Newsweek quotes Rick Warren on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Newsweek’s Lisa Miller contacted Rick Warren about his view on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009. According to this article, he responded as follows:

But Warren won’t go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan antihomosexual laws generated this response: “The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

The article also quoted without attribution here the statement the Warrens made to me in October about parting ways with Martin Ssempa, a supporter of the Ugandan bill.

I don’t think Rick Warren and Saddleback are the main event in this drama. I believe there are other Christian-related groups are much more responsible or at least influentials. More on that this week… 

PS – Did you know there is a Facebook group dedicated to speaking out? Tomorrow there is a new event, spread the word…

Newsweek: PEPFAR funds will not be held for Uganda

Katie Paul at Newsweek has an interview with the US PEPFAR coordinator, Eric Goosby, today. She sets up the story by referring to the infamous ex-gay conference in March. 

The thinking behind them [Anti-Homosexuality Bill] is just as disturbing, since this latest round of anti-gay fervor was kicked off at a conference held by by American missionary groups that went to proselytize about the twin evils of Nazism and homosexual behavior in Kampala earlier this year. Just to hammer home how far-out that is, this means the Ugandan government got its advice from the author of a book called The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims the Nazi movement was “entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” The result has been a vigilante campaign against the country’s LGBT community, whereby gay detainees are tortured and tabloids publish the names, places of employment, addresses, and physical descriptions of gay rights advocates under headlines that scream “TOP HOMOS IN UGANDA NAMED.” It would seem the stuff of Orwellian parody, but it’s real.

To Paul’s question about US funding, Goosby replied:

I’m very concerned about any decision that any country–including our own–would make to target a group that’s in the population, and that’s always been in the population, by excluding them from a service or passes legislation that criminalizes their behavior. Everytime you do that, you push the behavior underground. It never works. Rather than minimizing the spread of the virus, it actually amplifies it.

The U.S. policy is trying to work with governments to say exactly that. I think I would do more harm than good by connecting our resources to respond to the epidemic to making them dependent on a behavior that they’re not willing to engage in on their own. My role is to be supportive and helpful to the patients who need these services. It is not to tell a country how to put forward their legislation.

Goosby goes on to suggest diplomacy will work if he points out the public health argument. Will this work? I don’t have much confidence in this. Go read Katie’s thoughts on the matter and the Obama policy.


Author links sponsors of Anti-Homosexuality Bill to The Family

Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power was on NPR’s Fresh Air program yesterday. The main theme of the interview was to discuss The Family, a secretive Christian group who moves in political circles worldwide. For more on this group, see Sharlet’s book, and this investigative report by World magazine.

For our purpose, his investigation into the influences on the sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are interesting and provocative. You can listen below or read the transcript here.

GROSS: This legislation has just been proposed. It hasn’t been signed into law. So it’s not in effect and it might never be in effect. But it’s on the table. It’s before parliament. So is there a direct connection between The Family and this proposed Anti-Homosexual Legislation in Uganda?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the legislator that introduces the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family. He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Uganda National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.

GROSS: So you’re reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story – this direct connection between The Family and the proposed legislation by following the money?

Mr. SHARLET: Yes, it’s – I always say that the family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It’s not so invisible anymore. So that’s how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family’s work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni’s kind of right hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast. And here’s a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s executive office and has been very vocal about what he’s doing, and in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.

GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You’ve described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.

Mr. SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family’s 990s, where they’re moving their money to – into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its in the past as an international quote, invisible family binding together world leaders, and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads – graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO’s through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -according to Ugandan media – which is run by David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The player sometimes doesn’t load so if it doesn’t, you can listen here:

Monday, I noted American influence via the College of Prayer and their three year partnership with the Ugandan parliament. There seem to be multiple lines of influence tied to those who have introduced the bill. What is not clear is how much, if any, the Americans directly suggested the bill.

More to come on that point…

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 [email protected].

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 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.