By Pam Spaulding, Pam's House Blend
When I sat down to write this piece about the legislation in Uganda that not only criminalizes homosexuality, but calls for the execution of gays, I didn't know where to begin. This is story with so many tentacles and shadowy (and not so shadowy) connections to homophobic clerics around the globe, American supporters of Uganda's anti-gay government, "The Family" and a host of other groups that it sounds like a bad novel.
But oh, no, if it were only bad novel. That would make talking about the persecution, torture and execution of LGBTs in Third World countries an exercise in abstraction.
Let's just take a look at a chronology of this story to give you an idea of just how convoluted and sick it has been as the lives of gays in Uganda hang in the balance over the Anti-Homosexuality Act, introduced by Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who said just today to the BBC:
"We are not after the sinners. We love them. We are after the sin."
Specifically, the "sin" would allow the Ugandan government to "fine or imprison anyone found to be promoting homosexuality and to execute those having gay sex with disabled people or under-18s, or when the accused is HIV-positive."
Now those headlines, courtesy of Jim Burroway's Box Turtle Bulletin, which has followed this story for months.
Dec 10: Vatican Statement about Ugandaís Proposed Legislation
Dec 10: Rick Warren ìVigorously Condemnsî Ugandaís Anti-Homosexuality Act
Dec 10: Ugandaís Official Media Centre Publishes Article Suggesting Anti-Homosexuality Act Not Needed
Dec 10: Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill Sparks Schism Inside The Family; U.S. Sens. Remain Silent
Dec 9: Time Magazine Covers the Ugandan ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 9: Ugandan Church Leaders Back ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 9: What Did Don Schmierer Know?
Dec 9: Bloomberg: Uganda To Drop Death Penalty, Add Forced ìConversionsî
Dec 8: Cohen On Maddow: ìDisavows All Relationshipî To Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 8: US Christian Leaders Oppose Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 6: Whatís Good For Uganda Is Good For Canada?
Dec 5: Cockroaches
Dec 5: Don Schmierer On Uganda: ìWhat, Me Worry?î
Dec 5: Rachel Maddow: Should US Politicians Try To Stop The ìKill Gaysî Bill?
Dec 4: Schori ìdeeply concernedî about Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 4: State Department Guidance On Uganda
Dec 4: Statement from International Healing Foundation Regarding Uganda
Dec 4: Seven Mountains Theology At the Heart of Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 4: Archbishop of Canterbury In ìPrivate Talksî; Ugandan Pastor Calls ìKill Gaysî Bill ìGenocideî
Dec 4: Anti-Gay Bill Likely To Pass As Oil Surpasses Donors For Influence In Uganda
Dec 3: Uganda Responds To International Furor Over ìKill Gaysî Bill
Dec 3: International Healing Foundation Issues Statement On Uganda
Dec 1: Going Rove In Uganda
Dec 1: Clinton Condemns Criminalization of Homosexuality
Nov 30: Rick Warren refuses to oppose Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî bill
Nov 28: Sweden responds to Ugandaís proposed ìKill Gaysî bill
Nov 28: UK PM Gordon Brown Denounces Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Nov 28: Catholic News Source: Scott Lively Blames Foreign Gays for Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Nov 28: Canada PM To Denounce Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Nov 27: PEPFAR Coordinator: Donít Link Uganda Funding To Anti-Homosexuality Act
Nov 25: Follow The Money: The American Connection to Ugandaís Death Sentence For Gays
Nov 24: HIV/AIDS Envoy: Ugandaís Chairing Of Commonwealth Meeting ìA Mockery of Commonwealth Principlesî
Nov 16: Exodus Sends Letter To Uganda President
Nov 14: Anglicanís Communionís Tangled Connections To Ugandaís Anti-Gay Pogrom
Nov 11: Nigerian calls on Anglican Communion to oppose Ugandan ìKill Gaysî bill
Nov 10: Ugandaís Most Wanted
Nov 9: Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî bill is ìProviding Leadership to the Worldî
Nov 9: More American Evangelical Ties To Ugandaís Anti-Gay Politicians
Nov 7: The ìBiblicalî Worldwide Anglican Communion
Nov 6: Australian Senate Refuses to Oppose Ugandaís ìKill Gaysî Bill
Nov 6: Uganda Womenís Group: ìKill the Gaysî
Nov 2: Throckmorton Appeals to Ugandan Christians
Nov 2: US Reps Condemn Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Nov 2: Uganda Parliament Committee, Religious Leaders Weigh Death Penalty for LGBT People
Oct 28: Uganda Religious Leaders All Calling for Anti-Gay BillÖ But Maybe Not Death
Oct 28: A Call for Christian Action in Uganda ó A Time to Show the Love
Oct 23: Uganda Civil Rights Coalition Denounces Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Oct 22: Ugandaís Anti-Homosexuality Bill Put Off Until 2010
Oct 18: Take Action: Tell Uganda To Respect Human Rights And Dismiss the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Oct 17: Ugandaís Daily Monitor: All Ugandans Should Fear Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Oct 16: Does Exodus Support Criminalizing Homosexuality?
Oct 15: Human Rights Watch, Sexual Minorities Uganda Condemn Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Oct 15: Here It Is: The Text of Ugandaís Proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Oct 14: Uganda Parliament Takes Up Anti-Gay Bill Adding Death Sentence and Bans on Free Speechî
Sep 15: Draft Anti-Gay Bill Circulating In Uganda
Jul 26: Uganda Parliament To Take Up Bill Banning LGBT Free Speech
Jul 6: Sports Figure Latest Victim Of Ugandan Anti-Gay Offensive
Jul 3: Uganda May Ban All LGBT Advocacy
Jun 1: Nazi Comparisons
May 14: Ugandaís Anti-Gay Campaign Snares LGBT People and Rival Pastors, Tabloid Promises More ìOutingsî
May 4: Uganda Gays Arrested, Blackmail Attempts Reported
Apr 24: Uganda Anti-Gay Activists March, ìStorm Parliamentî
Apr 20: Alan Chambers Addresses Developments In Uganda
Apr 19: Ugandaís Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign Is Now In Full Swing
Apr 17: Uganda Government Attacks Human Rights Groups for ìPromoting Homosexualityî
Apr 10: Uganda Columnist: ìHappy Easter ÖIrrespective of Sexual Orientationî
Apr 6: Uganda Press Crank Up ìPredatorî Rhetoric
Apr 3: Uganda to Ban LGBT Advocacy?
Apr 2: Exodus Maintains Month-Long Silence Amid Ugandan Govít Calls For LGBT Arrests
Apr 2: Press Release from Ugandan LGBT Advocacy Group
Mar 31: Forced Outings Continue As Uganda LGBT Advocates Allege Oundo Is In It For The Money
Mar 31: Uganda Activist Cites Disbarred ìTherapistî As Authority on Homosexuality
Mar 30: Uganda Situation Continues To Deteriorate; Exodus Washes Their Hands
Mar 27: Videos Surface of Ugandan Activist Stirring Anti-Gay Fervor; Fears of Violence Grows
Mar 26: Ugandan Govít Poised to Take ìStern Actionî Against Gays
Mar 26: The ìEx-Gayî Star of the Uganda Anti-Gay Campaign
Mar 25: More on Uganda Anti-Gay Vigilante Incitement
Mar 25: Another Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign May Have Begun In Uganda
Mar 23: Schmiererís & Livelyís Uganda Talks Continue to Reverberate
Mar 17: Lively Defends Forced Therapy Proposal
Mar 16: Commentary: When Good Men Do Nothing
Mar 13: Sanctimony Alert
Mar 13: Scott Lively and Alan Chambers Respond to Questions About Uganda Conference
Mar 13: Exodus Applauds Schmiererís Part in Uganda Conference
Mar 12: South African LGBT Advocates Condemn Exodus
Mar 12: Ex-Exodus Minister Condemns Uganda Conference
Mar 12: Ugandan Conference Leaders Call For Another Meeting While Pushing Pedophilia Theme; Exodus Continues Silence
Mar 11: Open Letter To the Exodus International Board of Directors
Mar 10: Scott Lively: The Gay Agenda Is ìTo Turn The Whole World Gayî
Mar 9: Exodus Removes Link To Scott Lively From Its Web Site
Mar 9: EU Group Condemns Ugandan Conference
Mar 8: Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Three ó Gays Blamed For Rwandan Genocide & Pedophilia; More Exodus Ties To Holocaust Revisionism
Mar 6: Uganda Anti-Gay Conference: Day Two
Mar 6: Exodusí Silence About Uganda: Day Five
Mar 6: Exodus Board Member Participates In Uganda Conference Calling For Forcing Gays Into Conversion Therapy
Mar 5: Anti-Gay Conference Kicks Off In Kampala
Mar 5: Warren Throckmorton Speaks Out Against Uganda Conference
Mar 5: International LGBT Group Expresses Concern About Uganda Conference
Mar 2: Anonymous Ugandan Blogger Wants Answers From American Anti-Gay Activists
Feb 24: Exodus Board Member Joins Nazi Revisionist At Uganda Conference
While that list of coverage may be overwhelming, there are key links in there that make one question our homegrown anti-gays and their involvement in the support of the execution bill.
1. Rick Warren. The high-profile megachurch pastor, Prop 8 supporter and Obama inauguration invocation celebrity did a belly-flop FAIL when he initially claimed that "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides." As in pro-homo execution versus, um, no execution? BZZZT. I'm sure that after that statement there was a call from the batphone at the White House and the Saddleback preacher was told that this position was even a non-starter to them.
It couldn't have helped that a report published in Talk To Action must have given him agita::
To little notice, a charismatic network overseen by Warren's doctoral dissertation advisor, C. Peter Wagner, has played a major role in politically organizing and inspiring the Ugandan legislators who have spearheaded the anti-gay bill.
Both Wagner and Warren have designed elaborate infrastructures for blurring the lines between church and state. Wagner describes his movement as the ìNew Apostolic Reformationî and openly espouses his goals of reorganizing and mobilizing the church to take Christian ìdominionî over government and society. Warrenís movement is described as a ìsecond reformationî in the form of his P.E.A.C.E. plan, but his goals of rapid ìexpansion of the kingdomî in Uganda and elsewhere closely parallel those of Wagner's.
That report is worth the click. So today the Purpose Driven Life author came forward with a video condemning the legislation. He probably was concerned about slowdown of money into the Saddleback coffers. Truth Wins Out:
Warren said he was taking ìthe extraordinary step of speaking to you, the pastors of Uganda and the spiritual leaders of your nation.î He unequivocally condemned the legislation as ìextreme, unjust and unchristian towards homosexualsî. He also urged Ugandan pastors to ìspeak out against this proposed law.î
It's great that he walked that first statement back, but the fact that he needed pressure on all fronts to see the light, as it were, suggests the fate of gays in Uganda was not the primary motivation for his picture show.
2. "The Family." This one of the most politically well-connected fundamentalist organizations in the country, and it has been tied to the goings-on in Uganda. Jeff Sharlet, the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, has been a very busy man.
The group also has a connection to a house in Washington, D.C., known as C Street. Owned by a foundation affiliated with the Family, C Street is officially registered as a church; in practice, it serves as a meeting place and residence for politicians like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada Sen. John Ensign and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
The Family, Sharlet writes, is responsible for founding the annual National Prayer Breakfast, a supposedly ecumenical ó but implicitly Christian ó event attended by the president, members of Congress and dignitaries from around the world. These foreign delegations are often led by top defense personnel, who use it as an opportunity to lobby the most influential people in Washington ó and who repay the Family with access to their governments.
NPR covered The Family's reach into Uganda and its "execute gays" bill with Sharlet on November 24, 2009. The relationship with politicians in this country to Uganda's leadership via The Family is frightening; he reports that David Bahati is a top member -- the man who introduced the anti-homosexuality bill.
GROSS: So you're reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story - this direct connection between The Family and the proposed legislation by following the money?
Mr. SHARLET: Yes, it's - I always say that The Family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It's not so invisible anymore.
GROSS: Now what about the president of Uganda, President Museveni? Does he have any connections to The Family?
Mr. SHARLET: Well, first, I want to say it's important that you said it, yeah, it hasn't gone into law. It hasn't gone into effect yet. So there is time to push back on this. But it's very likely to go into law. It has support of some of the most powerful men in Uganda, including the dictator of Uganda, a guy named Museveni, whom The Family identified back in 1986 as a key man for Africa.
GROSS: How did The Family create its relationship with Museveni?
Mr. SHARLET: In 1986, a former Ford official name Bob Hunter went over on trips at the behest of the U.S. government, but also on behalf of The Family, to which - for which both of which he filed reports that are now in The Family's archives. And his goal was to reach out to Museveni and make sure that he came into the American sphere of influence, that Uganda, in effect, becomes our proxy in the region and that relationship only deepened.
In fact, in late 1990s, Hunter - again, working for The Family - went over and teamed up with Museveni to create the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast as a parallel to the United States National Prayer Breakfast and to which The Family every year sends representatives, usually congressmen.
GROSS: What's the relationship of Museveni and The Family now?
Mr. SHARLET: It's a very close relationship. He is the key man. Now...
GROSS: So what does that mean? What influence does The Family have on him?
Mr. SHARLET: It means that they have a deep relationship of what they'll call spiritual counsel, but you're going to talk about moral issues. You're going to talk about political issues. Your relationships are going to be organized through these associates. So Museveni can go to Senator Brownback and seek military aid. Inhofe, as he describes, Inhofe says that he cares about Africa more than any other senator.
And that may be true. He's certainly traveled there extensively. He says he likes to accuse the State Department of ignoring Africa so he becomes our point man with guys like Museveni and Uganda, this nation he says he's adopted. As we give foreign aid to Uganda, these are the people who are in a position to steer that money. And as Museveni comes over, and as he does and spends time at The Family's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a place called The Cedars, and sits down for counsel with Doug Coe, that's where those relationships occur.
It's never going to be the hard sell, where they're going to, you know, twist Museveni's arm behind his back and say do this. As The Family themselves describes it, you create a prayer cell, or what they call - and this again, this is their language from their documents - an invisible believing group of God-led politicians who get together and talk with one another about what God wants them to do in their leadership capacity. And that's the nature of their relationship with Museveni.
She also reported that the dropping of the death penalty and life imprisonment was offered as an amendment to the bill, which begs the question why they need a law of any kind based solely on discrimination based on sexual orientation. (As if the U.S. can talk; I'm sitting here in a state that still has a "crimes against nature" statute on the books, that can result gays being arrested for consensual sex. It then is thrown out because of Lawrence v. Texas, but the humiliation of being arrested is still lawful).
But as horrible as this political and human rights crisis is in Uganda, a Political Research Associates (PRA) report, Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, shows that conservative U.S. evangelicals are exploiting African clerics by slowing the inevitable movement to decriminalize and accept LGBTs as full citizens with equal rights.
The investigationís release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.
These partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches' recognition of the full equality of LGBT people, in part due to liberalsí sensitivity to the charge of colonialism. However, as Kaoma argues, it is U.S. conservatives who are imposing their own concerns about homosexuality on Africa. Further, although U.S. conservatives have organized African religious leaders as a visible force opposing LGBT equality, it would be wrong to conclude that all of Africa stands with these clerics and their U.S. patrons.
...[T]he U.S. Right ñ once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes ñ has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africansí relationships with mainline Protestant churches.
"The exploitation of African Christians by right-wing organizations in the United States is reprehensible. Where were these individuals and organizations and their leaders during the struggles against colonialism and apartheid? They certainly were not standing in solidarity with the people of Africa. Today, they use a variety of corrupt practices and methods in a vain attempt to turn back the tide of history. This report reveals the truth about what is going on and should be required reading for American church leaders," said Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church.
Considering all of this, we should continue to turn our attention to the fundamentalism, fear and ignorance we are exporting._____________________
Pam Spaulding is the editor and publisher of PamsHouseBlend.com, honored as Best LGBT Blog in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards. A regular contributor to the progressive blogs Pandagon and The Bilerico Project, Spaulding has also guest blogged on Firedoglake, Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory on Salon, and Americablog. She received the 2006 Distinguished Achievement Award from The Monette-Horwitz Trust for making significant contributions toward the eradication of homophobia. She was named one of Huffington Post's Ultimate Game Changers in Politics in 2009, honored with the 2009 Women's Media Center Award for Online Journalism and the 2009 Courage Award from the New York City Anti-Violence Project and was selected as one of the OUT 100 for the year.
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