Press Release: American Christian Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-Homosexuality Laws

Today, forty-six Christian leaders called on Christians in Uganda to reconsider their support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I am proud to say I am one of them. The letter attached should be taken as a general opposition to the application of criminal penalties for adult consensual same-sex relations.

(Washington — July 24, 2012) Today, a group of 46 American Christian leaders issued an open letter expressing solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans in the face of “increased bigotry and hatred.” The letter, coordinated by Faith in Public Life, Human Rights First and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, comes as a new Political Research Associates report released today accuses, among others, evangelicals such as Pat Robertson, Catholics and Mormons of setting up campaigns and fronts in Africa designed to press for anti-gay laws.

Today’s letter from U.S. religious leaders, including former U.S. Ambassador to Uganda and the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good Rich Cizik, and Soujourners President Jim Wallis, mobilizes Christian voices against rhetoric and actions in Uganda that demonize and criminalize homosexuality. In the letter, Christian leaders from across the United States, including prominent Catholics and Evangelicals, seek to establish that Christian beliefs are in direct conflict with the serious rights abuses perpetrated against LGBT people in Uganda.

The Christian leaders write: “Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith.”

They also note that: “As American Christians we recognize that groups and leaders within our own country have been implicated in efforts to spread prejudice and discrimination in Uganda. We urge our Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda to resist the false arguments, debunked long ago, that LGBT people pose an inherent threat to our children and our societies. LGBT people exist in every country and culture, and we must learn to live in peace together to ensure the freedom of all, especially when we may disagree. We condemn misguided actions that have led to increased bigotry and hatred of LGBT people in Uganda that debases the inherent dignity of all humans created in the image of our Maker. Such treatment degrades the human family, threatens the common good, and defies the teachings of our Lord – wherever it occurs.”

“It’s important for Ugandans to know that not all Evangelical and Catholic leaders think LGBT people should be criminals,” says Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate, “This letter from prominent American Christians is a crucial step in our efforts to introduce Ugandans to more positive and loving Christian messages in contrast to the harmful rhetoric from our own pastors that only leads to more violence and hate.”

Sentiments contained in today’s letter will also be at the core of lobbying efforts occurring in Washington, DC this week as part of the 19th International AIDS Conference. In that effort, faith leaders and activists from 15 primarily African countries will spend Wednesday, July 25 in meetings with administration officials and Members of Congress to express the need for bipartisan support to address serious human rights violations, including hate crimes, and challenges posed to HIV/AIDS prevention stemming from laws that criminalize homosexuality. These leaders and activists plan to hand deliver copies of the American Christian leaders’ letter to administration officials and Members of Congress.

In approximately 76 countries, consensual intimate same-sex conduct is criminalized. In Uganda, a proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in its current version still includes the possibility of the death penalty in certain cases, and would criminalize any speech or actions the government might deem too positive about LGBT people. It could also criminalize HIV/AIDS and other health services that serve Uganda’s LGBT community. The legislation currently under consideration was first introduced in 2009, eventually tabled after widespread domestic and international pressure, but then re-introduced in the new parliament earlier this year.

For more information please contact:

Cate Urban at urban@rfkcenter.org or 202-463-7575 x234

Brenda Bowser Soder at  bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323

John Gehring, jgehring@faithinpubliclife.org or 240-644-3712

Please click this link to read the letter and view the signers. Join in by expressing your support in the comments.

 

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  • Lynn David

    First, thank you.

    I see a lot of Jesuits or people from Jesuit universities in the mix. That is to be expected. Was the “New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good” and its president, Rich Cizik, the driving force behind the letter?

    Would someone such as R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., have been approached concerning this letter?

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Heretics!

    Well done. Credit where it’s due, and I’ll be bringing this to many people’s attention, to show that not all Christians are like the ones getting the publicity.

  • Dan

    Respectfully, Warren, the title of this post is wrong. The signatories are not Christians. They and you may call yourselves that, but that does not make it so. The Bible, the foundation of Christianity, explicitly endorses and at times requires genocide. It specifically endorses the killing of gay people in this world and the eternal torture of gay people in the afterlife. Inasmuch as you assert that genocide and the killing of gay people is morally wrong, you aren’t Christian.

    On a more practical level, the large majority of Christians support a range of maltreatment of gay people, ranging from very specific violent fantasies of mass incarceration behind electrified wire fences, to some ill-defined form of criminalization (e.g., Bryan Fischer) to lifelong ostracism, discrimination, and marginalization (e.g., FRC, Focus on the Family). That is what real Christians in the United States believe. And that is what defines Christianity as a practical matter.

    You are a gentle, decent man who really seems to care about people, and who is gifted with an open, inquisitive mind and a willingness to follow new evidence as you find it. Hence, you are not a Christian. Please don’t put yourself down.

  • Maazi NCO

    Dear American “christians”,

    Thank you for your letter. We understand how much pressure you lot are in to promote gayism in Africa. Africans and Europeans look at gayism in opposite ways. In African culture, gayism is viewed as deviant, abominable and inhuman and this will NEVER change.

    In your Western culture, gaysim is glorified and accorded pride of place while polygamy is banned. Though many Africans see polygamy as a human rights matter, we don’t right letters urging your governments to decriminalize so-called “bigamy”. On the issue of gayism, Africans will call on Westerners to agree to disagree.

    No amount of pleas, cajoling, threats or blackmail will prevent the sovereign parliament of Uganda from doing what is necessary to prevent “LGBT” (or whatever fancy names you guys call the depraved sexual behaviour ) from gaining a foothold in Uganda. The executive branch of the Ugandan State will not act as a buffer between the demands of the Ugandan people and the perverse desires of foreign hedonists.

    Be rest assured that a legislation is in the pipeline and at the correct moment it shall be unveiled for the world to see.

    If my recollection is good, I am aware that there is a cultural civil war going on between the pro-gay sex Americans and anti-gay sex Americans. Please kindly direct your efforts in contributing your “two cents” to that civil war and leave Africans alone. No Ugandan legislator shall be moved by this letter from American “christians”.

    Regards,

    Maazi NCO

  • Boo

    Mazzi,

    You are admittedly closer to the situation than I am, but I do not believe that gay Africans share your view that they are deviant, abominable, and inhuman. Also, no, we will not look the other way while you hurt innocent people for no other reason than to vent your irrational fear and hatred.

    Sorry.

  • Ezam

    Maazi, those views you have on “gayism” were imposed on Africans by Westerners; and Westerners will make you recant them just as well.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Dan

    I don’t really understand what you’re saying here. Perhaps you have an agenda of some kind?

    Don’t forget that the Bible was put together some centuries after Christianity ‘got going’, and there is disagreement to this day about what texts should be included.

    Yes, there is a problem with what I term ‘bible worship’, and there are those who make a lot of noise in the promotion of their violent anti-gay fantasies.

    There are descriptions of genocidal murder in the OT, but that does not mean that such activity is ‘required’, does it? Perhaps you could give us a specific example of where you think this might be the case, and we could discuss it calmly and rationally, and with proper application of hermeneutics?

    @ Maazi

    It has been carefully explained to you on a number of occasions why you cannot use your ‘polygamy/bigamy argument’ to justify Bahati’s genocidal bill, so I will not waste time repeating what has already been said, suffice to say that people in the USA are free to have more than one sexual partner if they choose to do so, and are also free, if they so wish, to express in the public domain the view that bigamous/polygamous ‘marriages’ should be legal. By the starkest and most barbaric contrast, Bahati’s bill contains provisions to slaughter people who engage in consensual relations, as well as systematically to persecute people who express a particular point of view.

  • Dan

    Genocide was not merely described in the OT, it was required. Yahweh gave specific orders for specific peoples to be violently wiped off the map. For example, He gave specific instructions for the Midianites to be exterminated. Moses got the orders from Yahweh and even though the Midanites had sheltered him when he was a fugitive, Moses ordered them all slaughtered. When his soldiers allowed some Midianite women and children to live, Moses was furious and personally oversaw the slaughter of the remainder – with the exception of virgin females who were to be kept as sex slaves. That is your Holy Bible.

    Beyond that, there are many other passages that compel killing as a matter of divine edict. Leviticus 20 says “their blood shall be upon them.” In law, “shall” is an imperative. There is no discretion.

    Now if you want to cast doubt on the Bible as God’s Word, that is your choice. But you would only be keeping the Sermon on the Mount and tossing the Midianite genocide based on your own personal moral choices. Since you are a fallen sinner, how could you trust your own judgment? It is a paradox. To avoid that paradox as well as the moral uncertainty that accompanies it, Christians unquestioningly accept their Bible as God’s inspired word. If you don’t, you aren’t a Christian.

  • TXHistoryProf

    Dan,

    You mention that because of our fallen nature, we are to not trust our own judgement. Using that line of thought, how do we know unequivocally that Martin Luther,Calvin,Swingli, and other Reformation leaders (also fallen sinners) were able to suddenly decide in the 1500s that they knew more than God throwing out 1500 years of Original church history, theology, and tradition to start a new version of Christianity?

    Also, did not Jesus come to fulfill the Law of the OT and place us under grace with a new covenant with Jesus offering us salvation through forgiveness of sins such as homosexuality? Is there any sin that is “unforgivable”?

    Who are we to judge lest we be judged? Are we our brother’s keeper ? Are we not all adults who will ultimately answer to God for our own actions and not the actions of others? Our founders designed our Constitution in such a way as to NOT allow a theocracy to rear is ugly head as is the case in many countries operating under Sharia law. The Christian God is a God of mercy and would not advocate executing or torturing other humans for a sin, that per the NT, is a forgivable sin?

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Dan

    I’m a Christian, not a ‘biblian’, so – yes – as far as I am concerned, the Sermon on the Mount etc absolutely ‘takes precedence’ over the understandings of God set down by some authors of the OT (and other books, such as the Books of Maccabees). If some bloodthirsty plonker thinks that the God revealed in Christ is ‘into genocide’, then that is the said plonker’s problem!

    IMHO, some of the stuff written about God in the OT was done so for particular ‘political’ reasons, and is clearly shown to be completely wrong by the Word Himself. Let us not forget that much of the myth, saga and ‘history’ in the OT was written by people with ‘agendas’. (One function of the OT is to show us how people can ‘get God wrong’, eg when Abraham, perhaps trying too hard to ‘get God right’, actually believed that God wanted him [Abraham] to kill his own son – whereas God told Abraham that HE [God] would ‘provide the sacrifice’ … which Christians of course believe he did in Christ.)

    I understand, and in some ways sympathize with, what appears to be your ‘anti-Christian chagrin’, but think that parodying Christianity is rather less fruitful than setting aside one’s own agendas and working with people like Warren Throckmorton and others to combat as best we may such inhuman (and, in the view of many Christians, ungodly) obscenities as Bahati’s bill. After all, however much one might feel ‘hard done by’ at the hands of religion, it is almost certainly the case that LGBT Ugandans, many of whom are themselves Christians, stand to ‘get it worse’, and are, even now, ‘getting it worse’.

  • Richard Willmer

    A further point: it is, of course, my contention that so-called ‘biblical’ fundamentalists peddle a pernicious parody of Christianity, and this is part of the issue in this whole Bahati saga. All the more important, therefore, that Christians make known their utter revulsion at the Bahati Bill and work with those of other faiths and philosophies to discredit and, one hopes, defeat it. Certainly, the ‘anti-Bill coalition’ has done a good job in helping to delay the Bill, and the time that has been ‘won’ has provided opportunities for useful discussion and education, and – in some cases – ‘conversion’ of some from a pro- to an anti-Bill stance. The main danger now is that people could lose interest in what will probably need to be a long-term campaign; hence this letter must be regarded by all of us as very timely and most welcome.

    It is also heartening for those of us who are Chrisitians to see Catholics and Evangelicals, and ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’, joining forces in a display of ‘functioning unity’ in a just cause.

  • Maazi NCO

    You are admittedly closer to the situation than I am, but I do not believe that gay Africans share your view that they are deviant, abominable, and inhuman.

    .

    Obviously, people who are mentally challenged will never admit to being so. Therefore, I don’t think gay sex practitioners will see anything wrong with their deviant behaviour. It is not Rocket Science !!!

    .Also, no, we will not look the other way while you hurt innocent people

    .

    “Innocence” is a matter of opinion. I am sure that the sympathizers of the adult incestous couples jailed in Germany in the recent past viewed them as “innocent people” who engaged in “innocent consensual sex”. Of course, this failed to convince any of the German courts which successively declared the couples guilty of the crime of incest. Even the ultra-liberal European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in favour of the convicted incestous couple. In most African nations, gayism is a sex crime and people who engage in it are guilty of the offence. They are not “innocent”.

    ….for no other reason than to vent your irrational fear and hatred

    I do not fear gay sex practitioners or have any nagging hatred for them anymore than I have hatred or fear for fraudsters, drug dealers, burglars and prostitutes. Ugandan Law says gayism is a crime and the national legislature is duty bound to ensure that the law is updated to meet future challenges from nosy Western gay propagandists such as yourself

  • Maazi NCO

    ….people in the USA are free to have more than one sexual partner if they choose to do so, and are also free, if they so wish, to express in the public domain the view that bigamous/polygamous ‘marriages’ should be legal.

    Of course, people are allowed to have multiple sexual partners in USA. But any attempt to marry these sexual partners simultaneously will attract the attention of the good old FBI. If you doubt it then go and talk to dissident Mormons whose polygamous marriages have kept them under constant harassment by the US Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.

    Maazi, those views you have on “gayism” were imposed on Africans by Westerners; and Westerners will make you recant them just as well.

    Continue deluding yourself !!! No whiteman imposed any views on Africans. In African culture, polygamy is acceptable, but gayism is an abominable inhuman behaviour and this will not change despite the millions of dollars you guys are spending on gay propaganda in the African continent.

    …By the starkest and most barbaric contrast, Bahati’s bill contains provisions to slaughter people who engage in consensual relations…

    Obviously, we have different versions of the Bahati Bill in mind. It seems you are stuck in the October 2009 time warp and have refused to come out of it. I do understand that there is high propaganda value for you to continue calling it “genocide bill”. Good luck with the gay propaganda !!!

  • Boo

    “Obviously, people who are mentally challenged will never admit to being so. Therefore, I don’t think gay sex practitioners will see anything wrong with their deviant behaviour. It is not Rocket Science !!!”

    You probably shouldn’t claim gay people are mentally challenged and then mention science in the same breath. Just sayin.

    ““Innocence” is a matter of opinion.”

    Whereas the fact that they’re not hurting anyone is a fact.

    “I am sure that the sympathizers of the adult incestous couples jailed in Germany in the recent past viewed them as “innocent people” who engaged in “innocent consensual sex”.”

    Except that does hurt the children of those unions. Science, remember?

    “In most African nations, gayism is a sex crime and people who engage in it are guilty of the offence. They are not “innocent”.”

    In the same sense that witch children are not “innocent.”

    “I do not fear gay sex practitioners or have any nagging hatred for them anymore than I have hatred or fear for fraudsters, drug dealers, burglars and prostitutes. Ugandan Law says gayism is a crime and the national legislature is duty bound to ensure that the law is updated to meet future challenges from nosy Western gay propagandists such as yourself”

    The fact that you can’t come up with any rational purpose for persecuting gay people beyond vague appeals to cultural values would seem to support my claim that this is about irrational fear and hate, you see?

    “If you doubt it then go and talk to dissident Mormons whose polygamous marriages have kept them under constant harassment by the US Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.”

    That’s mostly related to child abuse and welfare fraud, but maybe those are cultural values for you.

    Is anyone else seeing a parallel between this “gayism” thing they’re on about and the satanic ritual abuse panic that swept the USA a couple decades ago?

  • Maazi NCO

    Whereas the fact that they’re not hurting anyone is a fact.

    In your selfish and highly individualistic “mind-your-own-business” societies of the Western world what the gay sex practitioners do is not anybody’s business. But African societies are communal in nature. What another person does in public or in private is the business of his/her family, community and village. The idea that a person should exercise absolute freedom to engage in debasing and inhuman behaviour is unacceptable in Africa in general (and Uganda, in particular).

    Except that does hurt the children of those unions. Science, remember?

    Sorry, the judges from German high court to German supreme court all said they were convicting the incestous couple “for the good of society and decency”. Nobody mentioned science or children with regards to the incestous siblings. In the UK, another incestous couple (father and adult daughter) were declared guilty despite their “love for each other”. According to the UK media, the presiding British judge also spoke of “public decency” and “the good of society”. Nobody mentioned children or science. In Africa, gayism offends our culture, dignity and general human decency and will NEVER be acceptable to us.

    In the same sense that witch children are not “innocent.”

    This is just racial stereotyping for which you chaps in the Western world are notorious. There is no such thing as “witch children”. Yes, there are few Africans who may label children as such. But those Africans are acting contrary to the law and are therefore committing the crime of child abuse. Don’t you have serial killers and rapists in your beloved USA?

    The fact that you can’t come up with any rational purpose for persecuting gay people beyond vague appeals to cultural values would seem to support my claim that this is about irrational fear and hate, you see?

    I have already provided a logical and rational reason for our rejection of gayism. It is against African culture in much the same way that polygamy is against your own people’s culture. We will never accept the idea that it is okay for a man to marry another man or engage in debased sexual activities which can throw up strange antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted diseases. We cannot tolerate the most effective means of transmitting HIV/AIDS after intravenous drug use. It is bad enough that we are trying to control AIDS contracted by normal man-woman couples. We certainly don’t need any further complications from gay sex practitioners

    That’s mostly related to child abuse and welfare fraud, but maybe those are cultural values for you.

    No Sir !! They are not cultural values in Africa. Given the high rates of child abuse and welfare fraud in your country, I dare say these vices may be cultural values in the United States.

    Is anyone else seeing a parallel between this “gayism” thing they’re on about and the satanic ritual abuse panic that swept the USA a couple decades ago?

    No. I see no parallel.

  • Richard Willmer

    I rather think that, before ‘Maazi NCO MP’ points the finger at other countries when it comes to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, he should consider getting his own house in order. Remember those 40,000+ schoolgirls abused by the their (male) teachers in 2008 ALONE?!

  • Richard Willmer

    Oh yes, and that ‘polygamy argument’ of ‘Maazi’s’ is a completely bogus one with regard to the Bahati Bill. We’ve been through all that many times.

    And while we’re about it … on the subject of HIV/AIDS: it is pretty much accepted that the recent rise in transmission rates (a rise which has coincided with the recent rise in homophobia) is due principally to marital infidelity; pushing the marginalized further to the margins will lead to more unfaithful husbands causing even more damage.

  • Boo

    “In your selfish and highly individualistic “mind-your-own-business” societies of the Western world what the gay sex practitioners do is not anybody’s business. But African societies are communal in nature. What another person does in public or in private is the business of his/her family, community and village. The idea that a person should exercise absolute freedom to engage in debasing and inhuman behaviour is unacceptable in Africa in general (and Uganda, in particular).”

    And yet you still can’t describe any actual harm they’re doing. Why do you suppose that is?

    “Sorry, the judges from German high court to German supreme court all said they were convicting the incestous couple “for the good of society and decency”. Nobody mentioned science or children with regards to the incestous siblings. In the UK, another incestous couple (father and adult daughter) were declared guilty despite their “love for each other”. According to the UK media, the presiding British judge also spoke of “public decency” and “the good of society”. Nobody mentioned children or science. In Africa, gayism offends our culture, dignity and general human decency and will NEVER be acceptable to us.”

    And what precisely do you imagine the basis of social and cultural taboos against incest are? Incest produces actual, measurable harm in children of those unions. That is a fact. The same cannot be said of gay unions.

    “I have already provided a logical and rational reason for our rejection of gayism. It is against African culture in much the same way that polygamy is against your own people’s culture.”

    Do you even read what you write? In response to my claim that the only reason you ever come up with for opposing “gayism” is vague appeals to culture, you make a vague appeal to culture. Not that I object to you proving my point.

    “We cannot tolerate the most effective means of transmitting HIV/AIDS after intravenous drug use. It is bad enough that we are trying to control AIDS contracted by normal man-woman couples. We certainly don’t need any further complications from gay sex practitioners”

    Um… you do realize that sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted by, you know, sex?

    “No Sir !! They are not cultural values in Africa. Given the high rates of child abuse and welfare fraud in your country, I dare say these vices may be cultural values in the United States.”

    You were the one criticizing the FBI for going after people for that, remember?

    “No. I see no parallel.”

    Naturally not. That would require you to open your eyes.

  • Richard Willmer

    Indeed, boo.

    When UG has a relatively uncorrupt functioning civil society, we’ll listen to ‘Maazi’s’ homilies. Unit then, we’ll continue to treat then with the contempt they deserve.

    One of the big drivers of HIV/AIDS is HYPOCRISY – especially sexual hypocrisy, of course, given that (heterosexual) sex is the principal vector of HIV in Uganda, a country noted for its ‘vigorous sexuality’. Gay bashing (and pretending that HIV is really a ‘gay’ problem) just makes heterosexuals all the more complacent and hypocritical.

  • Richard Willmer

    And another thing …

    The lovely ‘Maazi NCO’ (ain’t he just the sweetest thing?!) says this:-

    ” Obviously, we have different versions of the Bahati Bill in mind. It seems you are stuck in the October 2009 time warp and have refused to come out of it. ”

    Well, let’s look at the facts, shall we? The fact of the matter is that the 2009 draft is the only one that appears to exist … at least according to official Ugandan parliamentary records. The ‘amendments’ suggested by Tashobya’s people in May 2011 were never officially made, and, in any case, do not change the substance of the Bill in any meaningful way.

    If ‘Maazi’ is to be taken at all seriously, he needs to show us the ‘other versions’ that he claims exist, doesn’t he?! Until then, talk of projected slaughter remains the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! (So much for ‘Maazi’s’ rather lacklustre attempts at anti-gay propaganda, I say!)

  • Richard Willmer

    Since ‘Maazi NCO’ has seen fit to bring up the matter of HIV/AIDS, here’s an interesting article, published just today, on the matter: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/world/africa/in-uganda-an-aids-success-story-comes-undone.html

    It says much of what some Ugandan officials/experts have themselves been saying recently. ‘Homosexuality’ is NOT cited as a significant factor when it comes to the recent rise in infection rates (but ‘pushing behaviour underground’ IS).


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