Gay City News writer misleads readers about my stance on Uganda

At least that is how it seems to me.

Maybe I am sensitive about this, but this piece by Paul Schindler does not report well the stance and action I have taken regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Here is the part that concerns me:

Nath argued that just as the existing sexual conduct prohibitions in place in Uganda are a relic of British colonial rule, this more lethal approach is in part an import from the West. She noted that Exodus International, a Christianist group that promotes “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ,” even as it calls for “spiritual warfare” against gay-identified people, recently met in Uganda.

On November 16, however, Exodus International released a press statement noting that it had written to President and Mrs. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda voicing its opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Law, stating, in part, “We believe that sexual crimes against children, homosexual or heterosexual, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished accordingly. Homosexual behavior in consensual relationships, however, is another matter. While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue.”

Talk to Action, a website that monitors the Religious Right, published a post alleging that two allies of the controversial Christian pastor Rick Warren, who gave the invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration –– Archbishop Henry Orombi, the Anglican bishop of Kampala, and Pastor Martin Ssempa –– are major supporters of the bill.

Ssempa has endorsed the bill, recently writing to Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D., (himself a controversial figure due to his therapeutic approach toward individuals wishing to “alter homosexual feelings or behaviors”), “I am in total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.” Ssempa reiterated that view in an interview on Premier Radio, a UK Christian station.

Warren, however, released a statement in October opposing the bill, writing, “Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church,” and noting that he had cut his ties to Ssempa.

 

Exodus, Rick Warren and I are mentioned from the evangelical world. The opposition of Exodus to the bill is mentioned, Rick Warren’s schism with Martin Ssempa is mentioned but I am made to seem as though I might support the bill.

I wrote Mr. Schindler this note this morning:

I take great exception to your portrayal of me in your recent article:

You noted correctly that Martin Ssempa wrote to me regarding his support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but your words about me being controversial because of my views would easily lead people to think that I also support the bill.

I ask that you amend your story to alert your readers that I vigorously opposing the bill. I started a Facebook group called “Speak Out Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.” The group now has almost 5500 members from around the world. I had an op-ed published in the Ugandan press regarding my opposition. The statement from Rick Warren that you mention was given first to me due to my reporting on the issue. 

You have confused your readers by your reporting and I call on you to correct the situation immediately. 

Warren Throckmorton, PhD

Readers here and on the Facebook group will know better, but I doubt that readers of the GCN will. If you are so inclined, you can write Mr. Schindler at editor@gaycitynews.com.

UPDATE: Mr. Schindler wrote to say he did not intend to mislead and made a amendment:

Ssempa has endorsed the bill, recently writing to Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D., (who is himself a controversial figure due to his therapeutic approach toward individuals wishing to “alter homosexual feelings or behaviors,” but someone who has condemned the measure strongly), “I am in total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.” Ssempa reiterated that view in an interview on Premier Radio, a UK Christian station.

Thanks to Mr. Schindler for this….

Episcopal Church officials to discuss opposition to Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

My guess is that a statement will emerge which condemns the bill. Conservatives, moderates and liberals are likely to unite around a statement that does not violate any views of homosexual behavior but will condemn the criminalization and execution of homosexuals.

Executive Council members call for special meeting on Uganda legislation

By Mary Frances Schjonberg, [Episcopal News Service] A teleconference meeting of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council will take place on Dec. 7 to discuss a possible statement on Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country’s anti-homosexuality laws.

Sixteen members of the council requested the meeting with a handwritten petition that said a motion would be offered at the meeting “regarding the urgent human rights situation in Uganda.”

 

Homosexuality in the African nation currently carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. If passed, the proposed bill would extend prison sentences for homosexuals up to and including life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes assault against people under the age of 18 and those with disabilities. It also would give Ugandan courts jurisdiction over Ugandan citizens who violate the law “partly outside or partly in Uganda.”

The Executive Council, an elected group of clergy, laity and bishops that carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1)(a), normally meets three to four times a year. The next meeting is set for Feb. 19-22.

However, the Presiding Bishop as president of the council may call a special meeting and a minimum of nine council members may petition in writing for such a meeting under Canon I.4 (4)(a).

The last special meeting occurred April 13, 2005 when then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold called a one-day meeting in Mundelein, Illinois near Chicago to formulate a response to a request of the Anglican Communion’s primates that the Episcopal Church voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council until the next meeting of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The minutes of that meeting are here and the response is here.

The 16 members circulated the petition amongst themselves at a Nov. 17-20 gathering in Chicago of the Episcopal Church’s so-called interim bodies, the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards (commonly know as CCABs). The members were at the meeting in their roles as council liaisons to the church’s standing commissions. All council members who were approached to sign the petition, agreed to do so, according to Sarah Dylan Breuer, council member from Massachusetts and one of the signers.

The council members’ request came on the same day that the Chicago Consultation, a group of lay and ordained Episcopalians, called on Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Henri Orombi of Uganda to speak out against the legislation. None of them has issued any statements thus far.

Also that day, during at the CCABs meeting in Chicago, the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns agreed to a statement saying that the members discussed the Ugandan legislation at length, were “deeply alarmed” by it and urged the Executive Council to address the issue before its February meeting.

The commission offered “proposed language” for the council to consider as a resolution. In it the council would join with the Anglican Church of Canada in expressing “dismay and concern” over the proposed legislation, call upon the U.S. government to convey via the Secretary of State “a sense of alarm about this fundamental violation of human rights” and ask the Archbishop of Canterbury, other church leaders, and other appropriate leaders and bodies of the Anglican Communion to take similar action.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod on Nov. 15 expressed its dismay and concern about the draft legislation, saying that the proposed bill “would severely impede the human rights of Ugandan citizens both at home and abroad [and] impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction as well as those who counsel, support, and advise them, including family members and clergy.”

Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, recently told ENS that “the Episcopal Church, like the Anglican Communion as a whole, is very clear in its support for the human rights of all people, including gay and lesbian persons.”

“For us in the Episcopal Church, that means we oppose all abuses of human rights, whether in our own midst or in other parts of the world, and we seek to make that opposition known through our ministry of advocacy,” he said.

Baumgarten noted that for the past several weeks, the Episcopal Church “has encouraged Episcopalians who have contacted us on this issue to be in touch with their own elected officials. As of the present moment, we are very encouraged by the engagement of the U.S. State Department, which has called the law a ‘significant step backwards for human rights,’ and has given public assurances that it is addressing the matter with the Ugandan government. It is our understanding that neither the Ugandan government nor the Church of the Province of Uganda (Anglican) has taken a position on this legislation.”

The Anglican Church of Uganda on Nov. 6 issued a press release saying that it is studying the bill and does not yet have an official position on the proposed legislation. However, the release restated the Ugandan church’s position that “homosexual behavior is immoral and should not be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way as an ‘alternative lifestyle.'”

And AllAfrica.com reported Oct. 29 that the church’s provincial secretary told the Monitor newspaper in Kampala, Uganda that jailing homosexuals was preferable to executing them.  “If you kill the people, to whom will the message go? We need to have imprisonment for life if the person is still alive,” said the Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, according to the website.

The 16 members who signed the petition are the Rev. Canon Tim Anderson, Hisako Beasely, Sarah Dylan Breuer, Jane Cosby, Martha Gardner, the Rev. Floyd “Butch” Gamarra, Bruce Garner, Anita George, the Ven. Joyce Hardy, Stephen Hutchinson, the Rev. Cristobal Leon, Katie Sherrod, the Rev. Terry Starr,  Deborah Stokes, Anne Watkins, the Rev. Sandye Wilson.

Breuer told ENS Nov. 23 that the teleconferencing method meant that the council could meet quickly at less cost and provide “an opportunity for all of us to stand with our presiding officers (Jefferts Schori and Anderson) behind whatever conclusion the meeting comes to.”

“I think the ability of Executive Council to respond to such a time-sensitive request in accordance with our polity and without burdening the budget is one example of what our Presiding Bishop has been saying: Perhaps a shrinking budget helped the process along, but embracing technology to meet over distances presents us with exciting opportunities too,” she said.

The money available for the CCABs (of which the council is one) to meet face-to-face was reduced when the 2010-2012 budget was cut by $23 million from the current plan. It is anticipated that the most of the groups would primarily meet online or with telephone conferencing.

Breuer said that the conference-call meeting is “an opportunity to discuss an issue that the entire church is passionate about [and] to let people know that our response has been considered by clergy, laity and bishops, and has been considered carefully and prayerfully,” Breuer said. She added that she hoped such a consideration will show “there’s broad consensus” about whatever stance the council takes.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

Read the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

Join the Facebook group speaking out in opposition to the bill.

Read additional posts on this topic.

Exodus opposes Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009: Open letter to the President of Uganda

This letter was sent this afternoon from Exodus to the President of Uganda. It is also on the Exodus website and an open letter expressing reasons why the proposed bill is wrong and counter to Christian principles.

Exodus Sends Letter Opposing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill  

 November 16, 2009 

Exodus International sent the following letter to Uganda’s President Museveni regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 currently being considered in the Parliament. The bill would criminalize and prosecute homosexual behavior and would require pastors, missionaries, health care providers and counselors to report those suspected of such behavior. Exodus International, along with its board members and broader network, opposes this legislation as it inhibits the global Christian church’s mission to share the life-giving truth of the Gospel and extend the compassion of Christ to all.

President & Mrs. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

c/o Principal Private Secretary, Amelia Kyambadde

State House Nakasero

P.O. Box 24594

Kampala, Uganda

Dear President & Mrs. Museveni,

As evangelical Christian leaders dedicated to advancing the truths of the Bible worldwide, we commend your work to promote ethics in Uganda. In addition, your efforts to eradicate the HIV/AIDS epidemic have been appropriately praised internationally and we are praying for your continued success.

We want to humbly share our concerns regarding The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced before the Ugandan parliament on October 14, 2009.  First, we believe that sexual crimes against children, homosexual or heterosexual, are the most serious of offenses and should be punished accordingly. Homosexual behavior in consensual relationships, however, is another matter.

While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue. Furthermore, the Christian church must be a safe, compassionate place for gay-identified people as well as those who are confused about and conflicted by their sexuality. If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue. The Christian church cannot and should not condone homosexual living or gay-identified clergy within its leadership, but it must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out.

Many of us and those we know and work with have personally struggled with unwanted homosexual attractions and once lived as gay individuals, but have since found a new identity in Jesus Christ and have gone on to live lives that reflect the teaching of the Christian faith. We sincerely believe that such transformations cannot best be achieved in an environment of government coercion where the vital support, care and compassion of others in the Christian community is discouraged and prosecuted.

Please consider the influence this law will have upon those who may seek help in dealing with this difficult issue as well as church and ministry leaders committed to demonstrating the compassion of Christ to all. We are praying for you, for this matter and for the people of Uganda.

Sincerely,

Alan Chambers

President of Exodus International, Orlando, Florida

Former homosexual

Randy Thomas

Executive Vice President, Exodus International, Orlando, Florida

Former homosexual

Christopher Yuan

Adjunct Instructor, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois

HIV Survivor

AIDS Activist

Former homosexual

Warren Throckmorton, Ph.D.

Member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors

Grove City, Pennsylvania

Here’s hoping it helps…

UPDATE: 11/19/09 – Here is one eyewitness report of the effect of the Exodus letter:

The Exodus letter is a particular foil. Why, even Exodus does not support the Bill! That is a shock, to Steven Langa. An unpleasant one. Because he is using information published by some of the signatories of this letter. He quotes them. And, very embarassing that they dont support his bill! Even his allies see that his action is un-Christian. He also quotes Lively, extensively. Yes, he does. This Lively. To Langa, the true intellectual mind behind the Bahati Bill, Lively is THE prophet of his crusade. And he promotes his books. Repeateldy. Even yesterday. (It was the Pink Swastika)

I will always remember Langa’s face when he was challenged that Exodus was not supporting the bill. That they were not supporting him, though he was quoting them. And, it was a fellow pastor, I believe, who challenged him. Could he answer? Ha!

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill discussed on Premier Christian Radio

Yesterday morning my time, I was on the Premier Christian Radio Network (UK) to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being considered in Uganda. Also on the show was prime supporter in Uganda, Martin Ssempa.

You can listen here (If audio is down, try this…).

Some Christian leaders in the UK are speaking out about a proposed law in Uganda which would introduce the death penalty for gay people.

The British government’s already announced it’s unease at the idea.

It’s already illegal to be homosexual in the African state, but the new bill would introduce more strict punishments.

Pastor Martin Ssempa is a Ugandan who supports the new law.

Dr Warren Throckmorton is associate professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City Christian College in Pennsylvania. He’s campaigning against it.

I felt the interview went well and brought out the relevant concerns about the bill.

The future is now, part two – Ugandan want ad

This ad was in Uganda’s Monitor on Sunday:

ugandamonitorscreencapedit

Note the ad in the red oval. When the link is clicked it goes to this ad:

Two homosexuals, Namutebi Ruth and Hilda are wanted by the police, anyone who sees them and has information leading to their arrest should report to the nearest police station for the safety of our country. A big reward waits.

Since this is a sponsored link, anyone could have placed that ad. There may be a Ruth and Hilda but whether they are gay or not is not the point. What seems clear is that someone, perhaps an enemy of Ruth and Hilda, wants to cause problems for these two people. If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 passes, one may expect many more such ads. The bill has the following provision:

14. Failure to disclose the offense.

A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offense to the relevant authorities within twenty-four hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

 Can you imagine the results of this requirement?

UPDATE: The page has now been altered and the want ad and poll are gone. Here is what it looked like prior to being removed.

More media on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Here’s a treatment of the bill which quotes all sides.

Not sure when this article was researched but this section seems to contradict another statement of a Bishop from the Anglican Church of Uganda.

The Bill has the support of various religious groups in Uganda, who have been battling the gay movements. Some of the leaders in the Pentecostal churches in Uganda have been accused of practising homosexuality.

Religious leaders from the Orthodox Church, Pentecostal Church and Islam, in appearing before the Parliamentary and Presidential Affairs Committee, say the law against homosexuality was timely, but they were opposed to the death penalty.

Reverend Canon Aaron Mwesigye Kafundizeki, the Church of Uganda provincial secretary, tells IPS: “It is an important law, but the provision related to the death penalty may prevent this law from being passed, because death should not be accepted as a punishment. Therefore propose another form of punishment instead of death.”

Kafundizeki said pushing for extra territorial jurisdiction would be counter-productive.

“The Church of Uganda is saying we need to limit ourselves to the Ugandan territory, instead of extra territorial jurisdiction, because the Ugandan constitution is very clear on protocols and ratifications. Going beyond the borders will be counter-productive,” he says.

Here the Canon said the Church of Uganda had not taken a position on the bill.

From the Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye

Anglican Province of Uganda

November 6, 2009

The Church of Uganda is studying the proposed “Anti-homosexuality bill” and, therefore, does not yet have an official position on the bill. In the meantime, we can restate our position on a number of related issues.

Perhaps the Canon means the church has not taken an official position. He seemed to be favorable toward the bill if the death penalty and extraterritoriality were removed.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill sponsors selected for “servant leadership team”

Something is not right here:

MP Warned against witchcraft

By Francis Emorut

MEMBERS of Parliament have been warned against witchcraft and corrupt tendencies.

“You should not consult witchdoctors for success but instead seek help from God,” Dr. Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer International, said.

“I know witchcraft is a big problem in Uganda but as MPs, you should be exemplary,” he said.

Hartley was speaking during a prayer meeting for parliamentarians at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday.

The MPs underwent a two-day training on how to pray with impact.

“You have to confront the enemy, Satan, using God’s authority,” Hartley told MPs.

The legislators were told to seek first the Kingdom of God before seeking earthly materials and forgive one another irrespective of their political affiliation.

Hartley explained to the MPs that the Kingdom of God involves righteousness, joy, peace and the Holy Spirit. He told the MPs that if they prayed in line with the Kingdom of God they would be able to cast out demons.

“True signs of wonders will follow if you pray in truth. The blind will see, the lame will walk and the deaf will hear,” he said.

During testimonies, Soroti Woman MP Alice Alaso (FDC) testified that Apostle Julius Oyet prophesied in 2000 at Lugogo stadium that she would win elections in 2001.

“Indeed, I won elections without spending money and I will continue doing so,” Alaso said.

MP Benson Obua (UPC) testified that he prayed for a pregnant woman who had spent three days in labour and was about to undergo caesarean section and she gave birth normally.

After the prayer meeting, eight MPs were selected to be in the servant leadership team for Parliament for three years.

They included Ruth Tuma, Alice Alaso, Beatrice Lagada, Moses Ntahobari, Capt. Grace Kyomugisha, Benson Obua, David Bahati and the East African legislative assembly MP, Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu.

Benson Obua and David Bahati are the two sponsors of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

Read the bill here.

Join those who are speaking out in opposition here.

h/t BarthNotes via the Facebook group.

Harvard’s AIDS expert Edward Green condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

The Christian Post published my op-ed this morning regarding the deleterious effects of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill on AIDS work. I was able to interview Edward Green, who is the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University. Green is widely known respected among AIDS researchers and prevention specialists for his work in primary prevention. As noted in the op-ed, Dr. Green worked with Martin Ssempa to craft policy which emphasize abstinence and fidelity. I didn’t add in the op-ed that Stephen Langa was also a co-author.

About the bill, Dr. Green told me:

The bill sounds dangerous and completely inhumane. As a practical matter, such a bill is unenforceable and would only drive homosexuality underground, terrorize gay men and women and their loved ones, and justify witch hunts.

I also was able to interview Karen Moul of the Catholic Relief Services. CRS has received millions to prevent and treat AIDS around the world. She noted that their efforts are hampered by stigma now; this bill will make the situation worse.

Also, go on over to Christian Post and read this article…

Adding D to ABC: How a Proposed Ban on Homosexuality in Uganda Will Undo AIDS Progress

Relevant to AIDS relief work, there is no exemption in the bill for professionals.

Tue, Nov. 03, 2009 Posted: 07:23 PM EDT Continue reading “Harvard’s AIDS expert Edward Green condemns Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”

Op-ed in Uganda’s Independent: Put down the stones

This appeared on the website of the Independent.

At Uganda Talks we welcome guest blogs from our readers. Today, associate professor of psychology at Grove City (a Christian college in the U.S.), Warren Throckmorton, writes about Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill.

Put down the stones

Christians believe that when Jesus was confronted by the religious leaders of His day, He had just the right response. However, I fear that many of my Ugandan brothers and sisters now doubt that Jesus was correct in His example. Let me explain.

In the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John, the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought a woman to Jesus for Him to judge.

They said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” The woman expressed no repentance, no remorse; she was coerced to this degrading situation by the religious leaders who used her as a scapegoat and example.

Jesus did not speak but instead wrote in the dirt on the ground before He spoke. We don’t know what He wrote, but we do know what He said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

No one tossed so much as a pebble. They all walked away, leaving the woman untouched by the wrath of men. Rather, she had been touched by the mercy of her Benefactor.

Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

We do not know whether or not she left her life of sin. The Bible does not say. However, we do know that Jesus prevented this woman from being stoned to death. She had sinned and was free to go.

Was Jesus wrong?

As I read the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in Uganda by MPs David Bahati and Benson Obua, I wonder if perhaps these gentlemen think Jesus should have picked up a stone. Instead, Jesus intervened on behalf of the woman, was He wrong?

Clearly, He did not believe adultery was proper. But He signaled a new way of dealing with sin, one which emphasizes mercy and freedom, rather than coercion and death. People must choose to follow the teachings of Christ, not be coerced by Pharisees or government officials. The human heart cannot be changed by laws, but through the freely chosen grace of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, jailing or killing gays or those suspected of being gay or those who know gays cannot create a righteous people, and in fact may further a self-righteous people. One may disapprove of homosexuality, and still treat homosexuals as you would want to be treated. Who among us could stand if our private sins were judged in such a manner as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009?

I urge my brethren in beautiful Uganda to follow the example of Jesus. Please, for the sake of Christ, put down your stones.