Queer Crusade: Christianity Run Amuck in Uganda

Robert V. Taylor

Robert V. Taylor

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill is a Christian crusade dressed up as legislation. If enacted it will represent a triumph for Christian fundamentalists and open the floodgate to further violence against LGBT people in Uganda.  The theology motivating the bill’s proponents is in stark contrast to notions of love, mercy, justice and compassion.

The creation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill followed the 2009 seminar sponsored by Uganda’s Family Life Network to “Expose the Homosexual Agenda.” American evangelicals Scott Lively and Don Schmierer partnered with the Family Life Network in promoting the view that LGBT people are recruiting children to their cause and destroying the family structure.

Rick Warren from Saddleback Church is quoted by leaders of the Queer Crusade in Uganda as saying that “Homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right.” Warren’s comments put him at odds with the Obama administration’s decision in 2009 to sign the United Nations declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Under pressure Warren, Lively and Schmierer have attempted to separate themselves from the bill’s harshest measure which calls for the death sentence for “repeat offenders.” In a Christmas video to Ugandan’s Warren tried to have it both ways by claiming that “While we can never deny or water down what God’s word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals.” Warren ignores that Christ said nothing about homosexuality and very little about human sexuality. His nuance obfuscates his case that Christ would not have wanted homosexuals killed. 

The Queer Crusade in Uganda is widely believed to have led to the January 2011 murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato. A Ugandan tabloid published Kato’s photograph, along with photos of 100 other supposedly gay Ugandans, under the headline “Hang Them.” Several others identified in that publication have been attacked or stoned.

If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is passed it will allow for any person who “aids or abets” homosexuals to be imprisoned for seven years. A sibling or parent who waits longer than 24 hours before turning in a LGBT relative can be imprisoned. The expected consequence of the legislation is to tear families apart and to incite violence against any person suspected of being gay.

The bill is an aberration of human rights and violates Uganda’s constitution which assures the protection of universal human rights. Even more alarming is the Queer Crusade it will unleash in the name of Christianity.

The ethic and spiritual practice of “loving your neighbor as yourself” cannot be applied selectively.  It invites us into discovering our oneness with the rest of the human family instead of devising ways to imprison or kill in the name of religious hatred and God. There is nothing resembling Christian notions of love, justice, mercy or compassion in the legislation.

The system of apartheid in South Africa was built upon the edifice of a theology that claimed the supremacy of one group of people over another as the will of God justified by scripture. That theology turned into legislation allowed for the government of South Africa to commit deliberate and wonton acts of violence against those who were believed to be less than fully human because of their race. Uganda’s bill transposes race with homosexuality. It is as much of a scourge on the religion it pins hatred to.

International pressure has contributed to the recent delay in voting on the bill in the Ugandan Parliament. Emma Ruby-Sachs in Huffington Post reports that the bill could be voted on this Friday. Avaaz has already collected over 1.1 million signatures urging the Ugandan President to withdraw the bill. The attention and pressure might just halt the passage of this bill. 

Your voice matters as much as the lives of those Ugandans which are at risk. According to the LA Times the controversial death penalty for “repeat offenders” was removed only becuaseo f international pressure.

Each voice raised against what is happening in Uganda diminishes the potential of the new Queer Crusade, speaking instead to our oneness as members of the human family. Love, justice, mercy and compassion are best known in the coalescing of words and actions.

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