Carl Walker-Hoover’s mom speaks her mind

I can’t add much to this statement from Sirdeaner Walker.

At some point, it might occur to the religious conservatives who are blaming the victims for their distress that they are talking largely to themselves.

Perkins says:

Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal–yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are “born gay” and can never change. This–and not society’s disapproval–may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide.

Many problems, the first of which that occurs to me is that the common denominator is anti-gay bias, not gay identification. He has a theory that fits his biases about homosexuals but it doesn’t fit all the facts of the situation.

Perkins column is a case in point of something Albert Mohler wrote in a recent commentary about Tyler Clementi:

Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own.

Mohler barely scratches the surface of the biases involved, but he gets closer than most prominent evangelicals are willing to get.

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill one year later

On October 14, 2009, David Bahati tabled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s Parliament. As of now, it remains in committee awaiting a second reading. On this ocassion, LGBT groups in Uganda have issued a press release, which follows:

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KAMPALA – UGANDA

One Year since the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – 2009

On October 14, 2009 the draft Anti Homosexuality Bill was introduced to the Parliament of Uganda by Ndoorwa West MP David Bahati. Mr Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill stipulates the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for all other homosexual acts. A person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face 3 years in jail. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of 5 to 7 years in jail.

This Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence. The bill abuses the dignity, privacy and equality of people with a different sexual orientation and identity other than heterosexual. If passed into law, it will further legitimize public and private violence, harassment and torture.

It has promoted hate-speech in churches, schools and the media. It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, physical assault, emotional and mental assault of LGBT activists, our families and allies.

The bill has further led to increased violence incited by local media, particularly The Red Pepper tabloid and recently launched Rolling Stone newspaper. The headline of the Rolling Stone viciously screamed “100 pictures of Ugandan’s top homos leak- Hang them” in their Vol. 1 No. 05 October 02-09, 2010. They published pictures, names, residences and other details of LGBT activists and allies.

“When my neighbors saw my picture in the paper, they were furious. They threw stones at me while I was in my house. I was so terrified somehow I managed to flee my home to safety.” said Stosh [Programme Coordinator- Kulhas Uganda]

The sad truth is that most evil in Uganda is done by people who end up never being held accountable for their deeds. The Rolling Stone publication has incited violence against a group of minorities making them seem like less of HUMAN BEINGS” Gerald [Admin – SMUG].

The bill constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of privacy, association, assembly and security of the person as enshrined in Constitution of Uganda’s and International Human Rights Law.

The impact of such legal and social exclusion is being felt in the lives of LGBTI Ugandans. Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns such laws and media witch-hunt of homosexuals.

We would like to acknowledge Human Rights institutions and activists, local, regional and international Civil Society, Development partners and friends around the world for the  enormous support to the Uganda LGBTI community and request for your continued call to African governments to repeal the ‘sodomy laws’.

Contacts:

Frank Mugisha                                                Pepe Julian Onziema

fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org        jpepe@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

///

Golden Rule Pledge joins National Bullying Prevention Month as national partner

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and various organizations support this initiative via awareness and shared vision for bullying prevention.

Recently, the Golden Rule Pledge was listed as a national partner on the organization’s website.

To do our part, I am asking church youth leaders to designate some time the week of October 20, 2010 (10.20.2010) to call on students to see bullying prevention as part of our witness. If anyone keeps the Golden Rule, it should be people of faith.

We have created a Facebook event page to mark 10.20.10 which has been designated by the PACER Center as a focus of awareness efforts. Click the link below to read more and sign up:

The End of Bullying Begins with Me

The homepage for the National Center for Bullying Prevention is here.

More on Martin Ssempa’s “meeting” with gay leaders

Last Thursday, I reported a statement from Martin Ssempa regarding his views of the Hang Them campaign initiated by the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone.  Ssempa said he

…spent three hours with leaders of homosexuals along with Bishop Ssenyonjo-explaining to them his position as a father.

I understood the statement to refer to a meeting specifically set up to meet with gay leaders. However, there is more to this statement according to others who were involved. First, here again is Ssempa’s statement in full:

STATEMENT ON THE ROLLING STONE ARTICLE.

Dr. Martin Ssempa would like to disassociate himself from the “Hang Them” article which appeared in the ‘Rolling Stone’ Newspaper October 02-092010 issue. While he has been opposed to homosexuality as a sin, a cultural taboo, and an act that breaks the laws of Uganda, he does not support violent efforts of “hang them” as indicated in the Rolling Stone-a new sensational tabloid. Being an outspoken preacher on the subject, he was interviewed by a writer from the paper but his language and tone of message was unfortunately not portrayed.

Pastor Ssempa does not believe that outings in Newspapers is an appropriate method. Pastor Ssempa is counselling homosexuals and victims of homosexuality whose confidence he has kept until they have been willing to go public.

At a meeting last week, Dr. Ssempa spent three hours with leaders of homosexuals along with Bishop Ssenyonjo-explaining to them his position as a father. Homosexuality is a sin and God’s grace is there for all who need redemption. He shared how he counsels university boys and girls who are suicidal because they were raped in single sex boarding schools and no one was there to defend them. It is this that drives his passion for educational and legislative reforms to protect Africa’s Youths. The meeting ended on a pleasant note with Pastor Ssempa taking a group photo with the team.

I called Bishop Ssenyonjo to get his perspective on the meeting and he told me that the “meeting” was a series of speeches given by people of various points of view regarding homosexuality sponsored by a research group from Makerere University School of Law. The sessions were held over several days from September 29 through October 2nd. Bishop Ssenyonjo said he spoke about “The God who does not discriminate.” According to the Bishop, there were few gay people in attendance, with most being people invited to speak by those organizing the sessions. Bishop Ssenyonjo heard Martin Ssempa’s session which he said lasted about an hour. In it, Ssempa said he favored the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill but did not want the dealth penalty included. According to the Bishop, Ssempa called for restrictions on free speech, via bans on what he called “promotion” of homosexuality.

In short, the meeting with homosexual leaders turns out to be a series of sessions where many people spoke, many of whom were not homosexual. Apparently, the series of meetings was organized by unnamed researchers from Makerere University.

The Tennessee house fire: The tales of Good and Bad Samaritans

According to this AP report, Gene and Paulette Cranick forgot to pay their $75 fire protection fee and the local fire department let their house burn to the ground.

Paulette Cranick said they had paid the fee in the past, although sometimes late, but it slipped their mind this year.

I have forgotten my yearly car registration before and paid extra for my attention deficit. I have forgotten other things too, but right now I forget what they were. So I can believe the Cranicks forgot to pay the fee.

I have a harder time believing the justifications for failing to extinguish the blaze. Some say the Cranicks didn’t pay the fee so they should accept the consequences. If you do the crime, you have to do the time, the thinking goes. Something just seems wrong about that. At risk of age stereotyping, I will bring in the fact that the Cranicks are in their upper 60s and certain memory functions show some wear and tear years before that time of life. For instance, some days, I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch. I can only imagine trying to remember if I paid a yearly bill for something as basic as fire protection.

So I would have been willing to cut them some slack and put out the fire, perhaps charging them for the real costs of the trip. Their animals might have been saved and the local authorities would have been reimbursed for their actual costs.

However, other people are not buying it. Bryan Fischer at the American Family Association brought religion into the situation by writing two columns saying Jesus would have let the house burn down. I doubt that, but thinking about Jesus reminded me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Then I thought that the story might have gone a little differently if Bryan Fischer had been telling the tale. First, the real thing from Luke 25-37.

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

 27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

 36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Now, let me break in where the Samaritan finds the hapless fellow on the side of the road and suggest how it might have gone with Fischer’s “muscular Christianity.”

33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he called out to him,

“Are you ok?” The Samaritan replied

The man replied, “No, I have been badly hurt by the attack of the robbers.”

Sizing up the situation, the Samaritan man asked “Have you paid your taxes?”

“What?” The wounded man groaned.

“Have you paid your taxes? You know, the ones which help pay for police protection and rescue services?” The Samaritan demanded.

“No, sir, I forgot to pay them. I paid them last year but forgot to pay them this year,” the man whispered, his breathing labored.

“I see. Well, that is too bad. In that case, my advice to you is to man up and accept the situation.” And the Samaritan man went on his way.

And everybody marveled and scratched their head at his teachings.

Which Samaritan was the neighbor?

Bryan Fischer blacked out; Update – Now just fired up

UPDATE: Too good to be true, he’s back.

His blog has been blacked out that is. Here is what you see when go there now:

If you highlight the letters, however, you can read the words. Here is one of his latest commending firemen for letting a house burn to the ground over a fee.

Other blogs on the site are not blacked out, like this one where Buster (!) Wilson complains about Richard Land defending Muslims’ right to build a mosque. Imagine that, Richard Land going liberal. Where are the virtual black Sharpies when you need one?

I noticed this earlier in the week, when I went to read the defense of the Bad Samaritans, and the column seemed to be gone. But I checked it out more closely after reading this Christianity Today column by Tobin Grant.

Maybe after awhile, a secret code will be require to read the meanderings of Mr. Fischer. For now, the view looks good to me.

Martin Ssempa reacts to Ugandan tabloid’s “Hang Them” campaign

On Monday and Tuesday, I posted screen captures of a new Ugandan tabloid called the Rolling Stone (no relation to the rock and roll magazine) which claimed to out gays and called for their death. Martin Ssempa gave an interview to the magazine and was touted for his anti-gay activism.

 The tabloid claims to have another four parts to the outing campaign, with more pictures, names and addresses to come. Some of the Ugandan contacts I have corresponded with over the last 20 months have not been answering emails. This is concerning.

Since Canyon Ridge Christian Church has taken on an intermediary role with Rev. Ssempa, I asked Mitch Harrison at CRCC if he would determine whether or not Ssempa gave an interview to this magazine and whether he stood for the approach. This evening, Rev. Harrison provided a statement from Martin Ssempa about the tabloid and more. Here it is in full:

STATEMENT ON THE ROLLING STONE ARTICLE.

Dr. Martin Ssempa would like to disassociate himself from the “Hang Them” article which appeared in the ‘Rolling Stone’ Newspaper October 02-092010 issue. While he has been opposed to homosexuality as a sin, a cultural taboo, and an act that breaks the laws of Uganda, he does not support violent efforts of “hang them” as indicated in the Rolling Stone-a new sensational tabloid. Being an outspoken preacher on the subject, he was interviewed by a writer from the paper but his language and tone of message was unfortunately not portrayed.

Pastor Ssempa does not believe that outings in Newspapers is an appropriate method. Pastor Ssempa is counselling homosexuals and victims of homosexuality whose confidence he has kept until they have been willing to go public.

At a meeting last week, Dr. Ssempa spent three hours with leaders of homosexuals along with Bishop Ssenyonjo-explaining to them his position as a father. Homosexuality is a sin and God’s grace is there for all who need redemption. He shared how he counsels university boys and girls who are suicidal because they were raped in single sex boarding schools and no one was there to defend them. It is this that drives his passion for educational and legislative reforms to protect Africa’s Youths. The meeting ended on a pleasant note with Pastor Ssempa taking a group photo with the team.

In that interview, Ssempa is quoted as saying that “the war has just started.” If this is what he said, the tone and language are quite clear. I believe he should ask for a retraction and space in that paper to make his position clear. Telling an American audience is one thing; relating it back home is another.

The disclosure of a meeting with Bishop Ssenyonjo is interesting. I hope to hear from the Bishop about his reactions to it. Martin Ssempa should have found a receptive audience for his concerns about childhood molestation since all the gay advocacy groups issued a statement opposing recruitment and child molestation back in January of this year.

I hope this statement does not mean that Canyon Ridge is going to stick to the story that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is about the molestation of the boy child. The laws in Uganda already allow for prosecution of those who molest children so if that is what drives him, then he can rest in his campaign since these laws are on the books.

Anti-gay bullying and stereotype threat

We seem to be in the middle of a social conversation about the meaning of the recent teen suicides involving anti-gay bias. Numerous articles are exploring many angles of the stories and there are competing attributions about the nature of the despair experienced by teens who are gay or perceived to be gay. One particularly troubling narrative is being advanced by far right social conservatives essentially suggesting that the teens we are mourning of late died due to factors of their own doing. The thinking goes like this: the gay lifestyle is inherently harmful and distressing and suicide is a possible consequence of that life.

Let me offer three exhibits. First, Linda Harvey told WorldNetDaily readers:

One wonders if any of these kids ever heard a clearly articulated warning against homosexuality. Or were they faced with a continuous onslaught of pro-homosexual diversity lessons, novels and events like the “Day of Silence”? Were they surrounded with liberal teachers as role models and the bad example of a homosexual school club? What part did any of this play in the sad belief that homosexuality was an inevitable destiny, instead of a wayward yet changeable sexual inclination? Under almost continuous pressure to accept a lie – confusion and then despair may be the predictable result.

On top of all this, then, in some young lives come the bullies. They are a part of life, especially for boys. But for the young person with same-sex attractions, this is the final straw where they feel totally trapped, with internal feelings they have been carefully taught “cannot be changed” on the one hand, and harsh peer rejection on the other. Yes, it looks hopeless indeed.

But there’s a solution. First and foremost, kids should be told the truth that no one is born gay. Despite any budding feelings he or she may have, many people who felt similarly at that age went on to change both their feelings and behavior, and to be well-adjusted adult heterosexuals, some married with children. The gay lobbyists actively prevent kids from knowing this option.

Could the stifling political correctness in certain schools be one of the reasons some kids feel utterly hopeless? Think about it. Even in the face of relentless taunts about homosexuality, many if not most kids would be able to survive intact if they saw the perpetrators punished and also knew they had a choice.

Ms. Harvey wonders if warnings against homosexuality would have helped (and links to NARTH’s misrepresentation of Francis Collins’ views). Rather, Harvey perceives schools featuring “stifling political correctness” and a “continuous onslaught of pro-homosexual diversity lessons.” However, friends and families describe regular “warnings against homosexuality” in the form of anti-gay harassment. I suspect these children might have been ok with some political correctness.

On to Exhibit B: Matt Barber, Board member of American for Truth About Homosexuality and administrator at Liberty University. Mr. Barber released a statement about the suicides picked up by the Canada Free Press. Mr. Barber advises:

“God’s message to young people struggling with same sex temptation or to those who feel the shame that naturally accompanies sexual sin is that suicide is never the way out. But there is a way out. It comes first through belief in Jesus Christ, and then through confession of sin; finally, repentance. As Jesus said to the repentant sexual sinner at the well, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’

Mr. Barber assumes the suicides were escapes for struggling sexual sinners, rather than depressed children struggling mightily with a disparaging social context.

Finally, Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council, makes the most direct link between sexual identity and psychological distress.

I would agree that youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk, because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle. These alternative sexual identifications or lifestyles deny the reality that we are created male and female. To live or try to live in conflict with how we are made will invariably cause problems, e.g. emotional, psychological and social.

These three people are making attributions about the cause of the suicides based not in facts of the cases, but based on their assumptions about homosexual persons. These commentators assert that they have really pegged the problem: these teens were gay and gays are inherently unstable. Therefore one should not be surprised. An additional problem is with the adults who did not warn them or send them to the NARTH website.

It is hard to know what facts would dissuade Harvey, Barber and Pritchard from their views. All three speak of the recent victims as if they were all gay or questioning sexuality. Some were; some were not. The common denominator in these situations was anti-gay bias, not gay identification. In some of these cases, there is no evidence or disclosures of confusion about sexuality at all. The picture of horribly miserable teens who “embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle” just doesn’t show up when you read about the students involved. They were miserable alright, but not for the reasons given by these commentators.

This public display of confirmation bias reminded me of another social psychological concept, stereotype threat, i.e., the disruptive concern that one will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype. I believe a plausible case can be made that at least several of victims of suicide experienced regular stereotype threat which indeed was disruptive. Stereotype threat can operate even when one is not actually in the stereotyped social group, as with the young people who were perceived to be gay and suffered regular anti-gay harassment. The threat of negative stereotyping is what is required.

One does not need to look far for the source of negative stereotypes. I provided three links. The threat of being stereotyped as gay looms large to young teens. Bystanders to bullying are often so afraid to intervene because they might be assumed to be gay or a gay sympathizer. In addition to perceptions of being different, could the intensity of the stereotype threat have anything to do with the dire picture painted by churches and professional Christian leaders who may themselves not know any teens who are harassed? Rather than blame the victim, or dismiss this notion out of hand, I believe Christians should reflect on how gays are referred to in our literature and speech. We can make a difference in the climate by virtue of civil speech and self-reflection. If I don’t like being stereotyped as a Christian, then I shouldn’t do it to someone else.

I am thinking out loud with this post and welcome comments and suggestions. Some Christians are stepping up and out toward solutions but other seem to be defensive. I seek as clear an understanding of the situation as possible.

Exodus International drops Day of Truth

Exodus International announced today that the organization will no longer sponsor the Day of Truth (website has been disabled). In an article on CNN’s Belief’s Blog posted by Dan Gilgoff, Exodus leader, Alan Chambers tells the tale:

“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.

Probably surprised by the move, GLSEN’s Eliza Byard welcomed the news.

“I thank Exodus for making this very important step,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard on Wednesday after hearing of Exodus’ decision. “The Day of Truth was an effort to push a very specific set of opinions about homosexuality into schools in a way that was inappropriate and divisive.”

On the Day of Truth, middle and high school students are encouraged to wear Day of Truth T-shirts and to distribute cards that say “It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality,” according to Exodus’ manual for this year’s event.

“I don’t think it’s necessary anymore,” Chambers said of the event on Wednesday. “We want to help the church to be respectful of all its neighbors, to help those who want help and to be compassionate toward people who may hold a different worldview from us.”

As I noted in the article, I think this is a very significant move. Over the past three years, I have been documenting a split in the evangelical world over how to relate to the gay community. With this decision, Exodus has moved even farther away from the side of fear and stigma. I welcome it as quite consistent with the article I wrote yesterday for CNN.

Did Martin Ssempa give an interview to Uganda’s Rolling Stone?

Here are more pictures from the recent outing campaign in Uganda conducted by the tabloid, Rolling Stone, edited by Giles Muhame and Joseph Bahingwire.

Note the headline:

Hang them: They are after our children!!

Also note that according to the article, Pastor Martin Ssempa gave this crew an interview, saying:

We shall fight on until we rescue our country from the hands of evil. A lot of money from gay organizations is filtering in to destroy the morals of our kids. The war has just started.

There is also an allegation that Ssempa helped get a lesbian deported. Since Canyon Ridge Christian Church is helping Rev. Ssempa with his media statements, I have asked them if these are accurate quotes and will report their reply.

This continues the story from above.

The headline asks a question because there may be much in this tabloid that is not true. If Ssempa did not give this interview, then he should immediately offer a public statement that he no longer believes in these tactics and fulfill his word to his supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.