Bruce Wilson has an important post at Talk2Action with another big piece of evidence about Rick Warren’s anti-gay views. I’ve written many times about the barbaric treatment of gays and lesbians in Nigeria, backed by both Muslim and Christian leaders there. I wrote two years ago about the draconian law in Nigeria that strips gay people of all rights and puts them in prison or even to death in some parts of that country.
I also noted that these laws had the support of Peter Akinola, the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, who has been publicly praised by the religious right in this country. And Wilson notes that the law he supported was actually worse than the law in Nazi Germany. And no one has heaped more praise on Akinola than Rick Warren.
Warren wrote an article for Time magazine full of effusive praise for Akinola, who at the time was leading a worldwide revolt of Anglican and Episcopalian churches against the ordination of gay priests. Here’s some of what Warren wrote:
“Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.”
“…Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism.”
“…I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.”
Richard Bartholomew, a regular commenter here at Dispatches, also wrote earlier this year on Talk2Action about Warren’s support for the Nigerian Anglicans in their battle to fight against gay rights, quoting a Nigerian newspaper:
Dr Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. “We shall not tolerate this aspect at all,” Dr Warren said.
And a few months before that, Bartholomew noted Warren’s support of Martin Ssempa, a virulently anti-gay Ugandan preacher. Warren invited Ssempa to speak at a conference he hosted, while Ssempa himself has done everything he can to keep homosexuality a crime in his country.
As Michelle Goldberg notes in the Guardian last week, much of Warren’s famed support for AIDS prevention in Africa has really been support for Ssempa and his barbaric views:
Warren is sometimes credited with broadening evangelical activism to transcend religious right preoccupations, but that’s a bit deceptive. Much has been made of his work on HIV/Aids in Africa. In fact, though, Warren has taken the standard Christian conservative approach to the epidemic, which favours abstinence and prayer over condoms and sex education. I once attended Sunday services at the church of Martin Ssempa, one of Warren’s protégés in Uganda and a major force in that country’s devastating move away from safe-sex campaigns. It is a heartbreaking thing to watch a tongue-speaking faith-healer promise a room full of sobbing people – many of them poor, many infected with HIV – that Jesus can cure them, if only they believe in him unconditionally (belief demonstrated, of course, in part by tithing generously).
It’s even more heartbreaking when those people are still advocating for the imprisonment, if not outright murder, of gays and lesbians and for the outright censorship of anyone who advocates equal rights.