The New Yorker almost reports on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The New Yorker published online an article on The Fellowship, titled “Frat House for Jesus: The entity behind C street.”

The article is lengthy and I need to read it more thoroughly before I give an assessment of the completeness of the reporting but I am not encouraged by the author’s treatment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

Hunter brought Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the former African rebel who became Uganda’s President, and other key Ugandan leaders into prayer groups. When Uganda’s Parliament took up a bill last year that would have punished some homosexual acts with death, Hunter and his friends in the Fellowship felt they had the standing to urge the proposed measure’s defeat. Museveni appointed a commission that studied the matter and then recommended that the bill be withdrawn.

That’s it. While Peter Boyer’s purpose was to report on the Fellowship – in advance of Jeff Sharlet’s new book on the subject coming out soon – he could have at least mentioned that the bill was not withdrawn and that the mover of the bill is a main figure in the Ugandan prayer breakfast movement (The Fellowship).

This paragraph makes it seems as though the bill is history because of the American opposition from the Fellowship. If anything, the American and Ugandan prayer breakfast groups are still at odds over the proper policy regarding the bill. The bill is still alive in committee with Fellowship associate and Ugandan member of Parliament, David Bahati, still advocating the application of Leviticus in Ugandan law.

Let me hasten to add that the American Fellowship group woke up about the issue after Jeff Sharlet reported that David Bahati was a Ugandan associate. From that time, Fellowship associate and spokesperson Bob Hunter’s opposition has been strong and unwavering. Spiritual leader Doug Coe spoke out against the bill. The February national breakfast committee would not have allowed Bahati to attend. And Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton used their National Prayer Breakfast speeches to blast the Ugandan bill by name.

However, Boyer glossed over this history and current reality (did he talk to anyone in Uganda?) and the reader is left with the impression that the bill has been withdrawn or defeated because the American Fellowship used their “standing.” The American Fellowship group has used their influence but the Ugandan Fellowship group has not responded by withdrawing or urging defeat of the bill. My contacts tell me that the situation is no different than when I was at the National Prayer Breakfast in February and many of the Ugandan delegation were in favor of the bill.

Given this treatment of the Uganda situation in the New Yorker piece, I urge a cautious reading of the rest of the article.

For more on the current status of the AHB, see this post and most recently here.