Update on Uganda

In the last post I wrote about the Anti-Homosexual Bill in Uganda, I mentioned that Martin Ssempa was linked to a large church back in America—that church was Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. As recent as the middle of last week, Martin Ssempa was still mentioned on Saddleback’s website. However, all links to Ssempa were swiftly removed when Dr. Throckmorton and I were both in direct contact with Rick and Kay Warren’s spokesperson questioning the potential longstanding connection between Saddleback and what is currently happening in Uganda through Ssempa.

The first response we received was from Kay Warren, who said she was quote, “horrified”, that there were still mentions of Ssempa on their website. She had staff work through the night to remove every link to Ssempa, and the next thing we know,

A decisive statement was just issued by Rick and Kay Warren in regards to Martin Ssempa. Here it is:



Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.”

I have been talking to some people I know in Uganda (of which I am trying to assist them in moblizing through this new information), and since this statement has released they say it is actually causing quite a stir because much of Ssempa’s clout came from, a perceived (since 2007), endorsement from Saddleback. Let’s keep it rolling to continue shaking things up. I’m very grateful to Rick and Kay Warren for being so clear on Martin Ssempa’s actions.

Much love.


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  • Well done, Andrew. Thank you and Warren Throckmorton for pursuing this with the Warrens.

  • Mrs T

    It would be nice if the Warrens actually spoke out against this law. Anything that OKs killing people they disagree with is extremely evil & needs to be addressed specifically.

  • Africa has presented a real dilemma for so much of the faith community – a dilemma that really does need continuous and loving work. So much of the evangelical community that did nothing about AIDS in the US jumped all over the Bono bandwagon and ran off to Africa after he effectively contorted the issue of HIV/AIDS beyond recognition. People said AIDS work was about victims in Africa, but was a moral judgment in the west. But the fact is that gay men are multiple times more likely to get HIV in Africa than any other group (and then spread it to women). As long as this disconnect is maintained, and US-based churches are complicit through their silence, AIDS will continue to spread and kill unnecessarily throughout the world. So while I applaud Saddleback for these steps, I think they can and should do more, as Mrs. T suggests.

  • Libby

    Thanks for the update.

  • Josh

    I know a lot of churches here in America that have ties to Uganda…I hope they speak up on this issue before it's too late.

  • Mrs T

    Back in the early 80s when we first heard about AIDS, I was kind of disappointed that Christians didn't try to minister to these victims more. When someone is at death's door, they are more likely to be open to the Gospel. Duh! Let's not mess up our opportunity again!

  • Brad – You're so right on it's crazy! The American church has scapegoated the gay community for AIDS in Africa because it's easier. I'm not saying it's bad to help, because poor mothers, children and people in Africa need that help; but there must be a clear home-front focus as well – which is almost non-existent.

    Mrs. T – Preach that! Working directly with the Warren's regarding the actual legislation itself is the next step that Dr. Throckmorton and I are currently focusing on. I still don't know why it has been so difficult….

  • This battle is probably going to be bumped up to the State Department level very soon. Meanwhile, for those interested in the legal ramifications in Uganda, here is a good analysis by a Makerere University law don:


    Clearly, Christians have an obligation of conscience to oppose this bill. But the Ugandan Parliament is seeking to take on powers far beyond those prescribed by the country's constitution. The bill is rife with horrific consequences for all citizens there, and not just gays.

  • In other words, most of the provisions of this bill already exist in law. This bill is bad because straight people may be affected by it b/c of political character-assassination or b/c they didn't report gay people within 24 hours of learning that they're gay.

    If this bill doesn't pass, Uganda will still have active draconian laws against gay people, including harsh prison terms. But at least straight people will be safe.

  • Jon – There are many countries in Africa that completely oppress gays and lesbians. The link abover is the first of such a distinction that I have ever seen about the potential similarity between old law and this new bill. In reading the link, this new legislation isn't just about straight people. From what I understand about it, and from what my people on the ground in Uganda tell me, is that the new bill is way more harsh, and will solidify what has not been followed. Here's an example in the United States – A little known fact is that as recent as 2002, 10 States still had the sodomy criminalization law on the books. It was illegal for two men to have sex, and should have resulted in them going to prision. This was 2002! The law wasn't practiced though, even though it was in the law. It would be as though in 2002 America introduced such a bill as the Ugandan government is doing now. You would sure be up in arms hoping people around the world stood up for you. Injustice is injustice. I understand that. The treatment of gays and lesbians in Africa is not a model situation. But that doesn't discount us from fighting to try and change was is an ingrained way of live – new legislation and old.

  • David

    Rev. Stephen Parelli has also been covering this on his Other Sheep Blog. You can read more at http://othersheepexecsiteblog.blogspot.com/2009/1

  • Erp

    Actually consensual homosexual acts were prosecuted in the US in 2002 (or at least 1998) or there wouldn’t have been the case of Lawrence vs. Texas that led to the laws being struck down in 2003 in the US Supreme Court.

  • Thank you, Andrew, for calling for Nov. 17 to be a day of worldwide prayer for Uganda and this misguided bill push. The cultural climate there is easily unthinkable to us here in the U.S. I'm sure another update post is forthcoming from you, but just wanted to let you know your efforts are appreciated, brother.

  • Rick Warren has spoken out, addressing Ugandan pastors in no uncertain terms, and correcting public misperceptions about where he stands on this bill: