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Posts for January, 2010

Bahati Won’t Attend the National Prayer Breakfast, But Others From Uganda Will

Jim Burroway

January 28th, 2010

The Voice of America’s Straight Talk Africa television program this week featured a discussion of the secretive evangelical group known as the Family or the Fellowship and its connections to Uganda. Appearing on the program were Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and Bob Hunter of the Family.

Hunter explained that Ugandan MP David Bahati, author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, had been invited earlier this year to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4. That invitation was extended before Bahati introduced the draconian bill into Parliament. Hunter said that Bahati had not accepted the invitation, and was surprised to see Bahati’s boast in Uganda’s Daily Monitor that he would be there. Then, during the program, Bahati himself called in briefly to the program and confirmed that he will not attend the Family’s National Prayer Breakfast “because of a prior engagement.”

But here’s an interesting detail. Hunter reiterated that Bahati’s invitation had been to be a “volunteer” rather than to attend the event itself. (Hunter had also described Bahati’s invitation the same way when he first confirmed that Bahati wasn’t going to attend the Breakfast.) But on the VOA program, Hunter offered a few more details. As he described it, if someone is invited to attend the National Prayer Breakfast for a second time, the invitation is to serve as a volunteer to accompany a larger delegation — in this case, a delegation from Uganda — but not to attend the Breakfast itself. In other words, Bahati has attended the Prayer Breakfast before, but this time he was asked to facilitate the attendance of a delegation from Uganda at the Breakfast.

So who’s coming? We don’t know. But just because Bahati can’t attend due to a “prior engagement,” that doesn’t mean the rest of the Uganda delegation won’t be there.

If I were to put together a “watch list” of Ugandans associated with this bill, I think it would include:

  • President Yoweri Museveni
  • First Lady and State Minister for Karamoja Janet Museveni.
  • Attorney General Khidu Makubuya. He is heading the Cabinet subcommittee examining so-called “compromises” to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and is believed to be a supporter of the bill.
  • Regional Affairs State Minister Isaac Musumba is on the subcommittee. I don’t know his position on the bill.
  • Education Minister Namirembe Bitamazire is on the subcommittee. I don’t know his position in the bill.
  • Gender Minister Gabriel Opiyo is on the subcommittee. I don’t know his position on the bill.
  • Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo is on the subcommittee, has been a very strong supporter from the very beginning.
  • Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi has urged passage of the bill.
  • Deputy Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga also appears to be a strong supporter.

And, of course, Pastors Martin Ssempa, Steven Langa, David Kiganda, Henry Mina, and Julius Oyett should also be on the watch list.

Update: Bob Hunter of the Family left a comment below to say that these people are not coming to the Prayer Breakfast. That leaves open the question of who is coming and whether they are supporters of the bill or not.

[Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton]

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

“Family” Member Defends Statements Made To Rachel Maddow, Provides Transcript of Conversation With Sharlet

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2010

In the context of understanding the role of American religious conservatives in African politics, particularly in Uganda, there has been a back-and-forth between Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power., and Bob Hunter, an organizer affiliated with the Family working in Uganda.

On the 7th, Sharlet appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show. He asserted that statements by Hunter on a previous episode were inconsistent with his conversation with Hunter and that both he and Hunter had a copy of the transcript of that conversation.

Hunter also included a letter he sent to Rachel Maddow, reinforcing his contention that he did not know Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo personally, and “had not even heard of him until this story broke, even from my Uganda friends.” But, as with the rest of us, he has learned of him since then in connection with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The following comment was made to the thread of our posting about that appearance:

Hi, Bob Hunter here.

I thought you might like to see the transcript of the interview Jeff Sharlet and I had, where I make clear that the reason a Senator and a former UN Ambassador were willing to be “bait” was not about a “Jesus footing”, whatever that is (I have never used the phrase) but about trying to bring peace to Uganda. It worked, eventually helping create a few friends from various political perspectives, meeting around the teachings of Jesus about loving enemies and turning cheeks. Here is the transcript that makes this clear:

Hunter’s transcript of this interview is available after the jump.