This morning, Barbara Bradley Hagerty explores the connections between the US evangelical scene and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Extensive material from Scott Lively is included with a brief comment from yours truly. The transcript is at the link; go read and listen to the entire program but here are some segments.
The battle over the Bible and homosexuality has torn apart Christian churches and entire denominations in the United States. But what happens when that culture war is exported to other countries? Ugandans are finding out — with potentially deadly consequences.
Uganda is now considering a bill that would impose the death penalty or life in prison on gay men and lesbians for some homosexual acts.
To understand how this bill came to be, one needs to know the story of King Mwanga. In 1886, Uganda’s king ordered some two dozen male pages to have sex with him, and when they refused because of their Christian faith, he ordered that they be burned to death. Every year on June 3, Ugandans celebrate a national holiday honoring the Christian martyrs and deploring the pedophile king.
Into this climate stepped Scott Lively, an American evangelical and president of Defend The Family International. In March 2009, Lively traveled to Uganda to speak, along with two other Americans from “ex-gay communities,” about the “gay agenda.”
I agree with Jim Naughton when he said:
Jim Naughton, a former canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., says their message plays one way in the U.S., but differently in a place like Uganda. And they should have known.
“If you go to countries where there’s already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals, and begin to tell people there, ‘Well, actually these people are child abusers, they’re coming for their children, that they’re the scourge that is being deposited on you by the secular West,’ you’re gonna get a backlash.” Naughton says it’s like “showing up in rooms filled with gasoline, and throwing lighted matches around and saying, ‘Well, I never intended fire .‘ “
I was interviewed Tuesday for this segment. I did not know some things then that I know now, particularly about the College of Prayer.
If [Rev. Rick] Warren was slow to condemn the bill, other Christian conservatives have yet to do so, says Warren Throckmorton, who teaches psychology at Grove City College and has been monitoring U.S. evangelical response. He says some of the Christian groups most publicly tied to Uganda have been the quietest. Joyce Meyer Ministries, Oral Roberts University, the College of Prayer in Atlanta — all have close ties and declined to express reservations about the death penalty.
“Silence is often interpreted as consent,” says Throckmorton, who is himself a conservative evangelical. “So I think those kinds of responses may lead those individuals in Uganda to think that perhaps what [they’re] doing really is according to the evangelical faith.”
I have since learned that the College of Prayer wants it to be clear that for them, at least, silence should not be taken as consent. To be sure, they have been pretty silent, but Rev. Fred Hartley told me that the College of Prayer has no involvement in any way with the bill.
Here is the audio. If the player doesn’t work, try this or just go to the site.
60 thoughts on “NPR: US evangelicals exports culture war to Uganda”
says their message plays one way in the U.S., but differently in a place like Uganda. And they should have known.
What i’m thinking for a longer time. Now, i have a source for WP-Work..
Yep, time to register with the Green Party.
Apparently, he (Ahmanson) is also fond of Dominionist thinking and supports ex-gay causes.
Thanks for the education…participating here makes me grow. The bio on Schiermer I quoted comes from the Exodus website…odd that he would not mention the book at the site.
So…All three have publications…Ssempa may have read all three.
Has anyone read Schiermer’s book on “prevention?” Does it contain any of the errors similar to Cohen?
Hey, maybe they got Don’s name there too. They seem to think he’s a expert of sorts:
You can also find Scott Lively if you need a good motivational speaker.
And lots of references to Richard Cohen. http://www.narth.com/menus/search.html?cx=007457206426124633447%3Adybvfspccfw&cof=FORID%3A11&q=richard+cohen&sa=go#1272
And of course, Lively gave rave reviews to Exodus and NARTH — second only to himself when it comes to expert knowledge of these issues. Just contact NARTH for all your anti-gay conference needs. Or Exodus. Or International Healing Foundation. Or Defend the Family. Heck, It doesn’t really matter. All roads lead to Uganda.
The Ugandan conference organizers must have thought so. Maybe they were duped too.
Don Schmierer …. “Never holds himself out as an expert on SSA…“?
He wrote the book, “An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth.” In talking about this book Schmierer describes himself as an “author and seasoned counselor” who “provides a balanced perspective of this complex issue [ie. homosexuality].” The Howard Center listed Don Schmierer as representing Fieldstead & Company and a Christian Counselor & Author speaking on “Preventing Homosexuality” and also on “Preventing Homosexuality in Families.”
Why is Warren being so hard on him if all he did was get out of his car, say a few nice things, get back in his car and drive home? Why does Warren think he should say, “I was wrong in what I told you”? He claims he was duped.
If he was, that’s bad enough — in terms of what it says about his gullibility, poor judgement and lack of preparation. Makes you wonder what he brings to the Board besides a kind heart and perhaps some cash. You would think he would save Exodus more embarassment and just resign.
I don’t think he’s a Scott Lively or Caleb Brundrigde, but I just don’t buy it. Something doesn’t add up. Too many things don’t make sense — and when they don’t, it’s most likely not “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Too many missing pieces. I cannot believe, that with all his business, military, international and life experience that he is that naive. I think he’s trying to dupe us. There is a lot more to this story than is being told.
Howard Center’s, that is….
Schmierer is a Program Officer at Howard Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Company, which likely means he is Ahmanson’s man on the Exodus Board.
As to International Policy… Schmierer has been touted by Exodus in recent blog posts as having taken his message around the world. Schmierer has been associated with the Howad Center’s World Congress of Families and based upon their Internet sites has been to a number of their international meetings and has signed at least two of their protocols/letters. Add to that he is ex-military and was an officer, usually that speaks to someone who has a good knowledge of the world.
Now put these various facts together and one might conclude that the person funding Exodus – Ahmanson through Fieldstead – would be setting some of the policy of the umbrella ministry – or at least think they are.
Apologize? Say to the people of Uganda, “we were wrong in what we told you”? Not ONE of them will do it — collectively or individually. Just a hunch.
“I doubt Don’s role at Exodus has much to do with understanding international policy…” — or basic common sense, it would seem.
Regarding “linking like-minded organizations”? DId a search on NARTH, Exodus, IHF and Defend the Family. Links abound.
Don’s Bio on the Exodus Website: Never holds himself out as an expert on SSA…
It is my understanding that Board Members for charities generally are picked for their reputation, their understanding of fundraising and their success in linking like-minded organizations to have a larger impact.
I doubt Don’s role at Exodus has much to do with understanding international policy…
My hunch, he was discussing with pastors what a ministry focused on SSA looks like….
Just a hunch.
I think we agree on varying degrees of responsibility…so the same apology by all three would, in effect either minimize the guilt of the most heinous or exaggerate the guilt of the smaller offender…
Who invited him? Who recommended him? Exactly who “duped” him? How did he get “sucked in”? Why did he think he would be the “only speaker”? What or who made him think so?
Of all the other people in the world who could speak about “effective parenting and family communication”, why him? Why an Exodus Board member? Pure coincidence? Why not someone with a degree in psychology or family therapy?
Why would they want Don Schmierer — of all people — to join the other two speakers, from the other two most infamous “ex-gay” organizations? Do you think they knew he was part of Exodus when they asked him? Where did they get his name? Did it come to them in a dream?
Why didn’t he ask more questions? Why didn’t he do more preparation? Did he know how Uganda felt about gays? Did he know it was already a criminal offense there? Once he was there and found out what was really going on, did he speak up? Object in any way?
Once he got back, how is it that he didn’t know what trouble the conference had sparked — until weeks later — he read an email from Exodus? Why did it take him so long to speak up — and then only under tremendous media pressure? Would you want a man so ill-prepared and uniformed (if we are to believe him) to sit on your Board of Directors?
And most importantly why were the warnings ignored? A full explanation is in order, not just an “oops, duped.”
I noticed you left out Schmeirer’s name. How did the conference organizers get his name? I’ll betcha, Exodus.
I agree that they have varying levels of responsibility. Lively in the lead, no doubt, by a mile. But apparently Warren feels that all three said things that need to be renounced.
Otherwise, why would Warren call on all three to “say directly to the Ugandan people: “we were wrong in what we told you”?.
I am not absovling anyone (don’t have the authority), I just think the three participants had varying degrees of responsibility…
@ Lynn David,
Thanks for adding that posting here, it is highly relevant, but still mysterious. I think Tim Kincaid over at BTB is trying to get more information on this posting…
Lively is the Head of His Organization
Brudige was a sanctioned representative of his organization
Schirmer was not attending as an Exodus representative (we know this from the start)…He did not dispense any information at the conference that could be construed as leading to the new law…Brudige and LIvely did.
“How Did Ssempa get Lively’s and Cohen’s name?”
I’ll betcha, NARTH.
Maybe it’s too late. With Ssempa trying to get a million anti-gay protestors in the streets of Kampala, they may not listen to anything the “three” have to say — unless its more of what they wanted to hear back in March.
David: you seem to want to absolve Exodus and Schmierer of any culpablity — and yet Warren seems to think he did more than just look around, say some nice things about famliy communication — and then drive home. Harm was done.
All three of them, including Don need to make it right. Otherwise, why would Warren refer to the “three”? And “we”? Warren seems to believe that something Don said — not just something Lively and Brundridge said — needs correcting, directly to the Ugandan people.
Warren, evidently you are now a part of the…
Homosexual Imperialists [who] Target Uganda:
And then again, maybe his humility is nothing more than an act should this be true:
No. You may it sound like a casual walk in the park on a nice afternoon. This was a dangerous trip. And yet, he made almost no preparation. At the very least, that’s careless, especially with bad road conditions and prior warnings. He didn’t just stroll around and leave — like some elderly tourist on vacation.
He took active part. He apparently said nothing as Livley and Brundridge went “joy-riding”. Unless he is completely daft, he must have understood at some point that he had taken a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong place. Time to back up carefully and turn around.
Why didn’t he say, “I’m very sorry. This is not at all what I expected. I really should have done more preparation. I don’t agree with the other speakers and I do not support this. I cannot be a part of this. Thanks for inviting me anyway.” — then get in his car and leave?
Why did it take months — and a lot of pressure from the media — for him to admit his mistake? Even then, it wasn’t really an apology — just “I was duped, sucked in, tricked, used, didn’t know, didn’t understand”.
Sometimes, when we get old, we just need to admit we’re not up to it anymore, put the license on the shelf and take public transit.
The above is an excellent point. We know who they are. And now, a lot more people do.
We don’t need them to apologize or make promises…we know who they are.
He showed up, said what he felt called to say and left.
Schiermer is not the man you wish him to be. To use your analogy, he drove to the area when advised that he shouldn’t have, got out, walked around and then left the area.
He wasn’t the driver: that would be Ssempa, or the other drivers, Lively and Brundige.
I feel I bit cornered into a position that I don’t care that much about…it is probably my own doing.
My original post, I think we agree upon, this was not about “Evanglicals” as a denomination exporting a culture war. It was about a few men from marginal organizations, who have been discredited as a result of their actions…this is good news…Lively is better known for who he is and Cohen’s book is again exposed for its flawed research…
I don’t think he behaved responsibly. That may have been his intent, but harm was done. Don did almost NO preparation. He says so. He was duped. Tricked. Sucked in. Didn’t understand. He admits it. From all accounts, he is a really caring man. But, in this instance, he was very careless. Clueless. Like the elderly driver.
You think he drove carefully? You think he did no damage — even accidentally? No one has died — yet. Exodus ignored the warnings about the road conditions. Are you suggesting that Exodus and Schmierer have NO responsiblity in this? They brushed off the warnings and Don drove blind. No one has died — yet.
Where is the apology for the carelessness? The strong, official policies against criminalization and forced treatment? The promise that they (and their Board Members) will STAY OUT of countries that support these ideas?
When Exodus sent their letter to the Ugandan President, Alan Chambers vowed to do more. “We won’t stop at the letter”, he said. Don Schmierer said it “deserved all the media attention possible”.
Now, a huge anti-gay march is planned in Uganda. It may very well spark violence against LGBT people and those who support them. Where is the “more”? What has Exodus done, since the letter, to help this get “all the media attention possible”?
analogies are fun, because we can pick them to fit our argument, rather than fit the facts.
Schiermer did not run over anybody, theologically, politically or actually.
Cohen and Lively went joyriding in their cars. Schiermer was in his own car, driving carefully, at an intersection he was invited to by a then reputable foreign religious leader.
Was he warned…absolutely, were there other facts that he considered and still decided to go, probably. Did he behave responsibly while there…it looks like he did.
Schmeirer….? Dupe? Maybe a really nice one, but really…
Some years ago in Santa Monica, an 86-year-old man ran into a crowd. Several people were killed. Dazed, the man told officers he couldn’t stop. He told the police that he “possibly hit the gas instead of the brakes”.
To use that analogy, I think he shouldn’t drive. And to make it worse, Exodus was warned that he shouldn’t get in the car in the first place — due to the dangerous road conditions ahead. For some reason, those warnings were not heeded.
This is interesting…
Lively is the propagandist.
Cohen includes a book with bad science.
Shiermer….? We should love gays and offer them a way out.
Ssempa had bonafides prior to all this that supports trusting the construction of this event.
Exodus did nothing?
I disagree, of course. It’s THREE organizations. Exodus was careless. Claiming that they didn’t realize that hadn’t set the emergency brake does no good once the car runs into a crowd.
“Duped, tricked, sucked in, didn’t realize, didn’t know” excuses don’t wash. They ignored the warnings.
Should all Evangelicals be rebuked? Should they all apologize? Of course not. Just the malicious and careless ones for the mess they helped to create.
“These organizations” are:
2. Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Ministries.
3. The Family.
The global accusation of evagelicals due to the behavior of two highly MARGINAL non-profit organizations and one independent evangelical (will affiliations to EXODUS) is wrong.
I will yell with you about Lively and Brundige…and have been.
The title, “US Evangelicals Export Culture War” is offensive to all US Evanglicals. The title is deliberately slanderous…although technically correct.
I think we are talking across each other WTF!?!?!? How did this happen :).
Please see my original post, the title should read:
and, Ssempa should apologize.
Agreed about Brundige and Lively…
But to paint all Evanglicals, as the title implies…they would never write such a title with the headline Muslims, Gays, and so on.
If Lively, “won’t” it doesn’t mean the two others can’t or should not.
WTF!?! You can’t be serious.
Give me a good reason why the three men should not issue a joint apology. Warren thinks they should say, directly to the people of Uganda, “We were wrong in what we told you”.
Give me a good reason the organizations they belong to should not adopt strong policies that they expect their Board Members to abide by — even if they are not “officially representing” them.
Give me a good reason why these organizations should not promise to stay OUT of countries that criminalize homosexuality — “where there’s already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals”.
Given what has happened here, you would think they would want to do these things because they are the right thing to do — not because someone forced them to cry “uncle”.
I have never suggested that Exodus wanted this to happen. Careless blundering and ignoring warnings. Whether you dropped the match accidentally or on purpose makes little difference now.
David: My three points are not a “global attack against traditional faith”. They are directed at the three men — and the organizations they represent.
These “small men” who do “bad things” helped make a BIG mess. They need to clean up the part they made.
Like Warren said, “spot on”.
We have found many of our answers and most of them do not fit our worst fears about Exodus, about “The Family,” or Rick Warren…
more and more, staying on this path looks like hostage taking rather than fact finding.
WTF!?! (I having been dying to use this abbreviation, since I was introduced to it yesterday…a vulgar, but minimally disguised symbol of surprise).
If you are quoting Warren, I think you are both wrong…
(1) The Big Players did not throw matches.
(2) There is no evidence that anyone endorses forced therapy among the “Big Players.”
(3) These organizations never did anything!!!!! How can they promise to never do it again.
(4) How can they be wrong if they did not tell them anything (it was Lively, representing his organization, Cohen’s compadre acting as a representative an Schirmer, explicity stating he was not a representative of Exodus in this trip).
Do you all believe that small people do small things that can have large evil consequences or do you need to find bigger people to fit the size of the evil that is being perpetrated!?!?!
This site is not about throwing around accusations and manipulating people, it is about raising questions and finding the answers and modifying our understanding to be more accurate and truthful.
This “they weren’t officially representing their organizations” is a load of manure, in my opinion. Exodus received warnings and ignored them. They even praised Don’s participation. He didn’t know, they didn’t understand, he was “duped”, etc. Come on. Exodus was warned. They can’t use that excuse now.
These organizations can and SHOULD adopt policies that all of their members, affiliates — and especially their Board Members — agree to abide by. Agreement with those policies and standards ought to be an entrance requirement.
They should sign a statement of understanding that they have read the policies and agree to abide by them — whether or not they are “officially representing their organizations”.
And they should do all of these things (especially Warren’s suggestion) BEFORE the “million man” march.
David – There is some question about who wrote the law. Scott Lively now endorses the law citing unseen revisions. Who wrote them? Has he seen them? He won’t answer.
Also, Brundidge did support the Ugandan law as it was and erroneously told the audience that US law still criminalized homosexuality.
The apologies and amends need to come from Cohen and LIvely…Cohen has, lively won’t.
But that is too narrow a focus to be useful for some, they prefer a global attack against traditional faith and that those leaders repudiate accusations which falsely describe their beliefs.
Small bad men do bad things…too. That is what happened here (as far as US Evangelicals are concerned). Big bad men do bad things. That is what happened there (As far as Uganda law is concerned).
David. Warren made suggestion # 4. And I have saying #1, #2, and #3 for months. Give me some good reasons why they shouldn’t do every one of these things.
This is the never ending shifting standard…
The initial accusation was wrong toward Exodus, Warren and the Family.
At some point, you can’t throw around global accusations that turn out to be exaggerations and expect people to be responsive…they feel maligned and manipulated…
Like a bully demanding that you cry “uncle.”
Three religious men, only one officially representing an organization. None of them even wrote the law (although Lively’s book and Cohen’s book provided the critical distortions to activate the law in its paranoid form).
BEFORE the “million man march” in February.
If they really want to prove it, how about they do the following?
(1) The “big players” issue a joint apology for “throwing the matches”.
(2) The organizations they represent adopt strong, official policies against criminalization and forced “therapy”.
(3) These organizations promise never to do such a thing again — and adopt strong guidelines (that their members agree to abide by) — to make sure it doesn’t.
(4) They follow Warren’s suggestion and say directly to the people of Uganda: “We were wrong in what we told you.”
If Lively — and the others — were truly “mortified”, they would do these things without delay.
Jayhuck – Thanks.
Daniel – I believe I would be guilty as charged. Some farther right than me think I have gone to the dark side but they can think what they want. The light is just fine on this side.
And that is what he used to stand for. He was very persuasive and could have remained a very compelling figure, one who could bring people together around monogamy. His decision to move in the direction he has is very sad, leading to many changes in his relationships with US evangelicals (Rick Warren, WAIT Training, Teen Mania).
It is reasonable to be skeptical about Western ideas of a “value free” sexuality which has not worked for blacks and gays in western culture.
It is rightly terrifying to be living in many parts of Africa given HIV/AIDS transmission rates.
Marginal US Evangelicals facilitate culture war in Uganda.
The big players accused of supporting this trip have been proven to be against it.
Ssempa’s attitudes toward gays precede his conversion (I think) and are based upon his own late adolescent experiences with homosexual coercion (home grown).
BTW, he is right to be skeptical about western ideas of preventing HIV AIDS…Washington DC rate is astronomical despite millions and millions of dollars and education. Our “value free” ideas about sex don’t work for the weak, the poor and the vulnerable.
He is completely wrong in targeting gays and straight criminally with lifetime terms (and death). He needs to step back, renew his focus and re-emphasize western ideas of prevention with Uganda ideas of monogomy and respect.
I just heard you on NPR this morning! It was wonderful. I appreciated your statements. 🙂
Perhaps the three men could issue a joint apology directly to the people of Uganda saying “We were wrong in what we told you”.
Perhaps the three organizations these men represent could adopt official policies against criminalization and forced treatment.
Perhaps these organizations could promise that they will never again take the culture war over homosexuality into countries like Uganda.
I agree. Spot on.
Is Warren a ‘conservative evengelical’, like they say? Or is he just an evengelical? Or maybe a fluid or progressive evangelical? Who makes these lables and who adheres to them? Curious!
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