Hopefully, he won’t be replaced but there are those who come close.
By now, most people know that the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, died earlier this month (March 19). Phelps was the personification of hatred toward gay people along with the church which was mostly his family members. I am sure others have speculated about who could replace Phelps so this might not break much new ground. However, I thought of this list while reading about Martin Ssempa’s march to celebrate the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.
Most people, me included, do not want to see a replacement for Phelps. It is tragic to be known for one’s hatred and such a stance is surely a misrepresentation of Christianity. But there are those who seem to want the position. I’ll start with the reason this post even came to mind.
Martin Ssempa: Today, Ssempa is leading a march in Uganda to celebrate the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill late last year. A person who would celebrate a law that makes life in prison a possibility for simple affection between two consenting adults has to be on the short list for a Phelps replacement. Once known primarily for his work in Uganda against HIV/AIDS, now he is known world wide as one of the most vocal and absurd anti-gay crusaders. His pornography shows in Kampala and hateful rhetoric rival Phelps for showmanship and degradation. Ssempa seems to revel in his status as an anti-gay icon in Uganda and in the United States. In fact, he is on the list while bill sponsor David Bahati is not, because Ssempa has cultivated his image in the U.S.
Paul Cameron: Paul Cameron has been discredited widely but still finds his way to the media, recently telling a talk show host that he would be open to the death penalty for sexually active gays. In the past, he has suggested that the Nazis methods of handling gays might also have merit. Cameron has for years called for criminalization of homosexuality and has produced mountains of junk studies to attempt to vindicate his views.
Scott Lively: Many might place Lively at the top of the list because he is widely believed to be the force behind the Uganda bill and the tightening of laws in the Soviet bloc nations. He favors laws which limit free speech on homosexuality but doesn’t favor the death penalty as did Ssempa before the law was amended. He says he favors rehabilitation and has often cited NARTH as a favored organization. Where he rivals Phelps is with his historical fiction book, The Pink Swastika, which essentially lays blame for the Holocaust on homosexuality.
James David Manning: Like many people who yell fire in a crowded room, this New York City preacher posted provocative rhetoric and then said he didn’t mean anything hateful. Manning posted “Jesus would stone homos” on his church sign and then said later he is not a hater. We’ll have to see if he escalates his rhetoric once the attention dies down.
Christian Reconstructionists: Many adherents of Christian reconstructionism (like this supporter of Ron Paul) think gays along with disobedient children and adulterers should be stoned. I am not sure any one of these fellows is going to rise up to the status of Phelps but their belief in their view of Mosaic law could be a foundation for such a move.
Some might object to my omission of Bryan Fischer. Fischer gets a dishonorable mention because he parrots some of Lively’s and Cameron’s views but doesn’t seem to want to kill gays. Criminalize same-sex relationships yes, but not kill them.
I hope it is clear that the focus here is not disagreement over biblical interpretation or moral objection to same-sex behavior, but rather the obsessive effort to demonize an entire group of people. Certainly, Ssempa, Cameron, Lively and Manning have demonstrated the latter. We don’t yet know the full consequences of their work.
Update on Ssempa’s march: At least three dudes showed up.
The Uganda rag, The Red Pepper, has published what it says is a list of 200 Top Homosexuals.
One problem with the story is the statement that first time offenders can be sentenced to 14 years. According to the copy of the bill I posted yesterday, first offenders may be sentenced to life in prison. For touching.
This action is disgusting. I pray it does not incite Ugandans to persecute these people.
In this NY Daily News article, a picture is posted of Martin Ssempa who is now offering “rehabilitation counseling” for gays. Here is a similar picture from Twitter:
US exgay leader Darrell Foster congratulates Martin Ssempa.
American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer thinks putting gays in prison for life is a good thing.
Scott Lively says Africans don’t really mean what they legislate.
Might make this tweet into a badge or something. It would go nicely with my “Throckmorton is a snake” award given by Scott Lively.
Except there was no “falsified news.”
Rev. Ssempa had some nasty tactics to push Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill and all of that came to light. Quite a story really.
Guess I’ll follow Rev. Ssempa and see what he’s talking about these days.
UPDATE: I’ve been blocked…
Another chapter in Uganda’s pastor wars came to a close with the conviction of Martin Ssempa and five others who accused Rev. Robert Kanyanja of sex with some male members of his congregation.
See the Daily Monitor for more.
Ssempa has been one of the loudest and most persistent supporters for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill now in a legislative committee.
In a post dated March 19, Vice-President for Business Operations at Invisible Children, Chris Sarette, says IC is not an anti-gay organization. Sarette has some credibility on this statement since he came out as gay in 2007. In the post, Sarette wrote:
Invisible Children has attracted supporters, employees and board members who otherwise might sit on opposite sides of the aisle. The Invisible Children community’s common conviction that people are people, and the actions that back it up, are one of the reasons that I finally came out as a gay man in 2007.
Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign brought international scrutiny recently when they helped make Uganda and Kony trends on Twitter. Just last week, Right Wing Watch wondered aloud about a possible link between Martin Ssempa, infamous anti-gay minister in Uganda, and the Invisible Children organization because of a video posted in 2005 by students at Grove City College (where I teach). As I understand it the visits were not coordinated and there was no connection between IC and Ssempa. However, the RWW piece speculated that such a link might be possible because of the visits.
Without specifically mentioned the false attribution of a connection, Sarette pays tribute to inclusive nature of the IC organization.
Personally, it’s difficult for me to see Invisible Children maligned as anti-gay because it’s simply untrue. This is the group of people that encouraged me to embrace my sexual identity and I have experienced the acceptance, not just tolerance, of everyone in the organization. And having just celebrated my fourth anniversary with my partner, I’m so happy that I did.
I have spoken with the current student leadership of Project Okello here and I am confident that there has never been coordination between Ssempa and IC. Furthermore, when the Project Okello leaders learned of Ssempa’s anti-gay advocacy, they ceased all contact with him.
I see that RWW has posted an update from IC which is a good start. I do hope that the RWW author will take steps to get that word out to the other bloggers who posted on the subject.
As the closing of the 8th Parliament looms, two early supporters of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill continue to promote passage of the bill. Martin Ssempa and Stephen Langa both testified Friday before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee. A website called Weinformers provide more information about their message and also reports that hearings will conclude on Monday.
According to this report, Ssempa advocated the removal of the death penalty because it is not a “behavioral corrective measure.” However, he did not object to life in prison. Despite the fact that Ugandan law already addresses the defilement of both boys and girls, Ssempa continued to allege it does not.
The Weinformers article also reports that the bill is likely to get a vote before the end of the Parliament.
Langa, also testifying on Friday, sounded many of the same themes. Langa was the prime organizer of a conference on homosexuality in March 2009 which featured Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge, and Don Schmierer. The conference whipped up public support for tougher laws against homosexuality. Although in the works prior to the conference, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first mentioned in Parliament the following month in April, 2009.
Both Langa and Ssempa have had extensive American connections, although Ssempa’s have withered away over the last year. He resigned his post as member of the Board of Reference at Oral Roberts University and was dropped as a missionary by Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NE. Langa is the Director of the Uganda branch of the Arizona based Disciple Nations Alliance.
On Saturday, I spoke with Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chair Stephen Tashobya who confirmed that hearings would be held on Monday with report writing to come. However, he declined to predict whether the AHB would make it to a vote.
Related: David Bahati: Hearings took place today on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Today, public hearings on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill took place before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, according to the bill author, David Bahati. In an interview, Bahati said that the Uganda Law Reform Commission and several religious leaders were on the list of those slated to provide testimony. He added, “I know that the process of legislation is moving forward.”
Bahati declined to say that the bill would be voted on next week, saying that the actual end of Parliament is not until May 18 when the 9th Parliament also begins. According to Charles Tuhaise, a researcher for parliament’s research office, most of the business will be concluded by the end of next week. He told me that the hearings for the Marriage and Divorce Bill have concluded and those for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill began today. In addition to the Law Reform Commission, those providing testimony today included the Attorney General’s Office, Martin Ssempa and Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network. Tuhaise said the antigay bill hearings will probably conclude on Monday with the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law being one group on the agenda.
The fate of the antigay measure has been uncertain since it was introduced on October 14, 2009. From the beginning, the bill had support from the public as well as from religious and political leaders. However, legislative progress on the bill was slowed by massive international opposition. Contrary to false reports that the bill had been shelved, it has remained before a Ugandan parliamentary committee. In December, 2010, committee chair Stephen Tashobya told me that he hoped to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through his committee in time for a vote before the end of Parliament. Tashobya also said that the hearings would precede a vote.
Bahati also told me that a resolution he offered to call for common ground between the government and opposition leaders was adopted by Parliament during today’s session. The bipartisan resolution was offered in the wake of protests over inflation and the violent response from the government.
See also: Hearings may be taking place.
And then there is this just out on NTV. Sounds like Tashobya is pushing to get it a vote.
Not sure how I missed this one, but yesterday Josh Kron reported that one of Martin Ssempa’s poster children for gay change recanted his story saying that Ssempa paid him to claim change.
George Oundo said he had changed orientation and that Uganda’s Parliament should pass David Bahati’s antigay bill at a news conference reported by the Parliament.
However, within a short time, he met with Kron and recanted everything saying Ssempa had paid him well to tell a false story.
“I used to call myself the Queen Mother and Lady of the City,” Mr. Oundo said. “I was recruited into homosexuality many years back, when I was 12.”
“When I joined Mr. Ssempa, I told him all my problems,” he said. “I had to come out and join the struggle.
“Please help us; let the bill pass,” he said.
But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.
“David Kato was murdered; it was a plot,” Mr. Oundo said. “I don’t support the bill.”
As for being a “former homosexual,” that, too, was not true.
“I’ve always been gay,” Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. “I didn’t choose it.”
“David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right,” Mr. Oundo added.
Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to “protect” himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa’s anti-homosexuality movement.
Not sure how Oundo is doing right now, I suspect he may have trouble finding friends at this point. However, whatever is going on, the situation as laid out by the NYT is about what I have been reporting here. After some possible signs of life after the election, the clock will probably run out barring a signal from the govt that they want to move it.
Andy Kopsa, writing for the Florida Independent, has a story out that links Project SOS to Martin Ssempa.
Project SOS, a Jacksonvile-based abstinence education program, has received more than $6.5 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 2002 — including $454,000 in September 2010. This despite the fact that the group has been cited for teaching false information about HIV and is a supporter of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the most outspoken advocates of legislation in that country that prescribes the death penalty for homosexuals.
Project SOS’ federal funding came through the Administration of Children and Families, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, via grants for Community Based Abstinence Education and a Healthy Marriage Demonstration grant. The abstinence education funding is made available through Title V (.pdf) of the Social Security Act. A provision of Title V requires that states provide a $3 match for every $4 in federal money.
Kopsa asked Director Pam Mullarkey about Ssempa’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
In a phone interview with The Florida Independent, Mullarkey said she was unaware of any controversy surrounding Ssempa or his support of the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill.
The Independent provided Mullarkey with numerous links to news articles and YouTube clips, including video of Ssempa calling for the death penalty for homosexuals (whom he refers to as “pedophiles”) while claiming to ABC News that homosexuals eat feces.
“I know Martin well enough to know that because of his Christian faith he would never support the death penalty,” Mullarkey said when asked about Ssempa’s support of a bill that would punish “aggravated homosexuality” with death.
Mullarkey went on to praise Ssempa as a “change agent” who took a stand for abstinence education as a way to rid Uganda of HIV/AIDS. “At the university, Martin took a stand — he had them burning condoms as a commitment to abstinence,” she said.
Discussing the fact that Ssempa lost “almost half his family” to AIDS, Mullarkey told the Independent that homosexuals in Africa “have destroyed people’s lives.”
Mullarkey would not denounce Ssempa’s actions surrounding the anti-gay bill. She later told the Independent she emailed Ssempa and is “waiting for his response” before she “will make a statement” on the issue.
This story from the UG Pulse is starting to sound like rumors I have been hearing for months.
One of the boys who was allegedly sodomized by pastor Robert Kayanja testified that he was used by pastor Solomon Male, Martin Sempa , Micheal Kyazze and pastor Bob Kayiya and a state house employee Anitah Kyomuhendo who was allegedly sent by Janet Museveni.
Robson Matovu confirmed court that pastor Kayanja has never sodomized him, he was just received a bribe from the said pastor to talk false information on him.
Matovu said that he was supposed to be paid 56million shillings after giving false information to Kayanja and out of 56 he received only 160,000shillings to buy a new phone which he handed over to police after pulling out from the deal.
Minister Nsababuturo was also behind the deal witness testified.
The Pastors are accused of conspiracy to cause injury to trade of pastor Robert Kayanja.
It’s alleged that the duo between December 2008 and 2009 at various places within Kampala conspired to cause injuries to the personality reputation and to trade of pastor Kayanja alleging that he was engaged homosexual practice.