In my Dec. 27 column at gazette.com, I write about the controversy over the anti-gay bill in Uganda. You can read my column in the Gazette print version in the Local section this Sunday.
Evangelical missionaries have a strong presence in Uganda, and some Ugandan intellectuals have blamed the missionaries for fomenting hate against gays that led to the bill.
A Ugandan lawyer even said some American evangelicals are secretly backing the anti-gay bill, called the “Anti-Homosexuality Act 2009.”
The bill concretizes the penalties for those engaged in same-sex relationships. Consenting adults involved in gay sex would be jailed, and those having gay sex with a minor would face life imprisonment or the death penalty. Someone who has knowledge of a same-sex relationship and fails to report it faces imprisonment.
Below are comments American evangelical leaders made to me about the anti-gay bill.
1. Jim Daly is president and CEO of Focus on the Family, which has fought against the legalization of gay marriage in America.
“”As a Christian organization, Focus on the Family Action (the political arm of the family group) encourages pro-family policies. As such, we respect the desire of the Ugandan people to shield their nation from the promotion of homosexuality as a lifestyle morally equivalent to one-man, one-woman marriage. But it is not morally acceptable to enact the death penalty for homosexuals, as some versions of the bill are reported to require.”
“My reaction is to denounce this. It sets a horrible precedent and has a potential for developing hatred.”
2. Rob Sider is president of Evangelicals for Social Action. He signed a Dec. 11 declaration against the Ugandan bill.
“I am opposed to legalizing gay marriage, but I also believe that everyone should have civil rights. The law should not criminalize sexual behavior. I feel strongly that we should not criminalize into law sexual behavior.”
3. Ralph Blair is president of Evangelicals Concerned.
“It is not the (Ugandan) churches pushing this bill but the corrupt government, and when Western Christians exert their influence it backfires. As for Rick Warren, (the Ugandan government) basically told him he doesn’t have any place in meddling in their affairs.
4. Tony Campolo is president of Evangelical Association to the Promotion of Education. He signed a Dec. 11 declaration against the Ugandan bill.
“You cannot tell people you love them, and then remain silent when they are persecuted. You cannot tell people you love them, and allow this severe punishment of gays and lesbians in Africa.”
“If you want to win people to Jesus, you first have to love them. I don’t know how anyone could read the Sermon on the Mount (“Blessed are the merciful …”) and believe in the death penalty.”
What is your view of the anti-gay Ugandan bill?