Rick Warren, Other Pastors Denounce Proposed Death Penalty for Gays in Uganda
Saddleback pastor Rick Warren has denounced the proposed legislation in Uganda that would execute homosexuals who are infected with HIV, a law Warren says "I had nothing to do with, completely oppose and vigorously condemn."
"As a pastor, I've found the most effective way to build consensus for social change is usually through direct quiet diplomacy and behind-the-scenes dialogue, rather than through media. But because I didn't rush to make a public statement, some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill, and some even claimed I was a sponsor of the bill," Warren said in a statement. "You in Uganda know that is untrue."
A tweet from Warren earlier today suggests he had been working to kill the bill. "DThanks Bob! It seem our quiet effort helped kill part of the Uganda b so it was worth being misjudged, but our job isnt done yet."
On December 4, Warren had tweeted, "DJoe,I feel no need to tell reporters &bloggers what I've done behind the scenes on this.They never admit their misreporting anyway.Pr.15:12"
Bloomberg is reporting that Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined version of the bill.
The Ugandan government supports the bill because homosexuality and lesbianism are "repugnant to the Ugandan culture," Buturo said. Still, it favors a more refined set of punishments, he said.
In addition to formulating punishments for the gay people, the bill will also promote counseling to help "attract errant people to acceptable sexual orientation," said Buturo.
The Daily Monitorreports that at least 200 clerics from the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, which includes Bishops from the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, and Muslim leaders agreed to defend the bill.
The Secretary General of IRC, Mr Joshua Kitakule told Daily Monitor that development partners should not interfere in the process of legislation in Uganda.
"Those countries should respect our spiritual values. They shouldn't interfere," he said. "All senior religious leaders have been given copies of the Bill to read and educate people in the churches and mosques," he added.
Grove City psychology professor Warren Throckmorton has been covering this bill for several months. Throckmorton has set up a Facebook group titled "Speak out against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009," which has almost 10,000 members. In October, he received a statement from Warren about his connection to Ssempa.
Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.
Uganda MP David Bahati defended the legislation in an interview with the BBC.
A Ugandan MP accused of calling for a "gay death penalty" says he has been misrepresented and is only trying to criminalise child abusers.
David Bahati says the new offence of "aggravated homosexuality" is a penalty against "defilement" of under-18s.
"There has been a distortion in the media that we are providing death for gays. That is not true," he said.
"When a homosexual defiles a kid of less than 18 years old, we are providing a penalty for this."
Several Christian groups and individuals have denounced the bill, including the ex-gay ministry Exodus International, Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Charisma magazine reporter Adrienne S. Gaines also has more about how charismatic leaders are responding, including theologian Peter Wagner.
Although he commended Ugandan lawmakers for attempting to stand for biblical principles, he said legislating morality is not feasible. If Uganda wanted to legislate biblical principles, it would have to criminalize adultery and premarital sex and not single out homosexuality, he said.
"My position is that this is not a good way to do it," Wagner said. "To legislate against sexual orientation is probably crossing the line. It's like making a law whether parents can spank their children or not. It's much too much of a personal ethical issue. ... I would support raising up a national conscience against homosexuality and allowing the Holy Spirit to work that way."