A little while ago, this statement appeared on Lou Engle’s blog:
TheCall Uganda Press Release: Part 2
Posted on June 10th, 2010
Three weeks ago I returned from Uganda where I participated in TheCall Uganda. Prior to going I released a statement declaring the intent and purposes of my going there and holding TheCall. In that statement I clearly declared that TheCall was not going to Uganda to promote the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (”Bill”). Instead, the purpose of the event was to pray and fast for this nation in crisis.
I was actually asked to release a petition at TheCall for the people to sign in support of the Bill. I did not allow that to happen because the purpose of the gathering was not a political gathering; it was a prayer gathering. However, I had to leave the prayer meeting early to catch our flight back home. After returning home, I was told that the Bill had been clearly promoted after I left the meeting. I apologize that this took place and that my stated purpose of not promoting the Bill was compromised. I take responsibility for what was done on the stage of TheCall, even in my absence.
That being said, I am grateful that I had the privilege of going to Uganda and meeting Christian leaders who explained their heart concerning the Bill. Not one was carrying even an ounce of hatred for homosexuals. They actually desired to influence the lawmakers in Uganda to lessen the penalties. However, they were committed to raise up a principled stand to protect their people and their children from an unwelcome intrusion of homosexual ideology into an 83% Christian nation, an intrusion that is being pressed upon them by the UN, UNICEF, and other NGOs and Western colonialist powers.
These powers are threatening to withdraw funding from Uganda if they do not open their doors to these ideologies. They shared with me with broken hearts some of the painful stories of the effect of this worldwide pressure, as it is being pushed and promoted into their educational system. I appealed to them that in all their labor and their stand they express the mercy of Christ to broken people, but I also stood with them in their desire to not succumb to the political ideological pressures of the West and many of the voices of the Western Church that have come strongly against them.
These brothers in Uganda will give an account to the Lord on how sternly they stood as a prophetic community in their nation and we, the Church of the West, will give an account for our response when homosexual ideology swept into our nations.
I am confused by this statement. He apologizes for The Call being used for promotion of the bill and identifies the promotion as taking place after he left the meeting. And indeed, Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Buturo spoke directly about the bill after Engle spoke. However, Apostle Julius Oyet spoke just before Engle and also promoted the bill. According to the Religion Dispatches account (which matches other on-the-scene accounts which I am not at liberty to identify), Oyet spoke directly about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
“We call on parliament not to debate heaven. We call on them to pass the bill and say no to homosexuality,” preached Julius Oyet, a pastor with Life Line Ministries in Uganda who titles himself Apostle. Oyet also brought up the common Ugandan perception that homosexuality is an import of the West which “recruits” new members primarily by bribing children. “Father, our children today are being deceived by the West. To buy them, to give them school fees so that they can be homosexuals. We say no to that,” Oyet said with a rolling voice as a live band played smooth jazz in the background.
When Engle himself finally took the microphone at about 5 p.m., he dug almost immediately into the controversy, saying he hadn’t known about the bill and nearly canceled his trip over questions raised by his presence. But at no point did he contest Oyet’s support for the bill.
Why apologize for what happened in your absence if you don’t apologize for what happened in your presence? By not saying anything about Oyet’s call on Parliament “to pass the bill,” he dilutes the impact of his acknowledgement that the bill was in fact promoted.
Further confusing the impact of this statement is the statement about the intent of the bill promoters. It appears that Engle favors criminalization in that he commends those involved with The Call Uganda for seeking to lessen, but not eliminate the penalties. I am reading between the lines but it appears that he thinks they are correct to pursue a specific law relating to homosexuality but advises the Ugandan supporters to be stand less “sternly” as a “prophetic community” and “lessen the penalties.” In essence, since he views them as pursuing a reasonable goal with reduced penalties, he supports what the Ugandan bill supporters are doing. I suspect that is exactly what they believe.
I have altered the title of this post to reflect that his apology seems to be directed to The Call Uganda and not the bill itself. If he opposes the actual bill, it is not clear at all from this statement and actually seems to make it more clear that if the bill has lesser penalties, he is fine with it.