Anti-Homosexuality Bill Divides Ugandan and American Christians
Warren also said that he had disassociated himself from Ugandan HIV/AIDS activist Martin Ssempa. Ssempa responded to Warren in a letter, which Ssempa sent to Christianity Today.
"The [election] 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 in to the temptation to water down what the Bible says so as not to offend people," Ssempa wrote. "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 wrote that the Uganda Joint Christian Council task force will support the bill with the amendments, including a less harsh sentence of 20 years instead of the death penalty for pedophilia or "aggravated homosexuality." The task force also recommends that counseling and rehabilitation be offered to offenders and victims.
Warren was not the first American Christian to speak against the proposed legislation. Grove City psychology professor Warren Throckmorton has been voicing opposition to the bill for several months. Exodus International was one of the first groups to respond, saying that the legislation could hurt its ministry.
"While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue," Exodus leaders wrote to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. "Furthermore, the Christian church must be a safe, compassionate place for gay-identified people as well as those who are confused about and conflicted by their sexuality."
Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University Timothy George, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George said in a statement that the bill "is a source for grave concern."
"The harshness of these proposals is, we believe, inconsistent with a Christian spirit of love and mercy," they said. "Measures must be taken to encourage faithful marital love and to discourage sexual immorality of every type. It is critical, however, that these measures be shaped in a just and Christian manner, and not in a punitive spirit. Harshness and excess must be avoided."
Colson told CT that he spoke against the legislation because it addresses human rights, a universal, moral question. "When you’re talking about human rights and liberty, they’re inherent to the presentation of the gospel. I wouldn't see this as singling out anyone," he said. "If you put a person in prison for life for an act of homosexual behavior, that is horrendous, that is so harsh. It’s totally contrary to the Christian understanding of the compassion."
Colson said the statement was created after he helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, a call to reaffirm Christians stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty. "Those of us who have a platform and those of us particularly who are talking about marriage at the moment have an obligation to speak out on it," he said. "There will be differences, and some people will call it meddling. But that’s okay. We'll get by."
If the death penalty were removed from the bill, Colson said he is not sure whether he would still oppose the law.