Uganda report: Testimony in anti-gay bill to conclude Monday

As the closing of the 8th Parliament looms, two early supporters of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill continue to promote passage of the bill. Martin Ssempa and Stephen Langa both testified Friday before the Legal and  Parliamentary Affairs committee. A website called Weinformers provide more information about their message and also reports that hearings will conclude on Monday.
According to this report, Ssempa advocated the removal of the death penalty because it is not a “behavioral corrective measure.” However, he did not object to life in prison. Despite the fact that Ugandan law already addresses the defilement of both boys and girls, Ssempa continued to allege it does not.
The Weinformers article also reports that the bill is likely to get a vote before the end of the Parliament.
Langa, also testifying on Friday, sounded many of the same themes. Langa was the prime organizer of a conference on homosexuality in March 2009 which featured Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge, and Don Schmierer. The conference whipped up public support for tougher laws against homosexuality. Although in the works prior to the conference, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first mentioned in Parliament the following month in April, 2009.
Both Langa and Ssempa have had extensive American connections, although Ssempa’s have withered away over the last year. He resigned his post as member of the Board of Reference at Oral Roberts University and was dropped as a missionary by Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NE. Langa is the Director of the Uganda branch of the Arizona based Disciple Nations Alliance.
On Saturday, I spoke with Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chair Stephen Tashobya who confirmed that hearings would be held on Monday with report writing to come. However, he declined to predict whether the AHB would make it to a vote.
Related: David Bahati: Hearings took place today on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

David Bahati: Hearings took place today on Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today, public hearings on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill took place before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, according to the bill author, David Bahati. In an interview, Bahati said that the Uganda Law Reform Commission and several religious leaders were on the list of those slated to provide testimony. He added, “I know that the process of legislation is moving forward.”
Bahati declined to say that the bill would be voted on next week, saying that the actual end of Parliament is not until May 18 when the 9th Parliament also begins. According to Charles Tuhaise, a researcher for parliament’s research office, most of the business will be concluded by the end of next week. He told me that the hearings for the Marriage and Divorce Bill have concluded and those for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill began today. In addition to the Law Reform Commission, those providing testimony today included the Attorney General’s Office, Martin Ssempa and Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network.  Tuhaise said the antigay bill hearings will probably conclude on Monday with the NGO Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law being one group on the agenda.
The fate of the antigay measure has been uncertain since it was introduced on October 14, 2009. From the beginning, the bill had support from the public as well as from religious and political leaders. However, legislative progress on the bill was slowed by massive international opposition. Contrary to false reports that the bill had been shelved, it has remained before a Ugandan parliamentary committee. In December, 2010, committee chair Stephen Tashobya told me that he hoped to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill through his committee in time for a vote before the end of Parliament. Tashobya also said that the hearings would precede a vote.
Bahati also told me that a resolution he offered to call for common ground between the government and opposition leaders was adopted by Parliament during today’s session. The bipartisan resolution was offered in the wake of protests over inflation and the violent response from the government.
See also: Hearings may be taking place.
And then there is this just out on NTV. Sounds like Tashobya is pushing to get it a vote.

Joyce Meyer Ministries declines to comment on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

In my review of information about American evangelicals in Africa, I have learned at least one thing — writing about the US ministries that do not have a connection with Uganda might be easier than disclosing those that do. Many groups have been there, invested there and worked with those who seem most responsible for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This post briefly looks at one household name in Uganda – Joyce Meyer. At least I am told by some Ugandans that she is well known and a review of her activities there make this assessment believable.

Joyce Meyer is one of several high profile preachers with bestselling books and a massive empire based on the success of those books. Meyer’s Christianity seems to be Pentecostal with a heaping dose of prosperity tossed in. Meyer is on television every day in Uganda via LTV – Uganda’s affiliate of Paul Crouch’s TBN. When she held meetings in Uganda in 2008, hundreds of thousands of Ugandans turned out to see her and listen to Christian bands, delirious and Hillsong. She had meetings with Uganda’s first lady, Janet Museveni.

Nothing wrong with any of this or her current work there. Meyer is partnering with a Ugandan church to provide care for orphans which is after all one of the hallmarks of true religion according to the New Testament. I am writing about Joyce Meyer is due to the church with which she works in Uganda – Watoto Community Church. WCC is home to Stephen Langa, who is an elder there and one of the chief cheerleaders for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

So in partnership with Marilyn and Gary Skinner and their ministry we are helping to build a Watoto children’s village there. They have also planted a great church, and we have plans to build a babies’ home, too.

The highlight came when over 200,000 people, in 2 nights, came to see Joyce and the Hillsong worship band.

Joyce preached with an incredible boldness, breaking down many walls of fear, brokenness and helplessness that the years of war had left. We have a long-term commitment to this area and believe through God’s power and your prayers, we can turn an impossible situation around.

It appears that Joyce Meyer Ministries is truly doing a good work at the Watoto Church. No doubt Watoto Church elder Stephen Langa is doing good things to support children there. However, he also supports a bill that in the current form would make some private, consensual adult behaviors punishable by death or life in prison. His proposal also criminalizes confidential professional relationships with same-sex attracted people now taken for granted by all pastoral and health care professionals. The harshness of the current bill rivals that of Muslim regimes where homosexuality is criminalized. So faced with a collaborator who is engaged in such an effort, Joyce Meyer could use her influence to denounce the bill on Ugandan television without denouncing the child related work there. She could do what Rick Warren has done and declare opposition to what Warren calls an “unchristian” proposal. However, when asked via email and phone, Joyce Meyer Ministries told me this instead:

While we both understand and appreciate your interest in contacting us, unfortunately, we have no comment to offer.

Thank you.

Joyce Meyer Ministries

While I can both understand and appreciate Joyce Meyer’s interest in staying neutral, I am disappointed that she is not using her influence both to help children and stand up for those image-bearers of God who are the target of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.

Another possible US connection to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Disciple Nations Alliance and Stephen Langa

Stephen Langa has been one of the public faces of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. He organized the ex-gay conference in Kampala which brought Scott Lively and Caleb Brundidge to the Ugandan Parliament. He organized the post-conference citizens’ meetings which led to calls for new legislation. He was present in the gallery when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was introduced. And he was one of the debaters present to defend the bill in a public forum held at Makerere University. Along with Martin Ssempa, he is probably the most visible non-governmental defender of the bill to outside observers.

Throughout the saga of this bill, observers outside Uganda have been looking for US connections to those heavily involved in introducing or defending the bill. Among many influences and connections, I have looked at New Apostolic Reformation teachers, the College of Prayer and the Fellowship Foundation. The post introduces another possible player. I say possible only because I have not been able to confirm the extent to which the Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA) is aware of Stephen Langa’s anti-homosexual activities in Kampala. One thing is certain, Langa is an affiliate and vital aspect of the DNA mission in Africa.

I have looking into since a commenter here provided a link to the DNA website. In response to an email, Scott Allen director of the DNA office in Phoenix wrote to say that would not have a comment until he studied the matter. However, while waiting, I can post some links and articles as background

Here is a description of that relationship from the DNA website:

Affiliate Spotlight: Transforming Nations Alliance


The Disciple Nations Alliance is a worldwide movement of individuals, organizations and networks united by a common conviction: The necessity of Biblical Truth, expressed through church-based wholistic ministry for social and cultural transformation.  DNA “Global Affiliates” are self-governing organizations that share a common purpose, and adhere to the same core beliefs and operational principles.  There are currently ten affiliates in Asia, Africa and the Americas.  The DNA affiliate in Uganda is called Transformation Nations Alliance.

The first DNA Vision Conference in Uganda occurred in 2000. It was facilitated by Bob Moffitt and Scott Allen, and several of the key leaders of the influential Kampala Pentecostal Church (now called Watoto Church) attended. The second conference held the following year (facilitated by Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt) was hosted by a committee led by Watoto Church elder Stephen Langa. Today, Stephen is Director of Transformation Nations Alliance and Moses Mengwau is Head of Operations.  

Stephen Langa is a member of the Africa Working Group of Samaritan Strategy Africa, the network whose objective is to spread DNA training across the continent of Africa. In addition to serving as an Elder at Watoto Church, he also provides leadership to the Family Life Network, a pro-family advocacy organization. He also serves as Director of the Uganda Youth Forum, a youth ministry organization founded by the First Lady of Uganda in 2001.

The mission of Transformation Nations Alliance is to engage and disciple all sectors of society, through a biblical worldview centred, holistic approach to ministry, leading to the restoration of God’s original plan for creation. Towards this end, TNA has trained and mentored a team of certified Ugandan trainers who regularly facilitate Vision Conferences throughout the nation. Hundreds of Ugandan church leaders have been impacted. In addition, these trainers have been called upon to train the local staff of several large mission and development organizations, including World Vision and Compassion International.

Churches that have been impacted by TNA have gained a new vision for their role in society, and as a result, have begun to reach out and bring healing to their communities. 

In an article about Stephen Langa’s church Watolo Community Church, Langa is noted as one of the leaders.

Today, Watoto church leaders such as Stephen Langa and Pastor Franco Onaga are extending the influence of the church into the various spheres of Ugandan society, including government, family, and even training programs for the Kampala police force. Watoto is truly a model church that is bringing the light of Christ and the healing of His Kingdom to Uganda, Africa and the whole world.

And then in 2006, Darrow Miller, co-founder of DNA recounts Stephen Langa’s efforts to overturn the inclusion of homosexuality in the Equal Opportunity Bill. Miller describes Langa as a “co-laborer and good friend.” Langa notes that those trained by DNA helped to mobilize Parliament to defeat the inclusion of homosexuality as those eligible for equal opportunity.

As I was finishing up this post, I noticed that Gay City News broke this story here. There is more on this there with additional reporting about Langa’s work with Food for the Hungry.

I hope to have comment from DNA in a follow up post.

College of Prayer, the Ugandan Parliament and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Many observers have speculated about U.S. influence in Uganda, particularly relating to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. The obvious trigger for legislation this year was the ex-gay conference held in Kampala in March. Organized by Ugandan Stephen Langa, the conference featured presentations by Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge and Don Schmierer. Lively and Brundidge addressed some members of the Ugandan parliament in a breakfast meeting on March 5. From minutes of the Ugandan Parliament:

THE SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon. Minister. Hon. Members, this brings us to the end of today’s business.

Before we go, I have this communication to make. All Members are invited to an executive breakfast meeting seminar on the dangers of homosexuality. The theme is, “Exposing the truth about homosexuality and the homosexual agenda”. The meeting will take place in the Parliament Conference Hall tomorrow Thursday, 5th March starting at 7.30 a.m. to 9.00 a.m.

Guest speakers include Dr Scot Libley [sic – Scott Lively] of the United States, Caleb Lee [Brundidge] of the United States and Mr Stephen Langa of the Family Life Network. All Members are invited to attend and breakfast will be served. The House is adjourned until tomorrow at 2.30 p.m.

Lively’s collaboration with Stephen Langa goes back at least to 2002 when Lively traveled to Uganda twice. At the time, Lively sought to work with Campus Crusade for Christ but these plans fell through. He then turned to Stephen Langa who helped set up his trip.

I then called Stephen Langa, head of the Family Life Network and organizer of the highly successful conference against pornography and obscenity, at which I had spoken in March. He was enthusiastic, and offered to set up speaking events and media appearances on the anti-porn topic.

Lively also collaborated with Rev. Martin Ssempa during this visit.

Speaking of Ssempa, Rick Warren and Saddleback church have been raised as possible influences on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill due to a past connection with Ssempa; the Ugandan pastor collaborated with Saddleback until 2007. However, Rev. Warren recently made known his break with Ssempa via a statement to me on  October 31. Ssempa recently commented on this break in an AFP news report.

Ssempa told AFP he was disappointed by a recent statement by American mega-Pastor Rick Warren, who delivered the convocation at US president Barack Obama’s Inauguration.

Warren did not mention the Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically, but said he and his wife ended their relationship with Ssempa, “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own”.

Other American churches support Martin Ssempa (see here and here), but there is a more direct connection to the Ugandan Parliament. As noted in a New Vision report, an American organization called the College of Prayer was recently in Uganda to host prayer meetings and leadership training.  

MEMBERS of Parliament have been warned against witchcraft and corrupt tendencies.

“You should not consult witchdoctors for success but instead seek help from God,” Dr. Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer International, said.

“I know witchcraft is a big problem in Uganda but as MPs, you should be exemplary,” he said.

Hartley was speaking during a prayer meeting for parliamentarians at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday….

After the prayer meeting, eight MPs were selected to be in the servant leadership team for Parliament for three years.

They included Ruth Tuma, Alice Alaso, Beatrice Lagada, Moses Ntahobari, Capt. Grace Kyomugisha, Benson Obua, David Bahati and the East African legislative assembly MP, Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu.

On the website of the College of Prayer, one learns that this meeting was a part of a longer term relationship (this link does not work now, here is a screen capture of it.

The College of Prayer will have it’s first module in the Parliament of Uganda from October 31-November 1. Two members of Parliament were able to attend the African Summit this summer and will be encouraging their fellow members to attend. Fred Hartley and Mike and Lisa Plunket will be facilitating this module on “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.”

Following this COP there will be COP’s in the cities of Kampala and Gulu taking place November 2-4. Fred will be leading the one in Kampala for leading Pastors and Mike Plunket will be leading the one in Gulu. Mike will be graduating 1000 students who have completed three years of COP training. Continue to pray for God’s protection over the members of Parliament and their families, particularly for Honorable Bensen, Honorable David and Honorable Buturo. Pray as well for all the pastors and Christian leaders who will be attending each of these modules. Pray for the manifest presence of Christ to be in the midst of these meetings and for the Holy Spirit to guide each of their sessions.

The two named sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 in the Parliament are David Bahati and Benson Obua-Ogwal. In the executive branch, the prime voice has been Nsaba Butoro. Note that the College of Prayer specifically mentions these men for recognition. This recent Ugandan visit followed a meeting in April which was described on the College of Prayer website:


Note that the College of Prayer has entered into a three year agreement to “facilitate the College of Prayer” for Parliament. In February, 2010, another bill supporter, Apostle Julius Oyet will speak at a Leadership Training meeting in Atlanta at the Lilburn Alliance Church, a church affiliated with the Christian & Missionary Alliance and pastored by Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer. MP Benson Obua  is one of those featured on the page who recommend the event.

Rev. Oyet was present with Rev. Ssempa and Rev. Langa when the first motion was made to allow introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill back in April.

Let us hear from hon. Bahati. In connection with the motion he is moving, we have in the gallery Apostle Julius Peter Oyet, Vice-President of the Born Again Federation; Pastor Dr Martin Sempa of the Family Policy Centre; Stephen Langa, Family Life Network; hon. Godfrey Nyakaana; the Mayor of Kampala City Council.

This American organization has the closest contact with those responsible for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of any I have been able to discover. Over the past several days, I have talked a couple of times to College of Prayer president Fred Hartley to inquire about the relationship between his organization and the Ugandan legislators.

Rev. Hartley wanted to make it clear that he and the College of Prayer are not politically motivated. Hartley told me that they are in Uganda to lead the Parliament and other leaders in “Christian discipleship.” Because of that focus, Hartley told me that he “can’t take responsibility for their decisions.”

Regarding the co-sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati and Benson Obua and the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Nsaba Buturo, Rev. Hartley had only good to say. He told me that they are “men of integrity” who “want to do what is right.”

Regarding the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Rev. Hartley told me that he has a hard copy of the bill he received in July from David Bahati. He declined to send me a copy because he said that Bahati told him that such copies were unauthorized. Rev. Hartley acknowledged that the copy he has seen is different than the copy of the bill I sent to him (I sent a copy I was given by Martin Ssempa). Rev. Hartley believes that I may be laboring under a false idea of what the bill actually says. Hartley told me that David Bahati told him last week that many accounts of what is actually in the bill are “grossly distorted.”

While Rev. Hartley believes that the copy of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill I have is incorrect, I must differ. Here is a copy that was published by the Uganda Gazette.


I was sent a copy by Martin Ssempa that was compiled just before it went to the Uganda Gazette. They are the essentially the same which was confirmed to me by an individual in Uganda who would be in a position to know. Once a bill is published in the Uganda Gazette (the official publication for all legislation), it is available for public discussion and review.

At present, it seems that Rev. Hartley believes that the bill is not as bad as critics say it is. He is working with the impression that the current bill is not an accurate version and believes his friends Bahati, Buturo and Obua. I am unable to reconcile these conflicting claims. Clearly, I have evidence that the bill I have seen as confirmed is accurate and has been published by the Uganda Gazette .

It remains to be seen what Rev. Hartley and the College of Prayer will do when they discover that the bill in Parliament is what critics say it is. My hope is that they will use their influence for good. Time is of the essence. According to Rev. Hartley, Bahati and company want the bill voted on by the end of 2009.

For a bill to become law in Uganda, it must be read in the Parliament three times before a vote. The tabling of a bill must be approved first by Parliament before it is published and read. This happened on April 29, 2009. The bill was printed in the Uganda Gazette on September 25, and was first read on October 14. It was then referred to committee and will soon have a second reading. At least 14 days must pass until the third reading a vote.

See this link for the Parliamentary discussion of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when the “Motion for a Resolution of Parliament to present a Private Members Bill” was made. At that time, David Bahati won the opportunity from Parliament to introduce the bill.