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Posts for November, 2012

Where Are The Religious Leaders?

Jim Burroway

November 27th, 2012

American liberals are upset that Ugandan Pres is leading his nation in repentance--afraid of a modern example of a nation prospered by God?With Uganda poised to pass what would become one of the most draconian anti-gay laws in the world, human rights advocates, LGBT activists, and diplomats from around the globe are lobbying members of the Ugandan government to set aside the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But there is one set of voices that is conspicuously silent: church leaders. So far, the only religious voices to speak up about it are those who favor its passage, including Scott Lively and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, while not addressing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill directly, praised Uganda over the weekend as “a modern example of a nation prospered by God.” (Perkins had previously lied about what the bill would do if enacted and lobbied Congress against a resolution condemning the bill.)

So far, those are among the few religious leaders speaking up about the bill, all of them supporting it directly or indirectly. And so far, major religious leaders against the bill have been conspicuous by their silence. The HRC called on them to speak up in a press release last week:

“American faith leaders know that calling for the death penalty – or even calling for imprisonment of – an entire community is not in line with Christian values,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “American Christian faith leaders with ties to Uganda, like Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes, must reach out to their influential Ugandan friends to ensure that the human rights of Ugandans are not put up to a vote.”

American Christian faith leaders have been active in Uganda for decades and have significant ties to Ugandan political leaders and faith leaders. Such influential American faith leaders, including Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and voices from the Trinity Broadcasting Network, have a moral obligation to urge their Ugandan friends and allies to condemn the bill. Many of these American faith leaders have shown a commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDs epidemic in Uganda and know passage of this bill would curtail these efforts. Public statements and private conversations by these American faith leaders, if they are done immediately, could save the lives of thousands of Ugandans.

Rick Warren last addressed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in late 2009, when he condemned the bill. Three years is an eternity in politics, and he has been silent since then. Silence will only mean that Scott Lively and Tony Perkins is speaking for them.

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!

When The Son Of A Megachurch Pastor Gets Caught

Jim Burroway

February 13th, 2009

I hesitated to post on this, mostly because Preacher’s Kids (PK’s) have it tough. They don’t get to grow up and make all the normal mistakes the rest of us are allowed to make. Everything they do can threaten their parent’s very job. If the kid screws up, everyone in the congregation knows about it, and all the weight of scrutiny falls on that pastor — and in turn, on that pastor’s kid.

Imagine that pressure compounded with growing up in an anti-gay church as a gay kid.

So here we have, a preacher’s kid screwing up. Actually, he’s not a kid anymore. He’s twenty-nine. But his father’s not just any pastor either. He’s T.D. Jakes, the pastor of the Dallas megachurch The Potter’s House and a best selling author.

The son of T.D. Jakes — the Dallas megachurch pastor who’s called homosexuality a “brokenness” and declared that he would never hire a sexually active gay person — was arrested in a gay sex sting in Kiest Park in January, according to Dallas police reports.

Jermaine Donnell Jakes, 29, faces a charge of indecent exposure after allegedly exposing himself in front of two undercover vice detectives shortly after 10 p.m. on Jan. 3. Senior Cpl. Janice Crowther, a DPD spokeswoman, confirmed Thursday, Feb. 12 that the detectives were both male.

Young Jakes grew up in a church that condemns homosexuality, and in a culture which is quite homophobic. People who don’t have the personal freedom to be out often turn to less legitimate outlets for sexual contact. In this case, a public park. The overwhelming majority of people who are picked up in these kinds of sweeps are those who claim to be heterosexual, and most of them are married. They are desperate to conceal their homosexuality, which is why anonymous sex in public parks is so appealing to them. Take away the need to conceal, and the public sex will diminish drastically.

This isn’t to excuse what Jermaine did, but it does explain a lot why he and others like him do what he did. I hope he takes this episode as the impetus he needs to break free from his trap. After all, what is there left to conceal now?

This continuing condemnation and rejection is toxic. It entraps people who don’t experience the safety of being true to themselves. As long as that continues, there will be more Jermaines making the news. Jermaine screwed up. He’s responsible for what he did. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel bad for Jermaine’s humiliation. He’s not only being humiliated locally where this sort of exposure is normally limited, but his humiliation is nationwide. And that national exposure is strictly because of who his father is, and because of the message of exclusion and condemnation his father preaches.

Which is why I don’t feel sorry for T.D. Jakes. Those are his chickens he’s seeing in the morning paper, each and every one of them coming home to roost.