Malevolence Personified

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2014

livelyScott Lively is “not unhappy” — that’s the closest semblance to humanity that he can muster — that Uganda’s Constitutional Court voided the Anti-Homosexuality Act last Friday. His mitigated joy is not because the law was unjust, but because he thinks this latest development can provide him with some kind of vindication:

Now that the Ugandan government has shown itself capable of self-governance, I’m waiting for calls of apology from media outlets around the world who for years have insinuated (or outright insisted) that the Ugandans were merely my puppets in a nefarious scheme to persecute homosexuals there. That lie is also, of course, the premise of the “Crimes Against Humanity” lawsuit filed against me here in U.S. Federal Court by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and their Marxist New York attorneys of the ironically named Center for Constitutional Rights.

…The evolutionist hero Charles Darwin taught that Blacks were an intermediary step in the evolutionary progression of apes into human beings… Darwin’s intellectual descendants dominate western civilization today, including the so-called mainstream media. Individual politicians and journalists may not personally express such blatantly offensive beliefs, but their Neo-Colonial attitude toward the Africans in the matter of African countries legislating their own moral values is grossly paternalistic at best — and inescapably implicitly racist.

In contrast, I, and my fellow Christians who have served as missionaries to Africa for generations have always treated the Africans as equals, created in the image of God just as we are. Every Christian who has ever visited Uganda knows that the typical Ugandans are a warm and lovely people: intelligent, caring and capable. Though they are very poor, their culture (outside of some areas which still embrace paganism) is highly civilized and its leaders are well educated and quite competent.

That is rich. Lively, who last I checked was still white, describes himself as the “Father of the Ugandan Pro-Family Movement.” You literally cannot get any more paternalistic than that. Those titular caps are all his, which he bestowed upon himself when he listed his qualifications to run for Massachusetts governor in 2012. He’s long had a paternal view of his Ugandan partners. In 2010, he told reporter Mariana van Zeller:

I was actually one of the people that helped to start the pro-family movement there. …they were finding people there, primarily homosexual men from Europe and the United States coming into the country and working to try to change the social values. And they didn’t know what to do. They had never had a pro-family movement. This was all new to them. So they wanted to draft some kind of law. And it wasn’t written at that point. It was just sort of the idea that they wanted to do something. So they invited me to come and speak along with a couple of other people from the U.S., and I did.

"Can anyone say AIDS?" Scott Lively calling AIDS a just punishment from God at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 7, 2009.

“Can anyone say AIDS?” Scott Lively calling AIDS a just punishment from God at an anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 7, 2009.

That talk he gave, he bragged, was his “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Those weren’t my words, that was his boast just a week after he dropped that bomb:

On the positive side, my host and ministry partner in Kampala, Stephen Langa, was overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. He said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the “gay” agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true. [Emphasis mine]

Don’t you see? He started the so-called “pro-family” movement there. He spoke on the radio and in churches, instruct them in dealing with all those homosexuals. He, who knew they were thinking about writing a new law, spent the morning of March 5, 2009 meeting with members of Uganda’s Parliament at the Parliament Conference Hall. He went on television to “expose[] a book distributed to schools by UNICEF that normalizes homosexuality to teenagers.” He expected a massive protest in response to his work (which he got over the next several weeks.) He proudly dropped that “nuclear bomb” on Uganda. And after all of those boasts, he accuses his critics of being “grossly paternalistic at best — and inescapably implicitly racist.” But not him, the great “Father of the Ugandan Pro-Family Movement.”

Even his “nuclear bomb” analogy is megalomaniacal. It’s also somewhat problematic. It implies that, much like the unsuspecting residents of Hiroshima on a quiet and sunny August morning, we were all just going about our business when suddenly — Boom! — out of nowhere, Lively came along and laid waste to the landscape. I’m sure he takes a great deal of satisfaction with that image, but it’s inaccurate, just as inaccurate as the charge that holds him responsible for “exporting” homophobia to Uganda — as though they didn’t already have a vast supplies of it before he got there. Whenever I’ve been invited to speak on these events, I’ve used a different analogy. I would characterize the already-existing homophobia in Uganda as a ranging bonfire, and what Lively did was fly by and dump a jetload of napalm on it. Lively didn’t create the homophobic conditions, but he unquestionably added more than enough fuel to propel events forward in a direct line to where we are today.


“The gay movement is an evil institution.” Kampala, March 7, 2009.

Lively was joined by two other Americans at his now-infamous 2009 talk in Kampala: Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge,  a so-called “life coach” for Richard Cohen’s ex-gay outfit, the International Healing Foundation. (Brundidge also went around Phoenix’s mortuaries praying to raise the dead, undoubtedly with a similar success rate.) The talks by Schmierer and Brundidge were mild-mannered by American standards, but they prepared the ground for Lively by building up his credibility as a political and legal expert. Lively ran with it. He described the gay movement as an “evil institution.” They’re after your children, he warned. AIDS,  was just “the penalty of your error which is appropriate,” he said. “Super-macho” gay men were responsible for the Nazi gas chambers, he declared. “The Rwandan stuff probably involved these guys,” he added, referring to the 1994 massacre that took place just across Uganda’s southern border, only seven hours away by car. He took the many myths and fears about gay people that were already circulating there and amplified it with his own self-aggrandizement: “I know more about this than almost anyone in the world.”

April 19, 2009 edition of Uganda's Red Pepper.

The Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper, April 19, 2009.

This was his message, at that conference (and on the DVD taped there to be distributed later), in churches, on radio and television, and in meetings with political leaders. His campaign was highly effective, perhaps even beyond his fondest dreams. It’s no wonder Lively prefers to glory in the power of his nuclear bomb. And while the analogy is problematic in the details, I’ll go with it. But I have to ask: who drops a nuclear bomb and then turns around and scoffs at the suggestion that it created a toxic rain of radioactive fallout?

Well, Scott Lively does. Soon after he left Uganda, its LGBT citizens found themselves engulfed in a nationwide vigilante campaign cheered on by the tabloids and FM radio. (How’s that for a Rwanda echo?) There were marches on Parliament while ordinary LGBT people found themselves besieged by mobs, kicked out of their homes, abandoned by their families and fired from their jobs. But Lively countered that it wasn’t his fault; it was all the homosexuals’ fault“:

It is as if the militant ranks of “Code Pink” were transported back to 1890s America to agitate for “sexual freedom.” Our great grandparents would not have countenanced this. There would have been violence, as there has now been in Uganda.

That is, of course, the strategy: Agents provocateur goad unsophisticated natives into over-reacting, while the “gay” media lie in wait to catch the images and spin the propaganda that is even now poisoning the gullible against the Ugandans.

“Unsophisticated natives” — who’s being paternalistic and implicitly racist now?

The Anti-Homosexualty Bill that emerged from his nuclear fallout would have mandated lifetime imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, and the death penalty for, among others, those who were HIV-positive or were “serial offenders” of any part of that bill. Other parts of the bill imposed lengthy prison sentences for anyone who provided services or rented homes to LGBT people, or who advocated on their behalf, or who failed to report them to police.

I have no evidence to tie Lively’s handiwork to any particular clauses in that draconian bill, but Lively’s interview with van Zeller is revealing. When asked if he supported the bill, his only objection was to the death penalty. She asked about the other clauses. “I would not have written the bill this way,” he replied, but declined to say which other clauses should be eliminated or modified. His only complaint was that the bill missed an opportunity to make Uganda “the first country in the world to have a government-sponsored ex-gay therapy.” He wanted to give Ugandans the false choice between coerced ex-gay therapy and spending the rest of their lives in the notorious Luzira prison. But then he added:

Like I said, I would not have written the bill this way. But what it comes down to is a question of lesser of two evils, you know like many of the political choices that we have. What is the lesser of two evils here? To allow the American and European gay activists to continue to do to that country what they’ve done here? Or to have a law that may be overly harsh in some regards for people who are indulging in voluntary sexual conduct? I think the lesser of two evils is for the bill to go through.

Mariana van Zeller quickly followed up:

Hmmm... Let's see...

Hmmm… Let’s see…

van Zeller: Even with the death penalty attached to it?

Lively: Even with the death penalty… well… if it’s clearly restricted to pedophiles… I still don’t… No, I’ve told them I won’t support it if it has the death penalty in it. So even with that, I think that would do more harm… It’s… it’s… it’s just that’s the sort of vice that you’re sort of trapped in here. It’s two very extreme positions, and they’re… The Ugandans could have gone the middle course, and they didn’t have to go this far. So you’re sort of… people like myself are sort of stuck. Am I going to endorse something that goes too far to protect the whole society? You know, and I guess I have to say just on my principles I don’t believe that it’s… that I could support it that way.

You can see his internal conflict here. He considers the question, and actually spends a good fifteen seconds — I timed it on the video — hemming and hawing as he turns it over in his mind before he finally says “I’ve told them I won’t support it if it has the death penalty in it.” But that’s still not the end of his answer. He complains that he has to make a choice — that “people like myself are sort of stuck” — between whether people should live or die. I mean seriously, who responds to a question about whether gay people should be put to death by having to mull it over in his mind?


Red Pepper, February 27, 2014.

Scott Lively does, and Parliament went on to pass the bill into law. Just before it did so in a rushed session in December 2013, it approved a few minor modifications. It dropped the death penalty and replaced it with lifetime prison sentence — as if that were an improvement, and after rejecting a proposal to reduce the penalty for plain-old-homosexuality to fourteen years. It dropped the clause requiring family members to report their loved ones to police, but it added a provision mandating life in prison for those who enter into a same-sex marriage — even if they did so while abroad. After President Yoweri Museveni signed that bill into law, Lively’s only response was to chastise Obama for calling it “a step backwards for Ugandans.” Meanwhile, Uganda’s leading tabloid launched yet another multi-day vigilante campaign featuring hundreds of names, addresses, places of employment and even photos, driving LGBT people underground and fleeing for their lives. Who looks at of this and merely shrugs his shoulders and says not to worry, it won’t be so bad?

Of course you know the answer. Scott Lively does, and he did it in his second response/excuse for the law. This one was particularly condescending to Uganda: “Poor countries with limited criminal justice systems tend to rely on the harshness of the letter of the law to be a deterrent to offenders. In practice, the sentencing is usually pretty lenient and I expect that will be the case under this new law as well.” As if the Ugandan people didn’t deserve better and its government couldn’t possibly be expected to meet the usual standards we expect from nations who style themselves democracies.

Love the sinner, hate the sin, right? We’ve all heard that before. Lively himself instructed a Latvian audience in 2007 to use that phrase as an inoculation against charges of hating gay people. But more recently he admitted that the empty incantation was just that: nothing more than “a disclaimer to prove (Christians) aren’t haters.”He then lamented that this magical spell didn’t “mitigate their hostility toward me for saying it anyhow. Trust me.” Lively complains to anyone who will listen about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s labeling his Abiding Truth Ministries a hate group. But if his own sinister actions and cynical statements aren’t the very textbook definition of hatred, then there’s no such thing as hate anywhere.

But once again, we see his unconcealable  hatred in his latest statement on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act: “I am not unhappy that the Ugandan law as written has been nullified. I have always said it was too harsh and did not emphasize prevention and therapy for homosexual disorder.” (Emphasis mine.) He saves that gossamer-thin sentiment for his very last paragraph, and I suppose we’re supposed to feel lucky he conceded that much.

Westboro Baptist is typically held up as the go-to example for the most extreme brand of anti-gay hatred  imaginable, but I must strongly disagree. Westboro is a circus side show, a bunch of clowns with a talent for tweaking their targets, but with no results to show for it. Lively’s evil has had real-world consequences. And by his boasts, we can see how much satisfaction he derives from his malevolence.


August 4th, 2014

I’ve never heard that Darwin said Africans were an “intermediate step” in human evolution — nor do I know anyone familiar with evolutionary theory who thinks so. I would guess that item is as true as the “death bed recantation,” which never happened. Anyone who knows anything about human genetics knows that the genetic difference between races is too small to measure.

As for Christians treating Africans as equals — somehow, destroying someone’s culture in the name of God doesn’t really smack of feelings of equality.

As for hemming and hawing over whether gays should be put to death — I don’t think he was trying to figure out moral values here. He was trying to come up with something that wouldn’t make him out to be the extremist he is.


August 4th, 2014

Oh, and a footnote: anyone who knows anything about human evolution knows that modern humans — Homo sapiens sapiens, which is to say, us — originated in Africa.


August 4th, 2014

Scott Lively’s nuclear bomb: A firecracker in the center of a 100 metric ton sphere of bullsh*t.


August 4th, 2014

Great post Jim. Thank you.

Sharon B

August 4th, 2014

Oh, this murderous, authoritarian Chrino wants us to die, all right. Sniviling bully that he is, he just can’t admit it publicly to the, you know, media, or it might jeopardize his chances to export his poison. What do you expect from a narcissistic sociopathic personality? Kindness? The truth? Transparency? Self-awareness?

Regan DuCasse

August 4th, 2014

EXCELLENT analysis! Lively’s predictable backpedaling aside, this is evidence to hold up to his face in court.
This is proof. This is irrefutable.
He’s getting better treatment for being a liar, than an innocent gay or lesbian would get in Uganda.
David Kato was horribly brutalized. Lesbians have been raped.
But he’s not around to have to view the wreckage of where his bombs landed.


August 4th, 2014

Lets not forget that old colonialism was inspired by good, old-fashioned Bible-supported racism that saw “brown” people as lesser since they were the descendants of Noah’s son Ham (or some such contrived BS). Lively can blame “secularists” all he wants, but it is an historically flawed argument.

I also love his preconceived definitions. He dismisses certain Ugandan pagans as uncivilized, when I am sure his definition of civilization is “Christian,” no matter how advanced culturally, technologically, socially or legally the people in question actually are. See also his dismissal of the human rights group as Marxist; I’m sure the only thing he really knows and vilifies Karl Marx for if being a well known atheist – the rest his ideas being totally meaningless, otherwise. I know this brand of conservatism, and everything is first filed through the filter of Christian (probably good) vs non-Christian (automatically bad). Whatever or whoever claims the mantel of Christian is further filtered into “Actually Christian” or “False Prophet”. It is a very self-validating system, and lets you dismiss a great many good things as being from the wrong source (“of the devil” for example), while approving of things that are ethically and morally questionable because they fit inside your “Christian” file. The twist is that it starts looking like the society of 1984 – you can’t be sure what anybody means because they use the same words to describe polar opposites. Slap on an icing of “it is a sin to question God(‘s representative),” and you have the belief system that defines somebody like Lively. Theologically, rhetorically and logistically, this makes him and his arguments and causes unassailable. I hope he lives to see equality for all, while the sky stays firmly in place – he will then know what Hell is like.

Joe Beckmann

August 4th, 2014

Can anybody say Ebola? Maybe because it’s three syllables it’s more “justified” than asking if they can say AIDS, but … death is … death.

Eric Payne

August 4th, 2014


Are you seriously advocating a “baby steps” approach to Uganda’s gays and lesbians? Alright, then… which parts of the “Imprison Gays for Life (née ‘Kill the Gays’) Bill do you think should be retained, and which stricken? Since the law stripped Uganda’s LGBTs of ALL civil rights! which, when returned! will give them their first “baby steps”?

Eric Payne

August 4th, 2014

Oops… my earlier posting was in response to Nathaniel’s comment in th Uh… thread; I was in the wrong browser window, and got confused… damned Google Chrome, anyway.

Michael B.

August 4th, 2014

I would love to see this man’s citizenship revoked for exporting hate in the name of religion. He’s worse than Hamas and more insidious. Think my way or death to you.


August 4th, 2014

Brilliant analysis, Jim!

Mark F.

August 4th, 2014

Hate the sin, kill the sinner. That’s the Lively way.


August 4th, 2014

@Hunter – and anyone familiar with the most recent (i.e., last 10 years) of evolutionary biology would know that genetic analyses have demonstrated all non-African humans – Europeans, Asians,Australians and Native Americans – descend from the same small group of modern humans who left Africa some 70,000 years ago. The irony is that Africans are the most genetically diverse humans on the planet.


August 4th, 2014

@Hunter, not only did Darwin NOT say that, he was a member of abolitionist and anti-slavery organizations because he DIDN’T believe Africans were less than Europeans. In his “Voyage of the Beagle,” he wrote in horror about witnessing the slave trade first hand. In “Decent of Man,” Darwin argued that all races are mentally equal and discussed a close friendship with an African man that helped lead him to this belief. In his time, science tended to believe in “polygenesis,” that different races evolved separately and were basically different species. Darwin hoped, with evolution, to prove that we were all one common species with common ancestors – monogenesis, which at the time was considered unscientific because it was usually defended by appeals to the Bible.

Meanwhile Lively’s spiritual and probably literal ancestors were able to defend slavery and racism just fine using the “curse of Ham,” and people would later use Darwin’s arguments to justify the same racism he despised. If people want to be racist, they’ll come up with a way to be racist; it’s not the fault of science, and certainly not Darwin.

Gene in L.A.

August 4th, 2014

“Though they are very poor, their culture outside of some areas which still embrace paganism) is highly civilized …”

And there’s the belief in all its ugliness. Paganism is a disqualifier of high civilization. The truth is that Christians of Scott Lively’s sort don’t treat as equals anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. If they did they wouldn’t evangelize.

Recently I saw a three-panel cartoon of an evangelist and an Inuit. The Inuit asks, “Does your god condemn people who don’t know about him?” The evangelist says, “Of course not,” to which the Inuit asks “Then why did you tell us about him?”

I doubt Scott Lively’s god is that benevolent.


August 4th, 2014

Hunter said: “Anyone who knows anything about human genetics knows that the genetic difference between races is too small to measure.”

First, these differences in human DNA are being measured for fun and profit. Wiki has a list of people whose DNA has been analyzed and publicly disclosed, including Otzi the Iceman!

Second, non-Africans have varying amounts of Neanderthal DNA in our genome.

Finally, I will walk quickly past the minefield of race-based research on IQ and other attributes. I interpret your statement to mean “We are all human and belong to the same species” – something we can all agree on. I personally find it poetic justice for all the bigots that our species has been shown to have originated in Africa!

Paul Douglas

August 5th, 2014

My only sorrow in leaving christinsanity behind is that there is no hell for people like Scott “Deadly” to spend an eternity in.

Mark F.

August 5th, 2014

There are raced based genetic differences, which can be important for various reasons. Blacks are more prone to certain diseases, for example. Of course, race is a “fuzzy set,” but there are pretty obvious differences between natives of Kenya and Sweden.

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