David Bahati: Lou Engle expressed support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Guest Post by Jeff Sharlet

[Author Jeff Sharlet (The Family) recently returned from Uganda where he conducted research for an upcoming book. While there, he  interviewed most of the key promoters of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including David Bahati and Julius Oyet. He also attended The Call Uganda and heard Lou Engle speak. After reading Lou Engle’s recent statement about The Call Uganda, Jeff sent along the following observations which he offers in this guest post. Jeff has some important information and perspective to report here.]

David Bahati: Lou Engle expressed support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jeff Sharlet

Either Lou Engle isn’t telling the whole truth, or some of his key allies in Uganda aren’t. I attended his rally in Kampala in the company of Member of Parliament David Bahati, the author of the bill. After the rally, I rode with Bishop Oyet and Bahati in Bahati’s car to the Sheraton hotel, where I interviewed Oyet for about 45 minutes, recorded. I’ll be writing about what I learned in Kampala in my forthcoming book, but Engle’s latest statement prompts some points worth making in the meantime:

1. Both Oyet and Bahati were ecstatic at what they perceived as Engle’s strong support of the bill. They felt his rally and his statements would be a turning point for the bill, reassuring their Ugandan allies that they had support abroad.

2. Both Oyet and Bahati told me that Engle had explicitly expressed his support for the bill, telling them that he had to lie to the Western media because gays control it. They said he said one thing to the BBC and then walked over to Bahati and said that he really supported the bill. Either Engle isn’t telling the whole truth, or Oyet and Bahati aren’t. I tend to believe Bahati here, since Engle didn’t mean anything to him until he met him that day. He hadn’t heard of him and decided to attend the rally only after I’d told him a few things about Engle. In other words, he left the rally thrilled with Engle based on that encounter with Engle alone. Clearly, Engle did something to please him.

3. I spoke with Engle briefly–also recorded–and he said the following: “To this nation the pastors, the leaders, they’ve said they don’t want that agenda but it’s coming in, getting pushed by NGOs, UN, Unicef and other organizations so we’re just trying to take a stand to encourage them in their stand.” That certainly sounds like he’s supporting the bill, which is the only Ugandan stand to which he could be referring.

4. Engle says in his statement last week that Christian leaders in Uganda are working to soften the punishments. But both Oyet and Bahati, at least, strongly support the death penalty. For Bahati, author of the bill, that goes without saying. It’s worth noting that Oyet is now formally working for Bahati – according to Oyet and Bahati, Bahati used his [Parliament] office to empower Oyet to gather signatures in support of the bill AS a government official.

5. Here’s Oyet on the death penalty: “There is not the death penalty at the end for everybody. There is the death penalty at the end for aggravated homosexuality.” He explained that the death penalty already applies for four crimes in Uganda (child rape, treason, murder, and causing death by female genital mutilation) “So I want the world to understand,” Oyet continued “that homosexuality is not the first death penalty in Uganda. I think that U.S. journalists should make that known. It is not the first one, it is going to be the fifth one.”

His rationale for the death penalty? “If the Bible supports the death penalty which is true and then you call yourself a Christian nation, listen. If I would be killed because I am dying scripturally I can repent to God before I am killed but [if] I am [eliminated] from the Earth that’s ok… if the victim confesses or repents, we can waive it off. Something like that…. In my view, homosexuals should be grateful. But instead they are not. Why I’m saying they should be grateful is because in Ugandan culture if you go and rob someone, if you go and rape a child and people find you, they will kill you.” [Here he is echoing a point made to me by many leaders of the anti-gay movement — that the bill is for the benefit of the gays in that it protects them from mob justice, replacing it with the rule of law and a death penalty they can appeal.]

6. Oyet seems to be quite confused about what homosexuality actually is. After he explained that he was engaged in spiritual warfare with homosexuality, I asked whether he believed homosexuals are demonically possessed.

Oyet: “Um, because it is abnormal. It is abnormal sex, you would say yes. You would say yes. Because one drives you to that. Because homosexuals, they would now eat their own feces. They would eat their own waste. That is what they call golden shower where you lick the anus of someone. Isn’t that demonic?”  [For Warren’s more conservative readers: Yes, there are a few people, heterosexual and homosexual, who do such things, but they are A) not linked to sexual orientation; B) not harmful to anyone who minds their own business. Also, as one might guess, “golden shower” means something else.]

7. Last but not least: Oyet insisted that there are American church leaders who are supporting the bill privately but lying to the American media about it. When I asked why it was ok for them to lie, he said “I do not judge these kind of people.” True enough; he reserves his judgment for other people’s sex lives.

[End of guest post]

Although I [Throckmorton]have reasons for doubting David Bahati’s word on some matters (e.g., what the bill actually says), I can understand why Jeff thinks he is speaking accurately here. If not a deliberate effort to mislead and instead a misunderstanding based on terminology, it is an understandable one. Lou Engle says he supports “the stand” taken by the Ugandan leaders. “The stand” in Uganda means the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. However, Jeff is reporting something more than a misunderstanding. He is saying that the Bahati and Oyet – the men praised by Lou Engle – accused Engle of misleading the press. 

I cannot know what the truth is but I would like Mr. Engle to speak clearly on this topic. Are Bahati and Oyet mistaken? Did they mislead Sharlet? Does Engle support the AHB? Does he support it with lesser penalties? Does he support the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda? In the USA? Given Engle’s recent rise to prominence among religiously conservative political figures, these questions have important implications for American politics and policy.  

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  • mtrask

    Please, let’s get our facts from the right source. Lou Engle went to TheCall Uganda for one agenda…to awaken a nation to prayer and the issues of justice. There was never any verbal support of the bill from Engle. It is a gross injustice that the church leaders in Uganda would support the extreme measures proposed in the bill and that they exploited TheCall platform to do so. Read Engle’s statement on his website. http://thecall.com/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=1000068247

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

      mtrask – I linked to his statement so I what he said, but I also know what he did. There is no explanation for why he did not apologize for what was said in his presence by Apostle Oyet. Also, he has not addressed whether or not he supports the Ugandan bill with lesser penalties. Moreover, his allies there have now publicly said that he told them one thing and the press via his statement and directly in Uganda, another.

      I wrote The Call for clarification of these questions, and have yet to hear back.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Whether it is Engel or Bahati and Oyet, someone claiming to be a man of God is not being honest. And dishonestly is NOT of God.

    This situation is not bringing glory to God but rather making the ‘followers of Christ’ seem deceptive and sneaky.

  • Frank Mugisha

    While in Uganda this is what Luo Engle said, what more support to wards the bill can he express.

    While addressing the congregation in Uganda May 2010, Luo Engle said, he learned of Uganda through Apostle John Mulinde and that he did not know anything about the anti-homosexuality as he planned his visit to Uganda. He said that, he later learned about the anti homosexuality bill and he debated whether to come to Uganda or not, due to the international controversy around the anti homosexuality bill.

    Lou Engle in his prayer encouraged Ugandan pastors to stand firm because they have been chosen to lead the world in the fight against homosexuality and that they are standing for the truth.

    Luo Engle said. “ Pastors don’t hate gays or spread hate but non government organizations, United Nations, UNICEF, among others are promoting a homosexual agenda which is against the teachings of the church”.

    “Uganda’s Motto is for Uganda and My Country, and it is not Winston Churchill who named Uganda the Pearl of Africa, it was God using Churchill to name Uganda the Pearl of Africa.”

    ‘Uganda is a Christian nation and God loves everyone trapped in sin but marriage was established between Man and woman for the well being of children’’.

    “The government of Uganda should uphold righteousness in this land”.

    “America has lost the fight against the homosexual agenda and homosexuality has got into schools. Parents are even losing power over their children as schools are teaching them that homosexuality is okay”.

    “God is using Uganda as ground zero or a starting point for the rest of the world against homosexuality. God chose Uganda”.

    To me i think that he is fully supporting the bill. Now what ?? Luo Should regret coming down to Uganda , facilitating a prayer conference that has greatly increased homophobia in Uganda. Luo Engle should come out clearly and say he does not support the entire proposed legislation.

  • Lynn David

    Warren… Also, he has not addressed whether or not he supports the Ugandan bill with lesser penalties.

    I suspect that is exactly the case….

    TheCall Uganda Press Release: ….and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.

    I expect Engle would like to see laws enacted which would make any ‘sodomous act’ between either straights or gays and even fornication (outside of marriage) to be a criminal offense – to take the civil criminal law up to “true biblical standards.” His supposed “deep love for the homosexual community” likely then means that the law reflects “compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction” probably by instituting forced therapy (else prison?) or ‘whatever’ along the lines of Scott Lively.

  • http://comingout4christians.net Dave

    Gee .. if he is against the bill period it is not that hard to say so ..instead he says things like this (from second press release)…

    That being said, I am grateful that I had the privilege of going to Uganda and meeting Christian leaders who explained their heart concerning the Bill. Not one was carrying even an ounce of hatred for homosexuals. They actually desired to influence the lawmakers in Uganda to lessen the penalties

    .

    Lesser penalties does not equal no penalties / no criminilazation. Apparenlty he has no problems with legal penalties for same gender sexual activity. Might we also assume that he would promote similar penalties for opposite sex sexual immorality? Not likely…

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Please don’t love me, Lou Engel. Don’t love me with your laws, don’t love me with your jails, don’t love me with your noose.

  • David Blakeslee

    This situation is not bringing glory to God but rather making the ‘followers of Christ’ seem deceptive and sneaky.

    True that.

  • Lynn David

    The Republicans in Texas seem to be right there with David Bahati. First comes marriage:

    Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married.

    .

    “We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

    .

    “We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.”

    Then comes prison. I guess that it means that even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws last decade and other states have done away with there laws as early as the 1960s, that Texas Republicans would like their state or any state to have the power to criminalize LGBT folks for having sex.

    And just to match Bahati’s bill they’ll send anyone to jail for ‘aiding’ a gay person getting married.

  • Mary

    Well, no one can confuse Lou Engle’s intentions and beliefs anymore. This is sad. Many of the conservative christians I know do not support his kind of theology/doctrine/prophecy.


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