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Posts for February, 2010

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!

Mel White vs. Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

April 14th, 2009

Soulforce’s Mel White calls out the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins beginning at the 6:45 mark:

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Mel and Mike’s Amazing Race

Timothy Kincaid

March 24th, 2009

In 2000, I caught a screening of Chuck and Buck, a movie that was painfully awkward but memorable. Especially noticeable was Buck, an odd looking emotionally stunted young man living in a dream world of his own desire.

I didn’t pay too much attention to Mike White, the screenwriter and actor who played Buck. I had read that he was bisexual and I would catch his face from time to time in something, but I didn’t realize that he had written Orange County, The Good Girl, School of Rock, and Nacho Libre.

And I had no idea that he is Mel White’s son.

Mel, as many of you will know, is the founder of SoulForce, an organization that works for “freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance”.

Mel is also a former ghostwriter for fellow evangelicals, including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and Jerry Falwell. Needless to say, that career path stopped when Mel came out as gay.

And now America is being introduced to Mel and Mike on the Amazing Race. And, if comment boards, bloggers, and reviewers are anything to go by, they are among the most liked competitors.

Mel, especially, has been winning over unexpected supporters and giving a human face to a subset of Americans that is not well known to the public: gracious Christians. After decades of watching the self-righteous and the judgmental on television, Mel is a welcome treat.

We’ve seen Mel on a mountain – waiting for the right wind to hang-glide – telling the viewers that it would not be right to pray for divine help in a competition. We’ve seen Mel and Mike both place much higher priority in family support than in winning money.

But this week, we saw Mel snap at a cab driver in India. Only to then declare, “This race certainly isn’t important enough to dehumanize somebody else by yelling and screaming at ’em. So I’m gonna feel bad about it for the rest of the day.”

But they are not without their challenges. Mel suffered a groin injury early on. And at 68, he’s not likely to win many foot races. Yet somehow Mel and Mike keep coming in at the front of the pack. Mel, who found himself hauling water and hay this week, leapt ahead of much younger competitors by using the correct implements.

As a gay man with an evangelical Christian background, I feel a sense of ownership of Mel White. So it delights me to see that not only are they still in game, they are doing well. But I am particularly delighted that it is not Mel’s success but rather his graciousness, humility, dignity and compassion that are winning him support. And I’m glad that finally there is someone on television who doesn’t make me cringe when they say they are a Christian.

Mel White, Reality TV Star?

Daniel Gonzales

January 28th, 2009

Click to view Mel and Mike’s “cast interview”

Soulforce founder Mel White and his son Mike have been cast in the soon-to-start next season of CBS’s Amazing Race. The show premiers on Sunday, February 15th, 8:00pm ET/PT and the usual suspects from the religious right haven’t thrown a tantrum yet so there isn’t much else to put in my post just yet.

You can also view their bio on the CBS website here.

Hat tip to my mom.