Where Are the Religious Leaders? Ctd.
November 27th, 2012
I have two follow-ups to my post this morning. I was completely remiss in neglecting to recognize the heroic efforts of Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at the evangelical Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who has been an outspoken critic of not just the Anti-Homosexuality Bill itself, but of the events leading up to it going all the way back to that fateful conference in Kampala in March 2009. It was only a few years earlier that Dr. Throckmorton had been an advocate for the ex-gay movement, before his critical thinking got the better of him. I don’t know if he qualifies as a religious leader per se, but he is certainly a leader who is led by his faith.
Perhaps a more puzzling religious leader to come out against the anti-homosexuality bill is Solomon Male, a Ugandan pentecostal pastor who is as anti-gay as they come. Male, along with pastors Martin Ssempa and Robert Kayiira were recently found guilty of being part of a conspiracy to falsely accusing a rival pastor of homosexuality. In a post at The African Report, Male says this about Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
Religious leaders, members of the National Coalition Against Homosexuality and Sexual Abuses in Uganda (NCAHSAU), said the proposed law will not end homosexuality in the East African country. NCAHSAU director Solomon Male said the bill that has drawn worldwide condemnation was populist.
“The basis of our anti-homosexuality initiatives since 2006, which culminated in the formation of our organisation was to sensitise the public about the challenge and dangers of homosexuality and sexual abuses,” he said. “It led to some politicians coming up with a hurried populist, opportunistic and hypocritical bill against homosexuality, which is now before parliament.”
Male said their organisation was set up to fight for the rights of victims of homosexuality. He claimed many youths were being lured into homosexuality while at school and in churches. However, Male accused security agencies of covering up for prominent people who behind the activities. He accused MP David Bahati who originated the bill of riding on the popularity of their campaign to further his political interests.
“As the national campaign against homosexuality became popular, Honourable David Bahati and his team came up with the anti-homosexuality bill 2009,” Male said. “Although it may have been well intentioned, we feel that it will not achieve what many Ugandans think it will achieve. It is a waste of precious time, financial and other resources that should have been applied more productively elsewhere.”
He maintained that existing laws were sufficient to deal with people who force others into homosexuality.
“Our Penal Code has very good laws, sufficient to address homosexuality and abuse of children, which the proposed law is purportedly intended to address.”
Jeff Sharlet’s indispensable book, C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy includes this passage in which Male and Kyazze share their suspicions about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (pp. 152-153):
Kyazze and Pastor Male are nothing if not ambitious. Their only critique of the bill is that it is actually too soft on homosexuality. They see a clause forbidding the media from exposing victims of gay rape as evidence there’s a gay infiltrator within their ranks. Even (James Nsaba) Buturo the (former) minister of ethics and integrity and chairman of the Fellowship group from which the bill emerged, is suspect in their eyes. They don’t think he’s gay, but they wonder whether he’s protecting powerful homosexuals. Like many Ugandans, both pastors believe the bill’s timing has as much to do with a massive corruption inquiry that has brushed closer to the dictator than any other.
By no means do I place Warren Throckmorton on the same category as Solomon Male. But they are, as far as I can recall, the only two prominent Christian leaders who have spoken out recently against the bill. There are miles of room along the spectrum between the two men that any number of other pastors can chose from to speak out, and frankly, I don’t much care right today where they wish to place themselves along that spectrum. Just speak out. That’s all you have to do.