The New York Times had a story on Monday about the role a group of American anti-gay evangelists played in spurring on the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that has gotten so much attention. The organizers of a conference that brought three of them to Uganda to rail against the evils of homosexuality and how easy it was to stop being gay helped write that bill.
Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
One month later, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 was submitted in the Ugandan legislature by an obscure legislator who brags openly about his evangelical friends in the American government (he’s a member of The Family, unsurprisingly). This has the same men who went to Uganda to rail against homosexuality on the defensive, trying to distance themselves from the fallout.
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
But Lively, at least, is a guy who spews the most vile rhetoric imaginable about gays and lesbians. He doesn’t just claim that homosexuality is wrong or that homosexuals can pray away the gay, he says they’re part of a Satanic plot to destroy the world. Given such rhetoric, is it really any surprise that people take it seriously enough to seek to criminalize it and impose harsh penalties? Here’s a sample of Lively’s insane rhetoric:
There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals.
This is a war you haven’t seen yet. You’ve only seen a little bit of it, because Russia had been protected against the homosexual movement by the Communists. One of the few good things that the Soviet Union did is that it stopped the sexual revolution from infecting the Russian people. But all across the West, the sexual revolution changed the culture of the nations. The sexual revolution embraces the idea that there should be no limits on sexual conduct.
And this is the design of the Devil to destroy civilization, because civilization is based on the natural family. One man and one woman united in marriage bringing children into the world and training them to replace them in the next generation. That’s the foundation of civilization and the heart of Christian living.
And as Jim Burroway points out, it was Lively who suggested to the Ugandans that they should continue to criminalize homosexuality but instead of putting gays in prison, they should put them into forced “therapy.”
Lively, by the way, is the same nutcase who wrote a book claiming that the Nazi holocaust was actually caused by gays. Seriously.