NPR reports on Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa

Barbara Bradley Hagerty reported today on the ties between Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa. The audio will be up at 7:00 pm but the transcript and a bit more is up now on their website.

Hagerty provides the facts: Canyon Ridge has supported Ssempa since 2007 and Ssempa has become the face of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. She also has interviews with Change.org’s Michael Jones, Canyon Ridge pastor Kevin Odor and me. The interview with Rev. Odor is important for those following this story. Here are excerpts:

Ssempa’s turnaround satisfied Pastor Odor, and he sees no reason to condemn the minister. Nor does he think he should denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

“Why do we, as a church in America, need to say something about a bill in Uganda?” he asks.

The turnaround referred to is what seems to be a shift in Ssempa’s thinking about the penalties for aggravated homosexuality — from death to 20 years in a rehab facility. Odor continues to say that his church has compassion for gays.

Pastor Odor says his church has “a heart” for homosexuals. He notes that Canyon Ridge participates every year in a march for people with AIDS, and for the past two years the church opened its campus for HIV Testing Day.

“We love everybody, including people with AIDS,” he says. “There are two things: How you got AIDS and that you have AIDS. That you have AIDS is a matter of compassion. The church should be compassionate for people with AIDS.”

I suspect they do experience a desire to reach out but what they miss is the incongruity of what they support in Uganda with what they express here. As I note in the NPR segment,

“If you preach compassion here, you have to support compassion elsewhere.”

Odor says that his church is being crucified for simply wanting to help people with AIDS.

I am interested in reader reaction to that claim.

Go read the segment; Audio is below. If the player doesn’t load, click here.

Related posts:

February 1 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church issues statement on support for Martin Ssempa

June 10 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church in conversation with Martin Ssempa

June 20 – Canyon Ridge Christian Church hosts National HIV Testing Day

June 23 – Southern Nevada Health District to evaluate relationship with Canyon Ridge Christian Church

July 1 – Las Vegas newspaper covers Canyon Ridge controversy

July 2 – Salon article: Canyon Ridge, Willow Creek Association and Martin Ssempa

Also see this article on Salon.com:

Church loses partnership over “kill the gay” bill

  • Michael Bussee

    Will listen. Thanks for the post. Passing it on.

  • http://web.me.com/craigadams1/ Craig L. Adams

    Thanks for keeping us updated about things like this, Warren.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    “We love everybody, including people with AIDS,” he says. “There are two things: How you got AIDS and that you have AIDS. That you have AIDS is a matter of compassion. The church should be compassionate for people with AIDS.”

    Chilling.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    For his part, Odor says the church is only trying to help people with AIDS — and because of that, he says, “we are being crucified.”

    Oh brother, that is really telling (along with the quote Timothy highlighted). I suspect we have only scratched the surface at Canyon Ridge.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., says Odor is trying to have it both ways.

    “What we have here is a church that wants to be viewed as moderate and outreach-minded and compassionate, and yet they’re supporting a set of values and principles elsewhere that are very harsh and deadly, frankly, to the very community you say you want to reach,” he says. “If you preach compassion here, you have to support compassion elsewhere.”

    Brilliantly said… What a wonderful way to package your thoughts in a minimum amount of time on a short news program like this

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

    Thanks, Dave.