Christian Leaders Criticize Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

by | Dec 9, 2009 | Charisma Archive

Updated: In a
statement released Thursday, Saddleback pastor Rick Warren denounced a Ugandan bill that would make homosexual behavior punishable by death in some cases.

He encouraged Ugandan pastors to speak out against
the proposed measure, calling it “unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward
homosexuals.” (See video below.)

(Photo: Uganda Parliament)

He said the bill would force pastors to report their pastoral
conversations with homosexuals to authorities, and would have a “chilling
effect” on Ugandan compassion ministry.

“If this bill passed, homosexuals who
are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and
compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported,” he wrote. “You and
I know that the churches of Uganda are the truly caring communities where
people receive hope and help, not condemnation.”

Warren joins a cross-section of
Christian leaders in denouncing the proposed anti-homosexuality bill—including proponents of a charismatic teaching
some claim influenced the African Christians who support the measure.

 

 

Dozens of Christian
leaders signed on to a statement released Monday decrying Uganda’s
Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which would impose the death penalty for some
homosexual behavior and up to seven years in jail for those who fail to report
homosexual activity to authorities.

 

 

“Our Christian
faith recognizes violence, harassment and unjust treatment of any human being
as a betrayal of Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves,”
the joint statement read.

 

Signatories included
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of
the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Thomas P. Melady,
former U.S. ambassador to Uganda and the Vatican.

 

The
ex-gay ministry Exodus International, the Clinical
Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and Moody Bible Institute adjunct instructor Christopher Yuan made similar
comments
last month in a letter sent to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

 

Despite
the denunciation by several Christian leaders, some observers say Christians
are to blame for the proposed measure.

 

Media
reports have linked the introduction of the bill to a March conference in
Uganda, where three American ministers condemned homosexual behavior and
advocated therapy for same-sex attraction.

 

The three men—Caleb Brundidge of the International Healing Foundation,
who works with Patricia King’s Extreme Prophetic ministry; Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries and Don Schmierer of Exodus International—have said they
do not support “harsh” treatment of homosexuals.

 

Other
observers claim the bill may be the result of charismatic teaching on the seven
mountains of cultural influence. Popularized by such leaders as Texas Bible
teacher Lance Wallnau and pastor Johnny Enlow of Daystar Church in Atlanta, the
teaching exhorts Christians to build God’s kingdom by taking dominion in the
areas of business, government, religion, family, media, education and
entertainment.

 

In
a blog posting, Christian counselor Warren Throckmorton noted that Ugandan
Bishop Julius Oyet, founder of Life Line Ministries and a strong supporter of
the bill, included possessing the seven mountains of culture as part of a
16-year ministry vision he outlined in 2004.

 

Oyet,
also head of the Born Again Faith Federation, which claims more than10,000
affiliated churches, reportedly prayed with fellow Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa
outside Parliament after the anti-homosexuality bill was introduced in October,
thanking God that Uganda would not be destroyed because its leaders were in
obedience to God on the issue.

 

“I
think that the theological soil for at least some of the proponents is that a
nation’s laws about private consensual behavior must reflect Christian teaching
in order for the culture to be preserved, reclaimed and reformed,” Throckmorton
wrote.

 

“American teachers are exhorting their followers that national salvation
is more vital to the mission of the church than individual salvation. Ideas
have consequences. If the Ugandan believers viewed individual salvation as more
vital, I wonder if the Ugandan proposal would have been advanced.”

 

Enlow,
author of The Seven Mountain Prophecy, said he opposes harsh punishments
for homosexual behavior between consenting adults and said
“government-sponsored witch hunts” would “not express the heart of God toward
homosexuals.”

 

But
he said criminalizing homosexuality could be necessary “when the moral fiber of
society has become so degraded that society itself is in need of knowing right
and wrong.”

 

“Society
does need to know that homosexual behavior is wrong, but it would not be
defensible to execute homosexuals any more than it would be to execute
rebellious children—which is espoused to some measure in Leviticus,” he wrote
in a statement posted on Throckmorton’s blog.

“There is a greater grace
assigned to the new covenant understanding of the New Testament. Rebellious
children are still wrong in their rebellion and homosexuals are still wrong in
their behavior, but we do not need the extreme punishments of the Old
Testament.”

In a statement to Charisma,
Wallnau, author of The 7 Mountain Mandate: Impacting Culture, Discipling
Nations
, said the seven mountains message is not about imposing laws but
liberating spheres of influence. Although “the government in its sphere must
enforce sanctions,” he said the proposed anti-homosexuality bill “seems like a
severe sanction.”

He said Christians who crusade
for social reform should consider the outcome of the Prohibition Act, which outlawed
alcohol but also fueled organized crime.

“Christians had made a massive
impact in the ‘temperance movement’ to stop drunkenness. Then they overreached
with draconian legislation called the Volstead Act, and the backlash legalized
alcohol,” Wallnau said. “To my brothers in Uganda I would say, ‘Be wise as
serpents and harmless as doves.'”

Theologian C. Peter
Wagner, who leads the International Coalition of Apostles, which includes
Wallnau among its members, affirms the seven mountains teaching but said the
anti-homosexuality bill is likely “misguided.”

“What we’re talking about is basically the prayer of Jesus, where
He said, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done,’ fleshed out in the societies
in which we live,” said Wagner, author of Dominion: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World. “That’s the
goal. We would like the nation of Uganda to reflect the kingdom of God.”

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.”

 

Saddleback pastor Rick Warren also denounced the bill in a
statement released Thursday. He encouraged Ugandan pastors to speak out against
the proposed measure, calling it “unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward
homosexuals.” (See video below.)

He said the bill would force pastors to report their pastoral
conversations with homosexuals to authorities, and would have a “chilling
effect” on Ugandan compassion ministry.

“If this bill passed, homosexuals who
are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and
compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported,” he wrote. “You and
I know that the churches of Uganda are the truly caring communities where
people receive hope and help, not condemnation.”

 

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