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Posts for May, 2012

Guess Who Thinks Fight Against Homosexuality is Like Fighting Against Those Who Freed The Slaves?

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

Dan Savage walked into a “bullshit” storm when he pointed out that the Bible that condemns homosexuality is the same Bible that condones slavery. Anti-gay Christian are still furious over that, with National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has challenged Savage to a debate. (I and at least one writer for Savage’s newspaper hope he takes up the challenge.)

Meanwhile, Lou Engle yesterday asked for support for an upcoming TheCall rally in Virginia by comparing his fight against LGBT people to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson’s “rallying the Virginians” against the forces of Washington — you know, the guys who were trying to hold the Union together and free the slaves.

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By the way, Jackson died eight days after being shot at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Lee, of course, lost the war and the sacred cause for which it was fought.

The Daily Agenda for Friday, 11/11/11

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Veterans Day: Nationwide. This will be the first Veterans Day commemoration since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which means that this will be the first Veterans Day commemoration in which gay and lesbian servicemembers will be able to participate fully. I know of two cities  in which LGBT veterans will be celebrated as part of the mainstream events:

  • San Diego, CA: San Diego LGBT Pride extends its welcome to all LGBT veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their families and supporters to walk with us in the San Diego Veterans Day Parade. The contingent will meet at 10am on the west side of the north Parking lot of the Country Administration Building, 1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego CA 92101. The Parade will kick off at 11am.
  • San Francisco, CA: Today’s 92nd annual Veterans Day Parade will be led by San Francisco Freedom Day Marching Band. “It’s just the right thing to do,” said Wallace Levin, the parade coordinator. “Future generations of Americans will look back on this issue and wonder what all the fuss was about.” The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of Market and Montgomery streets, and will go down Market Street to McAllister Street and then continue up McAllister to the reviewing stand across from City Hall.

I’m sure there are others. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Lou Engle at TheCall in Nashville, 2007

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Lou Engle’s TheCall Rally: Detroit, MI. Engle is apparently transfixed by certain numbers when they repeat themselves on the calendar. When July 7, 2007 rolled around, Engle held a TheCall rally in Nashville which he believed would mark the end of a forty year period of rebellion since the “Summer of Love” in 1967. Apparently believe that God conforms himself to the man-made western Gregorian calendar, Engle has managed to read some sort of significance into the date 11/11/11, although what that would be is anybody’s guess. Targeting the substantial Arab-American community of Dearborn, Engle’s goal for TheCall Detroit is the conversion of “millions of Muslims” to Christianity and what he calls the transformation of “urban communities.” And gays. Don’t forget the gays, although it looks like he really has his sights set on Muslims this time. He took care of the gays in 2010 at a rally in Kampala, Uganda, where he lent tactical support for the proposed “Kill the Gays” Bill.

Today’s rally begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. and continues for twenty-four hours until tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. And Engle has issued some pretty crazy warnings if he doesn’t get a massive turnout in Detroit: ” If we actually have The Call and you don’t sustain prayer ongoing you open a vacuum for demons seven times worse to come in. If black and white can’t move together in prayer and sustain it, forget it let’s not even go there, you get demons seven times worse.” So yeah, there’s that to chew on.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Woman Who Posed As Man 60 Years, Dead: 1907. That was the headline in The Trinidad (Colorado) Advertiser above this news item:

Katherine Vosbaugh, who for sixty years posed as a man, wearing male garb, living the rough life of the pioneers in the Southwest and who even “married” another woman, died yesterday morning at the San Raphael Hospital in this city, where she had been a county charge since he secret of her life was discovered by Dr. T.J. Forham, of this city two years ago.

Born nearly four-score years ago in France of a good family, this remarkable woman donned male garb when but a slip of a girl, came to America and worked as a back clerk, bookkeeper, restauranteur, cook, and sheep herder for over half a century without her sex being known.

In July, two years ago, “Frenchy,” a cook and sheep herder on the Sam Brown ranch, near this city, was taken with pneumonia and brought to the hospital where her secret was revealed. Even then, this strange woman refused to wear skirts. Clad in regulation man’s attire, she has since worked about the hospital and was known by the nickname of “Grandpa.”

Katherine Vosbaugh was left an orphan at the age of twenty years. Her father, a well educated man of considerable means, gave her an excellent business education. At hi death she was an expert accountant and spoke her native tongue, English, German, and Hungarian. Her only motive in assuming the disguise at first seems to have been to enable her more easily to secure employment.

She worked in several cities all over the country before settling at Joplin, Mo., where she worked for fifteen years as a bank clerk, and it was in this city where she married. The name of her “wife” was never learned, but the ceremony seems to have taken place for the purpose of saving the woman’s good name. A few months after the marriage a child was born to the wife, which died after a few months.

Shortly after the death of the child the two women came to this city and opened a restaurant on Commercial street. Here she was known as “Frenchy” and the establishment was one of the most popular restaurants in the Southwest.

Wheat became of “Frenchy’s” wife is not known. She drifted away and her “husband” refused until the time of her death to reveal the woman’s name.

After leaving here the woman secured a position as cook on a big sheep ranch near Trinche ranch. The eccentricities of youth became more pronounced as she grew older and more and more she came to look like a man. For years she lived with men on the ranch, cooking for them, assisting them in the ranch work, and sleeping in the same rooms, but her secret was never suspected.

Two years and four months ago she was stricken with pneumonia, and it was then that her secret was discovered. Since then she failed rapidly in body and mind and her death was due to a general breakdown.

From Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay/Lesbian Almanac (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), pages 323-324.

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

Lou Engle’s TheCall Announced for Wasilla, Detroit

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2011
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Lou Engle is taking his dominionist craziness of TheCall Crisis to the capital of crazy, Wasilla, Alaska. Why? “We believe that Alaska is key to the future of this nation,” he explains. Citing Oil, earthquakes, and apparently Johnny Cash, all signs point to Alaska as “a place of refuge for our nation.” Engle’s TheCall is part of a larger 2-day conference set for June 3-4.

Engle, who is transfixed by key numbers when they repeat themselves on the calendar, has also announced a gathering slated for Detroit on “11.11.11.” He is also a stealth supporter of Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” bill.

KC Vigil To Tell Lou Engle to Stop Exporting Hate to Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2011

Lou Engle addressing a rally in Kampala, Uganda.(Marc Hofer/New York Times)

Soulforce and the Human Rights Campaign have announced a vigil this Sunday morning outside of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, to ask fundamentalist pastor Lou Engle to “abandon his hateful and dangerouls anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions.”

The vigil appears prompted by the recent murder of Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato. Last summer, Engle traveled to Uganda where he voiced his support for the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would impose the death penalty of LGBT people under certain circumstances. He denied supporting the death penalty itself, but he did confirm that he does support the criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships between consenting adults. According to an updated press release from Soulforce and HRC, Engle has agreed to meet with the group “at a date to be determined.”

Click here to read the full press release from Soulforce and HRC

IHOP sues IHOP

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2010

The International House of Prayer is a church in Kansas City which hosts a 24 hours per day, seven days per week prayer service. They have a decidedly dominionist bent and are affiliated with some of the more radical (and definitely anti-gay) elements of conservative Christianity including Lou Engle (who appears to implicitly support Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill), Michael Brown, the Brownsville Revival, and the Kansas City Prophets movement.

The church frequently goes by the acronym IHOP (their website is www.ihop.org), but maybe not for much longer; it seems the pancake chain isn’t amused. (CNN)

IHOP has filed a lawsuit against a church group called the International House of Prayer claiming that the group is illegally using the pancake house’s famous acronym.

The legal flap started earlier this month when the International House of Pancakes filed the lawsuit in a federal court in California.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based church group “selected and adopted the International House of Prayer name, knowing it would be abbreviated IHOP. IHOP-KC intended to misappropriate the fame and notoriety of the household name IHOP to help promote and make recognizable their religious organization,” the lawsuit says.

Lawyers from the pancake restaurant say the odds are stacked against the church group and provided the court with pages and pages of documentation of websites, newsletters and signs on buildings where the prayer group allegedly used the IHOP acronym.

Lou Engle Announces Sacramento TheCall Rally for Labor Day

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2010

Despite his use of violence-laden rhetoric toward the gay community and his proclaiming himself as a prophet from God because he has strange dreams, Lou Engle is now starting to be embraced by some of the more mainstream elements of the Christian Right, namely Focus On the Family. It was through that forum that we learn that Engle has announced a rally of TheCall for Sacramento:

Will you be hosting another TheCall event this year?

We are hosting TheCall Sacramento Sept. 3-4 – over Labor Day weekend – at Raley Field.

We are calling for a national solemn assembly. We have to follow God’s prescription for times of crisis – to gather together in unity to fast and pray in humility.

We will officially launch www.prayandact.org during the event. We are calling the whole nation to fast and pray for 40 days.

Sacramento has been the scene of significant anti-gay violence in recent years. In 2007, Satendar Singh, a young gay man from Fiji, was brutally attacked and killed at a picnic area near Sacramento by Russian immigrants with ties to Sacramento’s virulently anti-gay evangelical groups. Andrey Vusik, 30, identified as the man who threw the fatal punch, fled the country and is believed to be hiding in Russia. Sacramento is also home to Vlad Kusakin, who helped to co-founded Watchmen On the Walls with Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Seattle-area pastor Ken Hutcherson, and Latvian megachurch pastor Alexey Ledyaev. Another prominent member of Sacramento’s Slavic community, George Neverov, has also been active with the Watchmen locally and internationally.

When Dominionists “Take Their Equal Places In Politics”

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2010

The theocratic temptation that is holding many on the Christian far-right in its grip is beginning to alarm other Christians. Among them is Discernment Ministries, which lately appears alarmed at the tendency to call dreams and visions revelations from God without any scriptural or other basis other than the dreamer’s say so. Lately, they’ve been monitoring the Seven Mountains Mandate and the so-called New Apostolic Reformation. The Dr. Rev. Orrel Steinkamp blasts Janet Porter and Lou Engle, among many others, for their skewed version of Christianity:

C. Peter Wagner, chief apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), made a tactical decision to see Dominionism as temporarily consistent with democracy. I have not been able to locate when and where Wagner made such an “apostolic decree.” But, indeed, the Kingdom of God cannot ultimately be a democracy. For Wagner and any other Dominionist, the democratic process can only be a way station on the road to their “kingdom of God on the earth,” which is prior to the real Parousia.

Wagner’s tactical decision (as opposed to strategic decision) was a major change. It opened the way for the false apostles and prophets to enter the political arena. So now “apostle” Lou Engle is free to lay apostolic hands of blessing on 3-time divorcee Newt Gingrich. Now the NAR apostles and prophets, thanks to Janet Porter and WorldNetDaily, can take their equal places in politics. Now they have the blessing of James Dobson, who endorsed Janet Porter’s May Day event at the Lincoln Memorial. Now Cindy Jacobs, prophetess extraordinaire, who had a visit of the Seraphim in her room that caught it on fire, can share the stage with Newt Gingrich. Now Rick Joyner, who has his own political action organization which he calls the Oak Initiative — and who reportedly made a trip to heaven and heard Martin Luther repent of the Reformation — can rub shoulders with James Dobson.

So now these self-anointed, self-appointed apostles of the NAR, laden down with false signs and wonders, false apostolic decrees, and false prophets — who compete with each other in imaginary “can you top this” fraudulent oracles supposed to be from God — have been given the kiss of acceptance by Christian Right politicians, including James Dobson. The apostles and prophets see this as a match made in heaven, a giant step toward appointing apostles as governors of every state and province in the world, complete with in-house prophetic seers to make supernatural decisions.

Yesterday, Truth Wins Out’s Evan Hurst, who attended one of Lou Engle’s prayer meetings in St. Louis, observed this penchant to create a god in Engle’s image. Some examples:

He asserts at the beginning that he is a prophet, and not a teacher, which is telling, for several reasons. It shows that we’re dealing with a person who is not only delusional, but also not really a scholar of his chosen subject, the Bible. Engle introduces the story of Jezebel and Ahab, found in 1 Kings, to draw a parallel to modern times where, Engle believes, other Christians who he views as unorthodox are the root of most problems. On one side are Lou, his followers and like-minded people. He will later refer to them as the “Yahweh Separatists.” On the other is basically everyone else in the world, including most Christians, who he refers to as a “Jezebel” generation. He intones the call of the Calvinist reformers, “Sola Scriptura!“, which I think would probably amuse those old Calvinists, considering.

…However at the beginning of the fifth segment, we jump in on one of the creepiest moments of the entire night, as Lou Engle is explaining the “prophetic dreams” he had which called him to his work in St. Louis. Basically he says that God told him that, on the spiritual plane, he is like Charles Lindbergh flying the “Spirit of St. Louis,” that he, on the spiritual plane, IS “St. Louis” (of Engle?), and that his mission IS “The Spirit of St. Louis.” People, the man is delusional, and he’s got a flock of followers behind him who believe every word he says. He’s a cult leader.

“Saint means HOLY and Louis means WARRIOR. Holy war! I like that!”

For the record, Lou Engle is down with the idea of “holy war.” He likes it. In Arabic, they call that jihad.

He then moves into another dream he supposedly had, where God told him he had given him authority over Jezebel, and indeed told him to open his St. Louis church on Lindbergh Boulevard. This, to Lou Engle, is all the fulfillment of divine prophecy, but if you’re not familiar with St. Louis, let me explain something. It’s hard to drive around St. Louis without hitting Lindbergh Boulevard over and over again, because the road is very, very long. Think of the longest, busiest streets in your town. Lindbergh is one of those. Also, as Charles Lindbergh hailed from St. Louis, his name is on quite a few things there! But instead Lou Engle believes this is all evidence that in St. Louis is some sort of “well” that God has “deposited” for them.

Lou Engle continues to recount his dreams, with his followers oohing and aahing at him, as he explains how, he believes, God is giving him a “word of authority” over the government of the state of California, starting with the recall of Governor Gray Davis.

[Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton]

Evan Hurst: An Eyewitness Account of Lou Engle’s “Stealth Bomber Meeting”

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2010

As we reported earlier, Lou Engle is holding a series of talks every night in St. Louis between June 19 and July 12. These nightly sessions are taking place at the Gateway House of Prayer on S. Lindbergh Blvd. in the western St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill. Evan Hurst of Truth Wins Out traveled to St. Louis to attend one of Engle’s talks, and he lived to tell about it. It turns out that Engle has a rather high opinion of himself:

He asserts at the beginning that he is a prophet, and not a teacher, which is telling, for several reasons. It shows that we’re dealing with a person who is not only delusional, but also not really a scholar of his chosen subject, the Bible. Engle introduces the story of Jezebel and Ahab, found in 1 Kings, to draw a parallel to modern times where, Engle believes, other Christians who he views as unorthodox are the root of most problems. On one side are Lou, his followers and like-minded people. He will later refer to them as the “Yahweh Separatists.” On the other is basically everyone else in the world, including most Christians, who he refers to as a “Jezebel” generation. He intones the call of the Calvinist reformers, “Sola Scriptura!“, which I think would probably amuse those old Calvinists, considering.

And it apparently doesn’t take long to get to Engle’s thoughts on homosexuality:

If we’re struggling with a homosexual, same-sex desire, LET THE BIBLE KILL YOU, rather than make it easier for you, and say well, there must be a better scriptural answer to this … Brothers and sisters, let the Bible kill you rather than you twist the scriptures! And in that killing, it will break you so that you can find a redeemer and a savior! Oh, I believe there are those struggling with same-sex desires who will stand, having done everything to stand, and maybe they won’t find the deliverance they’ve been looking for, but they refuse to let the world dictate their theology; they’re gonna stand on the Bible. And they may go for thirty years in an agonizing struggle, but they go into heaven because they stood with God rather than standing with the ideologies of this world.

There is so, so much more, including audio clips. The clips show Engle’s vision for a theocratic America and his paranoia that demonic powers are currently roaming the halls of government. Particularly interesting is Evan Hurst’s observation that Engle occasionally teeters on the edge of “Things He’s Not Supposed To Say,” as Evan puts it. And at one point, Engle falls beyond that edge:

Our president two days ago came out and said ‘We bless the fathers of families that have two fathers’! This is a decree, a blessing, called this month, LGBT pride month. When decrees come from high places, it actually opens doors! It is a key! It unlocks the spiritual realm for the fueling of the demonization of culture! Is this being taped?” [voice from bouncer/heavy off to the side interjects “We can erase it.”]

Again, Evan has audio of all of this — including Engle’s “prophetic dreams,” which you just have to read for yourself.

Engle isn’t the only person who thinks God talks to him in his dreams. He comes from a movement that was started by the controversial Kansas City Prophets. When I wrote that piece, I was accused of being paranoid and delusional, and that the piece itself was pure fantasy. But with Evan’s eyewitness account and audio recordings, I have to ask: Who’s delusional now?

Lou Engle’s Uganda Sermon Endorses Country’s “Stand for Righteousness”

Jim Burroway

June 23rd, 2010

TheCall’s Lou Engle has been trying to have it both ways in addressing questions of whether he supports Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. These questions were especially pertinent when it was announced that Engle would be putting on one of his TheCall rallies in Kampala last May. Engle issued a statement denying that he was going there to promote the bill.

We then learned through multiple sources that he had, in fact, promoted the bill at the rally. He was surrounded on stage with key supporters of the bill: Pastor Julius Oyet; the bill’s sponsor, MB David Bahati; and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo. Engle later issued another statement saying he regretted promoting the bill at the rally, but in contradiction to eyewitness accounts, Engle protested that the bill’s promotion took place after he left.

Current TV’s Vanguard reporter Mariana van Zeller’s outstanding documentary, “Missionaries of Hate,” explored the relationship between American Evangelicals and the rising anti-gay campaigns that have been taking place in Uganda over the past year. Engle’s TheCall Uganda appeared briefly in that documentary. Today, Mariana posted an extended clip of what Engle said at that rally.

And I went through a personal wrestling in my own heart whether we should come here and join you. We know that Uganda has been under tremendous pressure in the church. We felt that same pressure. But I felt like the call was to come and join with the church in Uganda to encourage you, that in the nation you are showing courage to take a stand for righteousness in the earth. [Applause]

Jesus is a merciful savior today for everyone trapped in sin. But he is also the architect of society and the great governor of the universe. Establish marriage between a man and a woman from the beginning so that society would be preserved and read right and it would be for the well-being of the children.

And so we’ve come here to join you to pray that your government would have wisdom to uphold righteousness in this land. We are restraining, trying to restrain an agenda that’s going to hurt the nation and hurt families. Right now that homosexual agenda is sweeping into our education system, and parents are losing their rights over the education of their children. I believe there’s only one hope. Help us God! Help us! But I believe Uganda has suddenly become ground zero, not because they asked for it, but God brought you to make a statement and a stand for righteousness.

Keep in mind, Engle said this right after Oyet took the stage to call for the bill’s passage, and Engle was immediately followed by Buturo, who also called on the Parliament to pass the bill. It’s no surprise that Oyet and Bahati left the rally ecstatic in the belief that they had Engle’s full support. I don’t see how anybody watching could have walked away from the rally with any other conclusion. Engle fully supported the bill, and that his support was so strong that he he felt that “the call was to come and join with the church in Uganda to encourage you.”

And now we have Engle’s more recent statement saying he supports criminalization. The only thing he criticize now is the death penalty. But even there, he believes that the death penalty is biblically sound. That’s not exactly a rousing denunciation. Not nearly as rousing as the full-bore, no-exceptions support he gave to the people of Uganda.

Uganda’s latest American kill-the-gays bill supporter is now in St. Louis, where he has been speaking nightly at the Gateway House of Prayer on S. Lindbergh Blvd. in the western St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill. He will be speaking every night through July 12.

Lou Engle Supports Criminalization of Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

June 22nd, 2010

Lou Engle on stage with other supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at a TheCall rally in Kampala (Michael Wilkerson / Religion Dispatches)

Lou Engle, the Dominionist evangelical preacher behind TheCall, has confirmed more or less what Uganda MP David Bahati told author Jeff Sharlet: That Engle supports Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – at least some form that is similar to the one that is currently under consideration.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Votersposted an interview she conducted with Engle for the Religion Dispatches web site. In this exchange, Engle denied knowing MP David Bahati (the bill’s sponsor) or Julius Oyet, who appears to be a major behind-the-scenes player in promoting the draconian bill in Uganda, and he denied supporting the bill when meeting with Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo. But he also said that “we appreciated the two guys [Bahati and Oyet] whose hearts were to bring forth a principled bill.”

Posner asked a series of questions specific to the bill. Engle denied supporting the death penalty provision, although he believed that there was a biblical basis for having one under certain circumstances. She also asked what other provisions in the bill he didn’t support:

I pressed him about which penalties in the bill he didn’t support — and he did say that although he could see someone supporting the death penalty, he did not, and he did not support “hard labor” as punishment or the requirement that churches report LGBT people to the authorities. But when I asked him if he would support a bill with less harsh penalties, he added: 

My main thing is to keep — is to not allow it to be legalized, so to speak, so then it just spreads through the legal system of the nation. So I’m not — I’m not making a statement as to what I think the penalties should be. It’s not my job to do that. I do think, I do think that these leaders are trying to make at least some kind of statement that you’re not just going to spread the agenda without some kind of restraint, a legal restraint and punishment. And I don’t know what the line is on those, but I can’t go that far as I understand that bill already said. [emphasis mine]

Engle admitted that his praise for the bill’s supporters’ “principled stand” might have led them to believe that he supported the bill. Although he insisted he did not support the bill as written, “I did support the principle of a nation saying, restraining it from coming into their nation.” He then went on to maintain that because homosexuality hasn’t been “restrained” in the United States, “I don’t think it’s going to be good for the nation, it sweeps into the education system, and the church is going to end up losing its privilege to have its own voice. Gender rights, will trump religious rights. I think it’s wrong, it’s not good for society. Those are the statements I came with, so frankly I was quite surprised to be thrown into this huge controversy.”

According to this interview, it appears that Lou Engle’s position on Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill is virtually identical to that of Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively. Lively, too, says that he doesn’t support the death penalty, but he finds the rest of the bill acceptable. Lively has called the bill “a step in the right direction” several times. More recently, he told Current TV’s Marianna van Zeller that passage of the bill would be “the lesser of two evils.” When asked whether that endorsement includes the death penalty, Lively had to struggle with that option for quite a long time before finally deciding that he still doesn’t support it, even as the “lesser of two evils.”

Engle now appears to hold the exact same position as Lively.

The “Not Gay” Scarfboi’s Ties to Lou Engle

Jim Burroway

June 22nd, 2010
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Adam Hood’s two videos have gone viral throughout the web. In this video, Hood provides a bit more background to his life story. It turns out that Hood is associated with Morningstar House in the Portola district of San Francisco. He also works with the so-called “Justice House of Prayer,” the evangelical group which is often seen “witnessing” in the Castro near the Bank of America or on Harvey Milk Plaza. Engle says he sent his son to establish JHOP just a block off the Castro “where the homosexuals boast the dominion of darkness.”

Uganda “Kill-The-Gays” Bill Supporter To Speak In St. Louis

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2010

Lou Engle, who was recently revealed to be a behind-the-scenes supporter of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, will be speaking for the next three weeks at the Gateway House of Prayer in St. Louis. Engle will speak nightly between June 20 to July 12. Michael Brown will also be speaking as well.

Lou Engle on stage with other supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at a TheCall rally in Kampala (Michael Wilkerson / Religion Dispatches)

Last month, Engle conducted a TheCall Rally at the sports field of Kampala’s Makarere University. According to numerous reports, that event was a political rally calling for passage of the draconian legislation which imposes the death penalty under certain circumstances. It will also provide criminal penalties for family members who refuse to report gay people to police. Engle’s rally featured key bill supporters, including the bill’s sponsor MP David Bahati, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, and Ugandan pastor Julius Oyet. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, spent a considerable amount of time with Bahati and Oyet, and reported that they both told him that Engle actually supports the bill, despite his ambiguous public statements attempting to distance himself from the proposals.

The Gateway House of Prayer appears to be an outgrowth of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer. Gateway House of Prayer is located on S. Lindbergh Blvd. in the western St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill.

Does Lou Engle Really Oppose Uganda’s “Kill-the-gays” Bill?

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2010

The answer to that very simple question was never clear. Today, we might have a bit more clarity than before. If so, the news isn’t good.

Lou Engle addressing a rally in Kampala, Uganda. (Marc Hofer/New York Times)

American evangelical leader Lou Engle traveled to Uganda last month to put on another of his TheCall rallies on the sports field of Makarere University in Kampala. That event turned into a political rally in support for passage of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The rally featured key bill supporters like MP David Bahati, the bill’s sponsor; Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, and Ugandan pastor Julius Oyet. Just before Engle traveled to the rally, he released an extremely ambiguous statement in which he promised that he “will not promote this bill.” He continued:

In fact, we challenge the Church of Uganda to join with Christians around the world, to first examine our own moral failures, confess our own lack of love, and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.

But news reports from Uganda itself suggests that Engle went back on his promise and spoke in favor of the bill. The New York Times reported that he praised Uganda for its “courage” and “righteousness” in proposing the bill. Further reports indicate that while Engle was clearly careful in not calling explicitly for the bill’s passage, he nevertheless gave his implicit support by defending Uganda’s pastors who were dealing “with a controversy they never wanted.” He also refused to comment when other speakers took the stage and demanded the bill’s passage. It’s pretty obvious from several reports of people who were there that the crowd was left with the distinct impression that Engle supported the bill, and Engle did nothing to disabuse them of it.

Five weeks later, and almost immediately following Exodus International president Alan Chambers’ contrite statement regretting his failure to more vigorously oppose the infamous “nuclear bomb” conference held in March of 2009, Engle tried to jump on the same bandwagon. Just two days later, Engle issued a press release:

I was actually asked to release a petition at TheCall for the people to sign in support of the Bill. I did not allow that to happen because the purpose of the gathering was not a political gathering; it was a prayer gathering. However, I had to leave the prayer meeting early to catch our flight back home. After returning home, I was told that the Bill had been clearly promoted after I left the meeting. I apologize that this took place and that my stated purpose of not promoting the Bill was compromised. I take responsibility for what was done on the stage of TheCall, even in my absence.

Engle’s apparent defense is that his tacit non-endorsing endorsement could have been worse. He could have circulated a petition that would have removed any lingering doubt whatsoever as to his real stance on the bill. Thanks for small favors.

But even if we try to look at this with the deepest rose-colored charitable glass-half-full benefit of the doubt, Engle’s true position on the bill still remains ambiguous at best. Even in this latest statement, he repeated his admiration for Uganda’s commitment ” to raise up a principled stand to protect their people and their children from an unwelcome intrusion of homosexual ideology.”

So even under the most generous assumptions, Engle’s stand with this bill would still remain anybody’s guess. I think you know mine. And today, we have some more information which confirms my strong suspicion that Engle really supports the bill but won’t actually allow those precise words to escape from his lips.

Engle’s most recent statement prompted Jeff Sharlet to write about his encounter with the bill’s supporters while attending Engle’s rally in Kampala. Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, spent quite a bit of time with Oyet and Bahati immediately following the rally and reports that they were both “ecstatic at what they perceived as Engle’s strong support of the bill. They felt his rally and his statements would be a turning point for the bill, reassuring their Ugandan allies that they had support abroad.”

Sharlet also says that Oyet and Bahati both insisted that Engle had explicitly supported the bill when speaking with them, but that he had to “lie to the Western media because gays control it.” Bahati recounted that Engle spoke to the BBC against the bill, and then promptly walked over to Bahati offer his private support. Sharlet continues:

I tend to believe Bahati here, since Engle didn’t mean anything to him until he met him that day. He hadn’t heard of him and decided to attend the rally only after I’d told him a few things about Engle. In other words, he left the rally thrilled with Engle based on that encounter with Engle alone. Clearly, Engle did something to please him.

Sharlet also says that despite reports that Uganda may remove the death penalty from the bill, both Bahati and Oyet strongly support retaining the provision.

"Apostle" Julius Oyet

Sharlet confirms that Oyet is playing a very prominent role in promoting the bill, and is now officially working for Bahati. I’ve heard some suggestions that Oyet is the bill’s true author, but that hasn’t been confirmed. He is, nevertheless, very closely identified with it. For example, we know that Oyet was in the visitors gallery when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in Parliament last October, and that the Parliament’s Speaker specifically acknowledged him and commended his presence there.

Oyet is the self-styled “apostle” who is vice-president of the Born Again Federation, an umbrella group of some 10,000 Ugandan Pentecostal churches. He is also an adherent of “Seven Mountains” theology, a Dominionist theology that calls upon Christians to “establish the Kingdom of God on earth” by claiming possession to “the Seven Mountains of Culture namely: Business, Government, Religion, Family, Media, Education and Entertainment.” Oyet is also the head of the College of Prayer International’s Uganda branch. MP David Bahati, the credited author and sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is one of eight MP’s serving on COPI’s “servant leadership team” in Parliament.

Finally, according to Sharlet, “Oyet insisted that there are American church leaders who are supporting the bill privately but lying to the American media about it.” This repeats almost word-for-word what Bahati told Current TV’s Mariana van Zeller

The many friends that we have, especially evangelicals in America, when we speak to them privately they do support us. They encourage us, but they are in a society that is very hostile. And we appreciate that and we say do what you think is right for your conscience. …But we have support in America. There are people who support what we are engaged in.

At that time, I asked aloud who some of those Americans might be. Today, we may very well have one answer: Lou Engle.

Missionaries of Hate: Where Killing Gays Is the “Lesser of Two Evils”

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2010

Scott Lively calls Uganda's bill "the lesser of two evils."

Wednesday night’s premiere of the Vanguard documentary “Missionaries of Hate” represents the most complete video record so far of the past year’s anti-gay turmoil in Uganda that began when three American Evangelical held an anti-gay conference in Kampala in March, 2009. That conference set the stage for a long, drawn-out anti-gay convulsion that rocked the nation and ultimately led to the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament.

Reporter Mariana van Zeller interviewed most of the key players in the drama that we’ve been following closely for the past year, including the bill’s sponsor MP David Bahati, Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, and many LGBT people who were most directly affected by the conference and its aftermath. But for me, the most riveting interview came near the end of the program when Mariana sat down with Scott Lively:

van Zeller: Do you then support the rest of the bill if you remove the death penalty part of it?

Lively: I would not have written the bill this way. But what it comes down to is a question of lesser of two evils. 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?  I think the lesser of two evils is for the bill to go through.

Maybe this explains why Lively has decided to go on the offensive, so to speak.

Lively also admits that he knew they wanted to introduce a “strengthened” anti-homosexuality bill before he conducted his anti-gay conference in Kampala alongside Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge. He says however that he didn’t know what the new bill would contain. The earliest draft of the bill that we have been able to find was one dated April 20, about six weeks after the conference. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced into Parliament on October 15.

Reporter Mariana van Zeller with pastor Martin Ssempa.

One of the producers provided me with a preview of the documentary, and apart from a very few minor quibbles I cannot recall any other report in print or video which delves so completely and thoroughly into the aftermath of the infamous March 2009 anti-gay conference. Martin Ssempa’s bombastic presence looms large in the documentary, where we learn that his much-mocked predilection for showing gay porn was far more widespread than first reported. In fact, I lost count of the number of times he brought out his trusty laptop. We also see brief interviews with MP David Bahati who introduced the bill into Parliament (He believes that God chose Uganda for this battle), and we see footage of Lou Engle’s rally earlier this month on a sports field at Makarere University.

But most importantly, we see the effects of the bill through the eyes of LGBT people living in Uganda, some of whom were outed in the newspapers, experienced death threats, were arrested by police and beaten, and driven from their homes by their neighbors. Almost all of them remember the March 5-7 conference as the key instigator of the anti-gay hysteria that swept the nation last year. Referring to the three American evangelicals who lead that conference, Julius Kaggwa asked aloud, “I wonder if they are aware of just how much damage their visit caused?”

Whether they have been aware of it up until now, this documentary will leave no doubts about their culpability from today forward.

Missionaries of Hate” airs Wednesday on Current TV at 10:00 EST.

Update: A preview of “Missionaries of Hate” is also available on Hulu.

Engle Offers Tactical Support For Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2010

Lou Engle on stage with other supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill at a TheCall rally in Kampala (Michael Wilkerson / Religion Dispatches)

Religious Dispatches as a very detailed eyewitness account by Michael Wilkerson of Lou Engle’s participating at an anti-gay rally in Kampala last Sunday. Wilkerson points out that Engle didn’t mention the the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill directly, but given the context of the entire all-day rally he didn’t need to.

Preceding Engle’s performance at the rally, Julius Oyet called on Parliament “not to debate heaven. We call on them to pass the bill and say no to homosexuality.” Oyet, you may recall, is the self-styled “apostle” who is vice-president of the Born Again Federation, an umbrella group of some 10,000 Ugandan Pentecostal churches.

Oyet was in the Parliament’s visitors gallery and was commended by Parliament’s speaker when the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced last October. He is also an Oyet is an adherent to “Seven Mountains” theology, a Dominionist theology that calls upon Christians to “establish the Kingdom of God on earth” by claiming possession to “the Seven Mountains of Culture namely: Business, Government, Religion, Family, Media, Education and Entertainment.” Oyet is also the head of the College of Prayer International’s Uganda branch. MP David Bahati, the credited author and sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is one of eight MP’s serving on COPI’s “servant leadership team” in Parliament.

According to Religion Dispatches, Oyet spent considerable time at the rally pushing for the passage of the draconian bill:

Oyet also brought up the common Ugandan perception that homosexuality is an import of the West which “recruits” new members primarily by bribing children. “Father, our children today are being deceived by the West. To buy them, to give them school fees so that they can be homosexuals. We say no to that,” Oyet said with a rolling voice as a live band played smooth jazz in the background.

Engle took the stage right after Oyet, and almost immediately launched into a defense of the anti-gay bill. According to Wilkerson, Elgle repeated what he said in his statement last week when he claimed that he didn’t know about the bill. He also claimed that he almost canceled his trip over the controversy. But at no point did he contest Oyet’s support for the bill. In fact, he picked up on the homosexuality-as-Western-import theme and ran with it:

We know that Uganda has been under tremendous pressure—the church. We felt that same pressure. But I felt like The Call was to come and join with the church of Uganda to encourage you that in the nation who are showing courage to take a stand for righteousness in the earth,” Engle said.

Since arriving, Engle went on, he had consulted with Uganda’s pastors, who are “dealing with a controversy they never wanted.” He then pivoted to the blame-the-West assertion so popular among the bill’s Ugandan supporters. “What I found out was that NGOs, the UN, and UNICEF were coming in and promoting an agenda that the church of Uganda did not want to be in this nation.”

Engle was careful never to explicitly call for the passage of the bill itself, and to avoid being accused of inciting violence. “We are not standing with violence or hatred to people with homosexual lifestyles,” he preached. Still, as he does in the United States, he insisted that homosexuality harms society: “We are trying to restrain an agenda that is going to hurt the nation and hurt families.”

Engle is trying to have it both ways. When he took the stage, at no time did he distance himself or criticize the draconian bill. Instead, he pivoted and repeated the oft-cited propaganda, with no apparent attempt to verify the “facts” themselves, that homosexuality is a Western imperialist import. But in private, while speaking to reporters on his way back to the car, Engle sought to distance himself from the bill again. Ugandan LGBT advocates noted the tightrope act:

“They tried to avoid the issue of inciting violence but they did not come out and condemn the bill, which was in their [press] statement,” said Dennis Wamala, who works with a group called Icebreakers Uganda. “They did not come out in any way to say this bill is wrong.”

Engle likes to portray himself as a courageous, fearless and bold trumpet of righteousness. When he issued his statement addressing concerns about his then-upcoming rally, we noted then that he tried to weave some sort of middle ground and we were left wondering what message he would deliver in Kampala. We now know the answer.

The problem all along is that the way the bill has been framed by its supporters, there is no room for middle ground. You are either in support of the bill or you are against it. Either you want to legislate LGBT people into oblivion or you don’t. Engle’s actions now leaves him squarely in the supporting camp. He had the opportunity to “[reflect] compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals,” but he blew it.

Instead, he demonstrated public solidarity with the people who want to kill LGBT Ugandans, and repeated their propaganda to do it. He stood beside those who want to kill LGBT people, including Oyet, Bahati, and Ethics and Integrity Minister James, Nsaba Buturo, among others. Nobody heard an ounce of caution or criticism from him. Instead, Engle affirmed the “righteousness” of the people who want to kill you. He’s an articulate man. Words never fail him. Which means that when he left only one conceivable take-away message for everyone in that crowd, that they are on the right track in trying to legally kill gay people, he did this with deliberate intent. And really, that is all you need to know about him.

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