Evergreen Celebrates the Nobleman

In 2010, the Jewish ex-gay group Jonah began recommending the human potential group Celebration of Being to constituents as a step on the ex-gay journey. At the time, I wondered if CoB would become a “new way to ex-gay.” Now People Can Change and Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International are joining in.
A notice from Evergreen offers:

Breakthrough Healing with Women: The Noble Man Workshop
Celebration of the Noble Man: Healing Men’s Wounds With Women. An intensive experience for men from all walks of life who are ready to heal their issues with women. For more information, see http://celebrationofbeing.com/noble_man.html

Celebration of Nobleman is one of CoB’s weekend retreats, and focuses on men gathering with female leaders to “heal old wounds with the women in your life.”  For about $800 you can discover your manhood with the empowering help of women. CoB is collaborating with People Can Change for these workshops.
Read the earlier post for more about this group. Suffice to say that this is a pan-spiritual approach to finding your inner, hidden potential for masculinity while in the presence of women. While the pictures on the website indicate that hugging and physical affirmation are a part of these workshops, I don’t know if womean substitute for men in holding therapy common at People Can Change workshops. In a 2010 conversation, I asked one of the CoB leaders about such techniques but she declined to say what they do on the weekends.
CoB says they are open to men of all sexual orientations:

Celebration of Being welcomes all men seeking healing with the feminine regardless of sexual orientation or partner gender preference. Our policy is to be completely inclusive and respectful of everyone’s choice.

Lots of irony here. CoB partners with groups not offering this same kind of inclusivity. And then those groups are sending men to an experience which claims to be just fine with gay affirmation, even as the men attending are trying to change something that research demonstrates is infrequently changed.
CoB is supposed to be about acceptance of self, whereas People Can Change is about change. The ex-gay groups seem to be so sure that attraction to the same sex is about mother and father wounds that they recommend groups which claim to heal these in hopes that such healing will reduce the gay.
Often ex-gay groups claim that they only want to help people live in accord with their religious beliefs. This is what People Can Change’s Rich Wyler told NPR recently. However, recommendations to groups like CoB (and the Mankind Project) in order to change orientation seem to contradict this claim. If anything, CoB is more aligned with Buddhist and Sufi teachings. Very little that is going on in these workshops is in congruence with religious teachings of a particular faith. The aim is change, not acceptance and congruence.
My purpose is not criticize other religions. My observation is that change groups put change above congruence, while articulating a congruence message. Whether it be the Exodus ministry that articulates acceptance and faith congruence while promoting reparative therapy materials, or the topic of today’s post, it seems that the rhetoric of congruence is more common than its application.

Ugandan MPs vow to pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Despite Cabinet’s wish to shelve the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Ugandan MPs voiced defiance in a Daily Monitor article today,

Members of Parliament yesterday accused Cabinet of bowing to pressure and described the Executive’s decision to block the gays Bill as “moral corruption”.

The lawmakers said it was immoral for government to think that donor funds matter more than traditional values and vowed to push for the Bill and ensure that it is passed even without the support of government. “Whether they want or not, we are going to pass it. For government to come up and throw out such a Bill means we are living in a crazy world,” said Mr Andrew Allen (Bugabula North).

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, the architect of the Bill, says Cabinet cannot throw out his Bill because it is now property of Parliament and insists that he is going to push for it.

As I reported yesterday, Parliament spokeswoman Helen Kawesa said the bill was in the jurisdiction of Parliament. Today, MPs echoed her words.

Prior to the move, the international community had put pressure on government by threatening to cut aid if government passes the Bill. Ms Betty Amongi (MP Oyam South) says Cabinet has given Parliament a chance to exercise and prove its independence and not allow donor influence to “also jeopardize its works.”
The Anti-homosexuality Bill is a private members Bill and Shadow Attorney General, Abdu Katuntu (MP Bugweri) said Cabinet cannot throw out a Bill it didn’t bring. “The only option they have is to come and oppose it on the floor of the House,” he said.

Peter Waldron's Vanishing Act

Last week, The Atlantic broke the story about Michele Bachmann’s staffer, Peter Waldron, who was arrested in Uganda in 2006 on charges of possessing firearms illegally.  The Bachmann campaign credited Waldron with helping her win the Iowa straw poll vote on August 13. 
After The Atlantic story came out, there were several reports about Waldron with information about his background and an upcoming film about his experiences in Uganda. The title of the film is The Ultimate Price.
Shortly thereafter, I pointed out a reference on Waldron’s Facebook page to his next assignment: South Carolina. He also shared there that he saw Texas Governor Rick Perry as comparable to King Saul and Bachmann like  King David in the Old Testament. Bachmann is like David in that she has been anointed by God, according to Waldron. Those comments are now unavailable; the screen cap follows:

Now almost everything current related to Mr. Waldron has disappeared. His Facebook page is now private, and all that is left of his personal (peterewaldron.com) and movie promo (theultimatepricemovie.com) websites is the phrase, “under construction.” (See screen caps at the end of the post)
Once three video interviews were available on YouTube. Hosted by Hermann and Sharron Bailey, the interviews focused on his time in the Ugandan prison on weapons charges. These are now marked private (e.g, Part two
YouTube hosts two videos promoting the film about Waldron (The Ultimate Price). Now one of them (the 4 minute version) is marked private, while the two-minute version carries the disclaimer that the video is “unlisted.” For now, the embedding feature allows it to be shown, but it does not appear in YouTube search results.

Despite these disappearances, you can still get some Waldron at his Christian’s Restoring America’s Greatness (CRAG), this Facebook group dedicated to promoting CRAG,  Advancing America’s Freedom (co-founder), and this BlogTalkRadio podcast for his Contact America organization.
Several questions occur to me: Why remove these sites? Did he do it? Did the Bachmann campaign want him to do it? Is he still working for her in SC? Is there something troubling about the information being removed?
Given that Mr. Waldron believes Michele Bachmann is anointed by God to pursue to the Presidency, I hope the media start asking Bachmann some questions about what Waldron is telling evangelicals about her candidacy.
Screen caps: Peterewaldron.com, Theultimatepricemovie.com, Facebook comment

American Anti-gay Campaign in Africa: Family Watch International

Late yesterday, Religion Dispatches posted my lengthy report on the anti-gay work of Family Watch International and the World Congress of Families.
I became curious about FWI when I saw that they had distanced their organization from Martin Ssempa. I reported way back in January 2010 that Ssempa was associated with the group. However, efforts then to get FWI to respond to the issue were ignored.  Recently, however, FWI made a change which according to Slater was a reflection of their belief that gays not be killed or beaten for being gay. She told me in the interview that FWI did not support violence, but take no position on other penalties.
The question that came to my mind was – “Isn’t removal of freedom and being cast in jail violence?”
Apparently, not violent enough.
I hope you will go read the report at RD.

Uganda's Cabinet and Parliament At Odds Over Anti-gay Bill

Today, in the face of reports that Uganda’s Cabinet tossed out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Parliament spokesperson, Helen Kawesa, said that the bill “is in the Parliament now. It’s Parliament’s property.” She added the Cabinet ministers will “have to argue it out in the Parliament” since the bill is controlled by Parliament and has not yet had a vote.
Kawesa added, “If the Cabinet has issues with it, they will be brought in to the floor of the House.”
Currently, budget meetings are on the agenda but a budget is slated to get a vote by next Wednesday. After that, other business, including the anti-gay bill could be considered. As of now, according to Kawesa, there is no official action scheduled for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but she said the bill could come up at any time after the budget has been passed.
In 2010, a Cabinet committee chaired by Adolf Mwesige called for removal of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and made recommendations to enforce existing law. Those recommendations were detailed in a report to Parliament. Many observers believed at the time that the bill had been shelved. However, the bill remained under the jurisdiction of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee. That committee then wrote a report recommending that the bill be passed. However, for reasons that remain unknown, the Parliament placed the bill on the daily agenda but then failed to act on the measure. Currently, the bill remains in the hands of Parliament and is one of several measures considered in the last session which is alive in this session.

Uganda's Cabinet urges Parliament to drop anti-gay bill; encourages enforcement of existing law

Uganda’s Cabinet Minister’s have urged Parliament and MP David Bahati to drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, according to the Daily Monitor. Bahati declined to do so, saying the bill is now the property of Parliament. Here the entire story:

Cabinet has finally thrown out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 on the advice of Mr Adolf Mwesige, the ruling party lawyer. However, Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, the architect of the Bill, insists the proposed legislation is now property of Parliament and that the Executive should stop “playing hide- and- seek games” on the matter.
The decision to throw out the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was made at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday where Mr Mwesige, according to sources, told ministers that the Bill was unnecessary since government has a number of laws in place criminalising homosexual activities.
“We agreed that government should search the law archives and get some of the laws, enforce them rather than having another new piece of legislation,” a source said. “He [Mwesige] said the Bill is overtaken by events and that donors and other sections of the public were not comfortable.”
The Bill seeks to criminalise all same-sex relations in the country and proposes the death penalty for sodomy. Mr Bahati and his group maintain that the country should have stronger laws against homosexuality in order to protect the moral fabric that holds society intact.
“The future of this country’s children will be determined by the peoples’ representatives in Parliament,” Mr Bahati said during a phone interview on Saturday.

It is not clear whether or not this action will effectively kill the bill. In 2010, a Cabinet committee led by Adolf Mwesige recommended that the bill be dropped for essentially the same reasons. However, it was not dropped at that time, even though Mwesige was confident that it would be shelved.
Even though the bill might be slowed by the Cabinet’s reluctance to push ahead, Mwesige also called for enforcement of existing law (prohibition of unnatural carnal knowledge). If so, Uganda’s GLBT community could still face a worsening situation going forward.

AFA takes a stand on religious freedom

While this is not a perfect statement (see this post for a critique), the AFA decided to oppose Bryan Fischer’s narrow view of the First Amendment. Earlier this week, the AFA issued the following statement.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR ALL 
An American Family Association Policy Statement 
The American Family Association celebrates Religious Freedom for all people and for all beliefs as one of the foundational values that make the United States of America a great nation.  
Historical Background 
America’s Founders disagreed how broadly the First Amendment extended Freedom of Religion.  Since James Madison, known as the Father of the Bill of Rights, insured that the Congressional debates over the Bill of Rights were conducted in secret, Americans must look to later sources to understand the positions taken by their Founders.  Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, whom Madison appointed to the Supreme Court and who later founded Harvard Law School, openly debated over the place of Christianity in American law.  Jefferson advocated a broad view that that all religions, not merely variations of Christianity, were to be protected.  In his autobiography Jefferson wrote: 
[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom… was finally passed,… a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination. 
Joseph Story stated a contradictory view in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States:  
The real object of the [First] amendment was, not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment, which should give to an hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”  
Jefferson’s position has ultimately prevailed; under American law all religions enjoy freedom from government interference.  However Joseph Story’s view continues to have proponents, including Bryan Fischer, one of American Family Radio’s talk show hosts.   However, the American Family Association (“AFA”) officially sides with Jefferson on this question.   AFA is confident that the truth of Christianity will prevail whenever it is allowed to freely compete in the marketplace of ideas.  

In other words, on one of the fundamental issues the AFA speaks about, they have a spokesperson who takes the anachronistic view with which they disagree.
Now I would like to see the AFA come out and issue a statement regarding Bryan Fischer’s position on the nobility of displacing and eradicating indigenous people from the land. It appears that they now understand a little better that silence communicates consent. So now there are several statements they need work on.

AACC is not larger than the APA

Yesterday, Right Wing Watch pointed to a broadcast  from Liberty Counsel and a tweet from the same group saying that the American Association of Christian Counselors is larger than the American Psychological Association. Here is the still-uncorrected tweet:
As RWW pointed out, that is simply not true. The non-profit APA has “more than 154,000 members” and the for profit AACC has said they have “nearly 50,000 members” for several years.
There is another aspect to the claims made by Liberty Counsel that should be pointed out. Mat Staver said on the broadcast that the AACC has produced “the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out that says change is possible.” I assume he is talking about Jones and Yarhouse’s study of Exodus participants (and even there the changes were minimal and not in keeping with the claims made by Staver). However, the Liberty lawyers should also know that a more recent study published in Edification, a journal of the AACC, found that a group of heterosexually married sexual minorities reported no change on average in homosexual attractions.
I pointed this out in this post.

Bachmann staffer: Perry is Saul and Bachmann is David

The visibility of veteran GOP political organizer Peter Waldron has risen a good bit since The Atlantic broke a story today about Waldron’s 2006 detention in Uganda on allegations of illegal gun possession. Waldron has a lengthy resume but now includes work for GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Specifically, the campaign acknowledged that Waldron helped deliver the Iowa straw poll win last weekend.
According to The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta, Alice Stewart, Bachmann’s press secretary, said about Waldron: “Michele’s faith is an important part of her life and Peter did a tremendous job with our faith outreach in Iowa. We are fortunate to have him on our team and look forward to having him expanding his efforts in several states.”
Apparently the next state is South Carolina. In a comment on his Facebook page, Waldron said he would soon be in Columbia and cover the state. We get a hint in one comment about what he might tell evangelicals he hopes to win over to Bachmann. In one comment, Waldron compared Rick Perry to King Saul and Bachmann to King David. If you have been to Sunday School, you know that Saul was a tall, good looking guy who eventually had a bad end because he fell out of God’s favor. God placed His blessing on King David instead.  Here is the comment:

In another comment on his page, he says Bachmann “fights with the anointing of God upon her.” Waldron has some ties to the Christian Reconstruction movement, having co-authored a bookwith Reconstructionist George Grant. In the above comment, he seems to see America as a covenant nation with God much in the same way the Old Testament depicts the Jewish people as having a special covenant with God.
I posted first on this here and then have a three part video interview from YouTube here.