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Posts for April, 2010

Joyce Meyers: Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill “Profoundly Offensive, Dangerous, and Disturbing Attack”

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2010

Our post asking whether popular televangelist Joyce Meyer supported Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexualty Bill inspired Michael Jones to follow up with a post at Change.org asking the same thing. I had written to Rev. Meyer’s ministries three tmies, and Michael also wrote seeking a statement. Michael now sends word that he has an answer. Here’s the statement:

It is increasingly evident that the proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced in the Ugandan parliament is a profoundly offensive, dangerous and disturbing attack on the very foundation of individual liberties and human rights afforded not only to the good citizens of Uganda, but on the at-large global community.

If enacted, this hostile legislation will also further, and adversely, serve as a major setback in the global health efforts to combat Uganda’s AIDS epidemic and reduce the record-high infection rates among the country’s HIV population, an already at-risk community that could be further ostracized, threatened, and targeted as potential criminals.

Our missions and ministry message has always been to teach that the Word of God is about helping people – all people – learn that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives, not put guilt or condemnation on them.

As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God’s word to justify bigotry and persecution.

With this statement, our motivation and intent is not to interfere with Uganda’s political agenda or internal affairs.  As believers, however, we have a moral and ethical duty that compels us to speak out against injustice wherever it may be in the world.

Joyce Meyer Ministries

Does Televangelist Joyce Meyer Support Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill?

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2010

That might be an odd question to ask. After all, televangelist Joyce Meyer isn’t known for getting involved with culture wars type stuff. My observations of what Meyer’s all about seems to jive pretty well with this Wikipedia entry:

Meyer frequently talks about overcoming obstacles and finding strength to deal with difficult circumstances. She shares her views on how to deal with everyday life situations, often drawing on her own experiences. Meyer speaks candidly and with a sense of humor, sharing with her audience her own shortcomings and taking playful jabs at stereotypical church behavior.

Building directory for Crown House in Kampala, home to Joyce Meyer Ministries' Uganda office. (Click to enlarge)

Building directory for Crown House in Kampala, home to Joyce Meyer Ministries' Uganda office in Suite 11. (Click to enlarge)

She’s also been criticized for her lavish lifestyle, but that’s not uncommon with contemporary televangelists, nor is it the point of this post which is this: Does she support Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill?

There’s a good reason why I’m asking that question. According to Meyer’s web site, her Enjoying Everyday Life program broadcasts all over the world. BTB readers in Uganda report that Meyer enjoys tremendous popularity in that country, where her program is not only available over satellite television via South Africa, but is also broadcast over the air via Lighthouse Television (JPG: 460KB). LTV appears to be an affiliate of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) headquartered in Costa Mesa, California. Joyce Meyer’s program airs on LTV three times every weekday, at 8:00 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (She also enjoys a fourth time slot on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 4:30 a.m., and her program airs again on Sundays at 2:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.)

But Meyer’s presence in Uganda isn’t just from afar and over the airways. Her ministry also maintains a physical presence in Kampala, right there on the main road through the business district. A helpful BTB reader in Uganda sent these photos of her ministry, located at in Suite 11 of Crown House, located at Plot 4A on Kampala Road.

Joyce Meyer Ministries in Kampala, Uganda. (Click to enlarge)

In February, we asked another American evangelist who maintains a physical presence in Kampala, Andrew Wommack, whether he supported Uganda’s proposal to legislate gay people out of existence and criminalize their families, friends and acquaintances. The answer we got was a resounding and enthusiastic “yes!” — complete with a full-throated apologia from Wommack’s man in Uganda who repeated the same distortions about the bill that we’ve heard before and have disproved repeatedly.

When we wrote to Wommack’s ministry asking for their opinion on the bill, we also attempted to contact Joyce Meyer’s ministry as well but we received no response. We followed that up with further inquires this week, but again we’ve received nothing but silence.

As I said, Meyer is very popular in Uganda — popular enough to maintain a physical presence there. And she seems like a genuinely nice lady. Her latest book, Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes, is all about lightening up and not being too obsessed with some of the sillier rules in life. Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren likes to come across as a genuinely nice guy and he condemned Uganda’s proposed anti-gay bill by calling it “unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals.” Exodus International, whose board member Don Schmierer participated in that “nuclear bomb” of a conference that sparked this legislation, eventually came around and denounced the bill. It’s what good people of conscience do, especially when they have a measure of popularity and influence in Uganda, and who have sought to reach ordinary people in that country — as Warren and Exodus have done, and Meyer does as well.

So why the silence? Where does she stand? Is she with Rick Warren, who came out firmly against criminalization of homosexuality? Or is she with Andrew Wommack, whose response was to say, in effect, that yes, his ministry really does support killing gay people?

As it happens, there may well be a chance for some of you to ask Joyce Meyer directly. Next week she will be on a whirlwind book tour, hitting five cities in three days. So here’s your chance. If you happen to live near any of these locations, you can go and ask her yourself. Does she support killing gay people? And more importantly, will she add her voice to those of Rick Warren and Exodus against the bill.

Meyer will appear at:

  • April 13: Plano, TX: Legacy Books, 7300 Dallas Parkway, 12:00 noon.
  • April 13: Tucson, AZ: Barnes & Noble, 5130 E. Broadway, 6:00 p.m.
  • April 14: El Cajon, CA: Walmart, 13487 Camino Canada, 12:00 noon.
  • April 14: Ontario (Rancho Cucamonga), CA: Borders Books & Music, 12370 South Mainstreet, 6:00 p.m.
  • April 15: Concord, CA: Sam’s Club, 1225 Concord Ave., 12:00 noon.

Soulforce Founder Mel White’s Open Letter to American Pastors on Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

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.”

ADDENDUM: 

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!