“The Family” Opposes Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill
December 16th, 2009
Jeff Sharlet, of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, wrote a guest post on Warren Throckmorton’s web site which updates his November appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air where he revealed ties between the secretive Evangelical movement known as “The Family” and Uganda’s politicians behind the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In this latest guest post, Sharlet says that The Family opposes the bill and key members are working behind the scenes to stop it from becoming law.
In Sharlet’s book, he identified Bob Hunter as a key organizer for The Family in Uganda during the 1980’s becoming friends with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and helping him establish the Ugandan Prayer Breakfast. Sharlet was finally able to get in contact with Hunter and spent an afternoon detailing the events in Uganda. Sharlet writes:
We agreed that the first step was a statement making clear Bob’s opposition to the bill. Moreover, Bob adds “I know of no one involved in Uganda with the Fellowship here in America, including the most conservative among them, that supports such things as killing homosexuals or draconian reporting requirements, much less has gone over to Uganda to push such positions.”
That’s very, very good news. The Fellowship prefers to avoid the limelight; Bob has forsaken that to make clear his position and that of his American associates: The Fellowship, AKA the Family, opposes the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. [Emphases in the original.]
In his book, Sharlet pointed out that while the Family has a strongly conservative bent, they do not exclude liberals or moderates from their ranks. Hunter had previously served in the Ford and Carter administrations, and had a strong background in consumer advocacy. Sharlet continues:
Over the course of the afternoon he [Hunter] shared with me his experience working with the Fellowship in Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa. While I may take issue with the Fellowship’s behind-the-scenes approach, there’s no denying that in each of these cases Bob and his associates were working toward extremely admirable ends, and that in the case of Burundi Bob’s efforts helped make the difference that brought a truce to that country’s warring factions. Bob did what he did with the best of intentions, and, in several instances, achieved the best of outcomes.
While Sharlet exonerates Hunter’s role in the development of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and further says that no American Family member has played a direct role in it’s promotion, he notes the religious revival that has taken place in Uganda since the 1980’s and the prominent role Americans, including Family members, have played in shaping the rhetorical nature of that revival including its anti-gay aspects. And he believes that those Family members have a special responsibility, which many of them are not living up to:
I’d add that through the Fellowship, a number of anti-gay American politicians have involved themselves with Ugandan affairs, most notably Senator James Inhofe, who has spoken of having “adopted” Uganda and who has been a guest at multiple Ugandan National Prayer Breakfasts. I don’t believe James Inhofe told David Bahati to push this legislation. I believe Inhofe when he says – under pressure – that he’s opposed to it. But the fact is, these powerful politicians, representatives of the most powerful nation on the world and its foreign aid generosity, are clear and candid in their opposition to homosexuality. That’s their right. But I believe they should therefore be even more clear and candid in their opposition to its criminalization. Theirs is a personal, religious position. They should extra precautions to make clear that these positions are in absolutely no way linked to the relationships between the United States and foreign aid recipients. Not only have they not done that, they resisted even condemning the bill.