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Exodus Board Members Plays The “Dupe” In Uganda

This commentary is the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2010
L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

The New York Times has finally taken notice of the anti-gay pogrom that has been brewing in Uganda for nearly a year now. In Monday morning’s edition, Jeffrey Gettleman provides a brief overview of events over the past year that has led up to Uganda’s current attempt to legislate gay people out of existence, beginning with that infamous anti-homosexuality conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists:

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

What Schmierer has yet to acknowledge is that he had every opportunity not to be “duped,” as he put it. BTB’s Timothy Kincaid sent a warning via Exodus International president Alan Chambers before the conference took place, explaining exactly what he was getting into. Chambers either didn’t pass the warning on to Schmierer, or Schmierer chose to ignore it. The aggravating thing is that this could have been avoided — or, at the very least Exodus International’s implicit participation in the conference.

And of course, let’s not forget Exodus’s first attempt at “fixing” the problem they created — their hamfisted attempt to put a positive spin on Schmierer’s talk by “applauding” his being there.

Schmierer’s behavior in all of this is beyond appalling. He has yet to man up to his responsibility for his actions. Instead, his only public response has been to behave as a befuddled grandfather wondering what the fuss is all about. Charming in some quarters I’m sure, but of absolutely no use whatsoever to the people of Uganda who now stand to fear the midnight knock on the door  — and possibly even the gallows. We’ve already seen arrests and blackmail, as well as  accusations of homosexuality used as a political and sectarian weapon this year. This Times article provides further illustration of what people in Uganda have gone through:

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

…“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

This, of course, is nothing compared to what we will see should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill become law.

"What, me worry?" Exodus board member Don Schmierer.

"What, me worry?" Exodus board member Don Schmierer.

If Shmierer feels “duped,” then he needs to put a stop to his helplessness act and behave like a responsible adult. He has no problem traveling extensively around the world when it suits his purposes. This might be a good time for him to return to Uganda, to go on radio and television and talk to newspaper reporters — to try to fix what he helped break. He’s a world traveler, and he’s been to Uganda before; he knows the way.

But since the Exodus gang has no track record whatsoever in accepting responsibility for any of their actions, I predict that Schmierer, Chambers and the rest of Exodus will sit on their hands and pretend that nothing’s wrong. They’ll point to their solitary letter which got no play whatsoever in Ugandan media, and pretend that this small act was sufficient.

Having said that, I keep hoping that someday someone over there will seize the opportunity to prove me wrong. Sure, they’ll grumble about how mean we “militant homosexual activists”  are. (That’s Exodus vice-president Randy Thomas new euphemism for this blog.) But their own engagement in the culture war blinds them from seeing the win-win two-fer that’s before them: they can take the bold steps necessary to correct their egregious mistakes and simultaneously make all of us “militant homosexual activists” look like idiots. All in one fell swoop.

But since they’ve been so entirely predictable, I’ll stick with my prediction. Schimierer will continue with his helplessness act, Chambers will pretend that his letter is enough, and Exodus will go on its merry way and pretend that nothing went wrong on their watch.

The ball is in their court to prove me wrong. I’ll even sweeten the pot: if they can prove me wrong, I’ll wear a dunce hat, publicly proclaim how wrong I was, and issue an apology of my own. Because I’m a man who stands behind my principles.

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

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

The only part I disagree with is “This commentary … does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.”

David Roberts
January 3rd, 2010 | LINK

If I remember correctly, Alan got at least three warnings about the meeting in time for Schmierer to avoid participating. We sent one, Timothy sent one and I believe Warren sent one. Like Timothy, I can’t disclose the response but we did get one and I believe exchanged another set of emails on the issue that same day. They clearly had warning, there is no way to dispute that honestly.

Evan
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Heh @ Timothy.

I saw that at the top as was like “How on earth could there be editorial disagreement about this one?”

anteros
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Great post!

Lively wrote a whole book about recruitment!? All this time I thought the homosexual recruitment myth was Oundo’s baby. Clearly I gave him way too much credit. Ugandans have really bought it, as though they’ve met actual homosexual recruiters other than Oundo who did such a crappy job of lying about recruiting kids. The fact that he hasnt been arrested exposes the grand sham in which Oundo’s services were rented.

Ugandans really need to hear from Exodus on this bill. They dont trust the motives of human rights activists and donor countries… they are already being labelled “promoters of homosexuality”. If Exodus were to counter the homophobic spam in Ugandan media by issuing instructive statements on radio tv and in local newspapers, it would really help. The myths are countless… and rapidly growing in popularity. The myths are being used to feed people’s ignorance and channel it into extreme hate. Exodus could and really should help fix this mess.

anteros
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Oundo also claimed that he had been recruited as a teen, chose to be gay, went on to become a sponsored recruiter, and eventually quit being gay… cold turkey… the day that he allegedly gave his life to christ. He was used to localize and propagate so many myths born out of that March conference. If only the conference’s participants could rectify this… Exodus wouldnt face much credibility vetting from its Ugandan audience. It would help a lot.

gayuganda
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Yeah, I was also bothered by the apparent ‘editorial disagreement’?!

Glad there is none.

Oundo, Kagaba, the ex-gays in Uganda are being fed words to say, kind of proof of the strength of their healing. And, no one in Uganda is questioning their veracity. Because they are articulating the ‘facts’ that are in the books the ‘Three Musketeers’ brought to Uganda. Including Cohen’s books, which are truly despicable… According to me, of course.

grantdale
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Did Schmierer’s pants burst into flame during or after the interview? Considering they were already flapping around his ankles that must have been a painful few moments.

You know… one hears the word’s “a representative of Exodus International” and you just know a congenital liar is about to hove into view.

Their only excuse would be to show medical evidence of being a dimwit.

Dimwit or liar? Oh, the dilemma.

Jim, as far as Exodus is concerned there is no reason to offer yourself up as man who stands behind his principles.

You would have a better chance of convincing them that unicorns exist.

Timothy Kincaid
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

We do try and qualify that our opinions are our own if we make a bold statement. Jim was right to allow for disagreement, whether or not it was present… but, speaking for me, there is none.

Truth Wins Out - The Uganda Bill and its American Supporters: Some Historical Perspective
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

[...] ex-gay activists, and they’re just trying to help!  Give me a break.  Jim Burroway handily disposed of that notion in a piece last night.  If you haven’t read Jim’s piece, do.  I’ll [...]

homer
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

I keep thinking about people just wanting to live their lives free from meddling people- and the sheer evil nature of these three men. And I keep going back to Schmierer’s statement, “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

The person who turned in Anne Frank’s family probably said something similar.

Lynn David
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Schmierer is like a child trying to make its mother believe the child’s version of ‘truth.’ Warren Throckmorton wrote today that: “…he [Schmierer] was warned and by those who had nothing against Exodus (me). It seems that it was a case that the warnings were dismissed for reasons I do not know but they were not taken seriously.” Schmierer knew Lively was going to be there. It would seem that it did not bother him whatsoever; perhaps because Schmierer agreed with Lively that ‘the Nazis were all gay.’

LisaEqualityTalmadge
January 4th, 2010 | LINK

Great job as usual guys, keep it up, let’s keep pressuring EXODUS and FORMERS (oh, wait formers is now “former FORMERS”) to pony up some cash for asylum housing for the activists in grave danger.

The Uganda Bill and its American Supporters: Some Historical Perspective « Queer Hatred
January 5th, 2010 | LINK

[...] ex-gay activists, and they’re just trying to help!  Give me a break.  Jim Burroway handily disposed of that notion in a piece last night.  If you haven’t read Jim’s piece, do.  I’ll [...]

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