Christian Post article on the Ugandan homosexuality conference

Michelle Vu, reporter for the Christian Post, penned an article regarding the Ugandan anti-gay conference.
Exodus International is quoted in this article, I think for the first time since the controversy began:

In response, Exodus International said it applauds its board member Don Schmierer, who attended the Uganda conference, for his effort to convey an “alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality,” according to a statement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers to The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Exodus says neither Schmierer nor the ministry agrees or endorses Uganda’s criminalization of homosexuality law, imprisonment of homosexuals or compulsory therapy. Rather, the ministry says it “unequivocally denounces” the positions the government of Uganda has towards homosexuality.

The full statement is here:

Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, responded to reports about an Exodus board member’s participation at a conference in Uganda on homosexuality:
“Unfortunately, Uganda as a country has demonstrated severe hostility towards homosexuals supporting criminalization of homosexual behavior and proposing compulsory therapy – positions that Exodus International unequivocally denounces. It is our sincere desire to offer an alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality not just here in America, but around the world. We applaud our board member’s attempt to convey these truths to a country in need.”

There is nothing in this statement that changes my view of this conference. It was ill-advised for several reasons, some of which were described in this Christian Post article. Another issue, largely undiscussed, is the collaboration of Exodus with Richard Cohen’s associate, Caleb Brundidge. Mr. Brundidge believes he can raise people from the dead by God’s power but he can’t heal gays without beating pillows with a tennis raquet and getting in touch with the inner child. Is this the kind of compulsory therapy Ugandan gays might have in their future?
On this subject, I highly recommend thoughtful posts by Wendy Gritter at Bridging the Gap and Karen Keen on her Pursue God blog
Also, Scott Lively provides a quote regarding his views on the Ugandan conference here…

8 thoughts on “Christian Post article on the Ugandan homosexuality conference”

  1. Saul:: It seems to me that one of the basic tenets of conflict resolution (or diplomacy) is that you have engage with the various parties, sometimes on their own terms.

    Well, that’s the problem. Schmierer works at Fieldstead & Company. His boss is the philanthropist, Howard Ahmanson Jr. (who has given money to Exodus), who had for a time been a member of a California Episcopal parish which had aligned itself with the Archdiiocese of Uganda. Now that points to a possible connection between Schmierer and the Bishop of Uganda, either if Schmierer belongs to such a church or if Ahmanson still does or even doesn’t (based on the past relationship).
    The point is that Schmierer did not go to Uganda as an adversary but as a friend and supporter. Indeed the tone of the whole conference was one of support for Uganda, its laws, and the need to criminalize homosexuality.

  2. Lynn and Warren,
    I’m not saying Mr. Schmierer’s intervention was terribly effective, especially in the short run. I don’t know, but I doubt it was. Things don’t change overnight.
    I don’t know if he indeed provided a meaningful counterpoint to the others in the conference, but I’m hoping he did. But his presence alone engenders trust, which he or Exodus can in the future for pushing their point of view. Of course, presence also legitimizes… I think we can all agree to agree that the net loss/gain of Exodus’ is difficult to gauge.
    It seems to me that one of the basic tenets of conflict resolution (or diplomacy) is that you have engage with the various parties, sometimes on their own terms. You can try and isolate them, but that’s usually no good, especially if they’re going to get their way, anyway. My gut feeling is that this situation calls for a lot of engagement.
    By the way, on the point of issuing statements, I think whether Exodus in America issues a statement is not very important to Ugandans. Mr. Schmierer should have issued some sort of statement in Uganda, if he could. But, especially in a place like Uganda, though statements are good, it’s at a level of personal interaction and diplomatic conversation that the most effective work takes place.

  3. Saul – Few things are all bad, so there may be some person who heard a good thing that Mr. Schmierer said. However, on balance, the message conveyed to the Ugandans was support for their oppressive impulse. Here is a description of the conference. The conference was organized in response to calls to decriminalize homosexuality. If you do not believe in criminalization, then why go to a conference designed to fight the decriminalization of homosexuality?
    Given the absence of any statements to the contrary of his speaking partners, I do not think the Mr. Schmierer provided a meaningful counterpoint for his Ugandan hearers. If he had been a voice in the wilderness, then I could see your points better, but with the very slow response from Exodus, and the absence of any statement from Mr. Schmierer directly, any value to those in Uganda who will want to fight for decriminalization will be nil.

  4. Saul… you and Ould have presented a fair evaluation of the situation in Uganda. But your evalutation of how the message that Exodus’ Schmierer took to Uganda is rather poorly thought out.
    First, there is Uganda is a nation which almost theocratically criminalizes homosexuality. Second, Exodus’ Schmierer shared a podium with Scott Lively, a person whose demonizing lies concerning not just the state of homosexuality, but gay peoples themselves. Third, Uganda has gone through three different times of attacks upon gay people, often led by the press and once by a government run newspaper.
    So all the representative of Exodus has done is fuel that self-righteousness vigor against the demon of homosexuality and its supposed agenda. Calling for forced therapy is still a criminalization of homosexuality whether they did it (as Lively claims) as an exception to imprisonment or not. Uganda is not going to see it from the viewpoint of the Exodus representive.

  5. I think Exodus has issued a good statement, and I think it’s good they participated because theirs was probably the most decent voice at the conference. I think the idea that Exodus (or someone from Exodus) should have not been present at that conference, for image’s sake of course, is looking at things from an American perspective. Sure, for the sake of its image here, Exodus should not have gone. But certainly the Ugandans were much better off to have Exodus there rather than be left with Brundidge, Lively, et al.
    In general, I think we have to try and look at things from the Ugandans’ perspective. I’ll quote what I wrote at Peter Ould’s blog:
    “Another thing to keep in mind is that for many in places like Uganda, homosexuality is viewed as the height of sexual immorality. All the shame they have over their own sexual brokenness they project on those they think are even worse than themselves. By standing up so strongly against homosexuality, they are in a sense protesting against not only against ‘the homosexuals’, but also themselves. They are, in a sense, trying to cleanse themselves. It is a psychological aspect that should be considered in the pastoral approach.”
    Don’t forget that Uganda once had an AIDS rate of near 30%. The churches went through a lot of struggle fighting sexual promiscuity, and now they’re being told that homosexuality, which they see as being on the extreme end of the same continuum as heterosexual promiscuity, is okay. They respond the only way they know how. I wish folks like Warren could get themselves invited to go there!

  6. I’ve found that Howard Ahmanson Jr was at one time a member of an Episcopalian church which was had put itself under the auspices of a Ugandan bishop (archdiocese). I wonder then if his Fieldstead employee, Don Schmierer, might also have been or is a member of such a church – . In effect then Schmierer was possibly in Uganda at the behest of his bishop.
    Since when do “American representatives from prominent U.S.-based ex-gay ministries” include the likes of the International Healing Foundation?
    But basically you’ve said it. Anything further that I might be said would likely be stricken from your blog…..

  7. Timothy – The link is up…time is short so it is not a lenghty critique but I thought I would be good to provide that info.

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