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Posts for March, 2010

Martin Ssempa Has A Blog

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2010

The Ugandan pastor and kill-the-gays advocate is not only blogging, but he’s also Facebooking and commenting on BTB.

Will Gay Porn Becomes Christianity’s New Recruiting Tool?

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2010
Martin Ssempa showing gay porn (Photo via Warren Throckmorton)

Martin Ssempa showing gay porn (Photo via Warren Throckmorton)

We reported last week that Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa has been showing gay porn as part of his anti-gay campaign in support of that country’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. A columnist identified as “The Analyst” for Uganda’s independent Observer took that premise and ran with it with tongue firmly planted in cheek, claiming that gay porn is responsible for increasing attendance at his church.

This makes Makerere Community Church the only place in Uganda where watching pornography is “legal”. According to Uganda’s laws, even mere possession of pornographic material is a crime. It would appear that Makerere Community Church has got a special license to show porn. Moreover, perhaps following Jesus Christ’s example of welcoming children, even kids can watch porn at Makerere Community Church.

The, er, money shot is here:

“I can’t wait to get home and try it out. The men in the movie really seemed to be enjoying themselves,” one member of the congregation told The Analyst.

We’ve seen megachurches reinvent themselves into coffee houses, rave clubs and concert halls, all in an attempt to incorporate elements of popular culture to make themselves appear hip and relevant. Why not porn? Even the worst of it beats the treacly karaoke singers that have become so popular over the past couple of decades.

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

Ugandan Pastor Wars Reignite, Benny Hinn Accused of Sodomy

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2010

Red Pepper's article on Benny HinnThe headline in the online edition of Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper screams, “Pastors Name Benny Hinn Sodomy Bonkmate.” That headline appears to be in reaction to the news that American pentecostal prosperity evangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn is unable to heal his own marriage and is seeking a divorce.

Schadenfreudesters should be cautious however. The Red Pepper is notorious for publishing false accusations, especially when those accusations stoke the fires of homophobia. Last year, the tabloid conducted a virulently anti-gay campaign of public outings. The tabloild was also in the very thick of a wide-ranging “pastor wars,” in which several prominent pastors including pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, an ardent supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, accused rival pastors of sodomy in order to try to boost their own standing. Sports figures have also gotten into the act.

In this latest flare-up, the Red Pepper published a banner headline accusing Benny Hinn of sodomizing a well-known pastor. The pastor, however, appears not to have been named in the Red Pepper piece, but that didn’t prevent Solomon Male and Simon Kyazze from naming their accused rival which appears to be Robert Kayanja. Pastor Benny Hinn held a large “Fire Conference” revivial at Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Centre last June. Kayanja was accused last May of homosexuality by several rival pastors, including Solomon Male and Martin Ssempa. Kayanja retaliated by barring Ssempa, Male and others from Hinn’s revival. BTB readers in Uganda tell us that Hinn is wildly popular there (his program is on Lighthouse TV every weekday evening at 9:00), which makes the snub all the more pointed.

Kayanja was cleared of all accusations by police, and they have charged Ssempa and Male for filing a false report. This may explain the Red Pepper’s reticence in naming the accused pastor in this round. But Ssempa is suspected of being behind the Red Pepper’s numerous anti-gay vigilante campaigns over the past several years. These latest allegations can be seen as just another battle in the ongoing war among Ugandan pastors for supremacy.

If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill should be come law, you can expect such campaigns to increase in frequency and consequence. One provision of the proposed law would significantly lower the bar for conviction. 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.”

The phrase “with any body part” leaves a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.  Or a rival pastor.

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

When All Else Fails, Reach for the Porn

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2010

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa only has one note in his repertoire, and he plays it loudly. Now that his planned march through Kampala in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been banned by authorities, he takes comfort in his old reliable standby:

“The major argument homosexuals have is that what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is nobody’s business but do you know what they do in their bedrooms?” the pastor asked. Ssempa then displayed a slide show of gay pornographic pictures.

MP David Bahati, the anti-gay bill’s author, was among the reported 300 who attended. Ssempa is pushing hard for the bill’s passage before April 4, as an “Easter present” to the nation. The bill was expected to be high on Parliament’s agenda when it returned from recess February 2, but there have been no reports of further action on the bill.

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

Ugandan Police Block Kampala Anti-Gay Demo

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2010

The anonymous blogger GayUganda discovered an e-paper only version of the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, which said, “Police yesterday blocked antihomosexuality activists who had planned a demonstration in Kampala in support of the antigays Bill.” The rest of the article reported on Monday’s Jinja demonstration.

It appears in the Monitor’s report that when police yesterday “blocked” the Kampala demonstration, they are probably referring to an announced meeting that was to have taken place Tuesday with Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa, an ardent supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. That proposed bill would impose the death penalty on LGBT people under certain circumstances, and mandate life imprisonment for the rest.

Gay Uganda reconstructs a timeline and suspects that this means that Ssempa is “going rogue.” The real question is whether Ssempa will run afoul with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, who controls more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament and is accustomed to breaking up opposition rallies, barring political figures from the airwaves, and shutting down radio stations he doesn’t like. Is Ssempa really going rogue, or is he simply acting out his part in a larger play of political gamesmanship? That’s the riddle we’re all trying to figure out.

Update: AFP reports that the Jinja rally took place after Ssempa obtained police authorization. And another tea leaf sinks to the bottom of the cup.

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

Despite Protest Ban, Hundreds of Ugandans Call For Killing Gays

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2010

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa defied a police ban against his planned “million man march” in support of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill scheduled for Wednesday by holding a quickly organized march in the city of Jinja yesterday.

Update: A reader in Uganda had provided us with a video clip of a news broadcast covering that march. But now, NTV’s Kenyan branch has posted the same report on their YouTube channel.

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That Ssempa chose to defy the ban is interesting. Clearly, the ban on his planned demonstration for Kampala was ordered by the highest levels of government — one can rarely lose a bet on assuming such orders come directly from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. He has acknowledged coming under intense international pressure to shelve the bill and may be looking for ways to turn down the pressure.

But Ssempa has been the bill’s strongest supporter, even going so far as to defend its proposed death penalty for gays and lesbians under certain circumstances. So Ssempa responded to the demonstration ban by moving his planned march from Kampala to Jinja, Uganda’s second largest city about 50 miles to the east. Was this an act of defiance to try to make it politically impossible for Museveni to block or moderate the draconian legislation? Or was this the result of an unspoken compromise which allows the government to appear democratic (even though it routinely outlaws opposition rallies at will throughout the country) while keeping its fingerprints off its bill?

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

Martin Ssempa’s Pornographic Demons

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2010

Ugandan Pastor and staunch “kill-the-gays” supporter has recently gotten a lot of attention over the disgust he generated when he held a porn-laced presentation that did more to turn his audience against his message than it did against LGBT people. According to Uganda’s independent Monitor, the presentation was a “flop.”

Ssempa appeared to be puzzled by the reaction, and I doubt that he will be fazed by it. A week earlier, he had appeared on Ugandan state-owned UBC television to talk up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and he took that time to try to stigmatize gay people with a similarly lurid description of what gay people supposedly do.

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(The video is closed-captioned. The video was captured by an anonymous BTB reader in Uganda using his mobile phone at great personal risk.)

As you can see, Charles Musana, host of the UBC program “Hot Seat,” was pretty skeptical throughout the program, leading the over-excited Ssempa to close the show with trying to cast out the demon of homosexuality from his host.

The Monitor reported:

Pastor Martin Ssempa on Tuesday plumbed the depths of notoriety when he offered graphic images of gay sex as proof of the need for tough penalties against homosexuals.

In the immediate aftermath of the presentation, which ended prematurely, Pastor Ssempa said he did not regret his actions. The press conference, the latest in a series of events he is holding in support of the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, had been called to unveil two Ugandans, a man and a woman, who say their homosexuality has been rehabilitated.

One man, who was part of a group of American students invited to the press conference by Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya, was seen crying, his colleagues consoling him as the group left the National Theatre.

But midway through his presentation, saved on a computer, most of his audience walked out, some visibly disturbed, leaving him to wonder if he had done anything wrong. The cleric seemed genuinely rattled when he asked: “Why should I be traumatised?”

It looks like Ssempa is trying to become the “Porno Pete” of East Africa.

[Video courtesy of an anonynmous BTB reader in Uganda]

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

Ugandan Boycott Called

Jim Burroway

January 19th, 2010

The controversy surrounding Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill has resulted in at least one call for a boycott:

[Ugandan pastor Martin] Sempa said, “Most Ugandans do not support homosexuality. We are to launch a campaign against consumption of US, UK, and Canada products in Uganda if those countries continue to threaten our country because of the anti gay bill. We will make people stop buying Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and other products from USA.”

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

Ugandan Anti-Gay Rally Announced for February 17

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2010

Last December, we reported that Ugandan Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa had announced a nationwide anti-gay rally for January 19. A few days later, two more religious leaders joined that call for a rally to support for the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Now Reuters is reporting that Ssempa, who has close ties to several American evangelical groups as well as Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, has announced a”million-man” march for February 17. It’s unclear whether this is a re-scheduling of the January 19 rally or an additional one.

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

Ugandan Pastor Issues Video Response To Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 31st, 2009

Martin Ssempa

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa issued a video response to Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren’s vigorous condemnation of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  And boy is Ssempa upset with Warren. It took Warren just six and a half minute to concisely and clearly condemn the bill as “unjust, extreme and un-Christian.” It took Ssempa two videos and nearly eighteen minutes to respond.

In the first video posted to YouTube on December 28, Ssempa continues to misrepresent what the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would provide.

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In this segment, Ssempa discusses one of the misconceptions about AIDS that some hold in Africa, where some people believe that having sex with a virgin will cure someone of HIV/AIDS. Ssempa then argues that the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” is an absolute necessity in order to criminalize raping of children, which Ssempa incredibly claims is not against the law in Uganda.

The problem with that, of course, is there is no such gaping loophole in Ugandan law. Here’s Section 129(3) and (4) of the Penal Code, as amended in 2007 (Act No. 8 of 2007):

129(3)
Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4) commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.

129(4)
The circumstances referred to in subsection (3) are as follows-

(a) where the person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of fourteen years;

(b) where the offender is infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);

(c) Where the offender is a parent or guardian of or a person in authority over, the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) where the victim of the offence is a person with a disability; or,

(e) where the offender is a serial offender.

In other words, Ugandan law already covers what is commonly called “defilement” in a very gender-neutral way. What’s more, Ssempa’s contention that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is intended only to cover “defilement” is blatantly false. Again, we go to the text of the bill for its definition of “aggravated homosexuality:”

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The text is very plain. The bill goes beyond criminalizing sex with underage minors — which Ugandan law already does. It penalizes any gay person who is HIV-positive with death by hanging, the method of legal execution in Uganda, whether that person had sex with a minor or a consenting adult.

Part 2 continues with Ssempa’s misrepresentation of “aggravated homosexuality.”

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Both parts of this video response taken together follow roughly the letter that Ssempa sent to Warren demanding that Warren apologize for his condemnation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He repeats that demand in the second part of his video.

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

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ssempa and Bahati Discuss Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2009

Our anonymous reader in Uganda has sent us some more fascinating video from state-run UBC television. In these series of clips, taken from the program Matters of Policy broadcast on December 23, 2009, Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa and member of Parliament David Bahati discuss the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.

In the first part, Ssempa announces a nationwide rally for January 19, 2010 in support of the bill. Bahati says the bill is necessary to fight a “creepng evil in our society,” alleging that wealthy gays are recruiting children in schools. This is a recurring theme in Uganda’s stereotypes about gay people, a stereotype that was vigorously reinforced by the March 5-7 conference put on by three American anti-gay activists.

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In the second part of the video, Martin Ssempa rails against Barack Obama and other foreign leaders for denouncing the Anti-gay bill. He also completely misrepresents the “aggravated homosexuality” clause of the proposed bill, which provides the death penalty for LGBT people under certain circumstances. Ssempa claims that those circumstances are limited to rape or child sexual abuse. In fact, the proposed bill (the full text of which we’ve posted online) defines “aggravated homosxuality” this way:

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of 18 years;

(b) offender is a person living with HIV;

(c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed;

(d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;

(e) victim of the offence is a person with disability;

(f) offender is a serial offender, or

(g) offender applies, administers or causes to be used by any man or woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy overpower him or her so as to there by  enable any person to have unlawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex,

(2) A person who commits the offence of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

(3) Where a person is charged with the offence under this section, that person shall undergo a medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

In other words, the bill also includes anyone who is HIV-positive (and mandates testing of anyone suspected of homosexuality to determine their eligibility for the death sentence) or anyone who is a “serial offender” — which could include anyone who has had more than one partner in his or her lifetime. Ssempa (and Bahati) are clearly lying when they claim that “aggravated homosexuality” is limited to rape or molestation. The text of Bahati’s own bill proves the lie.

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In the third part, Bahati insists that the bill will not be dropped. He says that it is now before the Parliamentary Committee of Legal Affairs and also the Presidential Affairs Committee. He believes the bill will pass when Parliament returns from recess in February. He and Ssempa also claim to have been under death threats since the bill was introduced. In a recent story by the independent Daily Monitor, Bahati claims that a cousin is missing and blames the controversy over the anti-gay bill, but he doesn’t repeat that claim here. (That story has now gone missing from the Monitor’s web site.)

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

Click here to read a transcript of the Ssempa and Bahati interview.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #3: Barack Obama “Preaches A Gospel of Sodomy!”

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2009

Thanks to an anonymous reader in Uganda, BTB has been able to obtain cell-phone video of a Ugandan news broadcast showing Tuesday’s anti-gay demonstration in Kampala by pastors Martin Ssempa, and David Kadaga in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.

Martin SsempaThis clip begins with Seempa, Kadaga, and others entering the Parliament Building from a rally at Makerere University (Ssempa’s home turf). At one point in the clip, Ssempa is shown (either at Parliament or at the rally) saying “We also express support for our president Museveni, the minister of foreign affiars, the people of Uganda for stainding strong against this evil.” He later condemned the White House for its statement against measure which would provide the death penalty for LGBT people. Speaking on behalf of the National Task Force Against Homosexuality, Ssempa said:

They (the task force) have condemned the efforts of the American president, Barrack Obama, and Hilary Clinton, for using the pulpit of the white house to preach a gospel of sodomy. We have said No!

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

Click here to read a transcript of the UBC Tonight Broadcast.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO #2: Ugandan Minister Considers Forced Counseling to “Rehabilitate” Gays

Jim Burroway

December 23rd, 2009

Thanks to an anonymous reader in Uganda, BTB has been able to obtain cell-phone video of a Ugandan news broadcast showing Tuesday’s anti-gay demonstration in Kampala by pastors Martin Ssempa, Solomon Male and Michael Kyazza.

This clip of a NTV News broadcast by the independent NBS television on Dec 22 begins with a short description of “aggravated homosexuality,” as “when one subjects a minor to gay acts or deliberately infects them with HIV.” This repeats the persistent mischaracterization of the actual text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. The bill would actually include anyone who is HIV-positive (whether they “deliberately infect” someone or not), and it also includes anyone who is a “serial offender,” which could conceivably ensnare anyone who has had more than one lover, or who had sex with the same lover more than once. In recent days, MP David Bahati, the prime sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has mischaracterized the true of the bill numerous times, as has Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa. These lies are now being repeated in Uganda’s media.

RallyNTVThe clip shows scenes of an anti-gay rally organized by Ssempa, Male and Kyazza. I don’t know if this is the same rally shown in the Platinum News clip uploaded earlier today. It then cuts to a video of Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo defending the bill, while raising the possibility of adding a forced conversion clause to the measure. This forced conversion idea was first brought up during an anti-gay conference put on last March by three American anti-gay activists.

Deputy SpeakerFrom there, the report shows a “pressure group” (one of whom is Pentecostal pastor Martin Ssempa) meeting with the Deputy Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to urge swift passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The reporter observes that Kadaga “appears to back the bill,” but the Deputy Speaker then read a passage from the existing law against homosexuality which already provides for a life sentence.

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

Click here to read a transcript of the NTV Tonight Broadcast.

Ugandan Pastors Demand Apology from Rick Warren

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2009

A Martin Ssempa and three other Ugandan pastors have written to Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren demanding an apology for his statement opposing Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In a letter sent sent to Warren, with copies provided to Christianity Today and Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, the four pastors write on behalf of a task force which met in the offices of the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, who has been an ardent supporter of the bill. The pastors say that the bill has been “greatly misrepresented” and describes Warren’s opposition to the bill as “unwarrented abuse.”

This bill has been greatly misrepresented by some homosexual activists causing hysteria and we take this opportunity to give you the background, facts and response to the concerns you raised. A special meeting of 20 denominational heads met on Thursday 17th Dec in the offices of the minister of Ethics and Integrity, examined your letter and formed a joint task force to respond to you as well as help support the parliament in the passage of this bill.  We are further distressed by your unwarranted abuse of our duly elected officials who are in the process of making laws in the fulfillment of their mission and make demand that you biblically issue an apology for having wronged us as demonstrated by the facts of this letter. [Emphasis in the original]

The letter is very similar to a separate letter sent to Christianity Today, complete with wholesale misrepresentations of what the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would actually provide. We have posted the full text of the bill online where you can see its provisions for yourself. They 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 of seven years.
  • Criminalizing all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalizing the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Addding 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 of up to three years.
  • Penalizing landlords and hotel owners with five to seven years imprisonment 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.

There is an additional ominous note in this letter that is not found in the previous letter published by Christianity Today. In describing the developments in Uganda which they say justify the draconian measure specified in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, they single out an individual Ugandan blogger, GayUganda:

d) creation of organizations whose sole purpose is to promote homosexuality in Uganda; (e.g. (Sexual Minorities Uganda); (Gay Uganda); (Integrity Uganda).

This latest letter, which is reproduced on Warren Throckmorton’s web site, demands that Warren issues an apology and sets a deadline:

Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the “evil” of Sodomy and Gaymorrah. This is expected within seven days from this date.

The letter, at least as it is reproduced on Throckmorton’s web site, does not appear to be dated.

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

Ugandan Pastor Responds To Rick Warren’s Statement; Revives “Forced Therapy” Option

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2009
Martin Ssempa

Martin Ssempa

Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who had met several times with Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, is positively livid over Warren’s statement calling on Ugandan pastors to oppose the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In a letter addressed to Warren (PDF: 88KB/4 pages) and obtained by Christianity Today, Ssempa acknowledges receiving a letter from Warren asking Ugandan pastors to speak out against the bill, and counters with a deliberately misleading and convoluted defense of it.

After nearly three pages of ranting, Ssempa says that two amendments will be proposed for the bill:

At a special sitting of the Uganda Joint Christian Council taskforce sat and reviewed the bill to make comments. We resolved to support the bill with some amendments which included the following:

a. We suggested a less harsher sentence of 20 years instead of the death penalty for pedophilia or aggravated homosexuality.

b. We suggested the inclusion of counseling and rehabilitation being offered to offenders and victims. The churches are willing to provide the necessary help for those who are willing to undergo counseling and rehabilitation.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

This revives the forced therapy proposal brought up last March during a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala. That conference, organized by Stephen Langa of Kampala-based Family Life Network featured Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge.

The Ugandan Parliament will reportedly bring the Anti-Homosexuality Bill up for a second reading debate on Friday. It’s unknown whether these proposals will be brought up during that debate.

Ssempa also recounts Warren’s 2008 trip to Uganda in support of the Anglican Church of Uganda’s boycott of the Lambeth Conference over the U.S. church’s ordination of Rev. Gene Robinson as the denomination’s first openly gay bishop. Ssempa lectured Warren:

When you came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”. You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this aspect at all.”

Ssempa later returns to this subject at the end of his letter with a reference to Warren’s PEACE plan for Africa:

We note with sadness the increasing levels of accepting of the evil of homosexuality. The ordination of Mary Glasspool a Lesbian as a bishop in Los Angeles without any condemnation from you, has increased the widening gap between the global south church in Africa and the global north church in Europe and America. In these increasingly dark days, we encourage you not to give into the temptation to water down what the bible says so as not to offend people. Jesus’s gospel is a stumbling block, and a rock of offfense. Rick you are our friend, we have bought many of your books and have been blessed by them. Do not let the pressure of bloggers and popular media intimidate you into becoming a negotiator for homosexual pedophilia rights in Africa. As you yourself say about evil, — “the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil.” Since the bible says that the giant of homosexuality is an “abomination” or a great evil, you cannot achieve the peace plan without a purpose driven confrontation with evil.

Ssempa has been a leading promoter of harsher treatment for that country’s LGBT citizens. He has also accused rival pastors of homosexuality. These allegations were found to be false, and Ssempa found himself under investigation for filing false reports. That investigation was apparently halted when President Yoweri Museveni intervened.

Rick Warren recently distanced himself from Ssempa:

Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.

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

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