Nevada Public Radio covers Canyon Ridge – Uganda connection

At 9:30 am pacific time (12:30pm here), a segment will air on KNPR, Las Vegas regarding the relationship between Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa. The guest on the show is Derek Washington, President of the Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada. A hint of the content is here:

We talk with Democratic activist Derek Washington who thinks the Canyon Ridge congregation is unaware of the extreme positions taken by its missionary partner.

My guess is that Derek Washington is correct that the CRCC congregation is largely unaware of the issues involved. The local media there has for some reason not covered this local connection to an ongoing international news story persisting for about 10 months.

UPDATE: In addition to Derek Washington, the show featured a member of Canyon Ridge, Tyler Egeland who said the membership probably does not know much about the controversy. He also said that Ssempa has close ties to Southern Nevada (I believe his wife’s parents live in Las Vegas) and the church feels a close relationship to Ssempa. Egeland also said that the church’s brand of Christianity is at odds with how Ssempa is conducting his work in Uganda.

Derek Washington believes that the church has been hoodwinked. Washington believes that the people of Canyon Ridge are great people but that they have believed Ssempa’s attestations of good intentions but the leadership. Money is giving to church and then given to someone who advocates death and prison for gays.

Tyler Egeland agrees with Washington that Ssempa needs to apologize and turn away from his prior views.

According to the host of the show, the pastors at CRCC said they would be happy to participate and then backed out.

According to someone on the broadcast, Pastor Odor did mention this issue to the church. I would like to know what he said.

Derek Washington does not want people to leave Canyon Ridge but he wants Canyon Ridge to break ties to Ssempa.

Watch for the audio at the website and give the segment a listen. It is an intriguing show. On balance, I would say that the callers and the ministers of CRCC still do not understand the role that Martin Ssempa has played in this bill. They portray Ssempa as having a change of heart. If he has, he has never said so. He acquiesced to a change from the death penalty to 20 years in rehab for aggravated homosexuality but there is no documentation of any change in views on life in prison for consensual acts. He defended the death penalty to me in emails and on video on his Facebook page. He showed extreme porn about what “homosexuals do in private” when he must know that most homosexuals do not do such things in private.

One other observation. Tyler Egeland said that Canyon Ridge has denounced Ssempa’s extreme rhetoric, but I can find no indication of that. None of the emails I have from the staff indicate they have condemned the porn shows or any of his rhetoric.

UPDATE: As commenter andy pointed out, guest on this show Derek Washington attributed a murder in Uganda to anti-gay rhetoric. This story has turned out to be questionable and at least part of it was a false report. In any event, the murder is under investigation and cannot be attributed to Rev. Ssempa or any specific antigay faction.

Go take this survey…

Bridge builder Andrew Marin is researching the religiosity and sexuality with a survey I can recommend. There are three weeks left in the survey period and I want to invite readers to go check it out.

Here is his call for participants:

We only have 3 weeks left in our 4 year study of faith experiences and religious/spiritual acculturation within the LGBT community!

You can click here for all of the information (and answers to questions that were raised about it in the comment section) on The Marin Foundation’s current research study.

As an LGBT person, whether with a faith or not, please let your voice and experiences be heard.

I think this is an important study and he has got good research support for the study. If you are eligible (click the link to make sure), then I encourage you to get involved.

NPR reports on Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa

Barbara Bradley Hagerty reported today on the ties between Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa. The audio will be up at 7:00 pm but the transcript and a bit more is up now on their website.

Hagerty provides the facts: Canyon Ridge has supported Ssempa since 2007 and Ssempa has become the face of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. She also has interviews with’s Michael Jones, Canyon Ridge pastor Kevin Odor and me. The interview with Rev. Odor is important for those following this story. Here are excerpts:

Ssempa’s turnaround satisfied Pastor Odor, and he sees no reason to condemn the minister. Nor does he think he should denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

“Why do we, as a church in America, need to say something about a bill in Uganda?” he asks.

The turnaround referred to is what seems to be a shift in Ssempa’s thinking about the penalties for aggravated homosexuality — from death to 20 years in a rehab facility. Odor continues to say that his church has compassion for gays.

Pastor Odor says his church has “a heart” for homosexuals. He notes that Canyon Ridge participates every year in a march for people with AIDS, and for the past two years the church opened its campus for HIV Testing Day.

“We love everybody, including people with AIDS,” he says. “There are two things: How you got AIDS and that you have AIDS. That you have AIDS is a matter of compassion. The church should be compassionate for people with AIDS.”

I suspect they do experience a desire to reach out but what they miss is the incongruity of what they support in Uganda with what they express here. As I note in the NPR segment,

“If you preach compassion here, you have to support compassion elsewhere.”

Odor says that his church is being crucified for simply wanting to help people with AIDS.

I am interested in reader reaction to that claim.

Go read the segment; Audio is below. If the player doesn’t load, click here.

Related posts:

February 1 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church issues statement on support for Martin Ssempa

June 10 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church in conversation with Martin Ssempa

June 20 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church hosts National HIV Testing Day

June 23 – Southern Nevada Health District to evaluate relationship with Canyon Ridge Christian Church

July 1 – Las Vegas newspaper covers Canyon Ridge controversy

July 2 – Salon article: Canyon Ridge, Willow Creek Association and Martin Ssempa

Also see this article on

Church loses partnership over “kill the gay” bill

Kampala bombing reveals another kind of US – Uganda connection

For months, I have been writing about the US connections to anti-gay activities in Uganda. Most recently, I noted the ongoing relationship between Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa. Yesterday, Salon published my article detailing the split between Canyon Ridge and Southern Nevada Health District.

But there are other Christian influences in Uganda. The recent tragic terrorist bombing of two locations in Kampala reveals other stories of altruism and Christian mission.

A Pennsylvania connection was detailed in a Sunbury Daily Item article about a Selinsgrove church group who traveled to Kampala for mission work. Five of their people were injured in the blast who were there working in Kampala’s slums.

For days, members of a Selinsgrove-organized missions team had poured out their hearts by praying, working and sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those in the slums of the capital city of Uganda, Africa.

When they took a break at an Ethiopian restaurant on Sunday to catch the World Cup final, six of those team members, all with ties to the Valley, sacrificed even more for the cause when a terrorist bomb exploded, seriously injuring five of them.

A Delaware man, Nate Henn, lost his life in one of the blasts. He had dedicated his young life to rescuing the Invisible Children, orphans of the bloody war in Northern Uganda.

A former college rugby player who toured U.S. colleges and churches urging people to help children in war-riven Uganda was among 74 killed by explosions that tore through crowds watching the World Cup final in the African country.

Nate Henn was on a rugby field Sunday in Kampala with some of the children he’d gone to help when he was hit by shrapnel from one of the blasts, according to the aid group he worked for. A Uganda native Henn mentored had traveled back to the country with him and was standing next to him, but 20-year-old Innocent Opwonya wasn’t harmed.

These men and women were not in Kampala to fight the culture war. They were not there as was Scott Lively in March, 2009 to deliver a “nuclear bomb” in that war. Marching to a different drum, they were there to reflect their essence of their faith. These Christians were there to fight a different kind of battle with results that may not be seen for years. 

God bless them.

Common cause: Stop the Afghan “kill the Christians” movement

UPDATE: In addition to the group below, I have organized another group here. Please join and invite your network to join.

I have been saying for months that one powerful motive for Christians to care about the persecution of gays in Uganda is the common cause we have. Christians are persecuted the world over, primarily within governments based on Sharia law. Uganda’s lurch toward Levitical law should be troubling for those who treasure freedom of conscience and value Christian compassion. Christians should not victimize, nor should they be victims.

In Afghanistan, the situation is that in June, Afghan legislators called for execution of converts to Christianity and those who proselytize. Afghan Christians sent an open letter to the world’s Christian community asking for help. You can read the letter here at a Facebook group set up to support them. I have joined and I hope you will too.

International Christian Concern has several articles on their website. The most recent article details ominous threats from Afghan legislators and the President Karzai. It is disturbing that the US is pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan at the same time.`