Exodus issues additional statement regarding criminalization and Dennis Jernigan in Jamaica

Been traveling so this is just now going up:

Exodus International Releases New Policy Statement On the Criminalization of Homosexuality

Ministry responds to Christian Music Artist and Exodus Board Member, Dennis Jernigan’s Remarks in Kingston, Jamaica

Orlando, Fla—Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with homosexuality, released a new policy statement on the criminalization of homosexuality. While the ministry has long held this perspective, they felt compelled to release a written statement in light of Exodus Board Vice Chairman, Dennis Jernigan’s, comments to the media in Kingston, Jamaica. Exodus board member, Don Schmierer, experienced a similar collision with the media on a trip to Uganda in 2009.

“Dennis Jernigan recently traveled to Jamaica to share his testimony and lead worship at a number of venues,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “While there he was thrust into a media firestorm and asked to comment on President Obama’s threat to issue sanctions against Jamaica for their laws concerning the criminalization of homosexuality.

“Dennis shared his belief that President Obama is deceived about homosexual behavior and the biblical morality of it. Dennis assured me he is not for the criminalization of homosexuality, and he will release his own statement on this matter. However, Jernigan offered this immediate response ”:

“I believe my heart and intent were misconstrued and therefore, may have harmed Exodus’ mission of ministering to those struggling with same-sex attraction (SSA). To that end, as of this moment, I step down as Vice Chairman of Exodus.”

Here is an excerpt of the Exodus policy statement, also supported by its Board of Directors.

We will not support any legislation that deprives others of life and dignity based on their sexual orientation or the expression of such within the confines of a consensual adult relationship. Finally, we stand with the LGBT community both in spirit, and when necessary, legally and physically, when violence rears it’s head in Uganda, Jamaica or anywhere else in the world.

Chambers is working with the Exodus International Board and staff to craft strong statements, policies and procedures that will ensure their position on life-impacting issues such as this one.

“It is our resolution that unfortunate incidents like this do not happen again in the future,” said Chambers. “As president of Exodus International I take full responsibility for any board member, staff member or ministry affiliate’s ignorance of global issues, especially as they travel. I will make it a priority to keep all who are professionally affiliated with Exodus apprised of the nations where legislative initiatives or laws clearly violate our policy opposing criminalization of homosexuality. We will also craft a policy for our ministry that prohibits our involvement with groups and nations that violate our policies.”

Nigeria moves to criminalize same-sex unions

From July 14, 2011, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, and recent speaker at the annual convention of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), told delegates at a Nigerian law conference that same-sex marriage in the United States was a threat to religious and family freedoms.

On July 25, a bill was tabled in the Nigerian legislature to criminalize same-sex unions. The bill forbids any marriage contracts civil or religious between members of the same sex. It even removes the freedom to conduct such ceremonies in a church if such unions were permitted within the theology of that church. Here are the penalties:

According to an AP article out today, the bill has now gone through two readings and has had public hearings.

This bill is a watered down version of a prior bill which would have imposed more restrictions (see BTB for an earlier article on this bill). Thus, I am not suggesting that Slater concocted the bill or the effort. However, when she spoke to the Nigerian audience, she certainly did nothing to discourage the restriction of personal freedoms and added fuel to the fire already burning.

She and her organization have taken the position that they oppose laws which execute gays but she supports nations who want to make or maintain other laws which criminalize homosexuality.

In essence, this bill criminalizes any same-sex union. Here is the definition of same-sex marriage:

The clause “or for other purposes of same sexual relationship” is so broad that any coupling or any duration could be in view.

 

What dominionists would do with gays, part 2 – Enter Bryan Fischer

Right Wing Watch first reported that Bryan Fischer today answered my question from yesterday asking what dominionists would do with gays.

Fischer: Both of the cases that went to the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the issue of whether states should criminalize sodomy, and of course they still ought to be able to do it, every state in the union criminalized sodomy until 1962 and then forty nine states until 1972, then they began to fall like dominoes. But by the time of the founding until the late 20th Century, homosexual activity was a felony offense in the United States of America, there is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again, absolutely none.

I think the Supreme Court would object to Mr. Fischer’s assertion that homosexual activity could be recriminalized.
See also:
See also Part 1 and Part 3 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 3 examines what one thread of dominionist (theonomic Christian Reconstructionists) would do with anyone who failed to keep Mosaic law – e.g., adulterers, blasphemers, idolators, disobedient children, etc.

Policy statement: Exodus International opposes criminalization of homosexuality

Today, Exodus International issued a policy statement regarding the criminalization of homosexuality.

Criminalization of Homosexuality

Exodus International opposes the criminalization of homosexual behavior as conducted by consensual adults in private. We strongly oppose the imprisonment, mistreatment, or death of homosexual men and women on the basis of their perceived or known sexual orientation. These actions breed cultural violence and institutionalized shame, neither of which reflect God’s redemptive heart.

In the blog post, Alan Chambers also expressed regret for the delayed response to information he received about the Ugandan ex-gay conference as well as the potential fall out.

That said, and without a wordy explanation or excuse, this public post is way overdue and I sincerely hope it clears up any speculation about how I really feel about gay and lesbian people, Ugandan or otherwise, the criminalization of homosexuality, Exodus’s connection to the now infamous Ugandan conference where Exodus board member, Don Schmierer spoke, and most importantly the grace of God.

First things first, I was personally lax in investigating thoroughly the pre-conference intelligence that was coming in from Timothy Kincaid, David Roberts and Warren Throckmorton, to name a few.  My initial belief was that their major concern was over Caleb Lee Brundidge’s association with Richard Cohen.  Again, no excuses, I was negligent in digging deeper and heeding their warnings.  While I did share my concerns with Don Schmierer prior to the event, he was on the ground in Uganda and I saw this as an issue that didn’t warrant him canceling his appearance there—after all, in my mind, Don was simply sharing his normal talk on parenting.  I do realize that his mere presence there, even as a private citizen, did give the appearance that Exodus was endorsing the conference and eventually the horrific political position that was fueled by that event.

I appreciate this acknowledgement. Alan is correct that some of the initial concern related to the involvement of Brundidge but as he says here, it was much deeper. The events in Uganda, played out over the last 16 months, have required U.S. Christians to rethink their stance toward homosexuals. As Alan’s remarks indicate, it is now necessary to articulate one’s position on criminalization. The Uganda situation unearthed a division among social conservatives about the law and homosexuality. Just yesterday, one of the voices of the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, again said that he favors a return to laws penalizing homosexual conduct.  The Ugandan initiative has touched many American evangelicals in a way that few issues have, forcing many ministries and leaders to choose sides. While I personally had little doubt that the policy of Exodus was to oppose criminalization, today’s announcement makes that clear. I applaud them.

Christianity Today stands somewhere on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In a “Where We Stand” editorial, Christianity Today urged readers to “Listen, then Speak.” 

Overall, I am disappointed and puzzled by the editorial. The closest the writer gets to telling us where CT stands is near the end of the article:

We join many other American voices in our concern over the way the proposed legislation can hamper ministry and harm children of God. But we are also grateful for the African voices who are calling us to pay attention to how Western society may be undermining our own zeal for preserving God’s gift of sexuality.

I am unclear how the Ugandans are calling us to see sexuality God’s way when they swallow the camel of polygamy and strain at the gnat of homosexuality. Perhaps this way of ending the article seemed balanced to the writer; give a little here, take a little there, but I am unclear what the writer thinks we can learn from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  

To get to the conclusion, the article meanders through some thoughts on cultural relativism, pointing out some conflicting possible reactions from Western Christians.

Now Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill has put Western Christian leaders in a bind:

(1) The leaders’ commitment to human rights (based on the Golden Rule and the image of God) leads them to oppose harsh penalties for consensual adult homosexual activity; (2) their belief in the traditional family leads them to support Ugandan Christian resistance to sexual liberation movements imported from the United States and Europe; (3) their belief that churches need to minister to homosexuals leads them to oppose legal penalties for those who don’t report homosexual activity; (4) their belief that the fight against HIV/AIDS requires confidential testing leads them to oppose laws that could expose HIV-positive people to harsh penalties; (5) their belief in the ability of African churches to make mature decisions prompts them to remain silent on legislation that African churches are still pondering; (6) their commitment to ongoing engagement in missions and social service with African churches makes them extremely cautious to interfere in general.

I suspect these possible reactions do seem confusing for many evangelicals. However, it is clearly possible to respect the Ugandan’s right of self-determination while at the same time, disagreeing with the proposal before their Parliament. I also take issue with what is listed as the first possible response and would say it this way:

The leaders’ commitment to human rights (based on the Golden Rule and the image of God) leads them to oppose harsh any penalties for consensual adult homosexual activity.

Responding to the Ugandan bill, I believe Rick Warren had it absolutely correct when he wrote about criminalization of homosexuality:

I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God.  Since God gives us that freedom, we must protect it for all, even when we disagree with their choices.

We know where Rick Warren stands. Where does CT stand on criminalization? To me, it is not clear.

The editorial continues:

For American Christian leaders, both silence and open condemnation end up violating important missional and human-rights principles. There is no escaping this dilemma, but several points are worth reflection.

What missional and human rights principles? I don’t think it is difficult to say that the sentence of a life time in jail for touching “another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality” is wrong. What missional or human rights’s principles are violated by saying what Rick Warren said to his Ugandan brothers and sisters?

Then adding insult to injury, the CT writer uncritically invokes Scott Lively’s reckless charge of racism toward those who found fault with the Americans who spoke at the March anti-gay conference in Kampala. 

First, when American media reported on the proposed legislation, they assumed an inordinate amount of American influence. Media outlets tried to “expose” the power of American evangelicals who had spoken about gay issues in Uganda. Such assumptions were racist, said Scott Lively, one of the speakers. If anything, Ugandan legislators did not follow his advice: He had urged them to favor rehabilitation rather than imprisonment in crafting a new law on homosexuality.

If I understand CT here, I think this is more a criticism of the reporting by American media than a vindication of the March, 2009 ex-gay conference in Uganda. However, as presented, that distinction is vague. One could interpret this paragraph as agreement with Scott Lively’s charge of racism, obfuscating the Americans’ responsibility for what was presented at the conference. This, of course, is offensive and fails to confront the substance of Scott Lively’s remarks to the 10,000 or so people he claims to have addressed. Yes, Lively advised rehabilitation (as if that is an enlightened option) in the context of continued criminalization, but in no particular order, he also said that

  • Nazi atrocities were animated by homosexuality,
  • amoral homosexuals were probably responsible for the Rwandan holocaust, and
  • homosexuals prey on vulnerable children.

Hearing this, it is not a surprise that the Ugandans did not heed his call for rehabilitation. Nor is it a surprise that Christians are horrified that such slander was presented in the name of Christ.

CT’s advice is much less specific:

We counsel patience as Ugandan leaders sort out among themselves the best way to preserve their culture’s sexual mores. We also caution them against punitive strategies, as we believe that capital punishment for homosexual behavior goes well beyond the limit.

The reference to capital punishment is pretty safe since even proponents of the bill suggested the removal of the death penalty in December, 2009. However, is life in prison a “punitive strategy?” What is the limit? I think it is, but from this article, I cannot tell where CT stands.

I know where I stand.

Another group wants to recriminalize homosexuality

US groups calling for criminalization of homosexuality did not help write the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, but they may help provide cover for it to become law.

Add another to the group: The Michigan branch of the American Family Association.  According to the Michigan Messenger:

Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, has added his voice to a growing course of American leaders calling for the re-criminalization of homosexuality in the U.S.

In an e-mail to Michigan Messenger, here’s how Glenn responded when asked if he supported the criminalization move proposed by the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg’s comments last week on Hardball:

“The short answer to your question is yes, we believe that states should be free to regulate and prohibit behavior that’s a violation of community standards and a proven threat to public health and safety — including, as most of the United States did throughout its history, homosexual behavior.”

I suspect we may see more of these declarations in the coming days in a sad attempt to support the Ugandan bill.