April 20th, 2009
Late yesterday, I posted about the latest disturbing developments in Uganda as the tabloid Red Pepper published a full-page article publicly outing forty LGBT Ugandans. I also wondered aloud what it would take for Exodus President Alan Chambers to finally address the events in Uganda.
Today, Exodus International President Alan Chambers addressed the situation in Uganda with this statement on his personal blog:
A recent hullabaloo over a conference in Uganda has had me thinking and praying about some things. The conference centered on a conservative, presumably Christian, response to gay issues in that country. In Uganda, homosexual behavior is punishable by imprisonment and there is talk of stiffening the penalties. Several American gay activists and even some conservative Christians have raised a ruckus about the event and rightfully so. Uganda’s policies seem reprehensible. Publicly exposing or arresting gay-identified men and women for homosexual behavior or forcing them to undergo therapy is a true violation of free will and a compassionless transgression.
Chambers’ statement departs from Uganda to provide a broader context of past Christian failures toward the LGBT community. He lauded the gay community for having stepped up to the plate to do the hard work that should have been the work of the church, particularly contrasting the LGBT community’s response to the AIDS crisis with the reaction of Christian leaders. He also wonders aloud “what things in California might be like if the Church had spent the $39 million dollars they raised for Proposition 8 to show the love of Christ to the gay community.”
In the final paragraph, Chambers returns to Uganda:
Confession is good for the soul, they say. There’s a reason for that. So, to my fellow Christians in Uganda, California and elsewhere around the world, my suggestion as you engage in social dialogue over this issue is this: pray, confess your own sins and remember where you were before God found you. And to the gay community: it is my great hope that we as a Christian church will give you no more reasons to justifiably doubt God’s love for you. I am sorry for the times when I have contributed to that.
Chambers covers a lot of ground in this confession. It can mark a great first step, but the statement alone remains insufficient. It was action that sparked the latest events in Uganda, and it will take action on Exodus’ part to address what Exodus board member Don Schmierer helped wrought.
This statement and others like it need to get into the hands of Uganda’s media, much like Warren Throckmorton’s statement a month ago. The typical Ugandan, after all, isn’t likely to be a regular reader of Chambers’ blog. In fact, they are less likely to have reliable Internet access at all, hence the importance of following Throckmorton’s example and going to Uganda’s media directly.
It’s too early to know whether Chambers’ statement will remain an exercise in absolving his conscience or if it signals a resolve to try to set right what has been broken. My cynical side says it’s the former, but my inner cynic is wrong at least as often as he’s right. I am hopeful for the latter, but that hope is tempered with the experience of seeing similarly noble sentiments followed by inaction. In either case we will remain watchful.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
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