any rate, moderate voters disillusioned by the hope and no change reality of 2010 may well be frightened back to Obama and the Dems in 2012 if the Values Voter heavyweights (e.g., Romney, Huckabee, Pence, Gringrich) ignore or endorse the policies advocated by Fischer. However, it will be hard for them to do anything but show up and smile because the whole shooting match is being co-hosted by Fischer’s employer, the American Family Association.

More signs that the GOP may fail to take advantage of the mid-term malaise.

Karl Rove sounded a depressing tone for Republicans late Tuesday night, warning that surprise Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has said “nutty things” and has ruined the party’s chances of winning the seat.

“I’ve met her. I wasn’t frankly impressed by her abilities as a candidate,” Rove said during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “One thing that O’Donnell is now going to have to answer in the general election that she didn’t in the primary is her own checkered background.”

Christine O’Donnell was just added as a speaker at the Values Voter Summit according to a news release from Family Research Council.

FRC Action PAC-endorsed candidate Christine O’Donnell is confirmed to speak Friday afternoon, September 17 at FRC Action’s fifth annual Values Voter Summit. This will be the Delaware Republican Senate nominee’s first address to a national gathering of conservative activists since defeating Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) on Tuesday.

National Security: The Musical

Bryan Fischer has discovered the secret to a safe and secure nation:

If you want to know why America has been kept safe since 9/11, I believe we have professional baseball, football, and basketball owners to thank for giving Americans the opportunity to engage in consistent corporate intercession for the safety of this nation.

Thanks to those corporate ministers of goodness and light, those deacons of deliverance – sports teams owners, fans can drink warm beer, eat bad food and deliver the nation because…wait for it

The singing of “God Bless America” has been a staple since 9/11 in virtually every major league baseball stadium, and, inspired by baseball’s example, is now a consistent part of pregame festivities at NFL games and NBA games, as well as college football and basketball games.

It is scriptural after all, I think the verse goes like this:

If My people, who are called by My name, will mindlessly mumble a prayer set to music at contests involving people who are paid obscene amounts of money, then I hear from heaven and keep evil people from blowing up your land.

I think that is in the OT somewhere.

On a serious note, I feel sure that the very patriotic Irving Berlin would be thrilled to know that his song is inspiring to many. He might also point out the roots of the song to his Jewish mother, if Wikipedia’s quote of the Economist is to be believed.

While he was growing up on the Lower East Side, she would say “God bless America” often, to indicate that, without America, her family would have had no place to go. The Economist magazine wrote that by writing “God Bless America”, Berlin was “producing a deep-felt paean to the country that had given him what he would have said was everything. It is a melody that still makes his fellow countrymen want to stand up and place their hands over their hearts.

Bullied student takes his life

Greensburg, Indiana is the scene of another suicide involving anti-gay harassment.

 

In contrast to some advice givers, I would say Greensburg schools need to talk about sexual orientation related harassment in their schools.

Tonight my local school district rolls out a bullying prevention program. I am on the committee charged with making it work and I have already heard concerns that the exercise is just some kind of left-leaning pro-gay thing. My reply is that my children in elementary school have been called anti-gay slurs. I live in a small town full of truly caring people and we still need to discuss respect for all. They do in Greensburg. I bet they do in your town too.

(Hat tip to Timothy Kincaid)

Will Hawaii be 2nd dominionist state?

TalkToAction asks this question using different words.

This information is important to help evaluate the rise of Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs in Republican politics during the last decade.

For our Ugandan friends worried about American intervention in your nation: Check it out, Uganda, Hawaii and Alaska – The United States of the New Apostolic Reformation (USNAR).  

These efforts to win political entities (states, nations) rest on what I believe to be a faulty understanding of God’s OT covenant with the nation of Israel. In short, the NAR folks take the covenant God made with Israel to apply to the Church. One of the key verses identified in the TalkToAction post is Deuteronomy 28:13:

The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Even though the ministry of Jesus was to usher in a new covenant, the adherents of NAR want the old one to apply prescriptively to the present day. They seem to believe Christians can take these promises to the cosmic bank if they take over the nation (state, city, etc.). Likewise, listening to Lou Engle, it becomes clear, he believes that the problems America faces derives from failure to follow the law of Moses.

However, none of these promises or threats of curse apply to anyone but Israel as is clear from the first verse of the next chapter (Deut. 29:1):

These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.

I do not think the United States of America as a nation is referenced in the Bible. In my view, viewing these promises and curses directed toward Israel as applying to the US or any other nation is egocentric thinking.

All of this may seem like theological inside baseball, but given the continuing merger of NAR religious leaders and some elements within the GOP, understanding these theological foundations will be key to understanding at least the next two elections.

Christian singer promotes counteraction against planned burning of the Quran

Sonia Vannest an independent Christian singer is organizing a protest outside the church which is slated to burn the Islamic holy book on 9/11. You can read more about her event on Facebook where she is seeking to organize people to come and sit outside Dove World Outreach Center tomorrow 9/10/10.

UPDATE: As is being widely reported, the Quran roast is off and the Pastor who called it off says he got a commitment from the NY Ground Zero would be mosque builder to move it.

Well now, “pastor” Jones says he might postpone the bonfire, and hold it later…

UPDATE:

New UPDATE 9/10/10 12:35

With the indecision of the Quran burning by the Dove World Outreach Center still in limbo, the Christian Counteraction Peaceful Prayer Vigil will continue but rescheduled for 9/11 beginning at 4:00pm in front of the Dove World Outreach Center.

5805 Northwest 37th Street Gainesville, FL 32653

Although there may be other groups present, the Prayer Vigil will be a silent, prayerful counteraction displaying reminders that God is Love on signs.

Plan on heavy traffic and parking issues. If you wish to find me, I will be holding a God is Love sign and probably wearing a LIVE LOVE LOUD tshirt.

Contact me if you still wish to attend and group together with me.

True Tolerance and bullying prevention, part 2

Last week, Anderson Cooper 360 examined the claims of Focus on the Family’s Candi Cushman that anti-bullying programs can be fronts for gay promotion. My initial post on the subject is here with the video of the segment here. Cooper links to the True Tolerance website where some of the claims are made and a list of bullying facts are listed. Given my interest in bullying prevention, I checked it out.

While I did not fact check every aspect of the site, I examined the reasons for bullying references, again an interest of mine. My contention is that kids are bullied, in part, for appearing to be different from social and gender norms which are crystalizing at late childhood and early adolescence. Early grade school is a lot kinder than later grade school (4-6) and middle school is often a brutal and unforgiving social order.

Here is what the True Tolerance document says about why kids are bullied:

Physical appearance —or the general concept of appearing different than one’s peers— is actually the most commonly reported reason for why victims are targeted.

Statistics also indicate that race, ethnicity issues, and even opposite-sex harassment actually account for more bullying problems than do homosexual related issues.

Immediately, it occured to me that appearing different is very relevant to GLB issues since kids who experience same-sex attractions are often gender atypical in their interests and behavior and are perceived to be gay because of their differing appearance. Looking further, I checked the references provided. The first reference was to a state of Virginia study which asked kids and teachers several reasons why they were bullied. The report disclosed

When asked about the general school climate, nearly three-fourths reported that students were teased about their physical appearance, about half reported teasing about sexual topics, and about one-third reported that students are often put down because of their race or ethnicity.

Teachers agreed on the first two topics but not with the race/ethnicity reason. The survey does not break down either physical appearance/clothing or sexual topics. It seems highly likely to me that one of those sexual topics was perceptions of sexual orientation but one cannot be sure.

The next reference to validate the point was from the 2007 Winter edition of the journal Adolecence, which again found that appearance was the most common reason given, followed by the victim’s behavior. This reference may not make the desired point since perceived sexual orientation is a matter of behavior and appearance.

The next reference was to a 2004 study reported in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. This study simply asked middle school students why kids were bullied and then grouped the answers by theme. The essential findings were:

Sources of teasing and bullying were physical appearance, personal behavior, family and environment, and school relations. “Being different in any way” was the underlying theme.

The authors provided descriptors for each of their categories which point to a variety of indicators of difference including “acting too much like the other sex” and “acting ‘gay.'” Click the graphic to see their rendering of the students’ answers.

 (Click on the graphic to see the image more clearly)

There are many reasons given and these may not all have the same frequency in each school. One of the hallmarks of a good bullying prevention program is districtwide assessment to learn what the hot button issues are in the different schools.

In the discussion section of this article, the authors provide a fuller description of the themes. Under the theme of “personality and behavior,” the authors address bullying associated with perceived orientation, first noting a student’s report:

“There’s a boy on my bus, and he acts like a girl, sort of. He has all these rings on his fingers and paints his nails clear. . . .And his voice is soft . . . people make fun of him . . . they call him gay and faggot all the time.” These quotations indicate that differences in personality or behavior can single out a student to be the object of teasing and bullying. Crossing a conventional line, such as acting in a way that is associated with the other gender or another race, or with “being gay,” placed a student in jeopardy for particularly malicious forms of harassment.

The next reference is to a 1996 special issue of the International Child and Youth Care Network, edited by a former professor of mine at Ohio University, Richard Hazler. I feel sure Hazler would not be happy to see his work referenced as a way to minimize the effects of bullying based on perceived orientation. At any rate, the reference is to a summary of the journal and so one cannot make any comparative assessments. According to the summary, physical appearance is at the top of the reasons for bullying:

Physical appearance (overweight, “the way my face looked”) and socio-familial context (“who my friends were,” “I was hot tempered”) were the most common factors reported by students as reasons for their victimization.

As noted, physical appearance is broad enough to include bullying that would include perceptions of sexual orientation.

The next set of references seek to support the contention that homosexual issues rank down the list of reasons people are bullied. The first reference is the New York City school districts report of bias related disciplinary incidents. According the January, 2010 news release:

The Department’s audit found that 6,207—or 4.7 percent—out of a total of 130,837 disciplinary incidents reported in the City’s public schools during the 2008-09 school year were bias-related. Of the biases associated with these incidents, 55 percent were gender-related, 21 percent were race/color-related, and 13 percent were related to students’ gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

While ranked third in the list, the number of kids bullied for gender/orientation issues is sobering when one considers the number of kids in the sexual minority category. This means that quite a few kids are perceived as a sexual minority and that a high percentage of them are being harassed. It also may mean that sexuality related slurs are being leveled at many kids due to perceived status.

 Several of the next bunch of references are not studies but news articles (e.g., racial strife in Philadelphia) which cannot address the reasons for being bullied. This is a distraction and not an appropriate means of supporting the desired points. A proponent of including sexual orientation issues could advance articles about students like Carl Hoover-Walker, Jaheem Herrera,  Eric Mohat and Justin Aaberg in order to make their points. All of those boys experienced anti-gay harassment and all committed suicide. The articles provided by the True Tolerance website identify real problems but they are not relevant to the prevalence of anti-gay bullying.

One of the references did not relate to bullying in general but rather was a study of sexual harassment. But even in this study, the researchers reported that sexual harassment involved verbal bullying, saying

With respect to perpetration, research suggests that African-American boys weremore likely than their Hispanic and White counterparts to engage in physical sexual harassment, whereas White boys were more likely to engage in nonphysical harassment such as calling someone gay or lesbian or spreading sexual rumors (AAUW, 2001).

While the report does not directly address bullying in general, this reference fails to support the fact sheet and in fact supports the idea that gay related teasing is an important aspect of the problem.

To me, if one approaches this from a neutral perspective, one has to name a problem to solve it. If in a given district, sexual minorities are being targeted, then one must train teachers and staff to recognize it and stop it. If anti-gay slurs are being used, then one must acknowledge the existance of gay students to make the point that such remarks are hurtful and manipulative. One would do this for any domain of bias, it seems to me. If belief indoctrination is of concern, then the programs should be evaluated on a case by case basis and local parent groups convened to find solutions that work at the local level.