The New York Times finally gets around to covering the Ugandan ex-gay conference

The rest of the world has been talking about it for months. Finally, the New York Times decides to report.

Lots of old ground was covered but there is a some new quotes from Exodus board member, Don Schmierer.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

The first clue should have been involvement with International Healing Foundation and Scott Lively but that is water long under the bridge.  The other two Americans are cited but with no new interviews.

One activist puts into words what many of us warned about in March.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Scott Lively’s protests that he had nothing to do with the harshness of the bill must be evaluated in light of Kaoma’s observations. When you tell an audience that gays caused World War II and assorted other atrocities (e.g., Columbine, Rwanda, etc.), you should not be surprised when the audience becomes hostile. It is like yelling fire in a theatre and wondering why people get trampled in the rush. It is called “inciting a riot.” 

When it comes to homosexuality, Uganda already has several riot inciters so the role of the Americans was to add a perception of credibility and urgency. What would really be helpful is for the three to say directly to the Ugandan people: we were wrong in what we told you. Gays didn’t cause the holocaust, they aren’t ill people who will respond to a forced cure and they aren’t the cause of all your problems. Disagree on the moral questions if that is your conviction but for the sake of Christ, do it agreeably.

NOTE: The NYT published a companion article titled “Gay in Uganda and Feeling Hunted.”

Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.

“I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”

It’s no surprise, then, that many homosexual people here insisted on being interviewed anonymously, including one car salesman who goes by Bob. He lost his job working in a hotel a few years ago after the Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, published a list of names of homosexuals, including his.

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  • Lynn David

    “That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he [Schmierer] said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

    Oldest jive in the book, a variant on the ‘I have friends who are gay’ theme.

    Schmierer feels duped? Somehow I think that is nothing more than a statement meant to dupe everyone else.

  • Michael Bussee

    Duped? By whom? Exodus was warned. He admits he knew practically nothing about the conference, “thought he would be the only speaker”, did not know what the agenda might be, did not know what Lively stood for, did not understand what was going on in Uganda, etc., etc., etc.

    Why would any person, especially a Board member of an international coalition of ex-gay ministries, agree to speak at a conference that he admits he knew so little about? Was he not aware that homosexuality was illegal there? Did he bother to speak up — to disagree with what Lively (the inciter) was saying there? Nope.

    What kind of leader is that? It’s irresponsible and careless. Should this person be on a Board of directors for Exodus? Heck, I have done more homework when asked to speak at a conference in my own hometown. Clueless is more like it.

    What would really be helpful is for the three to say directly to the Ugandan people: we were wrong in what we told you.

    That, and (1) a public apology for stupidly throwing fuel on the fire, (2) official policies against decriminalization and forced therapy that all Board Member and Affiliates agree to abide by and (3) clear promises from Exodus that they will never again take their message to a country that favors criminalization or forced therapy — unless they make it cler to their host beforehand that they strongly oppose these things and will say so in their presentation.

    Duped? It was months before he even spoke out against the law — and now excuses. Dumb is more like it.

  • Lynn David

    There is a companion article to this one also written by Greenstreet on the NY Times: Gay in Uganda, and Feeling Hunted – an excerpt:

    Val Kalende, another of the few out — and outspoken — gay rights activists in this country of 32 million people, said being gay in Uganda is “quite problematic.”

    .

    “If you’re in school and your parents find out, they’ll stop paying school fees,” she said. “Your family will avoid you. They used to ask me, ‘Don’t you want to have children? Don’t you want a man?’ ”

    .

    Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.

    .

    “I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”

    .

    It’s no surprise, then, that many homosexual people here insisted on being interviewed anonymously, including one car salesman who goes by Bob. He lost his job working in a hotel a few years ago after the Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, published a list of names of homosexuals, including his.

    .

    “When your boss finds out you’re gay, you get harassed,” he said. “Then you start getting scolded in front of others. Then fired.”

    It is hard finding a boyfriend, he said, “because you don’t know who to trust.”

    .

    He took a deep breath and looked down at his hands. “It’s a very big mess to be gay in Uganda,” he said.

  • Lynn David

    Greensteet? Gettleman!! LOL! Must have beeen thinking about Sydney….

  • Lynn David

    Can’t even get the correction right… I’m useless.

  • Lynn David

    Michael, I am next to convinced that Schmierer knew Lively would be there and knew of Lively’s work concerning ‘the Nazis were all gay.’

  • Eddy

    When someone is trying to dupe you, it’s actually relatively easy for them to foil your best attempts at research. I was once asked to speak at a Christian college. I inquired as to the format of the class session, the focus of the discussion, if there’d be other presenters, etc. I don’t know what more I could have done? Call the professor’s mother, perhaps? Was most surprised when I got there to see that there was another presenter besides myself and that this presenter represented ‘the other side’. I had been set up and it was too late to do anything other than salvage the moment.

    What ticked me off was that ‘my opponent’ had been briefed that I’d be there. I handled the situation capably but would have packed a few more reference materials in my briefcase had I known we’d be debating.

    Was I less thorough in my research than Michael? Did Michael research community calendars, local ordinances, and recent newspaper editorials to assess the ‘climate’ in which he’d be speaking? That seems to be the deficit that we’re accusing Schmeirer of.

    I am not saying that a mistake wasn’t made; I’m not saying it wasn’t a big one but I believe a major portion of our protest, as I’ve hinted before, is coming in a ‘Monday morning quarterback’ mode. “He should have seen that ball coming”…”he should have anticipated that move”,

    Did Schmeirer know what Lively said in his workshops? Should he have known? I don’t know. I seem to remember that during the first Exodus conference I attended, that, for some sessions, the leaders (this includes Michael) were not present. Sometimes engaged in ‘founder discussions’…sometimes getting acquainted with new ministers/ministries…sometimes prepping for their own presentations. It’s easy to presume that because a person was in attendance at the same conference that they were privy to all that transpired but that’s simply not a given.

    I believe there’s enough going on here–enough to discuss–without moving into the area of presumption and judgement.

  • Michael Bussee

    What did he know? What should he have known? It’s discussed here. http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/12/09/17561

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Eddy – I will say again, he was warned and by those who had nothing against Exodus (me). It seems that it was a case that the warnings were dismissed for reasons I do not know but they were not taken seriously. In hind sight, the leadership has recognized that more going and speaking at that conference with the other presenters was a mistake. I believe there is more that could be done to speak directly to the Ugandan people and to those who organized the conference. It remains to be seen what else will come.

  • Michael Bussee

    I keep thinking of these guys as the Three Stooges of Uganda-gate. Can’t imagine how proud oregon must be. Thanks for sharing this, Lynn David.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2010/01/live_from_oregon_the_ugandan_c.html

    Like you, I am also “next to convinced” that Don Schmierer knew more than he is letting on. I just don’t buy the “Gee-I-didn’t-know-anything-I-was-duped” excuse.

    Whether he duped or not, like Warren “I believe there is more that could be done to speak directly to the Ugandan people and to those who organized the conference.”

    What would really be helpful is for the three to say directly to the Ugandan people: we were wrong in what we told you. — Dr. THrockmorton

    BTW: I know when they stopped, but when did Exodus start citing Lively’s works? Why would they cite him without first finding out what he stood for?

  • Lynn David

    Hmmm …. ‘start’ citing Lively’s works. Well, there is the question about how did that link to the article (it was on the LeaderU website, which also took it down) got on the Exodus website. It seems I remember Alan Chambers saying that all manner of people could put up a link on the Exodus site. I suppose that was to say any of the main staff and possibly also anyone on the board of directors. Could that mean Don Schmierer? Possibly….


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