A Call for Christian Action in Uganda – A Time to Show the Love

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2009

Dr. Warren Throckmorton has written an article for Crosswalk.com in which he asks Should American Christians Care about Gays in Uganda? Throckmorton explains the excesses in the new proposed anti-gay law (banning speech, imposing the death penalty, requiring suspected homosexuals to be reported) and makes a strong case for why American Christians should own responsibility for the law and take action to oppose it.

While there are many cultural forces which oppose homosexuality in Uganda, a dominant one currently is the evangelical church. Most recently, in March of this year, three Americans were recruited by the Uganda-based Family Life Network to speak at workshops on ways to change people from gay to straight. Two of the Americans, Caleb Brundidge and Scott Lively, spoke in favor of keeping homosexuality illegal but giving those convicted an option of therapy to cure them of their gayness. Both Brundidge and Lively spoke to the Ugandan parliament regarding their view that homosexuality is learned and curable. Their ideas took hold. The proposed bill bases the need for stronger regulation on the concept that “same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic.”

Throckmorton also notes that the main evangelical cheerleader for this crackdown on civil liberties is Martin Ssempa, a darling of American evangelical leaders who is closely tied to Rick Warren and Saddleback Church. And, as we know, the government of Uganda has repeatedly listened to instruction and direction from American preachers.

Indeed, this latest anti-gay pogrom is directly tied to American evangelical Christian interference in the African nation. Throckmorton’s point is that because American evangelical Christians made this mess, they now must own it. And I agree.

But will Christians respond?

For years, those American Christians who espouse conservative theology in their social activism in opposition to civil equality for gay citizens have loudly proclaimed that such activism is not founded in hatred. Rather, they will assure you, they love you so very much that they are warning you away from the dangers and sinfulness of “the homosexual lifestyle”.

This argument is familiarized in the trite phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Though it might surprise some, I think it likely that most of those people who oppose your civil rights for religious reasons do not hate you. They don’t necessarily wish you ill. And if given a choice, they would prefer that you be happy, and healthy, and come to enjoy life (heterosexually, of course) as much as they do.

But I also believe that they don’t love you, either.

Rather, they do something worse than hate you; they don’t consider you – your life, your dreams, your loves, your hopes – at all. The extent to which their imposition of their faith system on your life will impact your ability to live freely never ever crosses their mind. Your health insurance, your immigration, your kids, your adoption, your hospital visitation, your inheritance rights, your military service, none of this enters the equation.

Not because they hate you, but because you don’t really matter to them at all. They don’t hate you; they’re just contemptuous of your existence or worth.

But, contrary to their assertions, they feel no love. It is impossible to love without caring about what the object of your love cares about. It is impossible to love without showing concern for injustice or unfairness. It is impossible to love without seeking to help those who are victims of oppression and attack.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that there is an abundance of love flowing from evangelical Christianity towards gay men and women.

And the situation in Uganda will tell us whether or not I am falsely accusing the Church. This situation provides us with a “put up or shut up” moment.

Should the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God and Saddleback Church and all the other mega-churches stand up and speak out against this evil law, it will go far to show me that they feel love. Should conservative Republican Senators who ardently “defend marriage” against the threat of our relationships send a delegation to the African nation, I’ll consider that perhaps they do not base their policies on scapegoating of an unpopular minority. Should Maggie Gallagher and Peter LaBarbera and Laurie Higgins write stirring pieces about why Christians should oppose coercive laws, I may consider that their objection to my rights is not based in personal animus.

But should, as I suspect will be the case, Dr. Throckmorton be but one of a few voices willing to oppose evil – and this bill IS EVIL – then I will know what my heart will tell me the next time an opponent to fairness tells me that they love me.

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Vancity

October 28th, 2009

Since ‘Warren’ could be used to refer either to Warren Throckmorton or to Rick Warren – both of whom are referenced in this blog entry – you may want to clarify whom you are referring to in your final paragraph.

David C.

October 28th, 2009

Christian anti-gay evangelicals seem only interested in offering a love that is conditional, which is not a genuine love at all. We are not here to please them and live by their moral code when their values give an OK to lie, bear false witness, preach hate, incite to violence, and otherwise act with malice and contempt towards people that have done no one any harm.

We as gay Americans and citizens of other countries want only to be let alone to love those that love us and to be judged by our contributions to our communities, our families, and our countries. We are not second class people and we will not accept a lesser station simply to suit ignorant prejudice and ancient superstition.

Lynn David

October 28th, 2009

Timothy you couldn’t have nailed it any better.

The Abrahamic religions as concerns homosexuality do not have perfect information in their writings, yet they allow their members to sublimate their hatreds concerning homosexuality in the religions precepts and instead [attempt to] call it love.

Americans have been well gone that route, and yet the ministries of Exodus still have problems with acceptance from local churches. Uganda represent the other side of that spectrum; their indifference (aka love) only comes with an absolute repentance. A self-assured righteousness anchors their will. But sublimated hate does not yield love.

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2009

Thanks, Vancity, I clarified that final sentence.

Trevor

October 28th, 2009

Interesting. One wonders how for their version of “love” contrasts with the biblical definition of love. Lets recount:

Love is patient -fail
love is kind. -fail
It does not envy -fail
it does not boast, -fail
it is not proud -fail
It is not rude, -fail
it is not self-seeking, -whopper fail
it is not easily angered, -fail
it keeps no record of wrongs. -fail
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. -fail
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -fail

Jeff W.

October 28th, 2009

Timothy,

Your analysis of “Christian” love is revelatory and sad and true. I’ve forwarded this piece on to several friends. Thank you.

Ben in Oakland

October 29th, 2009

…and otherwise act with malice and contempt towards people that have done no one any harm.
…”

I would amend that:

and otherwise act with malicie and ocntempt towards people that THEY DO NOT KNOW, KNOW NOTHING ABOUT, AND HAVE NOT DONE THEM, NOR INTEND TO DO TO THEM, ANY HARM.”

Scott VanTussenbrook

October 29th, 2009

Oh I’m sure, the American Christians are ready to own this, fix it, and do the right thing.

And they will.

Any second now, I’m sure.

In fact, I’m holding my breath.

SharonB

October 29th, 2009

They love us the way the “good Germans” loved their disappearing neighbors with the yellow triangles.

‘Bout that much.

Mike Airhart

October 30th, 2009

Throckmorton falsely states that Exodus has condemned the legislation.

It has not. An unofficial blog post by Randy Thomas carries none of the official weight of a press release or a statement by the board.

Exodus issued numerous press releases and statements in support of the launch conference for the vigilante and death-penalty campaign. A single whispered blog post is in no way a repudiation of the bill — or Don Schmierer’s role in launching it.

werdna

October 31st, 2009

Still no peep from US religious groups? Well it looks like Throckmorton’s Facebook group has at least attracted attention in Uganda:

http://www.ugpulse.com/articles/daily/news.asp?about=Activists+use+facebook+to+fight+Uganda+Homosexual+bill&ID=13203

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