Soulforce Founder Mel White’s Open Letter to American Pastors on Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill
February 3rd, 2010
Soulforce founder Mel White, Interim Executive Director Bill Carpenter, and Board Chair Chuck Phelan have released this open letter to Jan and Paul Crouch and other American Evangelical pastors who broadcast in Uganda, calling on them to denounce the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.
An Open Letter from Soulforce to Jan and Paul Crouch, founders of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the Evangelical Christian broadcasters who are featured on Lighthouse Television, TBN’s affiliate in Uganda, including: Matthew Crouch, Joyce Meyer, Andrew Wommack, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and Franklin Graham:
By now you are well aware of the anti-homosexual bill pending before the Parliament of Uganda. We urge you to denounce this bill. Use your personal friendships with President and Mrs. Museveni, with MP David Bahati (your Christian colleague who proposed this bill), and with Stephen Langa, (the Ugandan Christian organizer behind the bill) to take a public and passionate stand against it.
The media are blaming the visit to Uganda by three of your colleagues for this despicable and truly un-Christian law. In fact, for years you have used your Lighthouse Television programs, your radio broadcasts, and your massive public meetings to warn Ugandans of the so called “threat homosexuals pose to Bible-based values and the traditional African Family.”
In no small part you are already responsible for the current call by Ugandan leaders to enforce the old law condemning lesbian and gay Ugandans to up to 14 years in prison. This new law increases that sentence to life imprisonment and even death by hanging. Denounce this new bill or the blood of lesbian and gay Ugandans will be on your hands.
It isn’t just the “liberal media” who are condemning the bill. In mid-November, Exodus International, the ministry that promises to assist homosexuals in overcoming homosexuality, warned, “If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue.” While Soulforce does not agree with Exodus that lesbian and gay people need to be “cured,” we wholeheartedly agree with their position on this hateful bill.
Warren Throckmorton, a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors warned that this legislation would make their mission “to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all” a difficult if not impossible task.
Your colleague, mega-church pastor Rick Warren, in a very public video appeal to his fellow clergy in Uganda, gives five reasons why Ugandan Christians should not support the bill: (1) it is “unjust, extreme and un-Christian; (2) it would “force pastors to report their pastoral conversations with homosexuals to authorities; (3) “…it would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting… homosexuals who are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported; (4) “All life, no matter how humble or broken, whether unborn or dying, is precious to God… It would be inconsistent to save some lives and wish death on others…” And (5) “the freedom to make moral choices, and our right to free expression, are gifts endowed by God.” Warren reminds the clergy that Uganda is a democratic country “…and in a democracy everyone has a right to speak up.” Warren concludes by urging them “to speak out against the proposed law.”
The People of Soulforce urge you to take Rick Warren seriously. It is very possible that your silence on this matter will convince the people of Uganda that it is God’s will to condemn homosexuals to life imprisonment or even death by hanging. Your powerful media voices have made you superstars to Ugandans. We implore you to use your power to denounce this bill. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this time the Christian community became known for love and justice rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the “liberal media” as ‘hate-filled bigots?
You often ask others, “What would Jesus do?” This is the perfect time to ask yourselves that question.
The People of Soulforce
Mel White, Founder
Bill Carpenter, Interim Executive Director
Chuck Phelan, Board Chair
ADDENDUM: EXAMPLES OF OTHERS WHO CONDEMN THE BILL
This bill has been condemned by leaders of Western nations including the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, and Great Britain and the President of the United States. The European Parliament passed a resolution against the bill and threatened to cut financial aid to Uganda if it is enacted. They described the bill as “state-legislated genocide.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urge Uganda to shelve the bill and decriminalize homosexuality.
The 16,000 members of the HIV Clinicians Society of South Africa and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS warned that excluding marginalised groups would compromise efforts to stop the spread of AIDS in Uganda where 5.4% of the adult population is infected with HIV.
The Sunday Times in South Africa warned Uganda that it is in danger of being “dragged back to the dark and evil days of Idi Amin.”
The New York Times stated unequivocally “that such barbarism (in the bill) is intolerable and will make Uganda an international pariah.”
The Washington Post labeled the bill “ugly and ignorant”, “barbaric”, and “that it is even being considered puts Uganda beyond the pale of civilized nations.”
The Los Angeles Times warned that the bill would cause gay Ugandans to face an “impossible, insulting, historical, cruel and utterly false choice of having to choose between being gay and being African.”
The Anglican Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha said that the Bill “would become state-legislated genocide.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has said in a public interview that he did not see how any Anglican could support it: “Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades. Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.”
The Vatican legal attaché to the United Nations stated that “Pope Benedict is opposed to ‘unjust discrimination’ against gay men and lesbians.”
AS IN THE US, PAUL CAMERON IS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF THE HALF-TRUTH, HYPERBOLE AND LIES ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY AND HOMOSEXUALS UPON WHICH THE BILL IS BASED
Stephen Langa, the March 2009 workshop organiser, specifically cited an unlicensed converstion therapist named Richard A. Cohen who states in a book that was given to Langa and other prominent Ugandans,
“Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality.”
These statements were based on faulty studies performed by Paul Cameron who has been expelled from the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. Cohen, himself, confirmed the weaknesses of these studies, stating that when the book will be reprinted, these statistics will be removed.
ADDENDUM: OUR SOURCES
Jeffrey Gettleman, writing for the New York Times, January 4, 2010, reported on “Americans’ Role in Uganda Anti-Gay Push.”
Erin Roach, posted on Baptist News, November 18, 2009, the news that “Exodus Opposes Uganda’s Proposed Anti-Gay Law.”
Baptist Press, December 13, 2009, announced that “Mega-Church Pastor Rick Warren Condemns Uganda Anti-Gay Bill.”
The editors of Wikipedia have assembled the best history of this bill and the world’s response.
YouTube carries the complete video of Rick Warren’s Open Letter to the Clergy of Uganda.*
*We wish to express our thanks to the Rev. Rick Warren for taking this rather courageous step on behalf of the lesbian and gay people of Uganda. Pastor Warren did everything in his power to avoid meeting with our gay and lesbian parents and their families in 2009 during the Soulforce American Family Outing. We have tried on many occasions to help him understand the tragic consequences of his own teachings about homosexuality and homosexuals. And though we continue hoping that he will meet with a Soulforce delegation to hear the scientific, historic, psychological and personal evidence that homosexuality is one of God’s gifts, we pause in our pursuit just long enough to give him thanks for reaching out to save the lives of our lesbian sisters and gay brothers in Uganda. Thank you, Pastor Warren. We are grateful!
Andrew Wommack and His Ministries Want To Kill You
February 3rd, 2010
Andrew Wommack is an American Evangelical Pastor who has a very large presence in Uganda, where that nation’s Parliament is considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would provide for the death sentence for HIV-positive LGBT people, and life imprisonment for the rest. That bill would also penalize friends, family members, and co-workers who don’t report LGBT people to police within twenty-four hours with up to three years’ imprisonment, and would criminalize anyone “aiding and abetting” homosexuality — health care professionals fear that this would include them if they provide health care and counseling to LGBT people — with seven years’ imprisonment.
So where does Andrew Wommack stand on the bill, and would he speak out against it? We decided to ask. We sent an email to an address provided on Wommack’s contact page on Monday. We outlined just a few of the provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, along with a link to the full text of the bill. We also mentioned Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren’s December statement against the bill, in which he called it “unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals.” We reminded Rev. Wommack that he maintains a prominent office at 39 Cham Towers on Kampala Road, and his television program is broadcast daily every morning at 8:30 am and again at 8:30 pm on Kampala-based Lighthouse TV.
Given his prominent position in Uganda and the severity of the bill, we implored him to raise his voice as a voice of reason against this bill. We didn’t hear back from him directly. Instead, our email was passed on to Lealand Shores III, who is the Director of Andrew Wommack Ministries of Uganda. He responded by email this morning:
Dear Mr. Burroway
Thank you for your email.
As the Director of Andrew Wommack Ministries of Uganda I have been living in Uganda for 5 years now, I am married to a Ugandan and I have been embraced and loved by the people. Our ministry serves this country sharing and teaching the “Unconditional Love and Grace of God” and one thing I have learned, as a foreigner here, is that the Ugandans are passionate about their families and their love for God. It does not matter the denomination.
In reading through your email I have decided to respond because I believe that you must not be aware that there was a response to Mr. Warrens’ letter from Uganda. For your convenience and review I am including the response from the Uganda National Task Force Against Homosexuality. I believe this correspondence reveals the truth of the proposed Bill that is currently being presented.
Personally, I support this Bill, its’ premise and the proposed changes that are being made in Uganda. While I can not speak for Andrew I believe that if you have watched his programming on Christian Philosophy 1 and 2 you would find his response in those programs.
If you will read CAREFULLY you will see that this bill is aimed the ACTIONS of people that are endangering the lives of innocent people. This bill proposes accountability for actions that cause harm, especially to children and minors, and the spread of HIV/AIDS. In addition, I believe it is clear that the main aim of this bill is to protect children and minors (with an emphasis on males) that have no protection against sexual crimes under the current laws. Further, it is aimed at upholding the moral and ethical fiber of family-rights in THIS country. Finally, this Bill is dealing with the issues that are related to a Third-World Community. These issues are so very different from the Globalized mold Western activists and the press are trying to suggest that Uganda squeeze into.
Jim, the bottom-line is that the social-dichotomy here will always be intolerant, not hate as you have suggested, to homosexuality because of the strong social and family dynamics that dominate and drive the cultural existence here. Therefore, the Bill is not aimed directly at the equality and family dynamics of the homosexual agenda which is the foundation of the gay-rights agenda in the Western communities. The issues here are based from a traditional perspective which Western cultures find hard to wrap their minds around.
For example: Sodomy is promoted by traditional healers, witchdoctors, as a way of curing AIDS. Homosexuality is used as a recruiting tool to lure young boys into receiving financial gain. Homosexuality is used as a manipulation to keep young boys and girls as slave labor, they don’t leave or tell for fear of being shunned by the community. Homosexuality is used in traditional rituals and in some cases ends in sacrificial offering of the victim. While in other places homosexuality is promoted as a lifestyle choice, here it is used as a way to manipulate and control others for personal gratification. And the targets are the youth in this country.
If you will note who makes up this task force you will see that it is not a single group of anti-gay vigilante’s but a coming together of those cross-cultural sectors that are the moral foundation of this country. As far as I know I am not aware of an American anti-gay sector within this group.
Finally, let me say that in this instance I am so proud of this nation for standing up for something they believe in regardless of the threats that have come from around the World and especially from the USA who has threatened to pull funding if this bill is passed.
In closing please know that my purpose for responding to you is not to create discord but to present you with the response to Mr. Warrens’ letter which I must say sheds quite a bit of light on the subject. It may or may not change your view, however, I would hope that as someone that is fighting for human rights you will see that this Bill is really not about impeding on someones human rights but ensuring the protection of their human rights in accordance with needs of this country.
May the Lord Bless you,
Pastor Leand Shores, III
Director – Andrew Wommack Ministries of Uganda
[All emphases in the original]
Contrary to Shores belief, we are well aware of the provisions of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, as we have posted the entire text of the bill online for the world to see. We have also seen the the many responses from Martin Ssempa to Rick Warren’s opposition of the bill. Ssempa heads the task force that Shores finds so authoritative. Shores believes that I must not have read the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that I posted online — and it should be obvious by now that I have — but his statement makes clear that either he hasn’t read the bill despite my providing a link to it, or he is willing to go along with the distortions that Ssempa and others are putting out about the bill.
Either way, this statement has Andrew Wommack and his ministry on record as being proud to stand behind this draconian bill and all of its provisions, which 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 for seven years.
- Criminalizing “promoting” homosexuality with fines and imprisonment for between five and seven years. This overly-broad provision would criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda . It would also criminalize any attempt to repeal or modify the law in the future, as those moves could also be seen as “promoting” homosexuality.
- Criminalizing “aiding and abetting homosexuality” with seven years imprisonment. This provision could be used against anyone extending counseling, medical care, or otherwise providing aide gay people.
- Criminalizing the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Adding 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 for up to three years.
- Penalizing people who run “brothels” with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people. However, it defines a brothel as “a house, room, set of rooms or place of any kind for the purposes of homosexuality” instead of the more normal definition of a place where commercial sex work takes place. Anyone’s bedroom would be a “brothel” under this definition, placing landlords and hotel owners in jeopardy 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.