Uganda Observer reports on Rolling Stone, Martin Ssempa; confirms attack

The Uganda Observer has an article this morning reporting on the ongoing controversy over the Uganda Rolling Stone tabloid. Also, for the first time, a Uganda paper reports on the Canyon Ridge Christian Church story:

Ssempa loses funding

Meanwhile, the Canyon Ridge Christian Church (CRCC), which has been supporting Pastor Martin Ssempa’s work on HIV/AIDS in Uganda, has announced it is “looking to re-direct” its resources to other people. They cite Sempa’s support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

When contacted, Ssempa declined to confirm whether he had been notified of the decision. The statement, however, can be found on the CRCC’s website.

Indeed, the statement is on their website, with a link on the frontpage. How odd…Rev. Ssempa is not shy to talk to the Rolling Stone but he declined to comment to The Observer.

As noted here, Oral Roberts University continues to list Ssempa on their Board of Reference.

The Observer leads with the Rolling Stone story:

A Ugandan story about homosexuality that went largely unnoticed at home is hitting headlines in the foreign media, with CNN and BBC among those raising its profile.

Julian Pepe Onziema, the Programmes Coordinator of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an NGO that lobbies for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTS), has had interviews with these media houses, and others like the SABC of South Africa and Aljazeera, over persecution of this group in Uganda.

She is currently in Gambia to discuss the rights of homosexuals before the African Commission and her days continue to be filled with a lot of advocacy work following the reports.

On October 2, a newspaper, Rolling Stone, which entered the Ugandan market only in August this year, carried pictures of people it claimed were homosexuals under the headline, ‘Kampala’s top homosexuals’.

The newspaper was quick to realize that the story was good for publicity abroad, so there was a follow-up in its latest November edition.

It ran graphic photos of people said to be gay, their names and addresses. In one of the photos, a woman said to be a lesbian is lying seductively on a bed wearing a figure-hugging dress with a caption saying, “She claims to be hot but is only interested in relationships with women. She seduces women.”

Next to hers are other pictures of male genitalia inflicted with lymphogranulama, a disease the newspaper alleged is eating up the homosexual community. Strewn around are pictures of other individuals said to be homosexuals, as well as activists and sympathizers.

The Observer has established that one of the people listed as a lesbian was attacked by her neighbours with stones and had to be rescued by friends who sneaked her out of the house. Other attacks have been reported but couldn’t be confirmed.

Statement: Canyon Ridge Christian Church does not support efforts to pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill

This afternoon, Mitch Harrison at Canyon Ridge Christian Church sent me a statement about church support for Martin Ssempa. The statement, in full, reads:

Canyon Ridge Christian Church began work in Uganda with the intent of helping address the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was wiping out generations of people in that country and other parts of Africa. Our partnership with Pastor Martin Ssempa began in response to this intent.


Because of the current controversy in Uganda over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and because of Pastor Ssempa’s involvement in the support of the bill, we have been in regular communication with him to clarify his positions and opinions. While we have come to understand that Pastor Ssempa advocates for an amended version of the Anti-Homosexuality bill that removes the death penalty and reduces other severe penalties, he is still supports passage of this bill.


We, however, do not support him in this effort.


We are in the process of determining how we can redirect our support in Uganda to activities specifically related to addressing HIV/AIDS issues.


Further, we condemn acts of violence against any person regardless of sexual orientation.


Our desire is to see God’s purposes lived out in Uganda, and for the redemption and abundant life he gives to be experienced by everyone.

While CRCC is not directly acknowledging the errors in their earlier statement (still up but probably not for long), they do so implicitly by condemning acts of violence which the AHB would lead to and which has been recently incited by Uganda’s Rolling Stone.

Background for this story is here, here, here, here, and here (all of my articles at

UPDATE: CRCC has replaced their former statement with the one above on their website. The Ssempas are no longer referenced as mission partners but rather a link to this statement has replaced their page. The former page is archived here (page 1, page 2, page 3).

Jeff Sharlet talks about Uganda on Democracy Now

Not usually my source for news, but this clip of Jeff Sharlet on Democracy Now is interesting in that he says David Bahati is ready to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill along. Specifically at 32:43, Sharlet says:

What I’m hearing from David Bahati, the author of the bill, with whom I am still in touch, is that he’s now being promised a second reading, and this new step in the press is a very alarming one because it shows that its moving back to the forefront of Ugandan society.


The at 33:00, after the statement about the current status of the bill, Sharlet mentions the connection between Martin Ssempa and Canyon Ridge Christian Church, which, as Sharlet points out, I have documented repeatedly.

There is much more in the interview, some of it pretty controversial stuff, but I want to make two quick points. One is that the outing campaign could be a means to reignite the bill, as Sharlet suggests. The bill has not been withdrawn, and if Bahati is correct, he may get his second reading.

The second point is that I think Jeff is generally correct about the membership of Canyon Ridge. I think if church members had a true picture of what the Anti-Homosexuality Bill really contained, they would be horrified. However, the leadership of the church has not posted the bill in favor of edited documents which obscure it’s plain language.

And I continue to wonder why the Human Rights Campaign of Las Vegas, who met with Canyon Ridge leaders over a month ago, have said nothing about a church in their community which indirectly supports a bill which is terrorizing GLBT people in Uganda.

UPDATE: Jim Burroway reported this last week but I neglected to add this piece of information to any of my posts: The Uganda tabloid Rolling Stone has been halted by the government, at least temporarily. Apparently the paper did not meet all regulations necessary.  Click the image to read it…

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:


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.

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.