(And now back to yesterday’s planned post. There are more important and relevant things in life than blogwars.)
In April, 2009, the Ugandan division of the Atlanta-based College of Prayer led by Julius Oyet began an number of evangelical prayer and teaching sessions with Members of Parliament in Uganda. Ultimately, 8 MPs were selected for their servant leadership team, including David Bahati and Benson Obua-Ogwal, who in the months afterward drafted and sponsored the Anti Homosexuality Bill, which calls for mandatory life sentences or possibly executions for homosexuals. CoP is not the only evangelical organization that inspired and pushed for the Bill — other influences include The Family, Rick Warren protege Martin Ssempa, and ex-gay leaders Don Schmierer and Scott Lively, the latter of whom revised the holocaust to place blame on gays. However, CoP undoubtedly had an influence.
From the College of Prayer website:
When the team returned to North America, they received a phone call from David Chotka, COP Canada. David said, “I have three-twelve members of the Canadian Parliament who have heard about what God is doing in Uganda and would like to attend the Parliamentary COP in Uganda next year. They are interested in bringing the College of Prayer to the Canadian Parliament.”
We don’t expect the Canadian Parliament to be tabling bills mandating the lifetime incarceration (as opposed to “life” as defined by our court system) or genocide of LGBT people anytime soon. But the Conservative government doesn’t seem to concerned about fraternizing with one of the driving forces behind such proposed legislation. This despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stern and heartfelt plagiarism of Barack Obama’s letter of condemnation of the Anti Homosexuality Bill. (What, Nigel Hannaford couldn’t stomach composing something that might defend gay people?)
Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the average Christian in North America supports the mandatory incarceration or extermination of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most I’ve known were drawn to their faith by a sincere desire to do good in the world and an attraction to Jesus’ principles of love, mercy, charity and forgiveness, which doesn’t jive with any of this.
The leaders who speak for them, however, are not so caring.
I have just recently returned from two weeks in Uganda, ministering the Word among village pastors and Churches.
It was a refreshing change of pace from the last year spent on the “marriage referendum”.
That may seem innocent enough, until he attaches a news article defending the bill and the “brilliant MP” who championed it.
For many other evangelical leaders, the silence is deafening. Although there’s an outcry even among Christians, a lot of the leaders don’t seem to feel that extermination or longer imprisonment than that meted out for crimes like murder is anything that would weigh on their conscience. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, at first declared he would not be “interfering in the political process of other nations.” Warren (seen before encouraging Christians to be as radical as the followers of Hitler, and do “whatever it takes“), was well known for involvements with the religious and political leaders in Uganda, so that didn’t fly with Christians, who ultimately pressured him to speak out against it. Good on you, by the way. Good on you for not letting him let that slide.
Why the implicit endorsement and even encouragement of this Bill?
In 2004, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was initiated, committing $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) in aid to combat the spread of HIV. It was later expanded to $48 billion through 2013. In 2009, $285 million went toward combating the spread of HIV in Uganda alone. Of that money, the only recipient organization ($5000) which addressed the highest risk group of gay men was the Most at Risk Populations Network. The remainder went to religious organizations that teach abstinence-only principles, with one prominent leader (Ssempa again) known to hold mass burnings of condoms to make the point of how he views other approaches to prevention. Under the Anti Homosexuality Bill, groups like the Most at Risk Populations Network would be illegal, and people who sought to help LGBT populations would be imprisoned for lengthy sentences for “aiding and abetting homosexuality” — thus making the most in-need population ineligible for the funding, and giving American evangelical organizations a free hand to exploit it.
Charity is big business.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Somehow, I can’t believe that this would jive with most Christians’ feelings on the matter — certainly not if they follow the spirit of Jesus’ teaching. Maybe they don’t want to be questioning God, but this clearly indicates they need to be questioning the people who claim to speak for him, from time to time. Even those who would be elated at the possibility of government money being rerouted to fund the evangelism of a population in another country should be offended and incensed by the warped angling of bringing about human rights offenses and outright genocide to do it.
Will they — I wonder — call upon their religious and political leaders to vehemently oppose this measure?
Come on, Mr. Harper. Speak it from the heart.
(Related: Chronology by Pam, c/o DailyKos)
Offered to PHB