Doug Coe confirms Fellowship Foundation opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

UPDATE – 5/13/10: Click here to read more about the interview with Doug Coe and new information regarding the National Prayer Breakfast work.


Yesterday, I met with Doug Coe, considered by many to be the spiritual leader of the Fellowship Foundation. Organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast which convenes this morning at the Washington Hilton, the Fellowship Foundation has been accused of supporting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. All my contacts with the Foundation yesterday were uniform in opposing the specific tenets of the legislation as well as the spirit and intent of the bill.

Mr. Coe told me in the interview that he believes Jesus loves all people regardless of sexual orientation. He and other Fellowship leaders told me that imposing the death penalty and criminalization of homosexuality is contrary to the principles of love and compassion that Jesus taught and lived and upon whose life and teachings the Fellowship is based. Furthermore, the National Prayer Breakfast movement’s mission is to build bridges of understanding between all people, religions and beliefs.

Mr. Coe also confirmed to me that his good friend and associated Bob Hunter is authorized to speak for the Foundation on this issue. Hunter has been outspoken in opposition to the bill. Hunter has a long time relationship with Uganda and has publicly called on David Bahati to withdraw the bill. Yesterday, Hunter was quoted in the New York Times and confirmed to me that “about 30 Family members, all Americans, active in Africa recently conveyed their dismay about the legislation to Ugandan politicians, including Mr. Bahati.”

This opposition seems entirely consistent with the events I attended here yesterday. For instance, the welcome card for the African Breakfast described this “value of a small group”

With the Spirit of Jesus at the center, this ancient idea of gathering together meets a long-felt spiritual need of men and women at all levels of society in our modern world. People find acceptance, understanding, confidence, and hope for the future through a deepening relationship with God and in discovering the secret of true brotherhood with their fellow men and women. The primary goal of a small group is to build trust, fellowship, and closer bonds of friendship through the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

As noted repeatedly by all I talked to here yesterday, including Ugandans present, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is completely inconsistent with this statement.

Click here for all posts on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Congressional Resolution opposes Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009


February 3, 2010

Contact:  Lynne Weil, 202-225-5021

Ugandan Anti-Gay Legislation Threatens Human Rights, Reverses Gains in HIV/AIDS Fight, Berman Says

Washington, DC – Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today introduced a bipartisan congressional resolution condemning anti-gay legislation now making its way through the parliament in Uganda.

“The proposed Ugandan bill not only threatens human rights, it also reverses so many of the gains that Uganda has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  This issue has united leaders of different political and religious views in Uganda and worldwide in one common belief in the rights of all human beings regardless of sexual orientation.”

More than three dozen members of Congress joined Berman in introducing the resolution (H. Res. 1064), including Committee Ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA); Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Chair Donald Payne (D-NJ); Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA); and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. 

Click here to read the text of the resolution.

BBC report on Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

I can’t find embed code so here is a link to an 11 minute BBC report with footage of Martin Ssempa, Nsaba Buturo, Scott Lively, Yoweri Museveni and others discussing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Martin Ssempa said he receives no funding from the United States. Despite Tim Whewell’s disclaimer, it is not clear to me that he is referring to his efforts against homosexuality. Indeed, as I reported Monday, he does receive support from Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV.

The report notes the relevance of the Martyrs of Uganda and King Mwanga. This is important history and as Whewell notes, the claims of homosexuality being “unAfrican” are not consistent with the history. Mwanga was just a teen when he took over the throne and so the pages were not much younger than him. Calling him a pedophile is probably inaccurate. Furthermore, Mwanga had several wives and children so apparently he was not exclusively homosexual. The narrative has had effect on the African consciousness but does not easily fit the resulting stereotypes.

This is an informative and well done report. Go watch and comment.

Canyon Ridge Christian Church issues statement on support for Martin Ssempa

Back in November, 2009, I contacted Las Vegas, NV, Canyon Ridge Christian Church as a part of my reporting on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. Canyon Ridge lists the Ssempas as missionaries on their website. Specifically, it has been of interest to learn how American ministries who have significant ties to prominent Ugandan supporters of the bill are reacting. Ugandans have reached out for assistance in significant ways to American churches and the relationships are deep and substantial going in both directions. Some of these relationships have been casualties of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

One Ugandan pastor who had been well connected in the US is Martin Ssempa. As is common knowledge now, Saddleback pastor, Rick Warren first went public with a split from Ssempa and then sent a letter and video denouncing the bill as “unchristian.” Colorado based abstinence education group, WAIT Training initially issued a statement neither supporting or endorsing Ssempa. More recently, however, WAIT Training severed all ties with him. Another American ministry, Teen Mania was slated to begin a youth leadership training ministry in partnership with Ssempa but recently put the effort on hold. Teen Mania issued a statement indicating disapproval of the bill and pledged to evaluate ministry partners in order “to ensure that we are not partnering with or supporting anyone who has advocated for a blanket death penalty for homosexual offenders.” Oral Roberts University, where Martin Ssempa is on the school’s Board of Reference has declined to comment on the bill at all.

Recently, Canyon Ridge Christian Church ended their silence with the following statement from Executive Pastor Mitch Harrison:

Canyon Ridge Christian Church partners with missionaries and ministry leaders around the world, including Martin Ssempa, for the purpose of reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing humanitarian aid where possible.


With the oversight of our elders and missions team, we constantly evaluate our ministry partners and their activities. We will only support those who engage in and promote activities consistent with the redemptive and grace-filled purposes of Jesus Christ in the world.


Canyon Ridge Christian Church does not wish to enter into the debate over the legislation in Uganda. We do encourage those involved to seek God’s leadership in humility and grace and to follow Jesus command to love one another as they wrestle with this difficult issue. Our prayers are for the good of the people Uganda.

The bill continues to be a difficult issue for American Christians to navigate. Many leaders I have spoken with are torn in their feelings. They really dislike the bill but they have come to trust their Ugandan brothers and sisters who are among the most vocal supporters of the bill. Make no mistake, I oppose the bill but I do understand the difficulty it is to separate with someone you have considered a friend over an issue of conscience.

Coming this week: On the scene at the National Prayer Breakfast


By invitation of National Prayer Breakfast organizers, I will be visiting events surrounding the Thursday meeting. Watch for posts on the events from Tuesday through at least Friday.