Ugandan Pastors Demand Apology from Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2009

A Martin Ssempa and three other Ugandan pastors have written to Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren demanding an apology for his statement opposing Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In a letter sent sent to Warren, with copies provided to Christianity Today and Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, the four pastors write on behalf of a task force which met in the offices of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who has been an ardent supporter of the bill. The pastors say that the bill has been “greatly misrepresented” and describes Warren’s opposition to the bill as “unwarrented abuse.”

This bill has been greatly misrepresented by some homosexual activists causing hysteria and we take this opportunity to give you the background, facts and response to the concerns you raised. A special meeting of 20 denominational heads met on Thursday 17th Dec in the offices of the minister of Ethics and Integrity, examined your letter and formed a joint task force to respond to you as well as help support the parliament in the passage of this bill.  We are further distressed by your unwarranted abuse of our duly elected officials who are in the process of making laws in the fulfillment of their mission and make demand that you biblically issue an apology for having wronged us as demonstrated by the facts of this letter. [Emphasis in the original]

The letter is very similar to a separate letter sent to Christianity Today, complete with wholesale misrepresentations of what the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would actually provide. We have posted the full text of the bill online where you can see its provisions for yourself. They include:

  • Expanding the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier. Current law requires evidence of penetration. The new law would expand the definition of homosexual activity to “touch(ing) another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” Touching itself is defined as “touching—(a) with any part of the body; (b) with anything else; (c) through anything; and in particular includes touching amounting to penetration of any sexual organ. anus or mouth.
  • Affirming Uganda\’s lifetime imprisonment for those convicted of homosexuality.
  • Defining a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality” for those who engage in sex with someone under the age of 18, who are HIV-positive, who is a “repeat offender” (so broadly defined as to include anyone who has had a relationship with more than one person, or who had sex with the same person more than once), or who had sex with a disabled person (consensual or not). The penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is death by hanging.
  • Requiring anyone arrested on suspicion of homosexuality to undergo HIV testing to determine the individual\’s qualification for prosecution of “aggravated homosexuality.”
  • Criminalizing “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
  • Criminalizing all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalizing the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Addding a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual\’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Penalizing landlords and hotel owners with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
  • Adding an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
  • Voiding all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.

There is an additional ominous note in this letter that is not found in the previous letter published by Christianity Today. In describing the developments in Uganda which they say justify the draconian measure specified in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, they single out an individual Ugandan blogger, GayUganda:

d) creation of organizations whose sole purpose is to promote homosexuality in Uganda; (e.g. (Sexual Minorities Uganda); (Gay Uganda); (Integrity Uganda).

This latest letter, which is reproduced on Warren Throckmorton’s web site, demands that Warren issues an apology and sets a deadline:

Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the “evil” of Sodomy and Gaymorrah. This is expected within seven days from this date.

The letter, at least as it is reproduced on Throckmorton’s web site, does not appear to be dated.

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


December 21st, 2009

Only willful idiots would confuse Warren’s concern for them about doing the wrong thing as “unwarranted abuse.”

Utterly demented.


December 21st, 2009

My greatest objection to them sending this ultimatum is that it is forcing me to sympathyze with Rick Warren.

Dan T.

December 21st, 2009

There isn’t actually an “or else” clause in the letter saying just what they intend to do if he fails to give them the demanded apology.

Do they plan on demanding an apology of the president of Uganda as well, if he should follow through on his intention of vetoing the bill?

David C.

December 21st, 2009

“Unwarranted abuse”, now that is ridiculous. I guess killing somebody for being who they are is not “unwarranted abuse”.

Everybody is pulling back from Martin Ssempa and his colleagues’ hatred, ignorant bigotry, and hypocrisy. They are shams masquerading as Christians and worthy of nothing more than scorn and derision which I would gladly heap on them myself were their hateful behavior and lies not more than sufficient to convict them more thoroughly than anything I could say.


December 21st, 2009

This whole “Kill the gays” bill has always been about so much more than homosexuality. This is about power. It is about how to keep power and make your opponents fear you. Ssempa and the others were going to use this bill/law to intimidate or eliminate their political, religious and financial rivals by accusing people of either being gay or not being sufficiently anti-gay (not reporting people, serving them in your business or renting to them).

They really want that power, but the world has objected loudly and clearly.


December 21st, 2009

I would guess it is 7 days from the meeting on the 17th (or possibly the next day the 18th or possibly the 19th when Warren T. posted it as just being received). So Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or St. Stephen’s day (supposedly the first Christian martyr) is the deadline.

Ben in Oakland

December 21st, 2009

what does “biblically issue and apology” mean? Something like “and Behold! The fatted calf of the sons of Warren bared their monstrous nethers and begged for the forgiveness of the assmbled Buttheadites.”

I think we are seeing the first shots fired of the African Daisy chain, otherwise known as the circular firing squad.


December 21st, 2009

Pray for Uganda. It is very sick.

Richard W. Fitch

December 21st, 2009

Seems there may be more brewing behind the scenes, as has been speculated earlier:

David C.

December 21st, 2009

Pray for all of Africa. It is as if the nation state will be nothing but a disaster to the people and animals of that continent.


December 21st, 2009

This sensitivity of the Ugandan church to being “abused” is a common theme among conservative Christians. Entire ministries exist to document the worldwide persecution of the church. The Persecuted Church is a common topic for Christian (Evangelical) talk radio. In America the perpetrator is usually a liberal. Many misguided Americans actually believe that repealing DOMA is an act which strips them of their freedom of religion. It’s sad how mainstream Christianity protects and nourishes this megalomaniac subculture.

So it’s extra funny for Rick Warren to now be accused a liberal who is persecuting/abusing the church in Uganda.

Lynn David

December 22nd, 2009

I found the mention of ‘gug’ to be disheartening. Still, at the same time I also found that the mere mention of his personal blog as being evidence of the “creation of organizations whose sole purpose is to promote homosexuality in Uganda” to be rather telling of how much they are grasping at straws. It’s as if the Christians of Uganda had become as reprobate as the Communists of the Russia and China of my youth, or today’s North Korea.


December 22nd, 2009

“Unwarranted abuse”

Sounds familiar… the irrational and extreme overreaction screaming in from anti-gay Christian leadership.

This is something that the GLBT community is all too familiar with.

Tragically, it’s difficult to grasp the weight of these remarks if you are not on the receiving end of this harmful rhetoric.

My hope is that Rick Warren is learning what may best be taught by experience- how it feels to be the target of the irrational deceitful hysterics of the anti-gay religious zealots.

One can hope…


December 22nd, 2009

I do hope that Warren issues a statement confirming his original response. I think that would go a long way toward showing that he wasn’t merely responding to save face, but that he actually stands behind what he said. I doubt that there will ever be true harmony between Warren and the GLBT community, but I think that would be a great show of good faith on his part.

Kathleen Imber

December 22nd, 2009

I think Rick Warren , like Joel Osteen, is in denial and in the closet. The ones that are in denial or in the closet are the worst. Internalized homophobia. And is it not in Uganda where a horrible organization called Lord’s Resistance Army has kidnapped or killed thousands of children , boys and girls, to be used as sex slaves, soldiers, being forced to kill their own families, all in the name of a this organization that wants to overthrow the Ugandan government, which is just as violently corrupt? The LRA is the same organization that Rick Warren is supporting, isn’t it?

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2009

Rick Warren has no connections with the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Priya Lynn

December 22nd, 2009

Jim said “The letter is very similar to a separate letter sent to Christianity Today”.

I’d like to see that letter, but the link you gave goes to the post “Undercover at Exgay camp” rather than to this letter.

Jim Burroway

December 22nd, 2009

Sorry. I’ve fixed the link.

Priya Lynn

December 22nd, 2009

Interesting letter, it takes the same approach that some ugandans have on other blogs I’ve been on. Basically the approach is to claim the bill is entirely about punishing HIV positive men who rape boys and to ignore the aspects of the bill that punish innocent gay men. Then when people oppose the bill its insinuated or stated that the person in opposition is opposed to punishing HIV positive rapists.

Jonathan Justice

December 22nd, 2009

While there is all too clearly an issue of the problematical character of the Ugandan government, I think the matter here is one of playing Rick Warren for his previous engagement with some of the leading figures of that society. One might paraphrase it as, “Bad Daddy! Get back into your role, so we can get what we want here.”

As has been all too often the case, Warren’s engagement with the leading parties in Uganda and Rwanda has been ill considered. This kind of backwash is an all to common result.


December 23rd, 2009

I was watching on History channel today about the history of the Christian cult. Seems that the Christians were used as political scapegoats for the ills of the Roman society and therefore sacrificed during the 300s until they got political power through Constantine (a general who became Emperor).

Seems that the persecution of gays by the Christians in America is the same story, only they do it within their own families by throwing away their children to the streets, locking them up in Exodus or incite their “flock” to kill us individually (i.e., Matthew Shepard).


December 23rd, 2009

I really wish that christian leaders who have huge influence in Uganda (such as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Andrew Wommack, and Creflo Dollar) would speak to their Ugandan audience about this incredibly judgmental bill. That would be a great way to get Ssempa to humble himself. Otherwise, he’s going to continue elbowing, pushing, shoving and lying until this bill is passed. Ssempa regularly spreads his homophobia via television and other media by clevery asserting the following to his ignorant audiences:

Homosexuality = anal sex = sodomy = evil = ungodly = unAfrican = western perversion = unnatural = unhealthy = hiv infection = male rape = recruitment of kids into homosexuality = male prostitution = illegal = threat to society etc

He is very vocal and does a great job of stirring up mass hysetria and homophobia. He wont stop.

More people like Rick Warren really need to be heard loud and clear by Ugandans, so that Ssempa’s righteously homophobic roars can be exposed as ignorant/manipulative, judgmental, unchristian, bigotted, baseless rants.


December 23rd, 2009

While it’s true that trashing this bill is currently more important than decriminalising homosexuality (it’s currently a criminal offence in Uganda as it has been for decades), influential christian leaders need to be heard loud and clear explaining that judging others’ sins, self-righteousness, hate, intolerance and turning sins into crimes is just not Christ-like.


December 23rd, 2009

I truly sympathise with the non Ugandans who have consistently thrown nasty comments on this bill and the proponents of it. For nature’s sake, Uganda has its own culture that has been promoted since time immemorial. Homosexuality brought in by the Arabs tried to establish itself in our nation. However, we rejected it completely(follow the story of the Uganda martyrs). We will not stop supporting the bill despite the pressure from selfish funders like Sweden, USA, etc. How can we support such ideologies that have never been resident in Uganda? No, we can’t. Please keep your homosexuality in the States, Europe, Australia but not Uganda. Imagine how many nations have embraced homosexuality? there only seven out of the many. Shame upon you.

Priya Lynn

December 23rd, 2009

Shame on you James for supporting the immoral extreme punishment of those who harm no one.

You asked “How can we support such ideologies that have never been resident in Uganda?”. There are two things wrong with your question. First, Christianity had never been resident in Uganda and you’ve supported that ideology so you can’t claim you don’t support ideologies that have never been resident. Second, gayness has always existed in Uganda, there’s never been a place on earth that hasn’t had gays througout its existence.

Spare us your whining about the story of the Uganda martyrs. The only person who has responsiblity for trying to force those men into an unwanted sex act is the person who did so. Gay people nowadays had nothing to do with that and bear no responsibility for it whatsoever. When an HIV positive man in your country rapes a young girl in a vain attempt to cure himself you don’t assign responsibility for that crime to every heterosexual in the country, so stop trying to perpetuate that grotesque dishonest that all gays are responsible for the Uganda martyrs.

Timothy Kincaid

December 23rd, 2009


You are mistaken. Only the Arab nations kill gay people. All western nations, indeed many of the Asian nations and the most prosperous African nation, have decriminalized homosexuality.

Virtually every Western European nation, along with much of the North America and some of South America not only allow gay citizens, but give legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

Foolishly, you see the natural attraction between people of the same sex as “foreign”. But it will be Ugandans, your own children, whom you will be incarcerating and executing.

If Uganda goes in this direction, you will be viewed by the entire civilized world as a backwards uncivilized people. You will not be respected, but rather pitied for your ignorance, superstition, and hatred.

Rev Spitz

December 31st, 2009

Rick Warren should mind his own business. If Uganda wants to put sexual deviants to death, then so be it, that’s their business.
It’s a good thing to stop these crimes against nature and crimes against humanity, to protect the human race from sexual deviants.

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