The silence from Las Vegas continues…

No huge news here, just been thinking about why the Las Vegas press has not written one word about the connection of Canyon Ridge Christian Church to the international story of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Today, I was contacted by a Finnish writer and yesterday alerted that the BBC is investigating the matter yet again and may be in touch. Most American and many European news organizations have covered the story extensively. NPR and Salon have addressed the Canyon Ridge connection but only one story has emerged in Vegas from an alternative paper, and that one messed up the facts of the bill.

I am aware from those close to the situation that reporters from all the papers and the networks have been made aware of the situation. NPR-Nevada devoted a segment to the matter but I am pretty sure that is all. The church was dropped by the largest health and AIDS groups in town, the church supports a bill mentioned by the President and Secretary of State during the National Prayer Breakfast and the local press overlooks it.

And so the misrepresentation continues. CRCC leaders told their congregants that the bill has been misrepresented in the press and the Las Vegas press has not done anything to investigate that charge. Even one local GLB group has been silent. Yesterday, Michael Bussee asked the Human Rights Campaign – Las Vegas on their Facebook page why they have not spoken out. Good question. As yet, no reply has been offered.

In any event, the foreign press continue to be intrigued by the varying responses of Las Vegas evangelicals to the Ugandan bill, even if Las Vegas news organizations are not.

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.