Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It’s My Jesus and I’ll Kill Who I Want To

I am reposting this article that I wrote in 2010 regarding Evangelical involvement in LGBT persecution. It seems especially pertinent now given fast food chain Chick-fil-a's choice to support Family Research Council who support the Ugandan Gay Genocide law. It sickens me that as a nation we are clearly still so unaware of what the extremists among us are truly married to.

Originally published in '09 by

In December ’09 the nation of Uganda tabled a bill that proposed “ prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex, any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotions or recognition of such sexual relations.”  Entitled the Anti Homosexuality Bill, the proposal seeks to codify the prejudicial treatment of gays already rampant in Uganda, where homosexuality has been illegal since British Colonial rule.  The law, if passed, would enact its tenets via a terror campaign against LGBTI Ugandans. This will mean prison sentences for gays and anyone seen to assist them, extradition of gay Ugandans living abroad, forced conversion to heterosexuality and possibly death for “repeat offenders” of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Since that day, insurmountable evidence has surfaced that the inspiration for Uganda’s act of inhumanity was the latest American Imperialist export: Evangelical Zealotry. Ugandan President Museveni, recently backslid in his support of the bill’s life imprisonment and death sentence clauses, apparently cowed by foreign disapproval. Regardless, Museveni and members of his parliament have seized an opportunity to expand their power to a fourth term by crafting a “threat” to Ugandan family values in the guise of “Western sexual decadence”. These nefarious ambitions have resulted in breeding even more dangerous circumstances for gays in Uganda for whom brutality is a constant fear. Since the proposal of the law, vicious anti gay protests have been mounted. It is only a matter of time before loathing leads to bloodshed. When it does many non-Ugandans, along with Musaveni and members of his parliament, will bear the shame and responsibility of that blood being spilled.

Scott Lively, Exodus International Board Member, and Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge of the International Healing Foundation, spoke at an anti-gay conference in Uganda last March 5-7th. According to videos of the speech created by watchdog site “Box Turtle Bulletin”, Lively’s oration was replete with libelous remarks against gays, equating Nazism’s rise with homosexuality, describing AIDS as natural retribution for having homosexual sex, and reinforcing a false stereotype depicting gays as pederasts. On March 17th, Lively proudly likened his speech to “delivering a nuclear bomb against gays in Uganda.” Of ten anti-gay hate groups on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watch list, Lively serves as foundational member for three: Abiding Truth Ministries, Watchmen On the Walls, and the School of Christian Activism.

The vein of American Evangelical influence runs deep in Uganda. Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who drafted the murderous bill, and Ugandan MP Benson Obua-Ogwa, who co-sponsored Bahati’s draft, were both in attendance at a prayer meeting held by College of Prayer International’s Dr. Fred Hartley in Kampala. The COP, which operates extensively in various African nations, maintains a specific agenda of recruitment of Governmental officials in Uganda where they see a large potential to expand their ministry.

The opportunities for modern missionaries to exploit a nation freshly rebuilding in the aftermath of civil war are not overlooked by American Evangelicals with deep pockets and an even deeper hatred of homosexuals. Lively and his cohorts recognized an easy opportunity to exploit extant homophobia in Uganda where homosexuality is believed by many to be a culturally destructive, colonial import. Anti-gay sentiment has reached fevered levels among the nation’s people despite historical evidence, which indicates that homosexuality existed in Uganda previous to any Western introduction. American Evangelical svengalis driven by entirely selfish motives, display arrogance in their presumption that their core beliefs are the true raison d’etre for a potentially dictatorial government to ally itself with what they preach.

It would be convenient and very shortsighted to assume that like many African nations, Uganda, which in the past sacrificed much of its identity upon the altar of Western Imperialism, has once again foundered under the yoke of Colonialism in its decision to write an inhumane and homicidal law against certain of its citizens. While the destructive impact of Colonialism upon the African continent cannot be denied, it is interesting to note that Uganda’s government is falling “prey”, in this instance, only to the agenda of radical, religious American “imperialism” as it simultaneously chooses to virtually ignore the criticisms levied by more humane voices against its determination to witch-hunt and execute gays. World political and religious leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama who called the bill “Odious”, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who described it as “Orwellian”, and Canon Gideon Byamugisha, Ugandan Anglican Church Leader, who has labeled the bill as “state-legislated genocide against a specific community of Ugandans”. Although the bill may be revised in the face of foreign pressure to exclude its harshest clauses, it will, if passed in any form, mean a life of terror for anyone gay in Uganda.

While Byarmugisha and other moderate members of the clergy within Uganda risk their safety and express their outrage, some clergy serving an angrier god continue to curry favor with the ruling party. Pentecostal minister and vice president of The Born Again Federation, Julius Oyet, who had tremendous potency in bringing the bill forward, remains highly influential. Oyet’s prayers against Northern Uganda have made him a favorite of the President, and he also maintains stewardship over 9 million Christians in 10,00 churches. Not coincidentally, Northern Uganda is where the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army used to reside, and the Lord’s Resistance Army were the enemies of President Musaveni.

The President’s convenient adherence to a militant stripe of Christian belief more suited to his political designs cannot be ignored. Nor can his ignorance of African cultural history. Dr. Sylvia Tamale, Dean of Law at Kampala’s Makerere University and Human Rights activist is authoring a book on African sexual orientations. She has publicly asserted "Homosexuality or same-sex attractions have been part and parcel of African communities for time immemorial. But the terms 'homosexuality,' 'lesbian,' 'gay' — those are relatively new. And those are terms many Africans attracted to people of the same sex never use or never identify with." In a speech given before parliament during the public dialogues on the bill, Dr. Tamale cited several very real crises requiring immediate attention in Uganda (none of which were a result of homosexuality). These crises include: child rape by known heterosexual predators, Parents forcing 14 year old daughters to marry in exchange for gifts, millions of AIDS orphaned children needing homes, and rising poverty forcing 60% of rural Ugandans below the poverty line.  After noting these and other very real problems facing her nation, Dr. Tamale then went on to state that
     I do not see how two people who are in a loving relationship and harming no one pose     
     a threat to the family simply because they happen to be of the same sex.  The argument
     that homosexuality is a threat to the continuity of humankind and that it will lead to the 
     extinction of human beings in the world simply does not hold water because there are
     too many heterosexuals in the world for that to become a reality.  How many of you in
     this room would “convert” to homosexuality any time soon?...  So, just as the priests,
     nuns and monks who are sworn to a life of celibacy will not cause the extinction of
     humanity, homosexuals will not either.

Whatever hidden and hideous machinations are unfolding in the shadows of Uganda’s political landscape, back on our own shores we have some serious thinking to do. The vile disregard for human life we’re watching become codified in Uganda has happened at the behest of U.S. citizens, and this fact begs the question – when? When will the radical members of the religious right be held accountable for the hatred, mayhem, and murder they incite?

Were I to aim a pistol in the face of a cashier and demand all the cash in the till in “Jesus’ Name”, I would more than likely be arrested, tried, and found either criminally culpable or mentally incompetent. When tyrannical cowards hide behind the mantle of political ideology in order to justify cruelty, exploitation, and genocide, they are tried for crimes against humanity. If representatives from U.S. Christian churches travel to far off lands and help convince people that a minority group is a plague upon humanity worthy of nothing more than slaughter, then we give them tax-free status for their churches and air-time to promote their ideology. Sometimes hiding behind belief systems is not an option, in which case those who endorse murder suffer a different fate. Charles Manson was not guilty of a single murder by his own hand, and yet he serves life behind bars because he persuaded others to commit unspeakable acts. Cult Leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh are recognized as mass murderers solely for their ability to manipulate those around them into suicidal contagion. The tragic lesson of these events is that we mutely watched them unfold to gruesome conclusions, in the name of religious freedom.

Religious organizations and, by proxy, their leaders must be held to the same standard of lawful conduct as anyone else. The right to religious freedom cannot be employed as a shield deflecting the consequences of one’s actions against other sentient beings. If we allow, by merit of “spiritual belief”, the special privilege to hate, discriminate, and exterminate those who do not conform to proscribed notions of piety, then we are no longer just walking on eggshells to satisfy religious freedom, we are walking on the bone fragments of those we’ve let be murdered via our implicit consent. The proponents of Evangelical fervor who went to Uganda in March of ’09 to foment anti-homosexual rhetoric must not be allowed to live in comfort stateside while hundreds of innocent victims abroad suffer vilifying cruelty and quite possibly death. Their vehemence in proclaiming the “good word” of their God has become a rallying cry for death to those they don’t favor. When ideology is employed to eliminate a group of people, it is a crime against humanity and should be punishable as such. To silently abide such horrific inhumanity would be an unforgivable transgression, especially when the bloody footprints lead directly back to our own most hallowed ground.

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