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Posts for December, 2012

Texas Pastor Addresses Controversy Over Uganda Remarks

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2012

Southern Baptist pastor David Dykes, who spoke on Uganda’s largest independent television station and denounced the U.S. State Department’s attempts to persuade Uganda from passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is now telling a local television station in Texas that he he doesn’t support the bill, but is angry the U.S. is getting involved. He told Tyler, Texas’s KYTX television:

“I’ve never read the bill. I don’t know what the bill says. My whole point was that I think it’s not right for our government to put pressure on any government about their moral decisions,” Dykes said.

This is about as disingenuous as it gets. I feel pretty confident that if Uganda was making a moral decision about rounding up Christians to throw them in jail for the rest of their lives, Dykes would be singing a very different tune.

Dykes claims not to know anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is pretty incredible to say the least. We’ve been following the situation in Uganda now for almost four years, three of them since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced into Parliament. (Our coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill begins here.) In order to follow events there, I have automated Google alerts set up which sends me virtually every news story there is about Uganda and Homosexuality. I can assure you that for news items originating both outside and inside of Uganda, there is virtually never a mention of homosexuality without also a description of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for foreign readers or a mention of it in domestic reports (Ugandans know very well the bill’s major provisions). Consequently it has become impossible to talk about homosexuality inside of Uganda without reference to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It has been the singular point of reference with which all discussion about homosexuality takes place in Uganda for the past three years.

This is important, and I can’t emphasise it enough: Every statement, every discussion, every op-ed and news item about homosexuailty in Uganda is written with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill both as a point of reference and as a backdrop to whatever else may be happening with regard to homosexuality.

For Dykes to now say that he knew nothing about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is simply beyond belief. This isn’t just some aw-shucks preacher from Texas. He has made missionary work one of the pillars of his church. He was recongized by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2008 for raising nearly $13 million for foreign missions, and his church sponsors at least one missionary group which has its particular focus on Uganda. For him to say, after all of the debate about the so-called “kill the gays” bill, that he never heard of it and knows nothing about it, is simply staggering.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Dykes has never read a newspaper article about Uganda, has never seen a television report about Uganda, and has never heard anyone else mention the debate that has taken place in Uganda for the past three years. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he has recently awoken from a three year slumber to discover that he is now at a major pastor’s conference in Uganda and the number one subject touching on homosexuality somehow never came up — despite the incredible coverage the Anti-Homosexuality Bil had had there for three years running. And let’s say for the sake of argument that when he woke up, he just happened to be standing in front of a television crew from Uganda’s largest independent network and he said, apropos of nothing…

I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, “We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.” I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.

…which just happens to be several of many standard lines given by Ugandan pastors who want the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passed. (By the way, Clause 12 doesn’t just outlaw same-sex marriage, it throws everyone in jail for being in one or witnessing one or conducting one.)

Let’s just put aside all disbelief for the sake of argument and pretend that all of that is true.

Now what?

Well, if Dykes doesn’t believe that gay people should be hanged, if he doesn’t believe that gay people should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives, if he doesn’t believe that their families should be jailed because they didn’t report their loved ones to police, then he has a responsibility to say so.

And not to a TV station in Tyler, Texas. To Ugandans. Over there.

Because I bet not many Ugandans get CBS19 on basic cable. And right now, they think he supports killing gay people. Not only that, but they heard him say that American Christians will ride to their rescue if they pass the bill and lose their aid. And I will believe that too until I see him taking serious steps to tell them otherwise. Because we’ve seen this kind of double-talking behavior before. The only way for this to not be another example of double-speak is for Dykes to speak clearly and loudly with just one voice.

American Pastor David Dykes Wants To Kill Gay Ugandans (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2012

American pastor David Dykes has traveled from Tyler Texas, where he pastors Green Acres Baptist Church, to Uganda to offer his apparently unqualified support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Here, he appears on NTV, Uganda’s largest independent television station to denounce the State Department’s efforts to avert a human rights catastrophe and says that American churches will come together to fully back Uganda if the U.S. withdraws aid:

Dykes: I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, “We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.” I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.

…Already in Canada, there’ve been pastors who have been arrested for simply saying from their pulpit that a union between two men or two women is an abomination in the sight of God. A Canadian pastor was arrested for that. … But there’s also maybe a law soon that says we could be arrested if we say anything bad about gay marriage or about homosexual behavior. It would fall under the category in America of “Hate Crimes.”

… In America, Christians are going to put as much pressure as we can on our government not to cut the aid to Uganda over this issue. But if they do decide to do that, we’ll let our displeasure be known, but we’ll try to step in as the Church in America to try to make up sending resources over here, especially to the churches. We hope to stand alongside the believers of Uganda during this time of crisis.

Dykes’s Green Acres Baptist Church (Facebook page here), which is a member of the Southern Baptist conference, is one of the sponsors of Pastoral Care Ministries (Facebook page here). It appears that Dykes was in Uganda as part of a Pastoral Care Ministries effort. The PCM web site describes their work in Uganda (Emphasis in the original):

The work has just begun with Parental Care Ministries USA, yet the Lord has accomplished much in a short time.  The effort in Parental Care School Mbarara Uganda, our first area of focus, has brought many improvements to the quality of life for this group of orphans and their staff of employees.  Our accomplishments in 2008 included a new 16 passenger van for the ministry, dormitories for the orphans, new classrooms for the school, a uniform for every orphan, school desks, and teaching bibles for the teachers and pastors. …

Our other focus arm of the ministry is working with Pastor Emmy’s 50+ rural Ugandan pastors.  We try to gather them from all over Uganda at least twice a year for conferences. We are assisting them with resources to help equip their churches to minister to local people. We have started a program called Cows for the Kingdom where pastors are given a cow to milk to provide for their family and sell the excess milk for a daily profit of a few dollars a day.  Nearly 2/3 of all our pastors have a cow now.  Pastors are also provided a bicycle which they use effectively sharing God’s Word wherever they go.

The other focus of work regarding the pastors is the School of Ezra that Pastor Emmy and Reuben direct.  Here they teach these young pastors many Biblical truths and motivate them to share God’s Word with the reached and unreached in their particular areas.  The school of Ezra currently meets at Mbarara Parental Care School when the children are on holiday.

It is worth remembering exactly what it is that David Dykes is so eager to support. The full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is available online here (PDF: 847KB/16 pages). Our examination of the bill’s nineteen clauses are available below:

Clauses 1 and 2: Anybody Can Be Gay Under the Law. The definition of what constitutes “homosexual act” is so broad that just about anyone can be convicted.
Clause 3: Anyone Can Be “Liable To Suffer Death”. And you don’t even have to be gay to be sent to the gallows. There has been talk of removing the death penalty — which has not happened yet; it’s just talk — and replacing it with a life sentence. But can anyone seriously imaging that spending a lifetime in Uganda’s notorious Luzira prison is any better? Especially once your fellow prisoners learn that you were sent there for “aggravated homosexuality”?
Clause 4: Anyone Can “Attempt to Commit Homosexuality”. All you have to do is “attempt” to “touch” “any part of of the body” “with anything else” “through anything” in an act that does “not necessarily culminate in intercourse.”
Clauses 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10: How To Get Out Of Jail Free. The bill is written to openly encourage — and even pay — one partner to turn state’s evidence against another.
Clauses 7, 11, and 14: Straight People In The Crosshairs. Did you think they only wanted to jail gay people? They’re also targeting family members, doctors, lawyers, and even landlords.
Clause 12: Till Life Imprisonment Do You Part. And if you officiate a same-sex wedding, you’ll be imprisoned for up to three years. So much for religious freedom.
Clause 13: The Silencing of the Lambs. All advocacy — including suggesting that the law might be repealed — will land you in jail. With this clause, there will be no one left to defend anyone.
Clause 14: The Requirement Isn’t To Report Just Gay People To Police. It’s To Report Everyone. Look closely: the requirement is to report anyone who has violated any the bill’s clauses.
Clauses 16 and 17: The Extra-Territorially Long Arm of Ugandan Law. Think you’re safe if you leave the country? Think again.
Clause 18: We Don’t Need No Stinking Treaties. The bill not only violates several international treaties, it also turns the Ugandan constitution on its head.
Clauses 15 and 19: The Establishment Clauses For The Ugandan Inquisition. These clauses empower the Ethics and Integrity Minister to enforce all of the bill’s provisions. He’s already gotten a head start.

UPDATE: Dykes isn’t just some random Southern Baptist preacher. Jeff Sharlet, author of C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, sends this update:

Oh, Jesus: Pastor David Dykes, full supporter of Uganda #killthegays, opened Congress in prayer in '08. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV1PZnCLOII … @jfburroway

Following his prayer, Dykes was praised by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for his “evident burden to reach out to help others.”

In 2008, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee presented Dykes with the M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award in recognition of his strong support of the denomination’s missionary work around the world. At that time, his church was cited for contributing $18.4 million since 2000 for mission work.

Update: Rep. Gohmert not only attends Dykes’s Green Acres Baptist Church, he is also a former Deacon and teaches Sunday school there.