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On American Christians In Uganda: Silence As Consent

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2010

National Public Radio has a great piece this morning examining the role played by three American activists in the current anti-gay debacle playing out in Uganda. Here is probably the best observation I’ve seen to date on American evangelical responses to the Ugandan efforts to wipe LGBT people off the map:

Jim Naughton, a former canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., says their message plays one way in the U.S., but differently in a place like Uganda. And they should have known.

“If you go to countries where there’s already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals, and begin to tell people there, ‘Well, actually these people are child abusers, they’re coming for their children, that they’re the scourge that is being deposited on you by the secular West,’ you’re gonna get a backlash.” Naughton says it’s like “showing up in rooms filled with gasoline, and throwing lighted matches around and saying, ‘Well, I never intended fire.‘”

Many U.S. evangelicals, including (Scott) Lively, say they are “mortified” by the death penalty provision. Naughton doesn’t buy it.

“I think if they were mortified, they would have been mortified immediately,” he says. “Instead they were mortified — oh, two, three months into the campaign against this thing, when it was getting real traction.”

You can see Lively’s “fire” — actually he calls it his “nuclear bomb” — here.

There is, of course, one notable exception. Dr. Warren Throckmorton was publicly mortified as soon as he heard about plans for the anti-gay conference put on by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge last March. He has since been a tireless critic of that conference and the ensuing Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He also gets his due on the NPR report, while questioning the silence of other prominent ministries with close ties to Uganda.

If (Saddleback pastor Rick) Warren was slow to condemn the bill, other Christian conservatives have yet to do so, says Warren Throckmorton, who teaches psychology at Grove City College and has been monitoring U.S. evangelical response. He says some of the Christian groups most publicly tied to Uganda have been the quietest. Joyce Meyer Ministries, Oral Roberts University, the College of Prayer in Atlanta — all have close ties and declined to express reservations about the death penalty.

“Silence is often interpreted as consent,” says Throckmorton, who is himself a conservative evangelical. “So I think those kinds of responses may lead those individuals in Uganda to think that perhaps what [they're] doing really is according to the evangelical faith.”

The NPR report ends with a claim that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni “called for the bill to be withdrawn.” While many have jumped to that conclusion, the fact is that Museveni was careful not to call for its withdrawal, and it is not clear that he will.

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

Comments

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Chris McCoy
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

“Silence = Death” is as relevant now as it was then.

Scott
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

The silence displayed by the right wing Episcopalians with regards to the anti gay bill is no more evident than on one of their websites “Stand Firm In Faith”. This site ought to be renamed “Stand Firm in Hate”. These so called true Christians identify with African countries (the Southern Cone) as bastions of true Christianity which have not yet been corrupted by gay people. There is the usual daily litany of posts railing against gay clergy, the desecration of the Episcopal church by gays, the “gay agenda”, the need to stick to true Biblical teachings and to stand up for Christian principles. My familiarity with the site stems from an individual in my city who promulgates hate against gays across the Internet often via this site. The ultimate hypocrisy is that despite the claims to be true followers of Christ, I have yet to see any outrage on the site about the fact that gay people might actually be killed. Any comments posted by people such as myself suggesting that perhaps a more important issue might be to take a stand against torture and death is met with sarcasm and eventual exclusion from the site. I invite readers to visit this site and perhaps remind them that this isn’t what Christ had meant when he suggested we love others as we love ourselves. It seems to me that when their neat and tidy version of Christianity is challenged, the true Christians fall by the wayside as any change in thinking requires a sacrifice—and sacrificing one’s comfort for the well being of another is what Christ was all about.

Whitney
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

As far as I’m concerned, those preachers will share the responsibility for every real and suspected homosexual put to death as a result of this. Blood will be on their hands just as sure as if they stood in the firing squad.

Dur, we didn’t know preaching hate to people who actually listen to us results in horrible legislation, durr hurr.

This makes me ashamed to be a human being.

Christine
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

It’s too bad the NPR story neglected to mention the culpability of Don Schmierer of Exodus International and Caleb Brundidge of the International Healing Foundation, or Warren Throckmorton’s ties [http://www.exodusinternational.org/content/view/363/0/] with Exodus (perhaps why they weren’t mentioned?).

JeffreyRO5
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Are we experiencing the last gasps of Christianity? I mean, when a religion becomes so closely aligned with hatred and bigotry, no matter who gets hurt, it can’t be pointing toward a bright future. What happened to American Christianity? It is astonishing the faiths, like Catholicism and Mormonism, that are so willing to tie their wagons to such a losing, hateful cause as marriage discrimination and hate of gay people.

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